Sep 6, 2023

How Long Does It Take for Content to Rank?

Charlotte Pearse

As a content writer, one of the most important skills to develop is learning how to navigate SEO, or search engine optimization, so that your work will show up early in web searches.

By utilizing SEO and repeating keywords in your writing, you can ensure that it will appear higher up in the ranking of search results. Especially as AI develops more and more each day, we need to do our best to make sure our work reaches audiences.

However, it’s also important to know how long it will be before SEO starts yielding results. Unlike sponsored posts, using SEO won’t boost your content to the forefront immediately. A lot of factors go into how long SEO takes to rank. 

Keep reading to find out what impacts the timeline, and what you can do to help it along!

Breaking Down the Timeline

The nutshell answer to the question of how long SEO takes to show results averages out to between six and twelve months, but there’s many more details that go into it.

Prior to implementing SEO practices, you should set some goals for yourself and the content you want to promote. If you have something concrete in mind that you’re working towards, then you’ll know what to look for when you evaluate KPIs of your content, or the Key Performance Indicators.

These KPIs will be what show you that you’re getting results from SEO, whether that’s an increase in traffic or some other metric you want to boost. 

Before we go into what impacts those results, though, here’s a general idea of what the early months of your SEO campaign will look like.

In the first month, you’ll primarily want to focus on conducting research. Look into your target audience more, and also find out who your brand’s biggest competitors are. Examine what brands similar to you are doing with their SEO practices so that you can build on what they do well and improve upon areas where other content may be lacking.

An close-up image of a Google Analytics graph, monitoring the total clicks, total impressions, average CTR, and average position on a website.
Research is an absolutely essential part of implementing SEO practices, so don’t take this step lightly. Do your due diligence to make sure that you’re taking the right steps.

You’ll need to find a place within the niche of your business that’s uniquely yours so that potential readers will see that your brand is the best. In the SEO industry, this is called a Unique Selling Point, or USP.

Another important step to undertake within the first month is keyword research. Keywords are the building blocks of search engine optimization, and so it’s absolutely essential that you know which ones you want to target prior to the writing process.

You should also evaluate your website as it exists currently, and make edits to the content already posted to make sure that it fits with the direction you want to take your brand in next. Make sure your site is super user-friendly, so if it starts getting more traffic as a result of SEO then you can retain that audience.

Auditing your website’s existing pages will take you into month two of the SEO process, and it’s definitely important in the long run. Some examples of modifications that you may need to make are compressing images, adding alt text for screen reading software, and editing meta descriptions.

At this time, you’ll want to revise your existing content for SEO as well as brainstorm some ideas for content based on what your keyword research yielded. The third month of this process may feel like it yields less results because you’ll want to focus on continuing to restructure your content, but it’s all worth it in the long-term.

An image of someone editing a blog post on a WordPress site.
Editing existing content can definitely feel tedious at times, but it’s absolutely essential to the optimization of your website. Everything should be cohesive!

Update old, potentially now inaccurate information and make sure all linked pages still exist. Plus, you’ll want to build relationships with other blogs during this time, too. Make sure you’re always backlinking to trustworthy sources. It’s also good for PR to have contacts in the world of web content!

And speaking of content, by the fourth month into this process you should be producing and publishing new writing on your site. Each new piece should have a specific keyword target, and you’ll want to fill any gaps discovered while auditing your website first.

With new content, you want to answer as many of the reader’s questions about a topic— whatever topic they searched for —as possible, and organize it in an optimal, easy to read way. Incorporate headings, images, and hyperlinks to eliminate confusion.

Once you begin to put out new SEO content consistently, you should notice your website gaining more traffic in month five or six. Don’t slow down, though. SEO is an ongoing process. Keep writing new content and conducting keyword research so that you can be the first to tackle any trending searches in your field.

Likewise, don’t be discouraged if you don’t start to see results this fast! There’s no way to know the exact timeline in which you can expect to see results, and a lot of factors are at play.

Impacting Factors

Many different things will influence how long it takes for your SEO content to rank. Most brands will see an increase in traffic and revenue within the 6-8 month range, but some brands will see significant impact in less time than that. On the other hand, it can take up to a year in some cases.

