Working on your search engine optimisation, or SEO, can take as little as 24 hours to see some results, but also as long as a year to see others. And this is because there is no one unified action that defines what SEO is about.

An example from our own SEO efforts

The first example is of a quick win. Recently, we decided that we wanted to start ranking for our own business for a specific search term on Google that we had not previously had any significant ranking for. So we started to increase the amount of references on our website for that kind of service. We created new articles and information pages on there to further explain those kinds of services and matched the search queries we could see in Google with a range of quick question-and-answer pages on our website and across various places online. This process took around 4 hours of dedicated work and a period of 3 days to go from no discernible rank at all, to Page 6 of Google. Whilst not spectacular, it was something. An additional week later, and that rank has moved to Page 4. Whilst we’re not expecting to reach the top of Page 1 in a hurry, we expect, at this rate, to reach Page 1 within 6 weeks by consistently fostering good content and outreach practices that have already given us some good initial results, despite being very new to serving the market we’re trying to rank for.

The quick local SEO result

The second example is of another quick win that took just a few really simple techniques to start working for our client. They were, despite being one of only three providers of their kind of service, ranking on around Page 3 of Google when searching for what they did. One of their competitors had such a strong presence on Google that, when searching for the work they all did, the competitor actually came up with their GoogleMyBusiness profile as the main result for that kind of work. There wasn’t even a map of other providers. It’s like that one provider was the only game in town. Our first goal was to get that competitor away from being the default result. That took about two weeks. Next was to get our client on to Page 1 from Page 3. That only took another 10 days. Now they sit some days at second position on Google, and on others at position 1. But it’s important to note that this was a low-competition case for a business that sells only to a local market, and has a distinct location that can be pinned on a map. And this all contributed to making this a much easier job to complete.

The slow burn of SEO

And a final example will be what was a much slower burn. In fact, the success on Google for this client didn’t become apparently until after our engagement with them had ended. When Darwin Courier Service first came to us, they were ranking fine on Google as a courier service, but what they really wanted to rank for, was as a budget removalist company. Around one year ago, we created them a basic website with the right kind of information that would attract the right kinds of searches and then embarked on a very modest spend on Google ads and Facebook Ads. And that spend was modest to the point of being under $150 per month on Google and under $50 per month on Facebook. And this activity lasted only a few months on both platforms. However, we also listed the client on various directories and websites around the internet that was appropriate for what they did. We also helped to improve their presence on GoogleMyBusiness. But nothing had been done with this client for some 9 months since we did the last set of ads. Yet today, they are the first local result that comes up for the two most important searches for their line of business. But as much as 6 month ago, this was not the case. Even 3 months ago it wasn’t the case. No further Google or Facebook ads were bought. It just took time for traffic to build and for the process of an improving rank to be carried out.

While there is no one answer to how long it will take for SEO work to help improve your Google ranking, there are ways to get small quick wins in as little as a week. But the real work of having an impact when your industry is highly competitive and you don’t have a huge budget to work with, can take a long time to bear fruit. You could post a 3000-word blog post every day for 2 years, and pay hundreds of dollars per month on outreach services, search engine marketing agencies and site speed services and still not get to number 1 because the factors of how a certain business appears first in a search are many and numerous – and let’s not forget that you see a version of Google that is tuned to you. And it’s not often the same Google that I see.