How long does SEO take to work?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Its core focus is to get you more customers organically from search engines like Google.

Some customers who come to us for help expect to go from zero to hero in a few weeks. It simply is not realistic. We also get some customers who’ve previously had good exposure on Google search and they’ve wanted to cheat their way to the top overnight. To do this they instruct cheap ‘SEO agencies’ who promise results in just a few weeks and they will use blackhat techniques to do just that.

The results may seem great at first until Google realises what you’re doing.


How fast & cheap SEO can damage your business

The graph below shows one of our customers who signed up to our service recently for us to do some damage control. They had been around for years and using paid ads to get traffic. Deciding to cut their ad spend and instead opt for long term SEO, they wanted a quick solution to SEO and instructed an agency who could guarantee results in just a few weeks!

Blackhat SEO techniques are dangerous for your business

Everything was great until the day Google noticed what the agency was doing! They quickly rose to over 5000 backlinks in a couple of weeks, and like any good Z list celebrity, they lost it all just a few months later.

They are very lucky Google did not blacklist them completely from search! This is not a one-off by a long way and unfortunately, many well-meaning businesses fall foul of this attracted to cheap & quick SEO services.

The problem is it usually leaves them in a worse place than they were in at the start. They’ll end up spending a fortune to reputable companies to repair the damage caused and this can take a very long time to do. It is highly damaging particularly for established websites if they are completely removed from search engine databases as though they never existed.


On a budget and want to be found in Google search?

SEO is part of a marketing mix and it is meant to help with organic search traffic which depending on the source, around 70-80% of website users still choose organic search results over paid ads as they deem them to be more trustworthy.

This can vary significantly on several factors. Things like how competitive your keywords are and how much time you’re allocating to the core SEO tasks of relevant link building and content creation.

If you are working on a low budget, SEO companies may highly recommend not trying to compete for keywords which are highly competitive you may never get to the top of any search results.

For instance, like one customer of ours, if you have a venue hire website catering for London audiences, then unless you have thousands to spend each month on competing with huge companies with huge budgets, you’re far better off optimising for longtail keywords such as “Venue hire for dog parties” (if you have venues for dog parties of course!).

This is a search term that will have far less competition and you can be sure that anyone looking for a venue for a dog party in London will find you. If you stick with just venue hire though on too small a budget, you will probably remain on page 10+ for a very long time.


So how long does SEO really take?

Generally speaking for a new website you plan for 6 to 12 months of SEO to see any noticeable results. For a long-established website, results can vary from 3-6 months usually depending on the amount of SEO work and historic performance.

Once your SEO starts working for you, it is an ongoing process and needs to be maintained. If you do not maintain your SEO, you will gradually start losing your rank to your competitors. If you are doing your own SEO, ensure you are not making simple but common mistakes that will damage your website.

Below is what we recommend for customers as a general rule of thumb.

SEO For Startup Business & New Websites

In your business plan, you should:

  • Budget for at least 6 months of SEO.
  • Budget for paid ads alongside SEO for several months.
  • Avoid ‘too much’ SEO in your first few months i.e. don’t go for the highest package available as it won’t necessarily help you as much when you’re new.
  • Optimise the user experience on your website. SEO and paid ads can only get you visitors, but if you have a poorly laid out website, not visually appealing or not what the customer is expecting, they will go elsewhere. You only have around 12 seconds before they make a decision on average!


SEO For Established Business Websites

Businesses with established websites should:

  • Plan ahead to start SEO services for at least 3 months before you plan on reducing or turning off paid ads.
  • If you can afford to, keep your paid ads on a small budget alongside SEO (especially retargeting ads) so you can capture around 20% of the traffic you’d miss out on from paid ads.
  • Choose the best SEO package that your marketing budget allows unless advised differently by an SEO agency. This could be due to low competition, however, this is increasingly rare.


I hope you can see now that when you realise SEO is something you need to help capture significantly more traffic from the visitors 70-80% who ignore paid ads in Google search. Indeed you may have noticed Google recently changed how their own paid ads appear and they look suspiciously much more like organic search results!


I hope this has been useful to you and if you’d like to find out more about our SEO services, please Request a Free Quote & Audit Report today.