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It is a reasonable question to ask. After all, if you are going to invest in something you need to know how long it will take to get your desired outcome.
The problem with SEO is that it is a long term investment with mixed results. Don’t despair! I will show you a few case studies of campaigns that I have run to give you a ball park figure. Some of them take longer than others, but generally the outcome is very similar.
You need to change your question
SEO is an ongoing thing. Therefore, asking ‘How long does SEO take?’ is the wrong question. The question you should be asking yourself is ‘How long until I see results?’ Here are a couple of case studies.
Case Study no. 1 – ImYourBiz.net
I thought it would be appropriate to use my own website as the first case study. You have to remember that my keywords are more difficult to rank for than usual, because I am competing with other people who do what I do: SEO Marketing, Web Design etc.
I have been doing SEO marketing on my own website since October 2012. The illustration below shows how my website has been tracking in Google over that period of time.
When I first started I didn’t rank for anything really. It was only in month 3 when I really started seeing some changes. However, in month 4 my website seemed to have fallen off the wagon a bit, but I carried on creating content and doing what I do. Google soon rewarded me with good rankings on a number of keywords.
I now rank for 17 keywords in total and 7 on page 1. As time goes on, I will be ranking for more and more keywords. So as you can see, it has taken me 7 months to get an accumulative Google ranking movement of 1,039 spots.
Case Study no. 2 – GotEasyLiving.com
I just started SEO on this website in the middle of March 2013. I thought this would be a good example to show you some short term results.
As you can see, GotEasyLiving.com has moved up a hell of a lot in a very short space of time. They are ranking for 28 keywords in total and have gone up by an accumulative 767 spots in the last 30 days. This is a much quicker ascent than ImYourBiz has experienced.
I expect this to slow a down though. Small businesses don’t usually make 700 spot increases per month.
So how long does SEO take?
Well, ImYourBiz has been moving up about 152 spots accumulatively every month (on average). However, the keywords I target are more difficult than other niches. The general movement should be just over 200 spots per month.
Taking that into account, you should start seeing very small results after 3 months. However, you should really be evaluating it thoroughly after 5 months. Remember, my results dipped in month 3 and came back with a vengeance later on.
SEO is a patient man’s game. The businesses who continuously do SEO always come out on top.