How long does it take an SEO campaign to work?

SEO isn’t a quick marketing channel. Why? What’s the holdup?

There are several reasons SEO takes time before it works.

Time to crawl and index

Google doesn’t crawl your website every day. The next time it does, it will be able to add your website (any any changes you’ve made) to the index. Once it’s in the index, it has to compare your webpage against all the other pages on the internet on the same topic. This all takes time. I typically suggest that changes you make to a webpage today will see an effect in about a month.

Of course, this varies based on the popularity of your website. The more popular a website is, the more frequently a website is crawled by Google. This speeds up Google’s ability to index the site and means you might see results quicker.

One way to speed this up is by having an XML sitemap on your website. While Google doesn’t crawl your entire site every time it visits, it will pull your XML sitemap every time. It compares this to the last time it saw your sitemap and prioritizes any pages that have been changed.

You can speed this up even faster by adding your XML sitemap to your robots.txt file. Google definitely checks this file each time it visits your site. If you add a reference to the end of your robots.txt file, Google will always find your XML sitemap. Just add this to the end of your robots.txt file


Of course. you’ll need to replace this with your canonical website url and the proper reference to your XML sitemap.

Google takes time

It’s clear to anyone who builds websites that Google takes its own, sweet time when it comes to indexing new ones. Sometimes this takes months before Google adds a site to its index. This is called the “Google Sandbox.”

I think you can understand why. Google doesn’t know how your website’s credibility matches up with all the other websites on the same topics as yours. Once your website has been around for a while, it can determine whether or not it’s got the credibility to merit being in it’s index.

This can be a problem when you launch a new website. I tell clients who launch newly designed websites that they need to expect traffic to be down while Google re-indexes a website- for at least a month.

There are ways to overcome this. For one, link building can help establish that a website is credible. Quality links can speed up the indexing problem for new websites.

If you’re launching a redesigned website you can speed up the re-indexing process by making sure you’ve setup all your redirects properly. If you add a 301 redirect from every old page to the equivalent new page, Google will have an easier time re-indexing your site. Your website visitors will be grateful, as well.

There’s only so many hours in a day

Even if you’re doing SEO full-time, there’s only so much you can do. SEO involves a lot of pieces. It takes time to implement everything. Sometimes people think SEO is just about optimizing a page– as if once you’ve added your keywords to your meta description (or something) Google should show your site. There’s a lot more to SEO than that! For one, you need to make sure your site is working from a technical perspective and also need to promote your website on other sites (aka link building). Content is only one piece of the puzzle (and there’s a lot to that, as well).

All the fly-by-night SEO scammers out there, who guarantee ranking for a couple bucks help perpetuate the idea that SEO is quick and easy. It’s not. It’s effective and anyone can learn to do SEO but it’s not quick.

How long does SEO take?

It will take about 6 months before you start to see results from your SEO efforts. That’s not to say that 6 months is all it will take to do SEO. There’s never an end to the number of things you need to do to optimize a website for search. SEO is never really done- but it will take you 6 months before you start to see the benefits of an SEO campaign.

This is why I offer a discount for Curious Ants for people who commit to six months at a time (use the code SEMIANNUAL during checkout). It takes six months of effort before you start to see your SEO campaign begin to work. I’d hate for someone to pay for a month of Curious Ants and conclude, “it doesn’t work!” It takes 6 months for an SEO campaign to work- and this SEO guide is no different.

Get started on your SEO campaign today

Get free access to the most important part of an SEO campaign (keyword research) while learning how Curious Ants works.

Are there any shortcuts to SEO?

Of course there are. Sometimes these are called “black hat tactics.” Unfortunately these can really hurt you. In the best SEO shortcuts won’t work at all. That’s time spent doing things that didn’t help that could have been better spent on things that could have helped. At the worst, SEO shortcuts could get your website banned from Google’s index. If you don’t follow their rules they might never serve your site again.

Curious Ants focuses on the long-term efforts that will pay off in the end. We avoid SEO shortcuts in lieu of the hard work that will pay off later. It will pay off. SEO is a great way to connect with customers who are looking for what your business has to offer.

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SEO seems hard- you have to keep up with all the changes and weed through contradictory advice. This is frustrating and overwhelming. Curious Ants will teach you SEO while bringing your website more traffic and customers- because you’ll learn SEO while doing it.