How Long Will It Take for SEO Results? Google Weighs In

A Google rep was recently asked and weighed in on how long SEO takes for new pages. Whew, if ever there was a loaded question that required a lot of caveats. (Early on in my career as an SEO, I was asked “How Long Does SEO Take to Show Results?” and I completely bombed the answer. Good times.

There are two phases that a page must get through in order to rank:

  1. Crawling and indexing
  2. Ranking placement within Google

The Google rep focused on the first phase, which is a bit of a cop-out, as that is typically the easiest phase to tackle. Let me explain why.

Phase 1: Crawling and Indexing – AKA Technical SEO

Remember, Google has to sort through billions of pages per day to organize said pages and rank them accordingly. So just because you publish a new page does not mean it will automatically find its way into Google.

The very first step to getting a page to rank for SEO, is getting Google software, its robot, its crawler named Googlebot, to come through and “crawl” your page. Google has to come find and discover your new pages. This discoverability is accomplished in a few different ways:

  1. Through a sitemap
  2. Through internal linking
  3. Through asking Google to come in and crawl the page

As Googlebot is crawling through the backend of your page, it is already starting to assess how “google friendly” your page is. This is where Technical SEO shines. Google gave a few recommendations here:

Phase 2: Ranking Placement in Google

Once your page is indexed, this is where the fun challenge of SEO begins. This is the phase most people associate with ranking, but can only occur once your page is crawled and subsequently “lives” in Google’s servers and index.

Here are the considerations determining where your page will ultimately rank, which is in essence, “how long does SEO take”?

  • How well optimized is your page?
  • How good is the content compared to competitive content?
  • How does your overall page stack up against others who are also targeting the same keyword phrase(s)?
  • How are the direct and indirect factors, like site trustworthiness and authority, and page experience and page speed, weighing for or against your page?
  • How topically relevant is the page compared with the rest of your website?
  • How many links and social signals are going to competitive pages that will keep your new page from getting anywhere close to Page 1?

When it comes to Phase 2, there is more out of your control and also more “art and science” that must be applied.

Once the page is indexed and settles in onto whatever Google page it ends up on, that’s when the “real” work of SEO iteration comes in. You must honestly assess your weakness based on the above criteria and factors. Here are two suggestions Google had for helping your SEO “go faster”:

How Long Does SEO Take for Your Site? Here’s What I Would Say

As you can see, it’s not easy to answer how long it will take to rank in Google. If we’re talking about a one-off individual page, I can tell you that Phase 1 takes anywhere from a few hours to a week in most cases.

If you want to know how big a cumulative SEO effort will make, here is what we would need to honestly assess for me to make that prediction:

  • What direct tactical SEO work have you done over the last month?
  • What indirect SEO work have you done over the last month? Over the last quarter?
  • What SEO results are you even expecting? What is your “eye on the ball”?

My experience – if you’re not laser targeted with purposeful SEO, SEO is not just going to “automatically happen.”

I consider the answers to these questions “foundational SEO.” If you need a refresher, sign up to take my free 5-day “How to Master SEO” course.

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.

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