Why does SEO take so long?

SEO is drastically different from anything out there. It’s not easy. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. And yes, it normally involves the work of professionals for it to be effective.

You can spend 30 years and invest hundreds of thousands of pounds into this strategy and still not get any results if you are doing it wrong.

Also, there are easier ways to make money as a small business. Pay Per Click (PPC) or TV advertising, for example. These two will give you amazing results.

So is SEO not any good for you? After all, what’s the point of investing in something long term, when there are so many viable strategies out there?

Why even invest in SEO in the first place?

Saying that SEO is “just another marketing strategy” wouldn’t do it any justice. Well, SEO is much more than a simple marketing strategy. It’s not a game of “put money into a service and hope for the best”. It’s a unique system that will revolutionise your online presence.

When you think of SEO, you have to think that:

  • There is no limit to how many more customers you will get through an organic web search
  • You will create a great online experience for your customers and your visitors
  • It’s a blend of multiple web-dev skills, including coding and UX
  • It also helps improve brand awareness
  • It’s one of the most trackable forms of marketing, while also being budget-friendly
  • It goes great with almost every other marketing strategy

A practical example

If done correctly, SEO can yield astonishing results. Take a look at how Sportmadness scored a 374% visibility increase and a 483% increase in user sessions only thanks to a properly executed website migration.

We can confidently say that SEO is the only marketing strategy capable of giving a customer a cumulative 12,132% increase of traffic in four different countries, as per the case study.

It sounds great. Sure. But why does it take so long to be effective? After all, every business owner wants to be paid, and they want to be paid fast. And those outstanding results you just read about still took us 9 months to accomplish.

What we like to say is that to receive a lot, you need to give a lot. Unlike any other marketing strategy out there, SEO doesn’t rely on how much money you can spend.

Instead, Google looks at signals to rank your content and your websites. These signals can include:

  • Keyword optimisation
  • Website speed
  • Indexation
  • Inbound links
  • Domain age
  • Quality of your content
  • Geographical location
  • Level of social activity

How long does SEO take to bring results?

Asking a professional how long it takes for SEO results to appear is a bit like asking how long a piece of rope is. The truth is, there’s no absolute answer to this question.

On average, the SEO time frame is between 3 to 12 months. However, it may take you two months to get to the top of the rankings, or it may take you twelve just to get on the front page.

It all depends on your competition and the quality of your content. If you already had a well-established website with hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, normally it takes a few tweaks.

However, if your platform is a poorly organised website with a few scraps of content, then it’s going to be a labour-intensive process to transform you into first-page material.

Use professional advice

Normally, an SEO professional is the fastest route to success. This talented individual (Or team of) will give you precise insights into what is holding you back from SEO success and proceed to optimise your strategy for faster results.

Not sure how to pick an agency? Have a look at our article on how to choose the best SEO agency.

But what about all those ads you see online? There are hundreds of people online who promise you that, for £50, they can get you on the first page literally overnight.

Well, that is a lie. Easy as that. Anyone who promises you the world is normally a con artist, and SEO is no different.

It is literally impossible to advertise SEO as the ultimate marketing solution for everyone. And for sure, it is even more impossible for an SEO specialist to promise you that they’ll get you in the first search result of your users’ searches without having a deep look at your website first.

More than 200 factors influence the Search rankings

SEO effectiveness can change depending on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Content quality
  • Secondary marketing strategies to drive traffic to your website
  • User engagement and bounce rate
  • Keyword density and relevancy
  • Distribution of internal links
  • Links directed to your website (Link building)


Let’s look at an example. An SEO professional may look at your statistics and understand that your problems lie in low traffic.

Then, they would suggest a secondary marketing strategy, such as social media or PPC, or even guest posting on more authoritative websites as a way to build quality backlinks.

Or, if bounce rates (How many people enter your website and immediately leave) can be adjusted through content improvement or website speed optimisation, which normally requires a more in-depth knowledge of CSS/HTML.

So, why SEO takes time?

As you have learned in this article, there are plenty of signals Google looks at when ranking your content.

