If you’ve ever hired an SEO agency or are still dabbling with the idea, you want one thing — to dominate organic search results. Then you could be asking the question, “How long does it take to rank in Google?”
After all, ranking on page 1 is crucial. It increases your potential for brand awareness, more leads, and sales, ultimately growing your business. Some sources claim that you can rank within 6 months, while others mention up to a year.
But truthfully speaking, how soon you rank depends on various factors. And while you’ve probably heard of the 200+ ranking factors, not all of them are equally important.
This article aims to provide you with insights on ranking factors that benefit your website the most and studies conducted by third-party SEO tools like Ahrefs and Moz. More importantly, strategies that help to speed up your rankings.
But before those, let’s start by understanding how Google ranks search results.
How Google Ranking Systems Work
Google’s ranking systems are composed of multiple algorithms, and these algorithms examine your website and pages for certain elements in order to determine the best possible results to show for an audience query. For example, Google looks at whether a page provides relevant information or if it demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) on a given topic.
If you were doing SEO back in the early 2000’s, you’d agree that ranking was pretty easy. Building link farms and simply stuffing your content with keywords would almost immediately position you at the top of search results. But not anymore. Google’s algorithms have become increasingly smart, plus it makes frequent algorithmic changes.
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Rank on Google
While there’s no definitive answer to how much time it takes to rank a website, you can, instead, focus your efforts on these variables that are known to influence rankings.
Size of Website
Generally speaking, bigger websites are likely to perform better on SERPs than smaller websites. Which makes sense, since large sites tend to have acquired more links, built more pages, covered more topics, and have been around for years (old domains).
On top of the points above, larger websites will also likely have better topic coverage, improving their topical authority.
So, between you and a competitor that has existed for 10 years now, we could assume that they will perform better. However, a bigger site isn’t better 100% of the time if it has low-quality, irrelevant pages and thin pages, which leads us to other factors…
Google favors content that it considers to be fresh. But what does “fresh content” actually mean? To determine fresh content, Google considers the following:
- Inception date: This refers to the date when Google first crawled or indexed your content or when it first showed up in search results.
- Traffic and engagement: The amount of time that visitors spend on your site also influences freshness.
- Frequency of edits: How big of a change do you make on a piece of content? Small edits (for instance, rewriting just one sentence) won’t matter as much as major changes like revamping several parts of your content.
- Newly added pages: Websites that publish new pages, rather than simply update existing ones, are likely to be deemed fresh. This is common with blogs that put out new content more frequently.
- Link growth rate: External SEO factors such as backlinks may also influence content freshness by telling Google that your page is relevant.
Amit Singhal, a former Google Fellow, also mentioned how different search queries are more likely to require fresh content. Take, for example, queries on hot topics, current events/trends, and those with increasing search volumes.
Link building may have gotten a bad rap due to sneaky old-school tactics, it still matters for SEO though. You can think of links as votes to a website — they’re there for a reason.
Sometimes, a site may link to another site to provide more valuable information to readers. Having numerous links may increase your website’s chances of ranking; but more importantly, Google evaluates link quality.
High-quality links take more time to acquire and are often earned naturally from relevant and authoritative websites. Conversely, low-quality links may hurt your rankings — especially those coming from cheap link services, web directories, or private blog networks (PBNs).
User Engagement Metrics
Websites with positive user metrics — meaning, people like visiting and interacting with them — may improve their rankings in a few months. These metrics include:
- Bounce rate: This describes the percentage of visitors who leave without completing any action, such as clicking a link or completing a purchase, after viewing a page. A high bounce rate could mean that visitors haven’t found what they were looking for.
- Average time on page: You’ll want people to spend more time on your web pages. This is a good thing as it shows that your visitors like consuming your content.
- Scroll depth: As the term implies, scroll depth refers to how far people scroll down your page. This metric is one way to evaluate the effectiveness of your content and it positively affects the average time on page. If it meets their expectations or they’re interested in learning more, they’ll likely scroll all the way down and take time to read.
- Dwell Time: This represents the amount of time from when a user clicks on a search result and goes back to the SERPs. It’s directly affected by the 3 metrics above.
