why does SEO take so long?
Updated: Apr 20
In a time when being easy to find via search engines can make or break a business, no company (big or small) wants to lag behind. With so many SEO agencies out there, finding the right one can sometimes seem like a Herculean task. And when you finally find a good SEO agency, after the first two months, you still seen no results. Your search engine result positions remain more or less the same and the organic number of visitors is not rising.
When will I see the results of the SEO work being done? Why does SEO take so long? How come I can’t see the results? These are questions business owners can’t stop asking about SEO.
The difference between SEO and other marketing channels
The most logical response when you see no results is to contact the marketing or SEO agency. You want to know why you can’t see results, even though you’re paying for SEO services every month.
With most marketing channels you can already see the results in just 1 to 2 months, and based on those results, you can then adjust your strategy. You can easily put a stop to methods that are not working and maybe test out a few different strategies to see if they will help achieve results.
Unfortunately, this does not apply to SEO. You have probably heard it before, but SEO isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and it takes time. SEO is more than just adjusting, for example, a text or adding search terms on a page. It takes time to research the market you are in, the search terms that are being used and of course, to perform analyses. Consider a competition analysis and a technical analysis. It also takes time to implement the technical optimisations, to improve the pages on your website and to create qualitative and relevant content. These are just a few examples of work being performed by the business or an SEO agency.
It also takes time for Google to crawl your website, process the optimisations and consider you an authority in relation to your competitors. Google must pick up and process the changes that are made, compare the quality of your content and website with that of your competitors and then rearrange the search results. Add that to the countless algorithm changes and Core updates that are made and the optimisations that your competitors implement and you will understand why you do not see immediate results.
When you start working with an SEO agency, managing expectations is very important. Every SEO agency has sometimes made a mistake in managing expectations, as a result of which a client stopped the process prematurely.
What exactly are SEO results?
It is logical that you want to know when you can expect results, but first of all, it is also important to ask yourself what the definition of ‘result’ is for you. This differs for every company. For most companies and marketing agencies, the result is a certain percentage increase in the number of visitors and conversions, so that they can earn back their investment.
Many companies focus on a fixed set of a few search terms, with the aim of achieving a number 1 position in Google and other search engines. They do not look at the broader picture of the growth of the company and conversions from SEO. Google's current search results, focusing on just a few search terms is outdated. Your target group now searches with many more different types of search terms compared to a few years ago.
Of course, there are search terms that contain a lot of search volume, and therefore also a lot of competition, but more and more search terms are used that consist of several words. If you need to complete your SEO result on the basis of keyword positions on search terms with a high search volume, you will miss the results on these important additional search terms.
Moreover, search terms with a large search volume do not necessarily result in many conversions. There are numerous examples in which a business website receives an enormous amount of visitors, but because the visitors don’t buy anything, nothing is earned. SEO result is, therefore, the result with which you earn back the investment you poured into SEO. Therefore, think carefully about what business objectives you have and adjust your SEO objectives accordingly.
How long does it take to start seeing SEO results?
Within the SEO world, you will receive many different and varied estimates for how long it takes to achieve SEO results. You often start seeing results within 6 to 12 months. It can sometimes be difficult to believe that an SEO agency is really doing their job, especially since it takes a long time to see results. According to Google, it will take 4 to 12 months before you start seeing SEO results. Chances are that you want things to go faster, but Google also indicates that SEO needs time.
The variables for SEO results
A period of 4 months to a year may not sound pleasant, however, it is not the case that every website will only see results after a year. There are various variables that influence the time a company may start seeing SEO results.
The market you are in and the search terms that are relevant to you.
The current technical condition of your website.
The current design of your website.
Your competition and their SEO activities.
The quality and relevance of existing content.
The speed with which optimisations are implemented.
The availability of good copywriters for quality content.
Setting for trends and algorithm changes from Google.
The authority that you already have in your field/sector.
Each variable influences the speed of the SEO result. For example, if you don't have good content at all, the results will naturally take more time before they manifest.
