It's well-known that small businesses tend to under invest in search engine optimisation. Because of this, it takes even longer for them to see the results of their campaign. In this blog, we'll talk about what you can expect to achieve, how long it'll take, and what you can do for better results.
How Long Does it Take for Your website to Rank?
Breaking away from arbitrary time frames
The first thing that we need to establish, and this is what drives small business owners crazy, is that you can't set goals for an arbitrary time frame. This is how you lose motivation and focus and give up on your campaign.
Although we have a very good idea of how Google's algorithm works, SEO is far from an exact science. There's just no way we can create a to-do list for you and promise that it will bring you to the top of the search engine results by the end of the year.
What's more important is that you're comparing your campaign today to your campaign last month. The goal is to see a steady increase in progress. We'll get to that later.
Factors affecting your SEO
There are tons of factors that affect your SEO, and small businesses should start off with the ones that make the biggest impact. Four of the most important factors include keyword competition, content quality, age of domain, and having a mobile-friendly site.
Rather than going into detail with each factor, we'll just explain how keyword competition can make or break your campaign. Consider what this Business 2 Community article says about competing with competitors over keywords:
"Instead, make your keywords specific. The more specific your keyword is, the less competition you’ll have, and the higher you’ll rank on search pages. When you’ve secured a safe rank on the search results page, that is the time to pull out more competitive keywords."
If another business has been targeting a keyword in its SEO campaign for the past five years, you're barely going to make any ground within the first few months of your campaign. In fact, we'd recommend avoiding that keyword altogether since the competition is too fierce. Instead, you can just focus on other, similar keywords that users in your target audience will likely search.
Evaluating your progress
As we mentioned before, it's not useful to create arbitrary goals for the first year of your campaign. To see what direction your SEO campaign is headed in, it's much better to track your progress by comparing your current standing to your old one.
There are lots of ways you can track the progress of your campaign. Although keyword rankings are useful, as long as they're in context, they usually don't tell as much as your organic traffic does.
A recent Forbes article explains how businesses can track and measure their SEO campaigns. According to the article, they should focus on organic traffic, since it's the ultimate determinant of SEO progress:
"In my opinion, traffic is the most important factor to track to determine an SEO campaign’s success; keyword rankings don’t matter much if those keywords aren’t leading users back to your site. You’ll want to track organic traffic here, the measure of all the visitors who found your site through search engines - but don’t forget about referral traffic and social traffic, both of which generally come from inbound links and content you’ve published elsewhere."
At the end of the day, the goal is to drive new, relevant users to your business website. High keyword rankings won't necessarily accomplish this. Instead, you should look at your SEO efforts of the past month and see how they affected your organic traffic.