For the past 10 years that I’ve been optimizing websites, there is one question I get asked from clients and prospects the most:
“How long will it take me to get ranked in the first page of Google for my targeted keywords?”
I’m sure every small business owner has received emails and spam phone calls from shady companies stating that “Your Google Local business listing is not verified or ranking”. Believe it or not, we get them too. They are companies that buy lists of companies and cold call with an automated service. It’s annoying but we all must deal with it.
Any digital marketing company that offers $100 SEO and guarantees you will rank in a week is lying to you. I will get more in depth in this blog post. Digitally Distinguished offers $199 SEO but will NEVER guarantee that site will be ranked in less than 6 months. That price is for new sites only and business owners with small budgets. We recently gained a client who had a larger website which has a great Social Media presence, and backlink profile. Their price was considerably higher, but we gave a timeline of 1 month. They were ranking for their low-end keywords in 1 week and traffic already started increasing.
Do Rankings Even Matter Anymore?
How do you search for something? Do you go to page 2 of the search results? I didn’t think so. Yes rankings still matter but they are not the only thing your company should be worrying about.
I just love it when the CEO of a company comes to the marketing director, manager, or person in charge of SEO and says, “We need to rank for xyz terms on Page 1.” I conduct your keyword research and find out that those terms have no search volume nor purchase intent. Rankings are important but a true measurement of SEO is to get qualified traffic that results in conversions. Getting to the first position for some keywords doesn’t mean anything if you are not going to impact your sales and conversions.
If your CEO wants to rank for terms that are only relevant to him, like his name, then that could be done rather easily (in a month or less based on my experience) with a few:
Are Websites Still Needed?
Websites are still needed. However, soon larger businesses won’t be relying on them as much as they used to because more content is being consumed by social media and in apps. Small businesses will need a website for the unforeseeable future in order to get in front of their customers.
How to Get to Page 1
The real answer depends on the following.
When a client asks me how long I can expect to get first page rankings for my targeted keywords, I tell them “Let my team do an analysis and we will get back to you” because there are so many variables at play.”
A startup with a brand-new website and new domain with zero links, no popularity, no end user signals, etc. and tells me “I want to rank on Page 1 for SEO Company Philadelphia.” I tell them, “Good luck.” It will take years to get Page 1 rankings for that keyword and related keywords because that is a super competitive industry.
Getting to Page 1 will require a lot of great content and links about why people should buy SEO, what SEO companies are available, the best SEO companies, etc.
If an existing site and powerhouse domain like Chase wanted to rank in the first page of Google for small business credit cards, which they already rank in position #25, I would be up for the challenge. They are just outside of what we call striking distance (i.e., positions 11-20).
Chase is a powerhouse in terms of popularity, links, and traffic. It has the potential to get to Page 1 for “small business credit cards” with more high quality and useful content, internal linking, high quality external links, and some more social love.
Now if a company like Evans Bank, which only has 3 referring domains and a DR of 43, wanted to rank on Page 1 for “small business credit cards”, it would be difficult.
Ranking in the first page for that keyword would be hard because the site is not popular and lacks high-quality links, content, and some other crucial factors for SEO success.
The keywords “small business credit cards” are super competitive. You have big brands like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and affiliates like Nerd Wallet ranking for these terms, which will be extremely difficult to compete with.
However, if Evans Bank were to position themselves right and support the site with an integrated marketing campaign, strategy, and holistic content that helps people, it will cause the domain to:
Currently, the site is ranking on Page 6 in Google. That isn’t bad considering the current state of the site from an SEO and content perspective.
Once Google sees that the site is getting more popular and has fresh and useful content that people are consuming – which they can tell by the end user data – the site will improve visibility and traffic from keywords that will get them to Page 1.
It’s easier to come online, but you must establish a presence.
If I were Evans Bank, I would find people to partner with, do more business with, and differentiate themselves from the other banks.
For example, if they were to position themselves as the lowest rate small business card provider in the industry, that would help them be unique.
For more people to talk about the brand and link to the site, they need to:
This will improve their visibility over time, help them become relevant, and establish their authority in the industry.
In my experience, I have seen big brands loose visibility by getting some high-quality links removed from their site.
Once they get the links back or even get more high-quality links to the site from related domains, the rankings will come back. I have seen it come back in weeks for some big brands and in some cases days.
Based on my experience, here is the time period I have seen it take to get to Page 1 based on some factors. Although each site is different this is a general guideline.
Category Competitive Keywords Non-Competitive Keywords
New Site 9 to 12 months+ 1 to 4 months +
Household Name 3 to 6 months 1 month or less
Getting to Page 1 in Google is no simple task.
Google has become smarter through advancement in machine learning and real-time algorithms.
Brands must focus not only their websites but also on having a positive content experience across all devices and platforms that helps users in the moment.
Focusing your efforts take time and, if done correctly, can get you to the top of the first page of Google in due time, help your site get incremental traffic and conversions, and make your brand a huge success online.