How Long It Took SEO to Start Working for These 5 Websites

January 2, 2020
Posted in Case Study
January 2, 2020 Raquel Thoesen

Undoubtedly, SEO is one of the lengthier digital marketing investments that rarely yields instant returns, like paid ads or social media might.

However, because the impact of SEO activities spans months and sometimes even years, the results definitely justify the wait. A large up-front investment combined with a months-long waiting period understandably raises some questions. The most common one clients ask is how long they must wait before starting to see a return on investment.

The goals of SEO engagement vary from company to company, but for the sake of this article, we’ll define SEO success as an increase in organic traffic to a target site.

Google’s Maile Ohye shares that in most cases, SEO agencies need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.

Table of Contents

How Long Does SEO Take? 5 Real Examples

What determines how long SEO takes?

While it’s near impossible to guarantee clients that they’ll get a certain number of website visits in a specific time-span, we can have a general idea if a website will take us longer or shorter to achieve tangible results. Factors like previous SEO activities (or lack of) and age of a website are only a few. Here’s a more comprehensive list of what you should keep in mind when estimating a timeline.

Factors that influence how long SEO takes:

  • Existing keyword rankings at time of start of engagement
    • Does the site already rank well for several related target keywords?
  • Frequency of content publication
    • Is content published once a week or once a month?
  • Keyword competition and SEO presence in your industry
    • Is your competition also using SEO tactics?
  • Content strategy
    • How accurately is it targeting search intent?
  • Inbound links
    • The more unique domains linking to a site, the merrier!
  • Technical SEO
    • Is everything crawlable and optimized correctly?

All of these factors also influence how often search engines like Google crawl a site. This crawl frequency then helps determine how quickly new content gets picked up and launched into the SERPs (search engine results pages), so that users can find the site.

Because industry greatly determines keyword competition, we took a look at some of our clients from different industries. To get a clearer idea of Markitors’ impact, we chose clients who did not previously have any SEO optimized pages on their site. This means we kicked off blogs and optimized existing pages starting with a blank canvas.

Here’s how long it took us to start seeing a clear uptick in organic traffic from our SEO efforts…

1. Recruiting and staffing industry

The recruiting and HR industry is a tough nut to crack, due to tough competition from business-savvy sites like Forbes, SHRM, and a variety of recruiting software companies. We kicked this client off with an aggressive content marketing plan of 8 articles each month and started to see an increase in traffic after the 2nd quarter of engagement (month 6).

Markitors’ SEO services performed:

Results in the first year

1st quarter ➡️ 2nd quarter: 7.4% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

2nd quarter ➡️ 3rd quarter: 51% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

3rd quarter ➡️ 4th quarter: 52% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

Overall from Quarter 1 of engagement to Quarter 4, total clicks increased by 147%.

Impressions increased by 217% for the same period.

How long it took SEO to work:

how long it took seo to work

2. Publishing industry

If you search anything in the realm of “self-publishing”, an array of paid ads cover the first page search results. As another tough industry, we knew that it would take a while to see results. While there was slow change in the first six months, a number of pages cracked through right after.

Markitors’ SEO services performed:

Results in the first 9 months

1st quarter ➡️ 2nd quarter: 13% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

2nd quarter ➡️ 3rd quarter: 60% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

Overall from Quarter 1 of engagement to Quarter 3, total clicks increased by 82%.

Impressions increased by 179% for the same period.

How long it took SEO to work:

how long it took seo to work

3. Medical services industry

With a brick-and-mortar clinic, this client has a local SEO focus, meaning competition is more centralized around their immediate area.  Our initial strategy included a combination of advice blogs with FAQs and locally-focused service pages. With low competition, it only took us about two months to see a positive change.

Markitors’ SEO services performed:

Results in the first 3 months

1st month ➡️ 2nd month: 2% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

2nd month ➡️ 3rd month: 397% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

Overall from Month 1 of engagement to Month 3, total clicks increased by 406%.

Impressions increased by 102% for the same period.

How long it took SEO to work:

4. eCommerce industry (tech accessories)

Because of the sheer volume of pages involved with eCommerce sites, we tend to shy away from SEO content marketing for this type of client. However, we were able to craft a solid SEO content strategy purely using the site’s blog and saw a massive increase in traffic only three months later.

Markitors’ SEO services performed:

Results in the first 6 months

1st quarter ➡️ 2nd quarter: 152% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

Impressions increased by 99% for the same period.

How long it took SEO to work:

5. Home improvement industry

We only needed to compare the first two quarters to find out how long SEO took for this home improvement client. By the third month, there was a noticeable increase, followed by even more traffic in the months later.

Markitors’ SEO services performed:

Results in the first 6 months

1st quarter ➡️ 2nd quarter: 50% increase in organic Google clicks 🖱️

Impressions increased by 61% for the same period.

How long it took SEO to work:

How Long Should You Wait for SEO in Your Industry?

If you’re wondering how long to wait for SEO to show results for your particular industry, schedule a consultation to talk to us about what to expect. Everyone’s SEO journey is a bit different, so it’s best to find personalized advice based off your company’s goals and website circumstances.

Raquel Thoesen

Raquel Thoesen

Raquel Thoesen is the Director of SEO Content at Markitors, a digital marketing agency that has a blast connecting small businesses around the world with the right customers.