A common question we get when working on SEO is "when will I see the changes"? That's understandable: Businesses want a way to see if all this search engine optimatizion work is also changing the site – increasing traffic, improving page rankings, etc. While there are some tests that can show the quality of SEO work across your site (linking in particular), real-world results take a little time. Here's what you need to know about how long to wait.
Bottom Line on Time
Depending on your web traffic and what has been changed, you will be able to compare the "old" and "new" versions of your site after a couple months. This gives enough time to bring in new traffic, examine visitor behavior, and track activity. It's also an optimal scenario: Slower or more complex changes may require several months before changes become evident. As a general rule, the bigger and more bombastic your changes – entire redesigns, for example – the faster your results will start to change after implementation.
Tweet: Bigger and more bombastic website redesigns will see faster #SEO ranking results.
Old vs. New Websites
If you are starting a new website, the rules are a bit different. Google prefers older websites that have built up trust via good practices. A brand new site will fair less well until it's been around for about six months or so. Google then treats the site more respectfully and page ranking often changes as a result.
Type of Content: News vs. Thought
Fresh content is important for search engine ranking, but some types of content are more fast-acting than others. Anything that is especially timely, like content following popular news stories, will change your traffic very quickly in the short term. The more relevant to society or pop culture, the more noticeable the shift (i.e., lots of people may care about the latest political scandal, but few would be interested in your new electromagnetic drill). More thoughtful or analytical pieces have a long-term effect, but show less short-term activity.
Other content factors can also speed up how quickly Google will bump you up the rankings. Author trust, quality linking, and varying types of content (pictures, articles, video, etc.) all matter here.
SEO and keywords face a tricky battle against competition. Picking popular or common phrases means that more people will search for those keywords…but it also means that many, many more pages will be returned and your site is more likely to get lost in the mass of options. Good SEO tends to favor unique keywords that are still directly related to your brand. There are lots of analytical tools to help create and curate lists of strong keywords, but generally good keywords with low competition will improve your page ranking more immediately, while common keywords are more of a long-term endeavor.
Staying Off Google's Naughty List
Google occasionally cleans up by assigning penalties to websites that aren't keeping up with its latest rules or are showing just horrible, predatory SEO practices. Regardless of whether it was warranted or not, if your site has been penalized either manually or by algorithms it will probably take you longer to recover. There are ways to remove a penalty if you are willing to work at it.
As you can see, expecting overnight changes is unrealistic. Think of it like checking out a car engine: Ultimately you just have to let the engine run for a while and run a few diagnostics to chart performance. Likewise, any change in a website will take a certain amount of run time and testing to chart properly.
Still confused by all this search engine ranking talk? We are just a handshake away! Reach out to us and we can help you optimize your website and bring clarity to your content marketing strategy.