What Is The Time Frame For Seeing SEO Results?


A well-run SEO campaign should be able to show results within 4-6 months. I am defining results as “new, targeted, organic traffic that produces leads.” Of course, there are campaigns that show results in 1 month and there are others that show results in 18 months. The timing of results depends on how competitive your niche is and how talented your SEO folks are. If we assume top SEO talent for a moment, here are some examples that should give you a reasonable idea of what to expect:

  • A construction supply company (which would have very little online competition and likely hasn’t done much SEO work before) should see real results in about 4 months
  • A financial institution specializing in the competitive category of payday loans, which is likely to have done SEO in the past, should expect to see tangible results in 12 months
  • A firm specializing in change management –a fairly competitive category – that has done some light SEO in the past should expect to see results in about 6 months.

Now let’s stop assuming first-rate SEO talent and break down what that part of the equation means; because if you do ineffective SEO, your results could take years to arrive.

There are three factors that determine whether your SEO team is conducting an effective campaign: Content, Consistency, and Charisma. Starting with the first, the quality and consistency of the content you produce will set the stage for Google awarding your site with quicker indexing, higher rankings, and placement for valuable long tail keywords. If it’s true thought leadership content and is published at least 2-3 times per week, Google will feel that your site is adding to the online dialogue around your subject area and will want to promote your content.

Then there’s the second factor, Consistency. If a site simply keeps at the process of publishing content, earning links naturally, and improving their website, Google will eventually give them a pass into the world of higher organic traffic. But they need to prove that they’re truly dedicated to these white-hat practices for 1 -3 months before they get their golden ticket.

The third element that defines an effective SEO campaign, Charisma, is a little trickier. As you know if you read my articles, links are the currency of Google’s trust. But getting them requires you to earn the trust of the people who own or operate websites. Earning a person’s trust is a different ballgame from earning an algorithm’s trust (human-like as it may be). It requires a real conversation to take place, involving multiple e-mails, an explanation of your vision, and a meeting of minds. All in all, it takes real “online charisma” to convince somebody that your website is worth linking to. That’s why PR firms exist and why so few SEO companies are good at building links naturally. And because earning people’s trust takes time, so too does the process of earning links, and therefore, your SEO results.

So there’s the best answer I can give you. And now that I’ve given you that answer, let me also remind you that it’s important to understand what results you should be expecting from an SEO campaign in the first place. If your expectations are to be #1 for your top keyword, your priorities may be in the wrong place. Rankings are a hammer that is used to build the house of a successful marketing campaign; they are not the house itself.

The feeling of having a smoothly-running SEO campaign and seeing new leads come in from it every week is unparalled. So, while SEO is an investment, it is certainly worth waiting for.

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