There is no one-size-fit-all answer to this question. Rather, various factors play a role in determining your SEO success. On average, you will begin to see results within the first 6 months, this is if you’re outsourcing your SEO to an experienced digital marketing agency or freelancer. If you hire a beginner, expect to wait a little longer. Certain sites started seeing results within 3 to 4 months whereas others claiming 1 month is enough (only applies to non-competitive niche with low search volume).

Most businesses we’ve collaborated with often notice significant gains from SEO after 6 months of consistent hard work and effort.

Though there are methods that’ll help obtain quicker results, they aren’t as effective for your business to maintain sustainable growth in the long run. These tactics are termed “black hat tactics”. Suppose you start ranking high for competitive keywords within a short period of time, Google can identify fairly easily.

SEO is all about playing the long-term game. If you’re not all about being patient, opt for other digital marketing disciplines such as pain search or social advertising.

In fact, SEO isn’t a magic potion but a strategy. As we’ve mentioned earlier there isn’t a straightforward answer to how long does SEO take to work. It boils down to many factors such as…

Factors Affecting the Time it Takes for Your SEO Strategy to Work

how long does seo take to work

1. Website Authority and Domain Age

Though Google has once announced that there isn’t a correlation between domain age and SEO, it still has a role to play.

Recently, we’ve encountered plenty of case studies proving that older websites can benefit faster from SEO than younger domains. There’s always a reason why.

Older websites naturally possess more backlinks compared to their younger counterparts. Backlinks indicate a site’s authority and trustworthiness. It takes time for new domains to acquire backlinks though there are much quicker (often unethical) ways to obtain them.

As the domain ages over time, the backlinks occur naturally as the site owners will do things like submitting their site to local directories, producing quality content, and promoting their site on different platforms. These activities will help generate more backlinks for the site as time passes by.

However, it’s not always about the links alone. You need to understand that old domains often carry a huge number of content assets, for example, articles, blog posts, images, videos, just to name a few. Even if the site never intentionally implements any SEO strategies, they’re prone to get clicks from search engines courtesy of their business recognition. As Google sees content as one of their ranking factors, older sites naturally rank for certain keywords.

Don’t feel discouraged if your new website has just ventured into SEO. It may take a while to gain a competitive edge on search engines, but it’s not impossible.

Check out 14 biggest SEO ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ and make sure you abide by them.

2. Link Building

Link building is amongst the best SEO methods to increase website authority. It can however, consume time and require creative outreach methods to acquire links from other sites. Albeit many SEO claims on the importance of on-site elements, links still have a role to play in competitive niches like finance and healthcare.

You can’t count on black hat link-building tactics anymore. Rather than using a cheap link-building solution that’ll risk your website being penalised by Google, building links ethically seems more ideal.

The best way you can build quality links is by creating high-quality and engaging content frequently. Harness your social media networks to spread your content and attract the right audience that’ll engage with your content. There are multiple ways you can repurpose your content, such as by converting an existing blog post to a video or audio. Doing this can earn you more clicks as the sites and blogs that encounter your content are more likely to share them with their following or mention them in their upcoming posts.

It’s not the numbers that matter, but the quality and relevancy when we discuss link building. A unique and creative approach will help build a legitimate backlink profile which will then exhibit your site’s authority on search engines.

3. Website Technical Issue

Sometimes instead of your SEO strategy, it’s your website that’s hindering your success. Many technical issues can damage your website. Leave them unrectified and you’ll see your SEO going downhill.

Some of the common technical issues you need to look out for include:

  • 404 errors
  • Broken links
  • Cheap and unreliable web-hosting
  • Accessibility and indexation issues
  • Page loading speed
  • Meta description that don’t make sense
  • Sitemap errors
  • .htaccess erros
  • Poor website architecture
  • Robots.txt issues
  • etc

Resolving the above issues will consume you around 7 to 14 days depending on their complexity. However, bear in mind that search engines bots don’t crawl and index your changed site spontaneously. You may notice some issues get rectified quickly, but most of them will take some time.

