How Long Does it Take SEO To Start Working

In my line of work, it’s common to get the “how soon can I expect results?” question from new or prospective clients. Many SEOs say that it takes a few months to many months to really start seeing results. And whatever you are seeing after 2 to 3 months pales in comparison to what you will see at 12 months if you are doing SEO right.

I’ve always struggled to pitch the long-term value of SEO and that it takes time for many reasons:

  • You need to allow time to do the audit
  • You need to allow time to get the work implemented
  • You need to allow time for Google to re-crawl everything
  • Building links takes a lot of time if you’re doing it scalably as you build the rest of your business

One of the reasons why I love having my own site(s) is that I can show specific case studies.
This is a real screenshot of’s Google Analytics from January 1, 2015 (8 months before I began working on Credo fulltime) to this past Saturday, the 18th of March.

You want to know how long SEO takes to work? Check out the above. You can clearly see:

  • A bump around November 2015 when I started working on the site fulltime and it got a bunch of links
  • That traffic steadily grew throughout 2016 as I worked on content, creating pages that are valuable for the search engines, and more
  • A dip around November/December which is seasonality

What you don’t see is that I had to move to a new domain in January of 2016 (I did the migration seamlessly I think, and didn’t lose traffic though traffic did flatline for a bit) and then moving to HTTPS somewhere around May 2016.

You also don’t see the hours and hours and hours of content and literally thousands of lines of code that I wrote to take it from almost nothing to now a decent amount of traffic every week and growing (hockeysticking, if I may be so bold).

After I tweeted this out on Sunday March 19th, I got so many questions (from SEOs especially!) asking what I did that caused this step-change in traffic in recent months.

The answer is I did not change my strategy one bit. I’ve kept doing all of the following:

  • Building links via content
  • Pushing out industry-leading content like the Digital Marketing Pricing Survey Results
  • Kept squashing duplicate content
  • Kept upgrading and refreshing content as needed

No my rankings are not at #1 yet for key terms. But I’ve kept cranking away at the site, fixing technical and architecture issues (and there are more fixes rolling out soon), and continuously keeping at my site’s SEO as I’ve been doing sales, building the product, and more.

SEO is not overnight. Sometimes, sure, you can find low hanging fruit that can show quick traction.

If you want my honest opinion though, those do more harm than good because then your clients come to expect that. You and I (if you are an SEO, and if you’re reading this then you likely are) both know that this isn’t the case, but do they? And even if you tell them, will they understand?

Going back to my post last week, if I had stopped and given up in mid-2016, I would’ve been here:

Yeah I was reasonably happy with that, but I would’ve missed out on so much if I had given up!

So take it from me – SEO takes time and consistency and doing all the things right – keyword research, content marketing, technical SEO.

Don’t give up. Don’t fire your SEO agency after two months because you’re “not seeing the results”. SEO is patience and consistency and sticking to your strategy.

Good luck.