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Written by Anouk van Iersel, 29 March 2023

How long does it take for SEO to work?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is booming. More and more organizations are seeing how important it is to be found on Google, and search engine optimization helps with that. But how long does it take for SEO to work? On this page, we give you a realistic picture of how long it takes for SEO to get results. We also discuss the important factors that contribute to the results that SEO brings.

What is the goal?

To gauge when SEO is working, you need to have a goal. For many organizations, that goal is to achieve high positions in search results. This is a logical goal; after all, 90% of searchers on Google look no further than the first search page when looking for a website. A third of these searchers even drop out after the first search result. So it is disastrous for your findability when your website is not visible on the first page. Potential customers will then visit competitors’ websites instead of your organization’s.

A goal can also be to have more (organic) visitors to your website. With more visitors, you have achieved your goal, but when these visitors do not purchase your product or service, more organic visitors are not of much use. Therefore, you also want more conversions. Applying SEO properly with new content and call to actions contributes to results. Therefore, a goal can also be to increase the number of conversions (by x percent).

How long does it take for SEO to work?

The biggest misconception of SEO is that it produces immediate results. As much as we would like to, this is not true. An SEO journey is of the long haul. Of course, short-term results are already visible, but the real results are over several months. Below, we take you through the timeline of SEO. What is the effect in the first quarter? What does SEO do after six months and what does it deliver after a year? We are going to answer those questions.

0-3 months

The first month of SEO usually involves optimizing the technical SEO elements of the website, such as page load time, improving URL structure and meta descriptions. The effect of these optimizations may be limited in the first month, but these steps lay the foundation for further SEO activities.

In the first few months of a journey, a keyword research is also done. This is necessary to put out a good SEO strategy. The study does not provide direct results, but it does provide indirect results. This allows you to choose the right keywords for your pages. So that you don’t create pages for topics/keywords that no one is searching for.

The second and third months of SEO usually see the first content optimizations, such as writing new SEO text and optimizing existing pages for relevant keywords. These optimizations generally take a longer time to take effect, as it can take some time for the search engines to index this new content and for its positive effects to be reflected in search results.

3-6 months

After 3 to 6 months, the first results of SEO are usually visible. This is because the SEO activities performed such as technical optimizations and content creation have been indexed by the search engines over time. Also, link building has often already begun. Depending on the number and quality of links created will also contribute to the results.

It is important to remember that SEO results depend on many factors and can vary by website, industry and budget. Therefore, a definitive answer to this question is difficult. You can read more about that below. Therefore, it is important to remain consistent in SEO activities and monitor and optimize results as needed.

6-12 months

In most cases, you’ll see real improvement in your SEO results after 6 to 12 months. This can be measured, for example, by a higher position in search engine results, more organic traffic to your website, a higher conversion rate and more repeat visitors. SEO results are therefore rightly a result of the long haul. We therefore recommend that you really think of Search Engine Optimization as a long-term investment that begins to pay off after six months.

Continuous process

However, it is important to remember that SEO is an ongoing process and work on optimizing your website must continue in order to keep improving and remain competitive in search results. It may also be necessary to adjust and change your SEO strategy as search engine algorithms evolve.

What factors come into play?

We’ll get right to the point; SEO is not an A,B,C’s. Search engine optimization depends on several factors. The most important factors are listed below. More explanation on this you below.

  • The market in which you operate and the relevant search terms
  • The code and technical state of the website
  • The design and User Experience
  • The competition and their SEO activities
  • The quality and relevance of the content on your website
  • The speed of implementing optimizations
  • Responding to trends and algorithm changes from Google
  • The current authority of your website
  • The budget available for SEO investments
  • External crawlers indexing the website


When all your competitors are using an SEO path, it is logically more difficult to move up the search engine rankings than when you have lower competition. Keywords with high search volume are naturally attractive. That means there is a greater chance that many potential customers will land on your website. However, keywords with high search volume do have a lot of competition. Therefore, it is important to find a keyword with high search volume and low competition. Those are the real gold mines.

Quality content

SEO largely revolves around written content. Often you are instructed to return a keyword multiple times. The trick is for the reader not to realize that you have a particular word recurring, say, thirty times. It should be easy to read while making all the keywords recur multiple times. It is also important that you inform the reader. Don’t try to make your landing pages just Google-readable. Your visitors want something, too, and rightfully so.

Link building budget

Another important factor of the decisiveness of your SEO journey is the budget you spend on link building. Especially if you are just starting out and have few backlinks or strong competition, this is very important. In fact, obtaining quality external links comes at a price. With more budget, you logically realize more and higher quality links. Which in turn provide a higher position in search engine rankings.

Crawling by Google

Crawling by Google is an important part of SEO. Crawling refers to the process by which Google or other search engines scan your Web site to understand what your Web site is about and how it should be ranked in search results.

When Google crawls a page of your website, it analyzes the textual content, the links that appear on the page and the structure of the site. Based on this analysis, your website is indexed and ranked in search results.

Sometimes a new page is indexed the same day, other times it can take weeks. To speed up the process, you can request indexing in Google Search Console, but even then it may take some time. This also slows down the results.

Outsource to a specialist

SEO is not easy. You have to go through many steps to finally get a nice SEO result. SEO also contains a technical side, which are actually impossible for employees without knowledge and experience to perform. To make sure your SEO goes according to plan, it is recommended to outsource it to a specialists. They have all the tools, programs and knowledge to make your SEO a success.

Instant results with SEA

The counterpart of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Search Engine Advertising (SEA). This method gets you high in Google’s rankings through ads. You achieve results faster this way. You are immediately shown, depending on the budget, at the top of Google’s rankings. However, this method is not sustainable. When you stop paying, you immediately disappear from the rankings after which you are no longer findable.

SEO, on the other hand, is sustainable. It takes a little longer to get results, but when you are in a high position you can often keep it for a long time without additional investment.

Need help?

Want to attract more traffic to your website and appear higher in search results? Then it’s time to take down SEO. With our expertise and experience in optimizing websites for search engines, we can significantly improve your online presence and grow your business. Contact 2manydots today and find out how we can help achieve your online goals. Increase your visibility and increase your success with our SEO services.