How Long Does SEO Take? The Truth Revealed!

So, you’ve implemented and executed a well-thought-out search engine optimization (SEO) strategy on your website. The question now is, when will my site rank on Google search engine results pages (SERPs)? 

Assuming that you comb through your list of SEO tasks, you should expect your site to appear on search results soon, right?

Unfortunately, things aren’t as cut and dry as they seem. Just because you did everything by the book, it doesn’t mean you’ll rank within days or weeks. In most cases, it could even take months or years before your SEO takes full effect on SERPs.

The truth is that there are lots of factors that determine how long your SEO will take. This post will show you examples of sites and how long it took before Google indexed its pages for its SEO efforts. 

From here, we will look at the primary factors that determine how long you’ll have to wait before your SEO kicks in.

Examples of SEO Case Studies

As mentioned, the time it takes before SEO takes full effect varies. In this SEO case study conducted by Nick Eubanks, their agency FTF achieved SEO success for three sites in different industries.

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In the post, Nick discussed the different tactics he applied for the SEO strategies of each site. Since each site is unique aside from the various niches they’re in, they present unique problems and require SEO campaigns unique to each.

From the screenshot above, you can see that it took years before the sites eventually took off. However, if you look closely, you can see that the traffic has been trending upward through the years, so it’s not like it just gained organic traffic overnight. 

At the same time, this also means that the SEO campaign was implemented this entire time—it wasn’t a one-time campaign that was waited out until the site magically gained traction on search results.

Another case study shows you that it’s possible to get a site from zero traffic to 150,000 monthly unique visitors within eight months.

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Growth Machine launched a tea-focused blog from scratch and grew by piecing together different tactics and strategies to form a full-scale SEO campaign.

Our final SEO case study comes from Spencer Haws, owner of and the WordPress plugin Link Whisper. Using his plugin, he simply applied an internal linking strategy by linking related pages with each other and pointing to orphaned pages to help get them crawled and indexed.

After building 108 internal links, his niche grew its traffic from 1,200 views a day to 6,000 daily visitors within three months.

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Compared to the two above, the most interesting thing about this case study is that he simply added internal links to his existing pages. He didn’t build links or create newly published pages and yet managed to grow his site’s traffic in the shortest amount of time.

Factors that Affect How Long SEO Results Manifest Themselves

From the examples above, it should be clear that how fast or long SEO takes depends on multiple factors. 

And to help you make sense of them, below are variables that play a crucial role in determining when you can expect your site’s SEO to take shape. This way, you can do away with unrealistic expectations and not overreact if your site hasn’t made headway yet.


A site’s authority is built through the years of implementing SEO consistently. It can achieve authoritativeness by observing the best on- and off-page SEO tips and practices. 

You will find link building and creating content optimized for their target keywords and search intent at the very core of your SEO process. And both take a lot of time and effort to complete.

This is why authoritative websites with years under their belt have better search visibility than new sites. 

While domain age in and of itself is not a ranking factor, there’s a strong correlation between a website’s age and its SEO performance. The more optimized a site is, the more authoritative it is in the eyes of Google. As a result, the higher it ranks on search engines. 

In the case of Spencer’s website, it was already up years ago and has hundreds of quality content published about its topic. All it needed to do was to create internal links to relevant pages, and it was able to boost its traffic in a short period.


Your site’s success on search engines depends on how fast you can catch up with sites in your industry. 

Some niches are much easier to rank for in a short period, while others take much longer to appear on Google due to stiff competition.

To help you determine how competitive a niche is, you can run quick keyword research on Ahrefs. Enter your niche as the keyword and check the ideas the tool found for it.

Ahrefs keyword difficulty

From here, you’ll be able to see the keyword competition of the related terms. The more high competition keywords you’ll find, the harder it’ll be for your site to break into the top of the search rankings.

At the same time, each website requires different strategies and tactics since not all practices apply to each niche. In this case, you have to figure out which techniques will work best for a particular.

Nick Eubank’s case study should shed more light on this. His SEO agency conducted different approaches tailor-made to grow each site to where they are now. And while it took them years for the traffic to multiply, imagine if they rolled out a different campaign with tactics that don’t apply to the niche.

Technical SEO

Finally, you must tend to your site’s technical issues to ensure that search engines can crawl and index them in the first place.

If your site has failed to grow its organic traffic despite your best efforts, maybe Google can’t read and process your pages correctly. This may have something to do with how your website is set up.

For starters, you need to host your site on a reliable hosting provider. It helps increase the uptime of website pages and make them more available to your audience. More importantly, it improves site speed and creates the experience of visiting your site more pleasurable for people and search spiders.

Once you have your site up and running, you also need to conduct a full SEO audit of your site using tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

The results will show you issues and errors that you didn’t know existed, such as broken links, duplicate content, keyword cannibalization, and others. From here, you need to implement improvements based on the suggestions provided by your audit tool of choice.

Finally, you can check Google Search Console to see how Google views your site. On the dashboard, you will be able to see issues that need your utmost attention so you can fix them before something worse happens.


As part of your digital marketing strategy, SEO will be one of the best traffic sources for your site. However, you must temper your expectations when waiting for significant results to manifest on search engines.

Keep in mind that you are at the mercy of Google’s algorithm. It will rank your site eventually, but you have to make it as search-engine friendly as possible for that to happen. From here, only time will tell until your site is rewarded in its SEO journey.

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