technical SEO, even Google fails sometimes

How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working

One of the great debates we have heard for years is how long does SEO take to start working?

“We’ve often seen SEO companies and other colleagues shake their heads and start muttering about how long is a piece of string.”

New or old website

The reality is often how old is the website, how long is the website has been functioning in its current state and under its current ownership. Most websites rank somewhere for their core keywords. It might be on page 5 or 6 of Google.

Just reading on Google and listening to what new clients have been told by their old SEO company, there is a common misconception that SEO takes anything from 12 weeks to 12 months to have any impact at all.

Various Falsehoods

  1. SEO is all a case of hurry up and wait
  2. You have to be patient
  3. Google cannot be rushed

The reality is that this is just not true

Google visits most websites at least once in the last two weeks. If it identifies changes on pages via comparing file sizes.

Google will crawl and index more and more of the website as it finds more pages that have been updated. From experience, this is not guaranteed.

Should a Webmaster submit a new site map or use other ways of encouraging Google to visit the new and improved SEO-ed website this can be more controlled. Click here for more information on Google crawling times.

Google can easily be encouraged to reindex Your website at a click of a button through search consul.

Your website is now queued to be re-indexed and RESCORED.

This takes 7 days max. Click here for more on Googlebot and indexing (making a copy of).

How Google orders its index (Google ranking position) is by scoring every website and every webpage with a numerical score between nought and Infinity.

The pages are rescored when they have been newly indexed AND changes have been applied. When SEO is applied to your website in a broad sense, multiple pages have been altered so of course page scores will naturally increase or decrease.

The delay a lot of SEO’s are talking about is the time it takes for Google to recalculate the score of your webpages and the webpages that are currently in the index for a keyword.

Often when clients see their webpage go down in Google,  it hasn’t actually fallen it is just other website pages have gone above it, ie have a higher score. The time for Google to recalculate the on-site SEO new index score of a page is no more than 7 to 10 days and can occur much quicker.

“Websites that do not change are not restored. If you rank #1 for a keyword is it a good idea to hold off changing the website.”

So the amount of time on-page optimisation which can include a number of technical SEO improvements is under two weeks.

The actual scope of the improvements in a website’s entire Google rankings across multiple keywords would depend on the ratio between the number of pages optimised and the number of pages unchanged.

How the confusion happened

Where the confusion about timescales comes in is the difference in the time it takes for Google to react to on-site changes and optimisation and off-page optimisation.

Here we will refer to Off-page optimisation as backlinks. It can include other elements like reviews and social media ranking signals.

Building backlinks to a website means that the time to see improvements is longer as the strength of these new links (or link juice) is taken into account is longer.

The reason why is Google has to index these new websites with the newly placed backlink, identify that the links points correctly and legitimately to the client’s website and then recalibrate its algorithmic score for the website pages.

Google then needs to factor in the link strength of the backlinking websites.

When multiple backlinks have been created for a client’s website, again all of these new sites have to be indexed, the new backlink scored and added to the overall algorithmic score of the domain.

Everything takes time.

Google’s algorithmic scoring for backlinks is nowhere near as fast as it on-page optimisation scoring as there is so much more scoring and indexing to take into consideration.

Sitewide technical changes, high ratios of pages optimised and other SEO improvements to the content and code of the website can have fast and near instance effects on the traffic gained from a higher position within Google’s ranking.

The idea of the backlinks then is there trip fed into this equation further increasing and strengthening the score of each individual page and the domain is in its entirety.

The time it takes for Google to recognise all of the new backlink is created and add them into its algorithm and then re-score the domain and the individual pages seems to take anywhere between two weeks and eight weeks. Why so slow, we don’t know exactly.

Other factors

A client’s competitors are not sitting on their hands. All of these websites are no doubt doing their own SEO and their own backlink building. This has the effect of damping down the improvements of the initial SEO work.

The hope is that the cumulative SEO improvements both on-page and off-page are superior to competitors so that slowly the website supersedes their websites and ranks #1 in Google.

New projects

Newly launched projects are different

Where the website is brand-new Google is particularly kind. They have admitted to giving new websites, i.e. websites they have not indexed before an artificial boost within search results. So new websites can see their rankings seriously improve within 21 days of being presented to Google. Excellent!

However, after these three weeks of past the website invariably begins to slip down the rankings and then practically disappear.

The next stage of the project where further SEO work is achieved and more content is added into the mix means that the website begins to make its slow transition back up from nowhere to page 3 or 4.

The problem here is that the overall score of the domain and the websites being presented for each keyword asked so much lower than the pages on pages 1 and 2 of Google that the website gets stuck on page 3.

This is why you often see websites that occupy a number one position for a keyword remain there for years regardless of what the competitors do because the gap between the two scores is too great

“Google also gives some websites and artificially high score to some government websites. Type rehab into Google and you will see the NHS.uk. It is always there and will be for the next 5 years.”

This is where the real myth of SEO taking months and months comes from. New websites entering the market. If your website has history and some degree of ranking in Google then the process is much much faster.

One thing that takes a long time to work is poor SEO work.

This will in fact never work. So in a sense, if your SEO company is talking about months then perhaps you may want to walk away and find a better SEO company, like this one.