How Long Does It Take to See SEO Results?

While every search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is different, most businesses can expect to see SEO results within six months. SEO takes longer than other tactics, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, to work because search engines use dozens of factors to rank websites in search results and these factors, like your backlink profile, take time to optimize. Keep reading to learn more about how long SEO takes to work and see a typical SEO timeline!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a valuable strategy for boosting your rankings in search results and helping you reach more customers.

It’s no secret that SEO gets the job done. In fact, SEO spend in the U.S. is set to reach $79.3 billion by 2020.

Businesses who implement SEO campaigns rank higher in search results, increase web traffic, boost brand awareness, and most importantly, earn more revenue.

With those kinds of benefits, it’s easy to understand why SEO is one of the most effective marketing strategies out there.

However, before implementing SEO, many businesses want to know how long it takes to see SEO results.

On this page, we’ll talk about a typical SEO timeline, what’s involved in an SEO campaign, and how long you can expect to wait to see SEO results. If you’d like to check the current status of your website’s SEO, use our free SEO checker!

Are SEO results immediate?

We live in a society where we like immediate gratification. We don’t like to wait in the checkout line for more than a couple of minutes, and if someone doesn’t reply to our text right away, we become frustrated.

The same thing is true for an SEO campaign. When businesses invest in SEO, they know how great results can be, and they want them right away. That’s why so many companies that start SEO soon ask, “How long does it take for SEO to work?!”

However, as opposed to a marketing strategy like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that works almost instantaneously, it can take SEO campaigns a while to produce results.

That means that you’re not going to see your website jump to first position rankings the very day you implement SEO. You’re not going to see customers flooding your storefront, and your revenue isn’t going to increase in the first week of implementing your campaign.

Instead, you can plan to wait around six months until you start seeing results. These results go beyond rankings, too. The best SEO campaigns will help your business rank for keywords that attract leads and sales.

Why does it take SEO so long to work?

Since SEO is broken down into tons of other sub-strategies, it’s nearly impossible to see results right away. It takes Google time to determine things like:

  • The relevance of your page to a user’s search
  • What search intent your page caters to
  • How reliable and trustworthy your information is
  • If your keywords are used in legitimate contexts
  • What the images on your site are
  • How long it takes for your page to load
  • How many backlinks you have on your page

All of this information, and more, determines where you rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). That being said, Google has to crawl your site and index your content before you can rank.

Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant information and best possible user experience. Because of this, Google displays results with the most useful information regarding a search term — and the more authoritative your site, the higher you will rank.

How long does it take for SEO to work?

With all that in mind, it’s easier to understand why SEO takes a little longer to work than other strategies. But what is the exact time it takes to get organic traffic, leads, and revenue from SEO?

Like anything, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact amount of time that it takes for your company to see organic traffic from SEO. The length of time it takes to see organic results depends on:

  • Your competition
  • The keyword you’re trying to rank for
  • How easily and quickly Google can index your website content

All things considered, it typically takes 4-6 months to see organic traffic from SEO. That time is measured from the very start of your campaign.

Sometimes this frustrates business owners since they don’t quite understand how such a simple strategy can take such a long time to produce results.

However, the fact is, SEO is not a simple strategy. It has many sub-strategies that allow it to be extremely effective in the long run.

In the next section, let’s take a look at the different stages involved with an SEO campaign so it’s easier to understand why it takes a considerable amount of time to bear fruit!

A typical SEO timeline: What happens in months 1-6

To understand the time involved with an SEO strategy, it’s easiest to look at it month by month via an SEO timeline.

Month 1

You’ve done your research and determined what SEO agency is best for you. They offer all the strategies that you’re looking for in an SEO company and you can’t wait to get started. Here are some of the things that your SEO will work on in the first month.


SEOs will start by researching every little thing about your brand. This is necessary information since every company is different and unique.

Your SEO will research your industry, how competitive it is, your specific niche, competitors and how they rank, as well as more granular topics like important industry keywords.

All of this information will help to sculpt your SEO campaign.

Website audit

Upon taking you on as a client, your SEO company will take a look at the structure of your website, the content you have, and your overall user experience. The best SEO companies, like WebFX will also do a thorough SEO or website audit.

