How long does it actually take to get ranked with SEO?

One of the first questions people who are just starting out ask is how long it takes to get ranked on Google using search engine optimisation (SEO). Which is fair – most people invested in SEO are itching to get their website listed on the top spot on Google.

However, patience is key. Reaching spot one does not happen overnight, and having a shiny new website isn’t enough to get you there (but it’s a great starting point). Getting ranked using SEO involves performing tasks such as keyword research, website optimisation and content production.

google search ranking

According to studies, the average time it takes for a website to rank on Google is between 3-6 months. After this time you should start seeing more organic traffic flowing to your website. Ranking as one of the top 5 positions on Google for your niche can take over a year.

It is worth noting that these are estimates, and that there are various factors that come into play when determining how long it will take for your website to get ranked.

Top 5 factors affecting how long it takes to get ranked:

Domain age

Websites which have been around for a longer period of time are perceived by Google as more trustworthy than newer websites and thus rank higher, all other things being equal. A new domain is one which has been active for 6 months or less (hence why most websites start seeing more traffic after this 6 month period). New websites can still obtain good rankings; it may just take a bit longer.

Clean domain

Websites which have not been penalised by Google are considered “clean domains”. Websites which use black hat SEO strategies like keyword stuffing or purchasing inbound links generally get penalised by Google, which negatively affects their ranking. Fixing websites which have been penalised can be time-consuming and difficult.

Keyword competition

Popular keywords are highly competitive, which means that trying to increase your rankings using only popular keywords is unlikely to get you very far, unless you have a highly trusted domain. Being selective of your keywords and choosing low competition keywords that fit your niche are more likely to get you results. High rankings from low competition keywords are still a great way to get organic traffic.

Content format

search results ranking

The type of content you are posting will also determine how quickly you get ranked on Google (i.e. breaking news stories are likely to rank higher than an article about car mechanics). Here are 10 content formats that will increase your ranking fast:

  1. Blog posts (e.g. ‘Health benefits of yoga’)
  2. Short-form evergreen content (e.g. ‘How to play solitaire’)
  3. Long-form articles (e.g. ‘Black holes explained’)
  4. Photo galleries (e.g. ‘Top 10 trendy hairstyles of 2019’)
  5. Detailed lists (e.g. ‘Best laptops of 2018’)
  6. Interactive tools (e.g. ‘Online food calorie calculator’)
  7. Category landers (e.g. ‘Couch options’)
  8. Guides (e.g. ‘How to write a novel’)
  9. Visualised data/infographics (e.g. ‘Facts about climate change’)
  10. Video (e.g. ‘Rainbow makeup tutorial’)

SEO optimised titles

Websites with titles which are SEO-optimised (meaning they contain the keywords you want to target) are more likely to rank faster than those which are not SEO-optimised. This is less important for strong, high-domain websites, but it is still worth being aware of.

There are many factors that affect how long it will take for a website to get ranked on Google. Ensure that you are working on effective SEO strategies and have patience and between 3-12 months you should start to see results.