How Long Does SEO Take To Show Results?

Brendan Egan

How Long Does SEO Take To Show Results?

If you’re considering SEO for your business or currently in the middle of an SEO campaign, you’ve probably wondered at some point just how long does SEO take to show results?
And if you’ve asked that question before you’ve probably heard the answer “it depends”.  In all honesty, whether you’re doing SEO with us or one of our competitors, it truly does depend and that response isn’t just the SEO company trying to brush you off (usually at least).

How Long Do Local SEO Campaigns Take?

Local SEO campaigns in general are the fastest of all campaigns because there’s far less competitors competing for the top spots.  So if you have a HVAC contractor in New Orleans, you should expect some pretty good SEO results after 6-8 months.  But if you’re an attorney in Chicago, then you’re probably going to be looking at 12-18 months before you see substantial results.
As you can see, a lot depends on where you’re located and what niche you’re in.  What also plays into the formula is how much you spend per month on SEO — a local electrician spending $300/month is going to see results a lot slower than one spending $600, $900, and so on.

How Long Do National SEO Campaigns Take?

As if we weren’t vague enough in the local example, national campaigns leave even more room for variability.  For example, a company trying to rank for the keyword “credit card” could spend $5,000 per month for 24 months and might still not make it to page one for that competitive term, whereas a company spending $500 per month on the keyword “DIY dog fences” might expect to see rankings in 6-8 months.
National campaigns depend on the level of competition as well, which in general is much higher than local campaigns.

So Is SEO Even Worth It?

Most certainly yes!  And I say that for two reasons:
1) Long Term ROI: Once you’re ranked, the ROI is fantastic.  I really can’t think of any better way to market a site and get a better ROI than SEO, but that of course only holds true once you achieve your page 1 and top 5 rankings.
2) Short Term ROI & Results: All of the examples above are talking about core competitive keywords; a good SEO company will do work in the short term to get you results and rankings.  Whether it’s through referral traffic from press releases or through long tail keywords that get ranked immediately or even through setting up a temporary Adwords campaign for you.

What Do Others Say?

Other SEO experts have varying opinions on how long SEO takes, but in general anyone telling you they can get you immediate results either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, will do things to put your site at risk of being banned from search engines, or is just trying to make a quick buck.
A few experts in the SEO field say the following about how long SEO takes:

Successful SEO requires time. A minimum of six months of SEO is required for almost every business website I see. Some small local business websites can be fully optimized within six months but most will need a minimum of six months of service, some very competitive industries will require 12 to 18 months of service. Terry Reeves, SEO Specialist
Most marketing niches with a reasonable budget and a knowledgeable SEO team on their side can achieve Google first page ranking for one or more keywords within 3-6 months. Ranking #1 can take much longer (from 6 months to several years), depending on how strong the #1 site is and how SEO-active they are. –Mike Munter, SEO Expert

So in short, remember that SEO is definitely a medium to long term investment in terms of seeing major results, but good SEO companies should be able to get you some small results and small amounts of website traffic fairly quickly through their work.  If you’re concerned about how long an SEO campaign is taking or the work being done on a campaign, give us a call and we’ll give you an unbiased opinion on how your campaign is going.