This helps them to see what you already have in terms of content, develop areas of opportunity, and create a game plan for a high-level SEO strategy.

Keyword planning

You’ve probably heard the saying “content is king,” and it couldn’t be more accurate. Content is what allows you to rank in search engines. Without it, your website is essentially dead weight.

In order for your content to rank in search engines though, you have to create pages that target keywords your audience searches online. For that reason, keyword research and planning is an extremely important part of the SEO process.

It helps SEOs determine the scope of keywords that you need to target, how many, and what kind.

Month 2

Keep in mind, all the items above don’t always take a whole month to finish. Depending on the quality and standing of your current website, your SEO company may be able to start on items that usually take place within the second month, during the first month.

In general, though, here are a few things that happen within the second month of your SEO campaign.

Website modifications

The second month is typically when more technical SEO work begins. This means your SEO will enter the back end of your site and start making the necessary changes to ensure that you rank higher in search results.

The changes that they make are solely based on your website audit. For example, if you already have fantastic alt tags for your images, there is no need for your SEO to pull an alt tag report and fix them. However, if they noticed that your site’s meta descriptions are lacking, they’ll be sure to update them.

If your website is old, or you bought it from someone else, it may need a total SEO overhaul. This in itself could take months. You’ll typically find out from your SEO if your site needs a total overhaul within the first month when the website audits take place.

Ensure responsive design

Responsive design means that no matter what device a user views your website on, they have a great experience. If you have a website that isn’t responsive, it’s likely that when users view it on a smartphone or tablet, it doesn’t look the same it does on a desktop.

Buttons could be cut off, images might take up the whole screen, and the site itself is more difficult to navigate. At this stage in the game, your marketing manager will ensure that your site is responsive, since that affects your site rankings too.

Month 3

The third month is when the magic starts to happen. Remember how we said content is king? This is where we start to apply that mantra.

Keyword selection

Before your SEO can create and implement content, they’ll have to look at the long list of keywords that they pulled at during the first month and narrow it down to the keywords they want to target.

Different keywords lend themselves well to different kinds of content. For example, there are long-tail keywords and generic keywords.

Generic keywords typically include one or two words, and they describe a broad topic. These terms include “pizza,” “shoes,” or “dogs.”

While generic keywords often have high search volume, many other companies in your industry target them. This means it’s often difficult to rank for them organically.

Long-tail keywords are often more targeted and contain three or more words. Specific to your niche, these keywords target an ultra-specific need.

They include phrases like “pepperoni and pineapple thin crust pizza,” “red high heel shoes with ankle straps,” or “sheepadoodle puppies in Pennsylvania.” Each of these keywords caters to a very specific need.

Though long-tail keywords have a lower monthly search volume, they attract more qualified leads to your site — people who are most likely to purchase your products or services. When it comes to keywords, high search volume and low competition is a winning combination.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into selecting keywords before writing content. That’s why content creation as a whole takes a whole month, or more, depending on what your website needs.

Content creation

One of the most important parts of an SEO campaign is the content creation. As you can see, it’s a process to determine exactly what keywords to target with your content, but after SEOs have the keywords down, it’s go time for content creation.

Similar to keywords, there are different kinds of content, too. During the third month, your SEO agency will pair each keyword with a specific kind of content that would work best with each topic.

For example, there is long-form contentblog content, and general product/service content. At this point in your SEO campaign, your marketing manager will determine what kind of content your site needs and create a plan that’s right for your website.

Long-form content typically contains more than 2000 words, and it is extremely important for SEO purposes. In fact, long-form content is proven to earn higher organic traffic, more social shares, and more backlinks.

But it’s not as simple as just creating a 2000 word article and posting it to your site. Writers have to be careful to satisfy search intent or satisfy the exact purpose of a user’s search. For example, if a user searches “thin crust pizza,” is the search intent to find a recipe for thin crust pizza? Find a location that delivers thin crust pizza? Learn about the history of thin crust pizza?

In prior years, SEOs could simply write content that was stuffed full of the keyword they were trying to target, but Google has gotten much smarter since then. In order for your content to rank, your website must feature content that satisfies user intent, not just utilizes the keyword.

