SEO takes time

So what is the deal with SEO, how long does it take? This is such a common question I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard it. Or better yet, I always hear “Why am I not ranking? I’ve only gotten one phone call since we started two days ago! What is wrong?” If only I had a nickel for every time I hear that one. I think this is because we live in an instant gratification society. Everyone sees SEO as a product you purchase and get, not an investment that takes time. So it is time to set the record straight. Just how long does SEO take? That depends on who you are and what key words you want to rank for in the search results.

To answer the question of how long SEO takes, you have to answer a few questions first. What are your expectations? What are your goals? What are they key words you want to rank on? How many other people are doing SEO on the same terms? It is important to answer these questions before moving forward. So ask yourself what you need to.


Now if your goal is to be number one for the phrase “make money from home” then you will have to do SEO for years before you can get to number one. If your goal is to be in the top 5 for the phrase “real estate in Boise” then you have much less time to wait. So the first question to answer is: where do you want to be? Do you want the number one ranking? Are you fine just being in the top 10? Are you not concerned about your ranking and just want more traffic?

Now the next question, what words do you want to target and who targets them already. If you go for a local term, say “real estate in Boise,” then not many people will be competing with you. Chances are you can be in the top 3 in 4 or 5 months. But what if you targeted “real estate in Idaho?” Now the competition just increased. It will likely be 6 to 8 months to get the top 3 for that. Now suppose you wanted to simply target “real estate.” This will be hugely competitive and take years to rank well on. So remember, the more local the term, the faster you can move to the top.

So, SEO, how long does it take? If you are a small business targeting a geographically local term, then I would say somewhere from 3-5 months before you are at or near the top. If you are a medium sized business targeting a larger geographic region, like a state, then chances are it will take you somewhere from 8-12 months to be at or near the top. National businesses that target terms which don’t have a geographic phrase attached to it, you can expect anywhere from 1-4 years, depending on the term and who is targeting it. A lot more people target “shoes” than “shoes with neon yellow shoe laces to run faster.”

Jamie Bates