Site design is more than just the color scheme or overall layout, contrary to what most people think. It also includes your mobile-responsiveness, navigation, URL structure, and page loading speed.
Web design affects SEO by providing users with a positive or negative experience. Obviously, you’ll want to aim for the former — giving your users what they want. Not only should your site be visually appealing, but it should also be functional.
Level of Competition
The higher the competition level, the more difficult it is to rank on the top of Google SERPs. Starting your SEO campaign by identifying who your competitors are as well as their tactics will help you know where you stand and uncover opportunities.
When doing a competitor analysis, include their organic traffic, best-performing content pieces, backlink profile, UX and site architecture, and pay-per-click (PPC) keywords. We’ve created a free template that covers every essential competitor metric you should look into.
Last but not least — time and money are important resources that will help scale your SEO project. They enable you to test different things, add new pieces of content, acquire more authoritative backlinks, and even build meaningful partnerships that can boost your brand reach.
How Long Does It Take for a Blog to Show up on Google
To help answer the question, how long do SEO changes take? Let’s have a look at studies done by Ahrefs and Neil Patel.
Ahrefs started their study by identifying the average age of the pages that have ranked in Google’s top 10 results. This was after they’ve randomly picked 2 million pages. Here were some interesting findings:
- Those pages that ranked were 2+ years old, while pages that specifically ranked #1 were nearly 3 years old on average.
- However, only 5.7% of all studied pages appeared in the top 10 within a year — and most of them did it within 61-182 days. Furthermore, these pages ranked for at least 1 keyword.
- Performing pages usually had a high domain rating (DR). (Note that DR is a metric developed by Ahrefs which measures the strength of a website’s backlink profile.)
Based on this study, Ahrefs has shown that 95% of all published pages don’t get to the top 10 search results within a year, and that the small percentage that does, usually do it in 2-6 months most likely due to hard work and SEO knowledge.
Neil Patel’s Study
For this study, Patel worked with three major data partners, namely BuzzSumo, SEMRush, and Ahrefs. After taking 20,000 URLs from pages published in 2016 and looking at important data points, they’ve observed the following results:
- It took about 100 days or 3.39 months to reach the average highest ranking position of 1.81.
- The ranking page had a domain rating of 49.6 (on a scale from 0-100).
- The average total referring domains was 25.
Important: These studies may have provided us with actual numbers, but they do emphasize that ranking depends on a lot of factors — we’ve just covered a few important ones earlier in this article. And don’t forget your hard work and persistence because results don’t happen overnight!
How Can You Speed Up Your Rankings on Google?
Ranking demands a mix of techniques which all require being strategic with your approach. Before anything else, make sure you do proper planning and research, and that you have a clear goal in mind.
That said, check out these tips that will help you get to the top:
- Identify topics that have value to your business. For example, if you sell a particular product or service, then your topics should be discussing those and not something that’s completely unrelated.
- Measure and optimize your website’s user experience. Find out whether your current design is helping or hurting your SEO by checking your core web vitals (CWV), using heatmaps, and usability testing.
- Focus on building quality backlinks from authoritative websites. These websites have to be topically related to yours. Nofollow links do not influence search engine rankings (unlike dofollow links), although they can help diversify your link profile and also bring in more traffic.
- Always write good content. Content that satisfies search intent will result in lower bounce rates and better user engagement. In addition, strive to be helpful by linking to relevant topics on your website, adding relevant imagery, and implementing the best practices in writing.
- Study the competition. Try to reverse engineer your top competitors. Find out what topics they’re covering, keywords they’re targeting, links they’ve built, and possible weaknesses that you can use to your advantage.
You might be eager to get your website to rank in Google, but the truth is that it’s no easy feat, especially in saturated markets. Being knowledgeable in SEO is a great start, then follow it up with a competitive strategy.
The case studies in this article mention that it can take about 2 months to a year to start seeing results from SEO. However, this can take longer depending on a lot of variables like competition, website size, content freshness, design, and link quality.
Just because you’re not seeing results immediately doesn’t mean you should give up. You could, instead, tweak your strategy or get professional help from a reputable SEO expert. In that case, we’re here for you.