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How Long does it Take to Rank on Search Engines?

Updated: Jan 24

Ranking on the first page of search engines like Google is vital for growing your website's search engine presence and driving traffic. However, one of the most common questions asked by business owners is, "How long does it take to rank on Google?"


Image titled "How long does it take to rank on Google?"

The short answer is anywhere from 3-12 months... seriously. The answer most SEO professionals will give you - "it depends". And yes, it really does depend on a number of things! Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to ranking websites on Google.


For many business owners, the practice of SEO is seen as witchcraft and frankly, the SEO agencies that are actually good get a bad rap because of others that either: couldn't produce results, guaranteed results in an insane amount of time but didn't deliver, or those who just screwed them over.


Understandably, I'd develop a distrust for these guys too if I were a business owner. However, for the ones that actually tried for you but couldn't give you the results you were looking for- it happens! I'll scream it all day long - nothing is guaranteed in SEO, or in marketing. It's the scientific method and we as SEOs create and test strategies continually. Here are the topics I'll be covering in this post:



So, How Long Does it Take to Rank on Google?

Some business owners are so eager to see results from an SEO campaign with a brand-new website in 3 months or less. Sure, it's achievable... if you have a ginormous budget for it.


But I'm writing to the average small business owner, who probably doesn't have thousands of dollars to pour into anything they would probably consider non-essential.


There is no definitive answer to the question of how long it takes for a website to rank on Google. This is because there are many factors that can impact a website's ability to rank well in Google's search results.


Does Budget Matter when it comes to ranking on Google?

Believe it or not, budget doesn't necessarily matter and usually has nothing to do with how fast you rank for your target keywords. Again, there are no guarantees! It's a complex process with several moving parts.

Don't let that discourage you from investing in SEO, though. It can still help improve many aspects of your website, so there are plenty of added benefits.


It's a marathon and takes months of consistency and maintenance to make sure you have the best chance of ranking higher in search results.


Understanding Google's Algorithm

Understanding just how complex search engine algorithms are is crucial for any business owner or digital marketer. For the sake of the topic, we'll use the Google algorithm - take into account various ranking factors such as domain authority, backlinks, content quality, and relevance to determine a website's position on Google search results. And just so we're clear, those 4 ranking factors I just listed are out of OVER 200.

But don't let that freak you out!


Broad Ranking Factors that Website Owners Can Focus On

Because there are way too many ranking factors to keep track of, you can luckily focus on 10 or fewer when creating an SEO strategy. Here, I'll be talking about some essential factors that can help grow your Google rankings.


Domain Age

In general, search engines tend to favor websites with a higher domain age, as they are considered to be more established and trustworthy than a relatively new website.


Google Business Profile Age

The same goes for your Google Business Profile on the local level- they are essential for local SEO as they provide the information users need to know about a business (address, phone number, hours of operation, customer reviews).


In general, websites with older Google Business Profiles tend to hold more authority over new listings given they tend to have more reviews and engagement which is a positive signal for Google's algorithm.


Referring domains

In simple terms, referring domains are other websites that link to your website. Think of it like a recommendation from one website to another. When a reputable website links to your website, it can help increase your website's credibility and authority in the eyes of search engines like Google.


This, in turn, can help improve your website's search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.


So, the more referring domains you have, the better it is for your website's SEO. It's important to note that not all referring domains will provide the same value for your website's SEO, so it's important to focus on building high-quality links from reputable websites in your industry.


Mobile-friendliness

More and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet and conduct searches. It is essential to make sure that your website is optimized for all devices so that it can be viewed and used on anything.

If not, website visitors won't want to stick around, and your rankings may go down, which leads to fewer visitors and ultimately you're back to square one.


There are a few things you can do to make your website mobile-friendly:


  • Use a responsive design. A responsive design is a design that adapts to different screen sizes, which can help to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.

  • Make sure your website loads quickly on desktop AND mobile

  • Use large fonts and buttons that are easy to tap on mobile devices.

  • Make sure your website's content is easy to read on mobile devices.

Simple, right?


Content Quality

Google ranks content, not keywords! Creating relevant & quality content is arguably the top Google ranking factor. Google wants to show users the most relevant and high-quality content for their search queries.


As I mentioned earlier, Google is constantly updating its algorithms to put the best content in front of users, which is why publishing content that is useful to users on a consistent basis can help your website rank in Google more easily.


This goes back to keyword research - find the best keywords for YOUR business and those that your potential customers will be searching for when looking for your products or services.


Or even research what questions people are asking within your niche and create relevant content based on those queries that is optimized for search results.


With writing comes research

When creating your website's content, make sure to do your research and make sure everything you put out is accurate and up-to-date.


Content Structure and Readability

The structure of your content should be organized and easy to navigate, making it easier for users to find the information they're looking for quickly.


What you write should also be on the eyes; don't just write walls and walls of text without including breaks and elements that users can interact with.