First and foremost, the history of your website is vital to how quickly you will see success from SEO. Search engines want to put the best possible content first, and so establishing credibility is very important. So, depending on how new your website is, the timeline will be vastly affected.

A website domain that has existed for a longer period of time will have a stronger foundation for SEO. The more well-known your brand is, the more credibility it has. SEO is certainly a great way for you to help your brand reach a wider audience, but a new domain will be at a disadvantage.

However, older domains may also be less successful if they’ve gone against search engines’ guidelines in the past, so they’re not guaranteed more success with SEO. 

A domain that’s been around longer than yours could potentially be struggling with getting site traffic even more than you are! This is why it’s important to have a frame of reference for your metrics prior to implementing SEO strategies, so that you can see when your changes yield results.

Equally if not more important than how long your website has been around is the amount of competition in the SEO space. If your brand, web content, or product is more niche, you may see positive results more quickly. 

With less search results to choose from, you’ll have an easier time trying to get your content to the front of search engine rankings. Conversely, if your chosen keywords generate a lot of results, then it may be harder to gain a foothold since you’ll have to contend with competing content.

An image of someone holding up their smartphone, the screen of which is opened up to the Google search bar.
Everyone knows how it feels to type a search into Google and not be sure which link to click on, but very rarely do we scroll down super far. If you want clicks, you want your website to show up first!

Competition can also be the cause of inspiration, however. If you’re consistently seeing a competing brand show up before your site in search results, look for reasons why that’s happening to see if you can’t adopt some of their practices. Who knows? You may start to see similar success.

How successful your SEO efforts are can also depend on just how much work you need to do— how many changes do you need to make to optimize your site? How much content do you already have? Some people may find more success starting from scratch, while others will see quicker results from auditing existing content.

Another huge factor in SEO optimization is how dedicated you are to the task. A bigger team focusing on search engine optimization and a higher budget for their work will probably yield results more quickly.

To that end, even though it depends on many different factors, positive SEO results are not completely up to chance. You can also take action to boost your brand!

What You Can Do

Last but certainly not least important, we’re going to talk about what you can do to increase your chances of seeing a positive outcome when it comes to SEO. How long it takes for content to rank depends on many things, sure, but taking initiative is important.

For starters, consider hiring an expert on SEO, or perhaps even multiple if you have the budget for it. Having someone with SEO experience and knowledge will be invaluable if you are looking to see faster— and more positive —results.

As established, it’s a continuous process. To do SEO right, you’re going to need the appropriate resources. Don’t just take the quick and easy route, because it’s more than likely you won’t see quick results if you don’t put serious effort into them.

Many people don’t see the results they want in their ideal timeline or even at all because they fail to implement SEO practices after conducting their research. In order to generate positive results from SEO, you have to be committed to making it happen.

Take the time to make sure your content is a cut above the rest. Google, Bing, and other search engines will rank what they see as the best results for any given keywords first, so make sure your content is of high-quality.

Researched, well-written, and optimally organized web content is always going to do better in SEO metrics than the alternative, so put in the effort.

When it comes to effort, SEO should most certainly be a team effort, too. The content writers, web developers, clients, and whoever else is contributing to any given SEO project should all be on the same page about what they want everything to look like.

An image of printed out analytics sitting on a wooden table. Several people sit around the table and are pointing at different images on the paper.
It’s like they say— teamwork makes the dream work. A team dedicated to implementing SEO practices will likely yield better and faster results than if it’s up to one person.

A cohesive vision for your SEO content will streamline the steps in the process, and having multiple people collaborating on incorporating SEO will ensure that you generate results as fast as possible.

Like we said at the beginning of this article, the small steps along the way will be easier if you and your team set goals for yourself from the start. But don’t aim too high, because then you may not be happy with the first small changes you start to see after implementing SEO.

Make sure that the goals you set are reasonably achievable, and it’ll feel all the more rewarding when you reach them. Focus on the short-term first, and watch as your brand and business grows with search engine optimization!

Content can take a decently long time to rank via SEO, and it can also vary greatly depending on many factors. However, the most important thing is that you remain dedicated to the process. If you follow this guide, chances are you’ll start to see the positive effects of SEO in time!