Google rankings timescales
In SME forums across the country, business owners and managers are asking marketing agencies and SEO professionals to get them to the top of Google asap and asking ‘how long does SEO take?’ There are also less than scrupulous professionals out there claiming to get you to ‘rank top of Google in 2 weeks’, counting of businesses owner spotting a good deal to get a fast payday.
The majority of good quality SEO agencies will be honest though – SEO is a cross country run and not a sprint and there are no quick fixes and there are several factors that will determine how long it takes for SEO to have an impact on search engine rankings.
How long does Google take to index web pages?
Google ‘crawl’ all web pages on the Internet, and after Google discovers a page, their ‘bots’ work to understand what the page is about. This process is called indexing. Google analyses the content and catalogs the images and video files embedded on the page. This data is stored in the Google index, which is essentially a huge database stored in a large number of computers.
When a web user Googles something, Google tries to find the most relevant answer from its index based on many factors. These factors include the quality of the content and website design, the wording and key terms used, and the location of the business. It will also include any negative aspects of the website, such as signs of trying to manipulate the Google algorithm with ‘black hat’ approaches such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and paid-for links.
Google is super secretive about how much emphasis they put on each area, so there can be trial and error involved.
Well known Google search relations representative John Mueller has recently admitted that it can take “several hours to several weeks” for Google to index new or updated content or updated content, but sometimes it can take longer due to either technical issues with your website or if GoogleBot has a large amount of indexing to carry out.
So no matter how fast a marketing agency is working, we are all still a prisoner of how fast Google will work, and just because a website or web page is indexed, that still doesn’t guarantee immediate ranking success.
If you’re selling something really bespoke it will be much easier to rank higher whereas for more commonly sold products are harder to rank for, especially if you’re competing against more established businesses.
Location will also play a part in how much competition you have. For example, if someone searches ‘Chinese food near me’ in central Manchester – an inland, cosmopolitan city with its own ‘China town’ – there will be a large amount of competition for search engine rankings. If you make the same search in Mevagissey – a small village and fishing port on the south coast of Cornwall – you will thrive in a space where seafood restaurants and port side pubs are more common.
Quick! Get as many high-quality links as you can! Yes, it’s true that good quality inbound links will help your Google rankings significantly, but the speed at which you get these is important in a way you might not think.
Google is looking for good quality inbound organic links, so a sudden influx of high-quality links makes their system think that maybe these aren’t people starting to notice and share your business, but are instead paid for links and therefore not an indication of a high-quality site as much as a bit of marketing spend. Inbound links take time because of the speed at which you want to add them, not just getting the number of links.
Content is actually an area that you can move on quite fast as there’s no reason not to publish some great quality, keyword-rich copy if you have it instead of eeking it out. It’s still worth remembering that Google moves at its own speed in crawling and indexing, but sharing content on social media will also provide social signals and generate more traffic organically as well.
Google rankings timescales
It’s in everyone’s interest to have realistic expectations and targets so looking at all factors of your business – including competition, location, content, and your current situation – should be considered. That doesn’t mean small and medium-sized businesses should think that SEO is a long-term project they can’t afford. SEO can be affordable for all-sized businesses.