SEO – How long does it take to rank on Google’s First Page?

24 February 2017

This is a common question when clients embark on an SEO project for the first time. Naturally, you want to establish how long it will take before you start to see results.

The Historic Influences which Changed SEO

It’s important to understand that when Larry Page and Sergey Brin first decided to launch Google search, in fact, back in 1995, Google wasn’t even called Google it was called Backrub! Anyway, the clear fundamental mission was to provide better, more relevant answers when users entered a search phrase into Google’s search box. Those same values are still around today. Better, more relevant searches has enabled Google dominate the market and outperform other search engines such as Bing and Ask Jeeves etc. This is why “Googleing” information has now become a common phrase used amongst many people today.

SEO Raking - Google Search

In the early days, no-one really understood the power and the subsequent benefit of being on page one search results. Most companies didn’t even have websites and there certainly wasn’t any SEO Companies knocking around offering search marketing. The algorithms which Google used worked just fine… that was until website owners realised that if they owned a website they needed to be found. And then the spam began!

Shortcuts which resulted in Google tightening their algorithms

I’ve been working within search for around 18 years now and I’ve see all sorts of tricks deployed by web masters to try and spam / trick / manipulate the results. Everything from white text on a white background, repeating the targeted phrases 100’s of times on a page and to be honest at the time – they all worked! In the wake of these unethical optimisation techniques, Google started to tighten their algorithms and continue to do so today.

Back in the day Google was in big competition with other search engines like Yahoo, AltaVista and Lycos, Ask Jeeves! So, in order to prove themselves as the smarter – more intelligent search engine they released a toolbar for Internet Explorer. Within the toolbar was the PageRank indicator which calculated a score from 0 to 10 based on the authority of the page. This score took into account the number and quality of other websites linking to that page. By opening pandora’s box, web masters quickly started to realise that links were a major ranking factor for Google when assessing the quality of a website. And guess what… everyone started buying links, setting up link farms swapping links with other websites to try and manipulate the PageRank and rankings.

Google face a constant battle to keep their results as true and as worthwhile as possible to its users (YOU). And, as such, their algorithms are continually being updated to help achieve this by flushing out the spam.

So how does Google determine which website to list on page one?

Irrespective of the countless algorithms which Google have rolled out over the years, the one consistent element is page relevancy. Google’s objective is simply to provide the best possible result when the user has searched for a keyword phrase – and let’s be honest we all want that!

In reality, there are 100’s of factors which affect the results however, these can be broken down into the following:

7 Key Factors

  1. The relevancy of the page content in relation to the user search query
  2. Your website build quality
  3. Existing natural, relevant, quality links from other related websites
  4. Existing domain penalties
  5. Domain age
  6. Targeted keyword difficulty
  7. Competing websites

These, plus many other factors need to be analysed in order to provide an accurate timeframe as to how quickly you’ll see a first-page result. Investing time into producing a well-structured SEO strategy will positively affect the performance. Maximum effort will = Maximum results.

Each website and targeted phrase needs to be assessed on its own merits. Carrying out identical work across 10 different websites will have completely different results. On average you should start to see results within 2 – 12 months.

In recent articles by Moz and Hrefs they reported:

  • A single link had little effect on those pages already in the top 10, and took 8 to 9 weeks to have any kind of effect for pages much further down in rankings.
  • It took 5 to 10 weeks to move a page from rank 9 to rank 5 with 20 links.
  • DA25 to DA50 links took around 10 weeks to yield any kind results.
  • The average page in the top 10 results is over 2 years old, while the average page in the top position is more than 3 years old.
  • Only 5.7% of new pages ranked in the top 10 results within one year. And this includes existing and aged sites with massive domain authority.

Summary

There’s no fast and easy way to get a website to rank organically. It requires lots of strategy and effort. You’re going to have to commit to investing a minimum of 30 hours per month over a 2 to 12 month period. Sounds like hard work… it is.