To initiate an effective SEO campaign, you need to have the right tools at-hand. It’s a long-term and time-consuming process that’s essential to your business’s success in the competitive digital landscape.

You need to dedicate time and effort to your SEO strategy. You’ll need to conduct market research, study your competitors, target industry-specific topics, take care of technical SEO, blog consistently, audit on-page issues, and much more, to scale up the intensity and diversity of your strategies. (Check out our blog on creating an SEO roadmap for your website).

So, to answer the widely asked question, “How long before I’m #1 on Google?” or “How long does SEO take to start working?it depends.

Every business has its own distinct set of goals, needs, competitors and customers. For instance, if you want your brand to rank for a large number of competitive keywords, you’ll need to dedicate far more time to SEO activities than someone who simply wants to improve their rank locally.

There are multiple variables that come into play to determine how quickly you can potentially see results after conducting consistent SEO. It depends on:

  • The size of your project
  • Your site’s age
  • The core market you’re targeting
  • Your baseline traffic, domain age, website design, and the geographic location(s) you’re targeting
  • The state of your current SEO
  • Your backlink profile
  • Any Google penalties that may be affecting your ranking
  • The authority of your site and content

Typically, websites can see SEO results within 4 to 6 months.

However, bear in mind that this is when you start seeing results, and these results will grow over time. The results you see at the 6th month will be considerably less than what you may get at 12 months. And at some point, it’ll just be a matter of maintaining these results and ranking. Even when in the same industry, with the same target audiences, all websites will have different starting points. However, in this blog post, we’ll discuss a plausible scenario of what SEO activities might look like in the initial months.

Month 1: Market Research, Keyword Strategy, Website Audit

Target Market Research

SEO isn’t just about tracking numbers (web traffic, keyword rankings, number of backlinks, etc.) It’s about understanding your audience and building your SEO campaign around their needs and expectations.

An SEO strategy that is centered around the right audience leads to increased targeted traffic and conversions.

Here are some of the many activities that this phase includes:

  • Create buyer personas to find keywords
  • Study your visitors using heat maps and surveys
  • Conduct competitor analysis to gain a better understanding of the culture

Keyword Research and Planning

Keyword research is the cornerstone of a good SEO strategy. It dictates your entire content strategy by discovering keywords that your audience is likely to enter into search engines.

The power of good keyword research lies in understanding your target market, customers, and competitors. Just by studying your niche well, you can discover great keywords that your competitors might not be targeting.

  • Start with seed keywords (an initial list of keywords)
  • Generate keyword ideas by brainstorming and researching related search terms
  • Identify long-tail keywords

Website Audit

Find out what’s preventing your site from being ranked in SERPs with a detailed website audit. You can use Rank Genie’s website SEO audit tool to evaluate your on-site elements across more than 12 metrics and get a customized audit score.

Here are some of the many activities that Rank Genie can take care of:

  • Perform a site crawl to identify technical issues
  • Identify URL inconsistencies
  • Analyze domain elements
  • Check the quality of your internal and external links
  • Check for bad code and 404 errors

Estimated time: the research and discovery phase along with an initial website audit can last for more than a month.

Month 2: Technical SEO

Based on the SEO audit report that you received in the previous phase, it’s time to begin with technical SEO work. Some websites may need to be overhauled during this process, which itself can take months. Meanwhile, you can work on other SEO activities like building content and link profile.

Here’s a brief checklist of the SEO activities that you need to carry out in this phase:

  • Improve your site’s architecture. This means optimizing the URL structure, the preferred domain, and improving navigation with a breadcrumb menu.
  • Add a Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
  • Improve the crawlability of your site by optimizing the XML sitemap
  • Add structured data markup
  • Ensure fast loading speed
  • Adopt a mobile-first approach

Learn more about each of these technical SEO practices here.

Estimated time: On-site optimization of your technical elements can take about 3–12 hours a week depending on the size of the site and subsequent problems that may arise.

Month 3: Content Creation

Quality content is the epitome of a successful SEO strategy. While the products and services that you have to offer might attract potential customers, what keeps them around is the value you create by publishing relevant and credible content. In fact, studies have shown that a well-crafted content strategy can generate three times more leads.

A cross-channel content strategy that incorporates a mix of content including blogs, whitepapers, FAQs, articles, and/or infographics can engage and convert your audience.

  • Choose the right content format based on your buyer persona
  • Create thought leadership blogs
  • Make sure you have a compelling ‘About Us’ and FAQs page
  • Establish your authority in the industry with long-form content
  • Incorporate infographics to publish complex information in an easy-to-consume format
  • Use video content to capture attention and outline your brand message
  • Optimize your content for voice searches and user intent

Check out our extensive blog on how to create content for your website.

Remember, the key with content creation is consistency.

Estimated Time: Approximately 3 to 50 hours a week.

Month 4: Link Building and Continued Content Creation

Ideally, you need to come up with a pre-planned schedule for content creation wherein you publish fresh content every month.

The next phase is to develop a healthy link profile. Authoritative, high-quality backlinks signal search engines that others vouch for your content. And if several sites link to your website, search engines can infer that your content is worth linking to.

Here are the steps you can take to build a diverse and healthy link profile:

By the end of this month you can expect to see a small increase in traffic, rankings and lead generation. Of course, you need to use this momentum to keep up your SEO efforts.

Estimated Time: Between 5 to 25 hours a week.

Month 5: Amplify Content with Social Media Management

By this month you can start incorporating social media marketing into your plan to promote your content, generate brand awareness and direct traffic to your site.

While social signals don’t have a direct impact on search rankings, some SEO experts have found that top social shares received a 22% average boost.

Here’s how you can use social media as part of your off-site SEO strategy:

  • Use top social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube to publish content (in appropriate formats)
  • Forum marketing. This is an old school SEO trick where you build relationships with your readers by interacting with them on forums and comments
  • Use Influencer marketing to reach out to a larger and relevant audience that’s more receptive to sharing and linking.

The more you engage in media outreach and PR, the more likely you are to see an increase in traffic.

Estimated Time: Up to 15 hours per week.

Month 6: Conversion Rate Optimization

If your traffic reaches around 5,000 visitors/month or more, incorporate conversion rate optimization efforts to remove obstacles in the sales funnel and ensure all on-page elements are working towards conversion.

  • Make sure emails and phone numbers are clickable all over the site
  • Incorporate local SEO efforts if you serve particular geographical locations
  • Review and streamline navigation and CTAs
  • Improve readability with headings and image tags

From this point on, your activities will consistently focus on content creation and promotion.

Monitoring SEO Progress

Monitoring key performance metrics, at least once a day, is especially necessary for businesses that rely on lead volume or economic transactions.

SEO is all about monitoring and troubleshooting site performance. Track your KPIs and focus on monthly checkpoints to see how well your efforts are paying off.

Google Analytics can measure metrics like bounce rate, time-on-site, number of pages visited and click-through rate. Moreover, Rank Genie’s rank tracking tool allows you to track targeted keywords across multiple domains and regions to figure what works and what doesn’t. This way you can update and optimize your SEO strategy in real-time.

Monthly reporting can give you a broad vision of your website performance, and allow you to compare data and identify customer trends.

Find out more about how you can use an all-in-one SEO platform like Rank Genie to streamline and automate processes by getting in touch with our SEO experts at (888) 838-2691. Take matters into your own hands and start a free trial of our online SEO rank checker tool today!