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Updated: May 10, 2022

How Long Does SEO Take to See Results?

Most lawyers know SEO is a marathon and not a sprint, but how long does it really take to start seeing results? Here’s the answer.

A few days ago we met a potential client, an attorney interested in marketing for his law firm, who asked us a lot of excellent questions that no one has asked us before. One of them was “If I decide to pay for SEO, how long before I start getting new clients?”

As with anything complex, the answer is: it depends. Here are the factors that define the start-to-success SEO time frame.

Most businesses know search engine optimization is a marathon and not a sprint, but how long does it really take to start seeing SEO results?

Every search engine optimization strategy is different. Generally, companies can expect SEO results to yield an improvement in organic traffic after roughly six months, while the full results become present around 12-24 months.

Your website, content quality, and overall niche competitiveness influence how quickly you see results from SEO. It’s important to remember that SEO efforts have a compound effect, and they are a long-term goal, not a quick fix.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the factors that affect SEO results, and what you can expect if you hire an SEO agency to help you rank higher on search engine results pages.

Factors that Affect Search Engine Optimization Results

Factor 1: Competition

SEO is competitive in two ways: There are competitive geo markets, and competitive industries.

Competitive Geo Markets

Let’s use the example of a lawyer. When a prospect searches for information online related to a legal issue, Google considers where they are located at the time of the search and prioritizes local results (local SEO).

If you practice in a small town, where there are fewer lawyers, your website will reach a higher ranking faster with less effort. However, if you are in New York or Chicago, it will take longer to see results from SEO efforts because the competition is greater.

How long does it take for SEO for lawyers to work

Competitive Industry Niches

You’d get results much faster if you focus on a narrow practice area that’s not highly competitive. If we stick with the lawyer example, for instance, we know that some websites have been around for more than a decade ranking for popular keywords like “personal injury.”

It is unlikely a new website with this keyword will be able to jostle established ones from their top position on search engine results. This is why it is imperative to conduct an SEO competitive analysis to determine high competition keywords.

Generally, when it comes to SEO success, you have to consider three types of competition:

  1. Industry competitors: These are other companies who sell similar products and services to you.
  2. SEO competitors: Other domains or publications that write content for a similar audience and compete for similar keyword optimization
  3. Keyword competitors: Websites presently ranking for the same keywords you want to target.

Often, these categories overlap, as industry competitors are likely creating content and targeting a similar audience to yours.

Competitive practice area

Factor 2: Domain Age

Think about it like this: If you start going to the gym to attain a certain body weight, and look, the first thing your trainer will consider when designing a fitness program is your starting point.

If you trained for a while before, eat healthily, and are in good shape, you’ll achieve your goal fairly soon. However, if you are unfit and unhealthy, your trainer will take a different approach and may need more time to help you achieve your goal.

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It’s the same with SEO results. What is the current state of your website’s domain authority? Is it new, or has it been around for 10 years? Has it been optimized with SEO basics? Does it feature relevant content that people search for? Does it have newly published pages?

Your answers to these questions will determine how long SEO experts need to get your website to rank on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Spiral Analytics provides a good case study to temper expectations. Websites that make it to the top 10 ranking page are, on average, are 2+ years old. Those that gain a top 1 ranking are almost 3+ years old.

Roughly 95% of newly published pages don’t get to the top 10 within a year. And those that do manage to get there in about two-to-six months.

Factor 3: Effort

The amount of effort that goes into your SEO process is crucial to the speed of achieving results.

How much effort and money are you willing to allocate to SEO? If you’re thinking of setting aside $500 per month, it’s probably not enough to develop a strategy, as well as create and publish high-quality content.

Amount of effort that goes into SEO is crucial to the speed of achieving results.

If you invest more in an SEO strategy— anywhere between $2500-$5000 per month — your website could earn one of those coveted top 5 Google positions much faster. You’ll get a lot of well-researched, relevant, keyword-rich, high-quality content created and distributed to other relevant websites, and more of your prospects will read or watch it.

Read this to understand more about how SEO works, so you can make an educated decision about your marketing investment.

Factor 4: Content Creation

Content creation is a critical part of any SEO campaign. It’s not as simple as creating a couple of long-form articles and distributing them online. Marketers have to satisfy search intent, i.e., the purpose of a user’s search.

For example, if a user searches for a “personal injury lawyer,” is the search to find one near them? Or learn about what a personal injury lawyer does?

Before, marketers simply created content stuffed with keywords (keyword stuffing), which is frowned upon now because Google’s algorithm has become smarter. To improve SEO performance, your content has to satisfy user intent, and not just use utilize high-ranking keywords.

While content marketing takes commitment, prioritizing the creation and publication of new, informative pieces allows you to use more target keywords beyond those on your website. That’s why most SEO experts recommend having a website with an integrated blog.

Blogs are beneficial because they are easy to share on social media and provide a constant stream of new information, which is what Google’s search engine algorithms favor. Creating unique content will help you occupy additional places in SERPs, rank for more keywords, and reach a larger audience.

