A key question we get asked is how long does SEO take? What if nothing has happened after a few weeks or even month? If you’re looking to start investing in SEO then it’s a very useful question to know the answer to. In short, SEO is probably going to take a few months to kick in, depending on your starting point and budget. However there are signs you can look out for to tell you which way the wind is blowing.
The test of how well your current SEO is, will be how well you do in rankings reports. If you Google the same thing on two devices, you’ll get two different sets of results, or even if you just Google from the same device at different times of day. The way to get a meaningful picture is to use a ranking reports. This records where your website ranks for lots of different keywords on a regular basis, while reducing the variables such as who is doing the searching.
If your website currently ranking in a low position for your target keywords, say in position 20+ your website won’t appear before the 3rd page of search results. When was the last time you clicked through to the page 3 of the search results and clicked on every link along the way?
The “click through rate” of a ranking position is how many people are likely to click on a position. The closer the position is to the top of the list of search results the more likely people are to click on it.
Here you can see that in position 1, at the very top of the list (below the ads that Google shows) on average 21% of searchers click on the link. But people give up fast and by position 10, at the bottom of page 1 the link only gets clicked on 1% of the time.
So what does SEO progress look like?
- Up to 20. Your website might move up from position 50 to position 20, but unless a huge number of people are searching for that keyword you won’t get much traffic. However, moving up those positions is still progress.Positions 20 to 8. While these ranking positions are much closer to the top of the list, they still don’t clicked on much. And in fact you won’t get clicked on much more often even if you move up a few places.
- Positions 8 to 4. Ok, now things are doing better. You should be getting twice as many visitors to your website from the keywords that make this progress. But there’ still a lot more to come.
- Above position 4. Moving up one ranking position here will make a big difference to traffic. However, this can also be much harder. Moving from 20 to 10 may take a couple of months. Going from 4 to 2 could take a couple more years.
- The view from the top. Just look at how many clicks position 1 gets compared to any other position? Twice as many as position 2, almost 3 times as many as position 3 and more than 4 times as many as position 4. And 20 times as many as the bottom of the page.
- Compared to PPC. Many people go for PPC using Adwords to jump the queue and appear above the organic results. While this is a quick fix, a health click through rate for pay per click ads is around 5% depending on your sector. Of course it all comes down to cost, but if demand is limited, then being in the number one position organically will outperform PPC in most cases.
SEO Progress isn’t smooth
The ranking position your website has will naturally go up and down a fair bit for each keyword on a daily basis. With lots of competition jostling for position and Google frequently updates it’s information on everyone’s sites, there’s a turbulent field of play. Having said that, over the right time frame and with enough keywords being tracked, you should be able to see some progress.
The graphs below are upside down. The green area at the top represents the number of keywords that are ranking in position one. As that green area increases in size it means the website is ranking for more keywords in position one. As the other coloured areas also increase in size, this means the website is also ranking high for a greater number of keywords overall. As you can see there is a trend-line, it’s far from straight but there is clearly a correlation. In this case, the number of keywords ranking in position one doubles over a six month period.