In general, you have to take into account that the first months are dominated by starting the SEO process and implementing the first optimisations. In most cases, it is not uncommon that content creation only becomes part of the strategy after 2 to 3 months.
An SEO process consists of various components, such as technical analysis, a content analysis, an analysis of your competitors and many technical SEO duties. To monitor what your SEO agency is doing or is working on, it is important to have insight into their planning and the time schedule. Moreover, within your organisation, you can ensure that the analyses and optimisations are performed and implemented efficiently. There are several things that influence the speed at which the results come in, some of which I will name below.
The quality of content.
The speed at which changes are made.
Your SEO budget.
The creation and optimisation of qualitative content
Writing and publishing good content simply takes time. Then it also takes Google some time to view this content as qualitative and to give you, by means of multiple pieces of content that you have published, authority within your industry. After the content has been published, you must bring the content to the attention of your target group in all the right ways. It makes a difference for your positions on Google whether or not you get qualitative backlinks to your content.
To ensure that Google sees you as an authority, publishing content every day isn’t the most important thing, and you also don't have to hire a content writer that writes content pieces for you every day. Instead, go for the production of quality content. Your content must be written and prepared in such a way that the content actually has added value for your visitors. By writing your content as an expert, you show Google that you are indeed an authority in your field.
There is a chance that your top competitors have also been involved with SEO for a long time. This can make beating your competitors a little hard. But don’t worry. Pay attention to your competitors and, among other things, the quality of their content. You might even discover certain things they aren’t paying attention to, this way, you can proceed to filling the gap and attracting more customers.
When you are doing all the right things in the field of SEO and your competitor is also doing the same, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve results. This can, therefore, have a major impact on the speed with which you will see SEO results. It is important to keep a close eye on your competitors and to monitor how customers find them. Most keyword trackers have options for monitoring your competitors, we recommend that you make use of this function.
The speed at which changes are made
The speed with which changes must be implemented has a major influence on the result. If after the delivery of technical analysis the important SEO issues are only implemented after 3 months, that also has an impact on the speed of the result. Important optimisations should ideally be implemented as quickly as possible. This, of course, depends on internal and external capacity. For example, development capacity is often required for technical optimisations.
Sometimes it seems as if the impact of changes is minimal, but small optimisations can make a big difference. Certainly, if your competitors are also busy optimising their websites. It is important to remember that it takes time for Google to process the changes. This often takes at least a few weeks. Google will have to crawl the pages on your website again and then process them again in the indexation.
The biggest obstacle to implementing SEO advice and optimisation for many companies is the internal capacity. SEO works best when your entire company is involved, or at least aware of the SEO process. This allows everyone to provide the required contribution and capacity and there is no accumulation of optimisations to be carried out, which means that the speed of the result is also considerably slowed down.
The available budget
It is, unfortunately, a fact that the available budget also influences the speed of SEO results. With a bigger budget, you can employ more hand (and brains) to perform SEO work, which will ensure that work and optimisations are carried out faster. It is not the case that a higher budget is a guarantee for higher positions, but it does ensure that work is carried out faster. Often this ensures that you see faster results from the campaigns.
Ultimately, the highest possible budget for an SEO trajectory is not always the best solution. First of all, it is important to look at what your goals are for an SEO trajectory. You can prepare a budget based on these objectives and the margins that you intend to run on them. This way you realise more value for the investment you make.
All in all, the SEO result depends on many different factors, which means that you will not be seeing immediate results. You have to depend on external parties, your own employees and of course, Google.
It is important to remember that SEO is not a one-off affair. You cannot optimise your website once, after which everything is in good shape and that’s it! No, that’s not how it works. SEO is an ongoing process where you constantly have to go to the extreme to deliver the right user experience. The work of an SEO specialist is never done.
If you want to achieve good results, it is important that you do not stop the moment you see the first result. Once you do this, your competition will overtake you in the foreseeable future.
Do you have any tips or questions? Send us an email on what you think about SEO and how you handle your organisation’s SEO duties.