Factor 5: Inbound Links

Inbound links, known as backlinks, occur when another website links back to your site. A website with many backlinks signals to Google it is of high quality; therefore acquiring links is an important element of SEO.

Essentially, Google realized the only way to know if a site is worthwhile is to find out how many people are talking about it and what they’re saying. A website’s backlink profile with high-quality backlinks improves search engine ranking, increases referral traffic, and promotes brand awareness.

Like SEO, link building takes time because you only really want high-quality links from authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant websites. If your website is new, backlinks will be the only links to your website’s pages and are crucial to Google’s understanding of your website content.

Unfortunately, there are no magic shortcuts, building a backlink profile takes time and work. Page targeting a competitive keyword can take anywhere from two to six months to increase its ranking from backlinks.

Why do SEO Efforts Take so Long to Yield Results?

SEO results take time to reflect because they rely on multiple ranking factors. SEO keyword difficulty, competition, inbound links, and domain age all impact a site’s ranking. SEO success can take a longer or shorter time depending on how you approach each of these factors.

Changes that SEO companies recommend may be small, like metadata updates and technical SEO upgrades, or big, like a full website overhaul. Either way, actioning them faster brings quicker results.

Having said that, it’s important that each step of the SEO process is given due time to execute. Seeing as though SEO is the foundation of all digital marketing, you want to make sure that your efforts are rock solid.

SEO Strategy Expectations

Timeframe

If you work with an experienced, preferably US-based digital marketing agency or SEO company, these are the approximate timeframes for achieving results with SEO (keep in mind that there are no guarantees):

  • Within 3 months, you’ll start seeing some SEO results. If you started on page 34, these results may be moving up to page 30. If you started on page 2, then you’ll probably move up to page one.
  • Within 4-6 months, you’ll start seeing a considerable and consistent increase in traffic.
  • Thereafter, you’ll start getting more phone calls or filled out lead acquisition forms.

SEO Timeframe

Budget

We’d recommend you spend $4000-$5000 per month on SEO. This should buy you a lot of SEO firepower! Yes, $60 000 per year on SEO alone may sound like a lot of money, but consider an average client value. If it’s $5000, then you break even on your SEO investment with just the first 12 clients, and you should have enough leads to sign many more.

For more detailed information about how to decide on the right marketing budget and what returns to expect, read this blog post.

SEO Strategy Process Steps

There are four types of SEO strategists focus on:

  1. On-page SEO: This is the content that’s on your website’s pages.
  2. Off-page SEO: This focuses on developing backlinks from reputable sources to help build trust with search algorithms.
  3. Technical SEO: This has to do with a website’s backend architecture, like site code.
  4. Local SEO: This part of SEO looks at making your business more visible in local search results on Google.

The SEO process encompasses research, planning and strategy, and the management of the above four components. With patience and professional execution, SEO will bring more website traffic, greater domain authority, higher quality links, and ultimately more revenue!

In general, you can expect an SEO process to involve the following:

A Website SEO Audit

An SEO expert will run a website audit to gauge what is working and where improvements need to be made. At Comrade Digital Marketing Agency, we conduct a no-obligation 20-point performance check free of charge. From this analysis, we’ll create a comprehensive SEO campaign that works for your business.

Keyword Research

Keywords trigger your website pages to appear in relevant search results. During this part of the process, you’ll discover which phrases and words you should include in your website copy and content marketing material to rank on search engines.

Content Creation

Next, you’ll need to develop a content marketing plan. Content comes in many forms like blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, and e-books. The type of content you create depends on what your target audience consumes.

Your content should drive more traffic to your website, convert leads into customers, as well improve brand awareness and loyalty. It must always be valuable to readers and strategically guide them further down the buyer’s funnel.

Page Speed Optimization

This falls under technical SEO and has to do with how quickly your website pages load. A poor web host, unoptimized videos and images, too many advertisements, and bad coding can make your website sluggish. This type of technical work is best taken care of by professionals.

Responsive Design

Potential customers access websites from their mobiles, tablets, desktop computers, and laptops. Each of these screens has particular dimensions, which must be accounted for when designing a website.

In marketing, we solve this problem with responsive design, meaning that regardless of the device used, a user will always have a positive website experience. This has become increasingly important as 90% of the world’s population searches online using their smartphones.

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Hire SEO Strategy Experts

Given that 89% of marketers say SEO is successful, it is well worth hiring professionals to elevate your SEO strategy to new heights. SEO encompasses numerous tactics and strategies to get your website to rank.

If you’re not an expert, and you don’t have an abundance of knowledge, trying to accomplish SEO success yourself may be a massive waste of time. In this case, it’s better to hire professionals like us!

Comrade Digital Marketing Agency has the knowledge and experience to guarantee SEO success. Our clients experience a 175% increase in traffic after working with our SEO experts. Contact us now to improve your search visibility, keyword targeting, and SEO results.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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