When businesses approach us for getting their website search engine optimised, we get this question almost every time – How long will it take for my website to come to page 1 of Google?
Some even ask for guarantees – “Give me a written guarantee that my website will be in top 4 in 4 months”. A lot of them ask us this question even before giving basic information about website, niche, geography and competition.
In short, it is impossible to answer “how soon can a website get on first page of Google”
Why is it not possible to answer ?
- Every SEO strategy is Unique – Let’s say, we worked on a niche of Cleaning Services and we were able to produce great results in 3 months, does that mean, I can repeat the same for a TV Services niche? No. This is because SEO success and outcomes depend on the following:
- Age of the website – Is your website new or you are an aged domain?
If your site is brand new, it will be take longer to see SEO success. An aged domain gets preference in SEO.
- Have you been penalised by Google before?
A site that has been penalised before will take several months before it sees any light. And no one can predict when this will happen. Some SEO experts say that it took them more than 8 months to see some hope.
- Do you have duplicate content?
Recently I started working on one of our client websites. The website was full of duplicate content. We had to rework every page and get them indexed. It took over 1.5 months just to do housekeeping of the website.
- Have you hosted a site on a cheap hosting?
Many companies opt for cheap web hosting providers. These hosting providers have frequent downtimes, pathetic turn around times and may have blacklisted IPs. In all these cases, getting results becomes tougher.
- Who are your competitors in top 10? How powerful are they?
If you are a Rhinoplasty surgeon in Nagpur (targeting customers only from Nagpur), chances are you will have lesser competition than if you want to target the word “Rhinoplasty Surgeon” across the world. And as a result, your results will take much longer in the second case. Similarly if you are in a niche where top results are dominated by Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong, I would assume the niche to be very competitive. If you are a player competing with Myntra head on, you cannot expect to beat them even in next 1 year, as these big players have a lot of credibility with Google.
- Google has made SEO tougher – Gone are the days of quick ranking. SEO experts could rank a website within weeks using shady black hat techniques. But from 2014, SEO has become tougher. If you have started to optimise a site, you cannot produce fast results. If you are in a less competitive space, you may rank quickly. But if you are in a competitive space, then you cannot expect results quickly. And no SEO expert can tell you whether it will take 6 months or 9 months with certainty.
- Quick SEOs use blackhat techniques – If some SEO company promises you quick ranking, that too at dirt cheap prices, that is a tell tale sign that you are being taken for a ride. Do not fall for these promises. If Google blacklists you, it would take a long time before your site can even bounce back. So you can safely assume that you will lose all online customers.
If I am not sure, then how do I know if my SEO is working?
This is a very important question, and I would like to answer it this way – A good SEO company which uses sound SEO strategies will surely produce results. The results may take 6 months, 9 months or even just 4 months (depending on competition and geography and local vs global).
A good SEO company should be able to ask you the right questions to help unearth your exact business need. They will run you through the process of SEO, what strategies they are opting and how long each step will take. For example they will help you run through the steps such as – Site audit, performance optimisation, keyword research, on-page SEO, backlinking etc.
To understand if the SEO strategy is working or not, you need to measure metrics such as – organic visitors, Pages per session, time spent on site or even sales/leads. If these metrics show improvement, then the SEO strategy is working as planned. You may also see increase in rankings for your chosen keywords.
Some pointers of a good SEO company are:
Is the SEO company using a consultative approach to SEO? Do you see some tangible improvements over the next few months? This could be performance improvement, increase in visitor count, increase in leads (if applicable) or an improvement in ranking. Is price the only USP of the company or is the company delivering some other value?
These are signs that the SEO company is delivering results. Obviously industry credibility, case studies, customer referrals of the company also matter.
It is unreasonable to expect a timeline for ranking in page 1 of Google. Because as Rand Fishkin of Moz says, ranking is part of the story, not the only story. One needs to have better measurable metrics to help understand how the SEO startegy is shaping up and whether it is helping in business growth.