This can include:

  • Using the right language for your ideal reader

  • Including media (images, videos, infographics, charts) to break up your text to make it visually appealing

  • Breaking up your content into logical sections with subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists to improve readability and help your readers scan the text.


Technical SEO

Technical SEO has become more and more important in recent years and refers to the technical aspects of your website like website load speed, mobile-friendliness, and security.


It's one of the most important things you can do for your website! And here are a few things to focus on when performing a technical audit on your website:


Performance

If your website isn't loading in under 3 seconds, an estimated 25% of users will click away and choose a different website. When this happens, your bounce rate goes up which tells Google that your website is not a reliable resource for users and can hurt your rankings.

A variety of things can affect your website's performance:

  • Unoptimized or unused code, such as Javascript, HTML, or CSS

  • Unoptimized images

  • Unsecured website

  • Large code snippets or files

  • Large plugins taking up site space (if you're on WordPress)


Crawlability

You can't be found on Google if it can't crawl your website, which is the ability of a search engine to access your website and essentially scan it.


Indexing

Indexing refers to the action of search bots essentially scanning your website, including its content, media, and any other important aspects in determining how to rank your website. Generally, all the pages on a website should be crawlable unless you want search bots to ignore them for any particular reason.


Internal Links

Internal links are links from one page on your website to another and can play a big role in ranking pages for your website.


If you're curious to see how your website is doing on the technical side, there are tools you can use to run a quick audit. However, they do require you to have some knowledge of more advanced topics like Core Web Vitals and coding languages like HTML, JS, and CSS.


Google PageSpeed Insights for a website URL

Some useful tools that give you great insights:



Backlinks

Backlinks refer to links pointing to your website from another website. Most SEO professionals will tell you that it's the most difficult aspect of SEO, and for good reason.


There are many ways to approach link acquisition, but the most common way to acquire backlinks organically is to start a link-building campaign.


Link building not only takes up a ton of time if you're not a master at it, but the success rate is discouragingly low if you don't do it correctly.


This is why once you have done everything to optimize your on-page content and create relevant content for visitors, your SEO work will mainly be focused on link-building and maintenance. On-site work builds the foundation for a solid website, now it's time to spread awareness so potential customers can find you.


The stronger a website's backlink profile, the easier it will be to rank for a target keyword. However, they're not completely necessary to rank on page 1 of search results.


For instance, if your focus is to rank higher in Google Maps results, backlinks won't be your main priority since these campaigns focus on the local level and links will primarily be from NAP citations and other locally relevant websites.


User Experience

A website's user experience has become more and more important as design capabilities grow every year. Google and other search engines want to show users websites that are not only easy to use, but also accessible to all - well, that's actually the law.


Because of ADA compliance laws, if your website isn't readily accessible for people with disabilities, you run the risk of facing a lawsuit.


Gavel sitting next to book titled "ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act"

SEO Tools You Can Use

If you want to take on the challenge of ranking your website in search results, here are some tools that can give you valuable insights during your campaign.


Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool that helps website owners track their website's performance in Google Search. Along with that, you have access to other essential tools for your website, like Page Indexing, internal linking insights, and Core Web Vitals data.


Google Search Console organic search data for a small business

It provides useful reports that can help you understand how your website is ranking for different keywords and how often it appears in Google search results:

  • number of impressions your website is getting

  • number of clicks your website is getting

  • click-through-rate (CTR)

  • Average keyword position

Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides insights into how users are interacting with your website from different channels, including organic search. This information can be used to improve your website's usability and conversion rate.


Google Analytics traffic acquisition data

Track your website's traffic

Google Analytics provides detailed reports on how many visitors your website is getting, where they are coming from, and how they're interacting with your site. This information can be used to identify your money pages, which are most popular, and which pages could use improvement.



Additional SEO Tools

Semrush, or really any other All-in-one tool

Investing in an SEO tool like Semrush, Moz, or Ahrefs can give you access to tons of useful data and tools to optimize your website for the best chance of having a better website than your competitors.

Do keyword research, conduct competitor analysis, track your target keywords, create useful reports, complete website audits, and more!


Semrush keyword magic tool search for keyword "SEO tools for small business" results


In conclusion, ranking on Google is a complex process that involves various factors such as keyword competition, content quality, link building, and site performance.


However, by consistently creating valuable content for your audience and optimizing your site according to best practices, you can improve your chances of achieving higher rankings in due time.


Patience is key when it comes to improving your search engine presence. While there's no definitive timeline for achieving top positions on search results pages, focusing on high-quality content creation and technical optimization will ultimately help boost traffic to your site over the long term. Keep these factors in mind as you develop an SEO strategy tailored to meet the needs of both users and search engines alike.


If you think this is too much to take in and don't have the time to manage everything yourself, consider looking into SEO services that can deliver long-term results for your business.

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