Get Google to Visit Your Site
How long it takes to start seeing results starts with Google. Once
Google spiders your site you will still have to wait for the updated
cache to appear in Google's index, and in most cases, you will have
to wait longer still to see any impact in the search rankings.
In most cases getting Google to your site is relatively easy, but it
can sometimes take a month or longer. Even a site with some inbound
links and an XML sitemap, may have to wait a while.
Typically an established active website will seldom have to wait more
than a month to get Google's eyes; however, if your site has been sitting
stagnant for several years, it may take longer.
How Long Will it Take For Rankings?
You now know some of the determining factors, but how long will it
take for your site to see an improvement in its organic rankings? I
really wish there was a solid answer to this question, but with such
a vast array of variables there is no way to know for sure. I can say
however, that from experience, the timelines below are fairly accurate.
A niche industry is represented by phrases that are relatively specific,
such as "widgets Bellingham". While they don't require a geographic
modifier, phrases focused on a very specific area often are considered
niche. Phrases used for a niche site will also often return less than
100,000 results in a Google search. The top 10 ranking sites will also
often have less than 100 inbound links each.
- Brand New Site: Possibly as little as a few months
- Established Site: Potentially it could literally be over night, but
most likely around 6 weeks.
Medium Industry terms are slightly more general, but still include some
kind of modifier, such as a state or color; "Washington Widgets"
or "Blue Widgets". These phrases often represent no more than
a few million results in a typical Google search with the top 10 ranking
sites having between 100-1,000 inbound links.
- Brand New Site: 6 months to a year
- Established Site: 2-4 months
Highly Competitive Industry
These pages are those with phrases that are rather broad and seldom
have any modifiers, such as simply "widgets". You will often
find tens or even hundreds of millions of competing pages in Google
for your target phrase. Often the links required for the top 10 will
be in the thousands, or tens of thousands (sometimes even in the millions).
- Brand New Site: Anywhere from 1 to 5 years
- Established Site: Could be as long as a year or more
For a brand new site, starting with nothing, in most cases you will
be looking at around a year before you start to see significant ranking
changes. You may get the odd ranking here and there, and start to see
some traffic, but for any phrases that are remotely competitive, it
can take quite a while. Unless you have a very tight niche, expect to
wait at least 6 months before you see any movement at all. This is not
to say that you can't get quick results, but in the majority of cases
it is quite rare.
For more established sites, rankings tend to come much more quickly.
One significant factor in determining time is links. If your established
site has lots, but the site itself is simply lacking fundamental SEO
or proper navigation, then you can sometimes see results rather quickly.
If you have no links and need to build them, it significantly increases
the wait time. Even for an established site, achieving links in a competitive
industry can still take some time.
Rankings Are Taking Forever
There are a number of reasons why your site may not achieve results.
If you find that your campaign has been going on for a long time and
you have seen no movement what-so-ever, it is possible that one of the
following is hindering your efforts.
Spamming & Penalties
In some cases your site may take forever to achieve rankings, or the
rankings may not come at all. If your site has been previously penalized
for spamming, you absolutely must clean up all traces of the past dirtiness.
Once the site is entirely cleaned up, then you can apply for re-inclusion.
This is certainly no assurance that Google will ever pay your site any
attention again, but it's the first step to the land of maybe.
If your site has utilized mass amounts of duplicate content, chances
are you will not ever see rankings until you replace it all with something
original and meaningful. There is no "duplicate content" penalty
per-se, but you are essentially penalizing yourself if you copy content.
Google tends to look at the first instance it finds online for a piece
of content as the official source (not always the case).
If you copy content that is already out there and indexed by Google,
they will discount your content as it is already indexed somewhere else,
and your site or page will simply not get any rankings for it - and
Links (or lack thereof)
If your site has no links, you probably will not get any rankings, even
after you are fully indexed. This is not always the case, I have seen
sites rank well for various phrases with zero inbound links - but it
is rare, and should not be relied on. Build up your links period.
On the flip side of this, let's say your site has thousands of links,
but they are from free for all sites, link farms, or "bad neighborhoods",
and so on - they won't help you. These links won't necessarily hurt
you, but will be essentially ignored. You need quality, relevant links.
You just may be out of your league. If you have a small operation, and
are competing for a major ultra competitive term, chances are you won't
ever see the light of day. Not to say it is not possible, but if you
are competing in a well established industry where literally 10's of
thousands of links are required, and your target phrase is experiencing
millions of searches a month, you need to weigh your targets. Chances
are your keywords need to be re-evaluated as your chances of success
If your SEO gives you actionable recommendations, follow them. Recommendations
are given for a reason, to help you achieve rankings. If you are not
willing to implement what is suggested, then your campaign may go nowhere.
I have seen websites fail to rank simply because clients ignored recommendations.
Your SEO will not be able to help you if you refuse to implement their
A Little Success Story
I have seen rankings come literally within hours. It is very rare but
it happens. In one specific example a blog post was put up on a very
specific niche topic that had almost no coverage online. Google coincidently
spidered the blog within an hour or so of posting, and within an hour
from that, the blog post was #1 in the organic results for the most
relevant phrase. The site saw a giant spike in traffic for the next
couple days while the phrase was a hot topic. (The search phrase was
very specific and localized: "election results"). This shows
that for a site with an established link base, and a good reputation
in Google, rankings can sometimes come extremely quickly.
Regardless of industry and target phrases, you will have to wait for
your search results. Just how long you will wait varies on far too many
factors to give a solid number, but expect to wait for results anywhere
from a few days to several years. It's the best time frame I can give
without knowing specific details of your site and project.
About The Author
Scott Van Achte is the Senior SEO at StepForth Web Marketing Inc. based
in Victoria, BC, Canada and founded in 1997. You can read more of Scott's
articles and those of the veteran StepForth team at news.stepforth.com
or contact us at StepForth.com, Tel - 250-385-1190, TollFree - 877-385-5526,
Fax - 250-385-1198