Blog content is a bit more of a commitment since it must be updated on a regular basis. However, blogs are extremely beneficial to SEO. That’s why most SEO companies will recommend that you have a blog implemented and provide your blog content at an extra charge.

The reason blogs are so beneficial is the fact that they’re easy to share on social media, they’re easy to get through, and they’re a constant stream of new information on your website, which Google favors.

General product and service content is something that you may already have on your website. This is the content that talks about your business, your story, and specs and descriptions of products and services. This content is extremely important if you want your specific product offerings to rank in Google — and if we were to guess, that’s one of your goals.

The sooner this content appears on your website, the better. As soon as your content is posted, Google can start indexing it and ranking it in search engines.

Don’t expect to see your newly-posted content in search results within the first week, but you may start to see well-written content rank, at least somewhere in search results, after a month or two.

Month 4

Month four is when you start to see your SEO campaign bear fruit. By this month, you should experience some increased site traffic and an improvement in site rankings.

However, that doesn’t mean an SEO’s job is over. They’ll continue to implement content on your website, fix technical issues, and make your site function 100 percent across the board.

The continuous addition of content and technical aspects of SEO like link building are important during this month to keep the SEO momentum moving. Building authoritative links is important to your ranking because it shows Google that other high-authority websites trust your information enough to link to it.

In order to increase backlinks, your marketing manager may reach out to other companies in your industry and ask for them to link to your content.

Month 5

By month five, you should start seeing real results from your SEO campaign. You should see an increase in site traffic, and you may even see some extra sales rolling in. This means that your campaign is working and can give you a good inclination of whether or not your campaign is effective.

So what will your SEO agency be up to during this month?

Looping in social media

If your social media profiles weren’t already attached to your website, this is typically when your SEO will go back to do so. If you don’t have social media accounts that embrace your brand, your marketing manager might be able to suggest a great social media marketing agency to help you with this step. If they’re a full-service SEO agency, like WebFX, they’ll be able to take care of your social media presence in-house!

Analyzing current results

An important part of an SEO company’s job is to report their findings back to you, the client — and some of the most important findings are analytics regarding your campaign.

Your SEO should be keeping track of your campaign throughout the process, but it’s around month five where you can really start to see a jump in traffic or conversions. Your SEO will use tools like Google Analytics to show you how your campaign is performing.

It’s a bonus if the agency you work with is a Google Premier Partner, like WebFX!

Month 6

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t seen the results you were hoping for by this point. Like we mentioned in the beginning, there are a ton of factors that determine just how long it takes for you to acquire organic traffic via SEO.

However, if you had a typical case, your SEO campaign should be producing real results by this point. If your website is producing increased traffic, congratulations! But it’s not time to stop. Here’s what your SEOs will be up to in month six:

A/B testing

A/B testing is a tactic that marketers use in order to test different elements on your website. For example, if your SEO implemented a call to action button, but wants to try a different version in a different color in order to determine which performs the best, they might perform an A/B test. This test will allow them to see what variation of a specific element performs better and implement that version on your website.

Heat map testing

Another test that marketers may use on your site heatmap testing. This test shows how far users get down a certain page before leaving. It also shows where users click the most and can be a great indication of whether or not you need more interactive elements above the fold.

Bonus video: Answers to more common SEO questions

Get results from SEO with WebFX

Now that you know how long it takes for SEO to work and want to reap the benefits of SEO including increased website traffic, improved brand awareness, and amplified revenue, WebFX can help.

We’ve been in the business for over two decades and have created countless SEO campaigns that have driven insane results for our clients. In fact, in the last five years alone, we’ve been able to generate over $3 billion in client revenue.

We have over 500 Internet marketing specialists in-house that are experts at driving client results. They are all masters of their field thanks to their will to never stop learning in addition to keeping up with industry standards and news. This means that your campaign is always at the forefront and utilizes cutting-edge technology.

If you’re curious about what other clients think about our work, feel free to check out our collection of over 1020 client testimonials. We can’t wait to add your testimonial soon!

If you want to learn more about our SEO services that help improve your search ranking, feel free to contact us online. If you’d like to speak with a specialist in person, give us a call at 888-601-5359! We can’t wait to hear from you!