Why Does SEO Take So Long To Work?

Rounded Photo of a Man with Dark Hair in a Blue Shirt Denis Khorolsky 26/08/2021 8 min read


“How long does it take for seo to show results?” - that, probably, will be the first question, which you will ask your newly-hired SEO manager. If you are raising such a topic, you are likely to be not really familiar with search optimization, but you already understand its significance for your business. The exact SEO problem is, that in contrast to classical marketing, where the result is practically visual and does not keep you waiting, SEO is not so obvious. 

search results

The good news is that here you can easily test your manager. If he or she's the answer is gonna be something like “ as soon as possible, '' or “a couple of months”, congratulations this company only wants your money, and will tell you anything to please you. All you have to know is that quick SEO doesn’t exist. Or at least white hat SEO.

In case you got the answer that SEO takes time, that’s it. But don’t start to boil over and demand a report for each cent spent. Yes, to show some official confirmation, according to Google, it takes from 4 months to 1 year, only to start seeing the changes in your rankings. Take into account that these are approximate numbers, all of the cases are very specific. It highly depends on which positions you are in at the moment, and how many changes it will take to gain Google’s authority. 

At the same time, there is a timeline for every SEO strategy, which makes it a little more clear how long it takes for seo to work. Basically, it consists, on the one hand, of familiarization with the market and researching the company and website. And, on the other side, of the technical part. The last one approximately takes from 2 to 3 months, but that is not the point. 

The thing is that people tend to think that everything is limited with the technical work when in reality, it is the research and discovering what will pass and what will not. And even then, the process never finishes and continues more and more with the accumulation. So, keep reading to know how long it takes for SEO changes to take effect and what is actually “result” in SEO terms. 

Why is the result not everything, and why SEO takes time? 

seo info

So, whether you like it or not, nobody can tell you for sure the exact timing. And, still, it is necessary to understand that when we talk about numbers, we talk about the results. But SEO is not a “point”. It is a “process”. In these terms, SEO outcomes become something specific and distinct for different companies and people. That means, for example, if your goal is to gain the number 1 position for some keywords, it probably won’t work because SEO includes many variables. 

Of course, result-oriented SEO service is what every business owner will be expecting, as finally, it is the amount of traffic that plays a key role. But, you just have to know that SEO is a set of steps, including the keywords work and website structure development, metadata refreshment, link-building, etc. If you pay attention just to one thing, most likely that it won’t function. 

And here we are coming to the point of “ old vs new “ SEO, as not so long ago, it was enough only to determine a couple of main unique keywords, and that was it, to reach the top positions. But with SEO development and, accordingly, its complication, delivering a tremendous amount of traffic becomes tougher. 

Factors influencing SEO 

So, discussing how long SEO takes to work, we have to consider some significant factors. Besides different stable elements like keywords and quality of content, your ability to adapt to the changes, and your budget, we can’t forget about aspects that are going to be specific for each website. They include questions like how old your website is, your localization, the branch you are working, how you socialize with your customers, and if your site is optimized for mobile versions. 

SEO factors

All of these factors have a significant impact and only make it harder to predict the exact numbers on how long does SEO take, but below, we will explore critical issues. 

1. Your content

That is the starting point of every SEO optimization. First of all, it takes time to analyze and identify weak spots. Does your content correspond to your targeting keywords? Does it provide valuable data to users? The question of the authority of your website is what will interest Google crawlers in the first place. 

You have to prove that you can be a source of reliable information, and the number of links and responses to articles from others, as well as authoritative websites, will be a sign to Google. So, to put it simply, your content has to satisfy consumers completely. Also, not less important is how structured your material is. You have to optimize it with proper headings, bullet points, etc. 

2. Your competitors

The next, obvious or not, factor is analyzing your competitors. As SEO is no more a secret, when you are reading this article, your competitors are doing the same. Rivalry in the market becomes tenser with each year passing, and giant corporations are creating whole units for promoting their SEO interests. And that directly relates to how long SEO takes to see results, while if you are targeting super popular keywords, you definitely have to prepare yourself for the long run. You must have a vision of how exactly you are going to beat them, and most likely, it should be a quality field that once again returns us to factor number one. 

3. Your budget abilities

We would like to say that money is changing nothing, but that won’t be true. As in any industry, the more finanсe is available to you, the more it gives you the possibility to invest in your SEO. And in the first place, it will affect the “how long does it take for seo to kick in” problem. Having a wider budget will simply allow you to create a bigger team, which can successfully perform different tasks on many levels. 

At the same time, it’s logical that with narrower capital fewer employees will do the bigger amount of work. And that is an explanation why industry giants are often more “well-to-do” with SEO. Still, it doesn’t always necessarily affect the quality of content, so it doesn’t guarantee you the fast speed of climbing the rankings.  

4. Your responsiveness

Finally, after doing all the analytics, you begin to implement the changes. And this is the trap for many people who think that will be the moment X, and from now and then, the question “How long does it take for SEO to take effect?” won’t be it because this is the moment. But things don’t work like that, unfortunately. Actually, everything here will depend on how quickly you can react and implement the changes and how many changes are needed, and there’s complexity. 

It’s excellent if your SEO manager suggested a small number of changes to you, which means that your website is already on track and performing well enough. But in reality, most often, changes are pretty global, which automatically influences the speed. Also, let’s not forget that it takes Google some time to re-process information on your website. 

seo plan

Maybe some good news?

Eventually, there is hope. Accordingly to Forbes, it is still possible to predict a little bit and give you an approximate development of events. So, how long does SEO take? As we already know, from 4 months minimum to 1-year plus. Thus, we can imagine a general 6-month action plan to provide you with a vision. 

  • 1 Month - global market and website examination and exploration. Identifying the problems and creating solutions. Preparing for technical work.
  • 2 Month - technical work implementation and starting to make a link profile and content development.
  • 3 Month - the main blow goes to the content. It is all about writing articles, dissemination of the data about the company, etc. If you are lucky enough, you can see the first results and receive the first answers about how long does it take SEO to work.
  • 4 Month - period of active technical SEO work, which may require bag fixing and improvement of already good-working technics, and more content creation. At this stage, you should surely start to see the first income. 
  • 5 Month - this becomes the right moment to plug in some social media and PR. You have already started getting the leads, so you can safely make your site more public. 
  • 6 Month - this may be the point when you attach some conversion rate optimization because you have 5000 visitors per month. But generally, you continue content evolvement. 


So, how long does SEO take to start working? With years of practice, it becomes evident that no matter what are the expectations of our clients and popular internet myths - strong and effective SEO base comes from a long-term strategy. The processes like accumulation, executing, and carrying through the Google spiders are takea great amount of time. There are still many additional factors that will decide how long before SEO changes take effect. So, yes, no one can tell you for sure the time, but Wiserbrand can help you strive with it.

Rounded Photo of a Man with Dark Hair in a Blue Shirt
Denis Khorolsky
Chief Operating Officer
As a multi-skilled business development executive, I like to share my insights and the latest trends in ecommerce. I produce research-driven and clear copy to unlock new opportunities for your business and keep it competitive. If you want to connect, follow me on LinkedIn.
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