If you’re only starting with SEO, you most likely won’t encounter any Google penalty unless you’ve purchased expired domains. If you do consider purchasing one, be sure to check their backlink profiles or site using Wayback Machine to ensure that they are free of SEO violations.

When you outsource your SEO to a freelancer or agency, they will start with a complete website audit to identify technical errors with your website (if any) to ensure your site is ready before implementing any SEO strategies.

4. Website Design, Structure, and Architecture

Elements relating to User Experience (UX) have become more important than ever. Due to the recent launch of Core Web Vitals, the performance of each important page on your website matters greatly.

The experience you provide to your visitors sends an indication to Google whether your site fulfils their search query.

You want to prioritise easy navigation, responsive web design, as well as an easily scannable website structure. In fact, the majority of users are making searches via their mobile devices today. With that in mind, you need to make sure that your site is well-responsive and mobile-friendly. Furthermore, Google has since started to index mobile pages first before indexing desktop pages. Suppose your site provides a poor mobile experience, chances are you’ll find it tough ranking high on SERPs.

As most sites are built using CMS, make sure you opt for those that are search engine friendly, with ample flexibility in making SEO changes.

When you focus on enhancing your website design, structure, and architecture, you’ll begin to notice a growth in your search ranking and organic traffic, slowly but steadily.

5. Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis

There are many things you can discover when performing keyword research and competitor analysis. You don’t want to jump into the competition with your industry rivals without the right plan. Rather, you need to know what they’re doing to dominate the search results.

Though it’s nearly impossible to find out precisely what they’re doing, you’ll gain valuable insights about your competitors which will help you devise a brillant SEO strategy. You’ll encounter things such as keyword selections, content structure, and link profiles to which are critical ranking signals used by Google itself to rank sites. This process may consume time, but rest assured it’ll help save you plenty of time in the long run.

Competitor analysis benefits you big time. You don’t actually need to start from scratch, rather, perform a reverse engineering on what your competitors are doing and incorporate all the bits and pieces they are missing out on.

To do this easily and effectively, utilise tools like SEMRush and SpyFu to gain SEO insights from your competitors.

For example, suppose you’re using SEMRush, simply click on Domain Overview on the left menu. Insert your competitor’s URL. Then, you’ll be taken to a page that displays a multitude of organic keywords, paid keywords, backlinks, so on and so forth. Go through each and every element to grasp an idea of what your competitors are targeting and the type of content they are getting ranked on the SERPs.

This can help you produce better content than that of your competitors. However, you need to also understand that this won’t be an overnight success. In fact, it can take up to a few months.

Content marketing planning typically requires 6 to 12 months to work. This only applies when your content is better than your competitors’. Say you’re in a low competition niche, it’s generally easier to rank within a shorter time frame. So it also depends on your targeted audience.

Presuming you’re a restaurant looking to rank on local SERPs. There will be hundreds of restaurants and eateries in your city. Naturally, the high, fierce competition will cost you longer to see results from your SEO efforts.

6. Content Marketing Strategy

Businesses that leverage on their content marketing strategy stand a greater opportunity in traffic growth.

SEO seeks quality content to produce results. Hence, content marketing plays a crucial role in increasing search ranking and organic traffic. It’s not the 500-600 words content we’re talking about here, rather, the quality content that stands out from the crowd—something your prospective customers can’t find elsewhere.

If you don’t publish authoritative content on your website, chances of your organic traffic flopping are high. You should also produce content consistently to prove to search engines and users that you actually care and are dedicated to delivering the best possible content that can help solve problems.

Bear in mind that instead of creating content for the sake of SEO, you also need to take into account Google’s criteria that will evaluate your content later on. EAT and YMYL in Quality Rater Guidelines can assist you in crafting the right content for your industry. Besides, you need to keep yourself abreast of current trends and happenings in your niche to implement a well thought out, successful content marketing strategy.

Again, this isn’t something you can finesse within a short period of time. It takes months to be on the right track of publishing quality content. But it’s one endeavour worth being patient about.

