How Long does SEO take to Start Working?

The SEO Outcome

“How long does SEO take to work?”.It’s the question we are most asked as an agency, when it comes to SEO. Whilst we’d love to give you an accurate time frame, the answer is, how long is a piece of string?

The truth of the matter is, there is no set limit of time. Some SEO agencies believe it can be as little as 4 months, but it really is dependent on three major factors: effort, accuracy and level of competition.


Effort is a constant. It can be measured and controlled. One would like to think that a successful outcome is directly proportionate to the level of effort injected, based on level of competition. But accuracy is of key importance in determining SEO outcome.

As web owners know only too well, effort level is not always rewarded as you might expect and despite throwing time and resources at SEO, you can be waiting for results that never quite materialise.

Frustratingly for businesses, Google maintains a level of ambiguity when it comes to what’s required to be accurate, largely to ensure spammers can’t just game the system and fill the SERPs with poor quality sites.


Thankfully there is some direction in achieving accuracy. Google has a set of best practices to follow to get web-owners closer to their goal of higher rankings in the SERPs and arming yourself with all this information and executing those practices is essential in knowing your way around the online marketing arena.

However, Google likes to update its algorithms regularly, meaning what was important in terms of ranking signals one month, could be overshadowed by something else the next.

But that’s not to say it’s not possible to get good rankings from the work you put in. The trick is having the time to research, stay abreast, practice, implement and test! 


SEO agencies will always look at your business’ industry and review how competitive you are online within this industry. Effort level can then be deciphered and planned into an SEO strategy.

However, what works for one page, might be completely different for another as competition levels don’t just vary from industry to industry, they also vary from service to service and product to product.

Whilst the common goal is to improve the website’s performance as a whole, it’s tackled on a-page by-page basis. Not only does this implementation take time, it means that you’re more likely to see a canon-effect with small but positive steps in the right direction, rather than a sudden success story.

The Last Word

Agencies work hard for their clients. With results and retention being high priorities, they are committed to understanding and complying with complex, ever-changing search algorithms, whilst simultaneously keeping an eye on the competition and coming up with creative ways to optimise your website.

Whilst the statement that ‘SEO takes time to bed in’ might seem like a caveat when discussing KPIs, the fact is the lengths of pieces of string really do vary in this case.

Need help with your SEO strategy? We are a local Folkestone based digital marketing agency, serving clients across Kent and the south-east. Give us a call on 01303 720 288.

About Chris Surridge

Chris Surridge is an experienced Digital Marketing Director with a wealth of knowledge on Search Marketing Strategies and Conversion Analysis. His value is in strategic planning for client accounts, and his consultative services.