A common question that many search engine optimization (SEO) strategists ask themselves is, “How long until SEO strategy takes off?” The short answer is: “It depends.” There is no concrete answer that will encompass the duration and hours needed to complete such a task.
The most important factor in determining how long it takes to start seeing results for SEO is making sure your website pages are indexed.
Indexing is the initial requirement for rankings
Google needs to index every page on a site if you want them to be found in search results. If a URL can’t be indexed, it has no chance of ranking. So all your hard work to write compelling content is for nothing if the content on the page has not been indexed.
Depending on the site and many factors (site size, frequency of adding content, and link authority), Google may come back to crawl the site more often. This can be daily or weekly and less frequently for some sites – once a month or even less often.
Until these pages are re-crawled, Google has no idea that the content of the page has changed. Maybe you’ve updated the keywords on this page, added helpful links, or provided compelling content that answers a searcher’s query. All of these things are great but won’t help you rank higher until the page gets re-indexed. No indexing means no chance of ranking.
When you’ve optimized for SEO performance, you don’t have to wait for Googlebot to decide to crawl your site and find the pages that have changed and re-index the URL.
How to request indexing in Google
Google Search Console has a handy feature that lets you start the process of indexing or re-indexing a page on your site. In order to potentially get crawled faster, you can nudge Google, telling the search engine that you want it to crawl and index your page. You can do this by going to Google Search Console, making sure you’re in the right account, and performing a URL inspection.
In the “Inspect any URL” field, enter the specific URL for which you want to request indexing. Next, click on “Request Indexing” as shown in the image below.
Pressing the magic button labeled “Request Indexing” instructs Google to re-crawl that URL and then update its index. Once Google updates its index with the new page, it is algorithmically able to reconsider its ranking for that specific page based on your optimization.
Google Search Console will show a message saying: “Testing if the live URL can be indexed”.
It will then say “Indexing requested” with the message “The URL has been added to a priority crawling queue. Submitting a page multiple times will not change its position in the queue or its priority.”
Once changes have been made to a page, requesting indexing on Google Search Console lets the search engine know that you have made a change to it. You don’t need to wait for Google to decide to crawl the page for your optimization to be indexed. The steps above allow you to try and speed up the process by telling Google that this page has changed and needs to be re-indexed.
When will performance change?
When Google changes its ranking – and how much the ranking changes – depends on Google’s algorithmic assessment of the novelty and value of the change you’ve made.
For example, optimizing the textual content of a page could have an impact overnight once the optimization is indexed, or it could take months to start working. The difference is usually impossible to predict because you are dealing with a complex algorithm whose secrets are closely guarded by Google.
Sites with high levels of authority or brand recognition tend to see faster performance improvements, although this may be related to the higher frequency with which Google crawls its sites.
However, those asking when they can see SEO starting to work tend to ask the question at the organic channel level as a whole rather than at the page level. Individual page optimization can see performance changes as they are optimized and re-indexed. It takes longer for enough of these pages to be optimized, re-indexed, and re-ranked for a change in performance to be visible to the site’s organic channel as a whole.
The sooner you implement strong SEO strategies, the sooner you will see a change in performance across the channel.
It’s true: SEO results aren’t as instantly rewarding as running a pay-per-click campaign. SEO is an ongoing, long-term success strategy that you need to invest in to stay competitive. While you can’t tell precisely when SEO will produce effort, ongoing optimization efforts are key to improving organic search performance over time.