If you still crave quick changes, we urge you to attempt the techniques below. Nonetheless, we do need to inform you that it may or may not work due to several factors.

Tips and Tricks to ‘Speed Up’ Your SEO Process

1. Start with an Aged Domain if You’re Setting Up a New Website

First of all if you’re only about to start, it’s generally wiser to opt for an old domain that already carries high-quality backlinks and target keywords. This will help your site skip the Google sandbox and get ranked faster.

Another hack is to choose a domain name that includes your target keyword. This will boost your site’s relevance, helping it rank better and faster.

2. Prioritise Long Tail Keywords

We can’t stress this enough, but keyword research is extremely important in any SEO campaign. However, instead of chasing after highly competitive keywords, opt for long tail keywords. These are longer, more specific phrases that are less competitive and easier to rank for.

To put this in perspective, if you sell shoes, a long tail keyword will go somewhere along the lines of “men’s size 10 black leather oxfords” While it may not get as much traffic as “mens oxfords”, it’s easier to rank for and will help you gain targeted traffic that is even more likely to convert.

By prioritising long tail keywords, you can start generating organic traffic to your website quickly and most importantly, gain the trust of Google. Once your website ranks well in long tail keywords, Google will begin ranking more popular, higher competing keywords.

3. Produce High-Quality Content with Proper On-Page Optimization

Make sure you publish quality content on your website that covers all the long tail keywords you’re targeting (but don’t spam). This includes blog posts, articles, product descriptions, just to name a few. These content need to be well-written, informative, and properly optimised for search engines and users.

4. Pay Attention to Off-Page Optimisation

Investing in off-page optimization will earn you high-quality links from other websites. Some effective means of building links are guest-posting on relevant blogs and sponsoring a post on popular websites. Plus, guest-posting allows you to share your expertise with a wider audience, helping your brand become more reputable.

Another effective way is to do it through editorial links. These links are editorially placed on other high authority websites and usually symbolises a positive endorsement of your business or website.

To gain editorial links, you must produce high-quality content that other website owners see the point linking to. This ranges from informative blog posts to infographics, or even product descriptions.

Provided it’s valuable and relevant, your content stands a chance to be linked to by other website owners. Aside from bringing referral traffic, doing this will also enhance your website’s domain authority.

5. Consider Acquiring High Authority Aged Domains From the Same Niche

You can consider acquiring high authority older domains that come from the same niche as your website. By performing a 301 redirect from these domains to our site, you can quickly increase your domain authority, helping your website rank higher on SERPs.

Acquired domains provide a valuable source of backlinks, which is also another important ranking factor. However, you must be extremely careful when acquiring an aged domain as it may not always work the way you want. Chances of you losing money and time are high if it’s not done correctly.


Does SEO Work Immediately?

No, it simply doesn’t. It can take anywhere from months to years to see the fruits of your hard work. Having said that, if you focus on targeting more long tail keywords and investing in both on-page and off-page optimization, you should be able to see results a little faster.

How Long Does it Take for a Website to Rank in Google Malaysia?

Ideally, it takes 6 to 12 months to notice good results and positive gains from your SEO efforts, and only if you’ve done it right! However, remember to note that this is just an average—certain sites may take longer to rank, while others may achieve results faster.

Is it Worth Investing in SEO?

Yes. Whether you’re a startup or a large corporate company, SEO is one of the best digital marketing investments. Before venturing into SEO, understand the fundamentals, decide what kind of SEO services you need, consider your budget and ask yourself to what extent you’re looking to grow your business.

Why Is SEO Important in 2023?

SEO is expected to maintain its importance in the upcoming years, and is one crucial endeavour for every business with a website. You need to provide information about your products and services for users actively making searches related to what your business is offering.

Without the help of SEO, you’re letting your industry rivals take away your potential customers. Say you have a brick and mortar store, you need to know that nearly 80% of Google Map searches lead to offline conversion.

When you update your older content, you stand a chance to improve your organic traffic by at least 80%. A business without SEO is like a car without a driver. You won’t arrive at your destination in this era where digital reigns supreme without SEO.

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