One of the first questions people ask before taking on any new endeavor is, “How long will this take?” The desire to know what to expect is strong in humankind, but doubly so for business leaders who want to ensure they’re prepared for what may come.
The question of how long something will take to have a measurable impact is one that comes up especially often around the topic of SEO. And the reality of SEO advertising is that it takes more time to make a difference than other advertising tactics like paid advertising.
But SEO content marketing has a much longer tail than basically any other form of marketing (aside from overall brand awareness perhaps.) This, combined with the fact that content marketing can be quite affordable, allows SEO marketing to provide unparalleled ROI on advertising spend.
But these facts still don’t answer the big question:
How Long Does it Take to Rank on Google?
Despite all of the time, money, and energy that has been invested in solving the SEO puzzle, the fact is that the answer to the question of how long it takes to work remains, “It depends.”
There are an incredible number of factors that can change the performance of a page—many of which can change at any given moment. Difficulty of keywords, search volume, site performance, and so many other factors can all play a role in how well a page performs and how quickly it manages to snag a solid SERP placement.
So there are a ton of factors that can’t really be accounted for when it comes to estimating how long your specific page will take to rank. However, we can look at the performance of other successful web pages over time to get a better idea of what can be expected.
How Old are the Top Pages on Google?
One of the hardest pills to swallow when it comes to SEO and content advertising is the fact that your efforts don’t immediately bear any fruit. In fact, according to a study by Ahrefs, the average page age for pages in the coveted #1 spot on Google search results is nearly 3 years.
Now, that’s not to say that pages take 3 years to find any traction at all, but that data point underpins the fact that SEO takes time to provide results. But how much time are we talking about here?
How Long Does it Take to Reach Top-10 on Google?
While the number one spot on Google SERPs is usually claimed by a page pushing into its third year of life, the other pages filling out the top-10 tend to be rather old as well. From Ahref’s study we know that “the average Top10 ranking page is 2+ years old.”
Going down the rabbit hole a bit further reveals that only about 1 in 5 pages in the top-10 Google results are less than a year old. Furthermore, less than 6% of the 2 million pages studied were found to reach the top-10 within a year. For these “lucky” pages that managed to outpace the competition somehow, they still generally took around 2-6 months to reach the top-10.
All of this is to say that the answer to how long a page will take to rank remains unknown due to the massive variety of factors; however, the data does show that nearly 95% of all newly published pages fail to snag a top-10 SERP position in their first year of publication.
Putting It All Together
How long it will take for any given page to place highly on SERPs is impossible to predict. But the general expectation is that reaching the top-10 on Google results will take 2 or more years on average. And nearly ⅔ of the Google top-10 pages are 3 years of age or older.
This timeline may be a little discouraging for many, but these numbers don’t tell the whole story by any means. A large variety of factors can drastically impact the performance of any given page over time, and no one really knows exactly what to expect due to that.
But we do know that older pages, on average, outperform newer pages by a large margin. In other words, if you haven’t already started capitalizing on SEO marketing, the time to start is now.
Get in touch with us to learn about how we can help your business grow through organic and paid digital advertising.