There are over 200, actually. These are 30 of the most common factors an SEO specialist will have to look at whenever developing the right strategy for your business:

  • Website speed – how long it takes Google to access the first byte of data (TFB)
  • Page loading speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Domain age
  • Content quality
  • Keyword structure
  • Redundant code within the website
  • Outbound links from other authoritative websites
  • Social signals
  • If targeting local areas, your geographical position.
  • Keyword density
  • Content length
  • Duplicate content
  • If canonical tags (rel=canonical) are present
  • “Hidden” content
  • Broken links
  • Content reading level
  • Too many outbound links
  • UX friendly layout
  • Algorithm updates
  • Internal linking
  • User reviews
  • Alt tags
  • Keyword in title
  • Number of internal errors (i.e. 404)
  • Bounce rate
  • Direct traffic
  • Safe search (website protocols)
  • Brand awareness
  • Social positioning

The most important factor for SEO success

Unfortunately, there is no magic button to SEO. There is no single most important factor. Sometimes, websites may excel at one thing but be held back by another.

For example, your website may have gold quality content, but 90% of users don’t even open your website due to lengthy waiting times. Or you may have a quality website, but zero backlinks.

If you want to get started with SEO and shorten the time it takes for a professional to give you the results you want, these are the things you should be doing right now:

1) Producing content on scale

Probably the fastest way to increase your brand awareness and build some trust around your business. Producing regular pieces of content related to your industry or niche is a brilliant way to get started with SEO.

Writing articles doesn’t normally deliver any monetary compensation, but it’s guaranteed to establish your authority in the field you are creating content about.

2) Create a lightweight website

Remove all unnecessary animations, images and videos. These create unnecessary weight on your website, which slows down loading times and harms your SEO performance.

3) Download a caching plugin

WordPress is particularly good for SEO due to its simplicity and flexibility. You can download software such as Caching or Nitropack to effectively speed up your website and remove outdated content effortlessly.

SEO is perfect for long-term strategies

SEO is a long term strategy that aims to deliver long-lasting results. If you have bills to pay, as is the case for many businesses, ensure that your only marketing funnel doesn’t come from SEO alone – at least, not in the first few months of your operations.

Smaller businesses may want to look into different, “Quick money injection” strategies.

It’s thus worth mentioning that PPC is a cost-effective way to reach your audience.

Of course, PPC won’t do you any good if you aim to become an authority, or if you seek people to recognise your brand. However, if you just want to improve your advertisement and build enough budget to fund an SEO strategy, then PPC is the way to go.


Advantages of PPC vs SEO

These are some of the advantages of PPC over SEO to reap right now:

  • Through paid ads, you can quite literally buy your way to the top rankings, although temporarily. This allows you to gain the benefits of SEO without any of the work.
  • PPC works stupendously with visual products, such as clothes, luxury items and others.
  • PPC provides instant traffic that can help you reach your SEO goals in time (or even faster!)


Rather than competing against each other, you should see SEO and PPC as allies. The two work incredibly well together and can even speed up your SEO time frames.

For example, you can test your keyword strategy in PPC before implementing those keywords in a full-blown SEO campaign. Or you can pay to compete for high-performance keywords while also creating content for that keyword, meaning that you will be able to feed those paid searches into your organic traffic, boosting your scores for those high-end keywords.

Plus, let’s not forget that top businesses sometimes use SEO and PPC to create high growth marketing campaigns that focus on aggressive customer acquisition.

This may be out of budget for you, but with a professional PPC service like the one we provide, you will be there in no time.


To conclude the article, let’s quickly summarise the key points:

  • SEO is a long process due to how many signals a professional needs to work on.
  • SEO takes, on average, between 3 to 12 months.
  • Google itself takes a while to accept your content as a contender for the top rankings, plus the amount of time it takes to index your content.
  • SEO is difficult to handle on your own, but not impossible. Hiring a professional is easier, faster, and potentially safer for your online presence as well.

SEO services are better for long term strategies and could be used to future-proof the reputation of your brand. On the other hand, f you want a quick-term campaign, try PPC, and don’t forget that the two synergise exceptionally well.

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