Investing in search engine optimization (SEO) is important. However, for all the effort and expenses involved, you really just want to know when it will all pay off. When will your optimized web pages and blog posts finally start to rank on the first page? Well, you can rest easy since you’re not the first business to wonder how long it will take to start ranking on Google.
The reason why this question is so difficult to answer is that there are a plethora of factors that dictate which pages rank and how long it takes to do so. While there isn’t a simple answer, here are a few thoughts that will give you a better idea of what you can expect.
How Long Does it Take for Content to Start Ranking on Google?
Back in 2017, Ahrefs conducted a study to figure out the age of content on the first page of Google. They found that most of the top-ranking pages were more than three years old.
As you might guess, this is not great news for anyone who wants to see their content rank sooner rather than later.
However, averages are not the be-all and end-all of the study. In fact, it is possible to rank on Page 1 sooner than that. A piece of content published in 2019 by Ariel Precision Medicine about pancreatitis started to rank about one month after it went live. Furthermore, it has ranked for a number of other keywords.
The Ahrefs study did find that roughly 5.7% of the results started to rank in less than a year, most of which ranked within 61-182 days of going live. So, while faster rankings are rare, they are most definitely possible.
Here’s some more good news – once you start ranking for one keyword, there’s a good chance that you’ll start ranking for related keywords as well. Another Ahrefs study found that a page that earns the top spot for one keyword will likely rank in the top 10 for 400-1,000 other keywords.
This data tracks with the pancreatitis example, which has started to rank for more keywords since it made its debut on Page 1.
What Does it Take to Start Ranking on Google?
We will explore the separate factors that influence how long it takes for a page to rank well. However, before we isolate any one element, it’s critical to comprehend that no one factor acts alone. In order for the SEO efforts for one page on your site to pay off, you need to have a rock-solid strategy that enhances your entire website.
A strong SEO strategy goes beyond the website itself and includes additional channels. Working to acquire backlinks and investing in social promotions both factor into a page making its way onto Page 1. It’s also important to understand that a piece of content can dominate in terms of on-page SEO, but it will likely not rank if struggles in terms of off-page factors.
The primary objective you need to accomplish in order to get a piece of content to rank faster is to ensure that it fits into a larger SEO strategy. This strategy helps increase visibility and authority both onsite and off.
5 Major Factors that Influence How Long it Takes for Content to Start Ranking on Google
A sound strategy is vital since it ensures that you hit all of the key factors that need to combine in order to rank. The algorithms that the search engines use to decide which content will rank are guarded under lock and key. Furthermore, they are extremely complex and constantly evolving. In all honesty, nobody really knows the exact blend of factors that contribute to deciding which page will gain the top spot. However, we do know enough to confidently state that the following five factors are the most important.
1.) The Authority of Your Root Domain
Google is smart enough to realize that websites that are solid across the board will likely produce effective content. I mean, wouldn’t you click on content from a brand you know instead of a brand you’ve never heard of before? For that very reason, Google doesn’t evaluate any single page on its own. Even if all other factors are equal, a piece of content from the New York Times website will likely rank higher than a similar piece of content from a personal blog.
In order for one piece of content on your site to rank on Google, the rest of your site needs to be authoritative. Search engines factor in a number of elements when they measure domain authority. According to SEO gurus, some of the primary factors that contribute to domain authority include:
- How many backlinks the domain has: links play a huge role in how Google determines the popularity and trustworthiness of a website
- The authority of the backlinks: a link from a respected resource in your industry is more valuable than one from a random site. Furthermore, links from sites that Google considers spammy can actually damage your authority
- The age of the website: Google typically considers older websites to be more trustworthy since spammy websites are more likely to let their domain registration expire or change hands between owners
If your website is new, building its authority will take time. Even the best content you publish will likely take months or years to start ranking. However, as you increase the authority of your domain, the time needed for content to rank will decrease.
2.) Keyword Competition
You can easily rank on Google overnight if you focus on keywords for which no one else is trying to rank. However, if nobody else is trying to rank for the same keyword, then there’s a good chance that nobody is searching for it either. This, in turn, makes ranking for this keyword utterly pointless. One of the critical factors that influence how long it takes for your content to rank is the degree of competition for your keyword.
If you want to rank faster, you need to focus on long-tail keywords that have less competition than broader terms that are popular in your industry. A doctor can likely claim a spot on Page 1 faster for a search term like “common symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever” than they would for a broader term like “primary physician.” Long-tail keywords won’t garner as much traffic as their broader counterparts, but you can potentially win a spot on Page 1 far faster. This means that you’ll start earning traffic faster and, with the correct keywords, that traffic will consist of qualified prospects.
3.) High-Quality Content Will Help You Rank on Google
One of the most critical rules in the world of SEO is that Google’s top priority is the user. Google wants to deliver the most accurate, helpful, and relevant results possible, so this is what the algorithm is designed to accomplish. This means that if you want to rank, you need to ensure that your content provides value to your audience and that it does it more effectively than any other piece of content on the same topic.
In an ideal world, this would be the only factor you need to consider and the most complete content would always earn a spot on Page 1. However, it is next to impossible to judge the quality of content with any objective measure that an algorithm can execute. Therefore, search engines need to read other characteristics that signal quality, such as backlinks and engagement metrics.
In order to succeed with the other ranking factors, you need to make sure your content is on point. You need to ensure that you’re creating content that’s accurate, complete, targeted, and helps your audience solve their problems.
4.) On-Page SEO is Critical to Start Ranking on Google
On-page SEO is how you communicate what your page is about to Google. Optimizing your on-page SEO involves including your target keywords in the URL, title, image alt tags, and naturally throughout the copy. When done correctly, on-page SEO makes it clear to search engines the terms and topics that your content covers. In doing so, you help the search engine algorithms understand for which user inquiries your content should show.
5.) Your Backlink Profile Plays a HUGE Role
This is arguably the most difficult, albeit important factor that influences how quickly your content ranks. Backlinks are among the most powerful signals that Google uses to understand the value of a piece of content. Earning backlinks to your content involves a lot of work. However, it’s a tactic that is worth its weight in gold.
An effective linking-building strategy is about playing the long game and building relationships with relevant brands, bloggers, and publications within your industry. However, if you need to score quick wins, you can notify relevant websites of your content. You can also write guest blog posts on related topics that include a link to your website.
If your content is genuinely useful, more people will find their way to it with time. As more people find your content they will link to it and share it with their peers. This is a huge step since it doesn’t involve you having to go out and actively pursue backlinks. However, you still need to do the initial legwork and give your content that initial boost.
It’s All About the Long Game
There are numerous methods that you can employ that can reduce the time it takes for your content to rank. However, it will take time regardless of the tactics you put into motion. SEO takes time. Furthermore, the fact that this game requires genuine skill and elbow grease is part of why ranking organically is so valuable. Most of us don’t have the patience and find waiting around frustrating. However, it will all pay off when you start ranking high on Google’s SERPs and the organic traffic starts to flow to your site. At the end of the day, optimizing your content for SEO is the best way to get your content to rank high on Google’s SERPs.