How long until I am #1 in Google?

This is the question so many SEO experts hear from their clients day in and day out. Everyone wants that highly coveted top spot in the search results, but many do not understand what it takes to get there.

The answer? Search Engine Optimization aka SEO.

The list of benefits of an effective SEO strategy will blow your mind. Every business, and we mean every business, needs to invest their time, money, and effort into SEO. While many understand the benefits, some think that as soon as they hop on the SEO bandwagon, they will immediately start ranking higher in Google.

It doesn’t work like that.

Instead, SEO is an ongoing process that takes dedicated time and effort in order to see the desired results. So how long does SEO take? We have laid out some of the mysteries as to why this process takes time and when you can start seeing the fruits of your SEO labor.

What is SEO?

If you are a business owner with a website, you have probably heard of SEO at some point, but may not have a firm grasp as to exactly what it is or why every internet marketer is talking about it.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

It is the process of getting traffic from the organic or non-paid search results in search engines.

Sounds like a piece of cake, doesn’t it? Nope. Not anymore. Once upon a time, all you had to do was find all the keywords that were most relevant to your business, put them, with all their variations, everywhere on your site, and Vwa-lah! You were sitting fancy in the search results.

Nowadays, Google has developed and implemented algorithms, like Hummingbird and RankBrain to sniff out websites that are using outdated ranking strategies to over optimize their site with a large variety of keywords. The best SEO strategy that today’s internet marketers are using revolves around focusing on a smaller set of relevant keywords combined with writing new, relevant content. While this new way is not as easy and straightforward as it use to be, there is still a lot of benefits to be gained from it.

The number of benefits of using SEO is uncountable. Some of the major benefits include;

  • Helps build user-friendly websites
  • Brings in more customers/increases site traffic
  • Produces better conversion rates
  • Builds more brand awareness
  • Allows you to bypass your competition

All these benefits translate into one nice result…more revenue for your business.

You are probably thinking, “This all sounds swell, but why should I care about SEO in particular? There must be other ways I can grow my business.”

There are other ways to grow your business, but those are quick fixes. With continued efforts, there is no limit as to what SEO can do for you.

And here is why you should care.

In 2018, businesses collectively spent about $72 billion on SEO. That dollar amount is expected to increase to $80 billion by the year 2020. These smart business owners would not be spending that kind of dough on something if it did not work and was not important.

Convinced yet?

You are probably now wondering, if you invest your hard earned money into SEO, how long does SEO take? If you are looking for a black and white answer – there is not one.


But through our knowledge and experience with different clients in various industries, we are able to give you our timeline that we have been able to recreate time and time again.

So keep reading!

All the Ranking Factors That Go Into SEO

We know, you are probably a little irritated that there is not a clear cut answer to the question “how long does SEO take?” But understanding why can help alleviate that frustration.

The reason that there is no simple answer is because SEO is made up of over 200 different ranking factors that Google uses to rank your site in the search results. Many of these factors you cannot control.

  • Domain age
  • Real Business Information
  • Keyword in Title Tag
  • Keyword in H1 Tag
  • TF-IDF
  • Content Length
  • Keyword Density
  • Syndicated Content
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Multimedia
  • Number of Internal Links
  • Number of Broken Links
  • Reading Level
  • HTML Errors
  • Domain Authority
  • Optimized URLs
  • User Friendly Layout
  • Link Anchor Text
  • Nofollow Links
  • Homepage Authority
  • Link Location in Content
  • Schema Usage
  • RankBrain
  • LSI Keywords
  • Page Covers Topic in-Depth
  • Page Loading Speed
  • Entity Match
  • Google Hummingbird
  • Image Optimization
  • Content Recency
  • Outbound Link Quality
  • Number of Outbound Links
  • Grammar and Spelling
  • Relevant Content
  • Contact Us Page
  • SSL Certification
  • User Reviews/Site Reputation

Phew! Look at that list!

And that is only 37 of the over 200 ranking factors. If your curiosity is getting the best of you, check out this infographic that spells out all of them.

Trying to understand all these ranking factors would give anyone a headache.

But have no fear, One Thing Marketing is here!

It is our job to know the ins and outs of all 200 factors. If you would like to know more, just keep reading. We are about to break this list down to three important and simple to understand factors.

OTM Has Turned 200 into 3 Simple Factors…You’re Welcome

Like we said, it’s our job to understand all of Google’s ranking factors, but to explain it to our clients, we have broken the list down to three easy to grasp factors.

1. RelevanceBusiness owners in Louisville, KY often wonder, how long SEO takes.

This is a big one. What is on your website has to tell Google what your site is about and what it is trying to rank for.

For example, if you are a plumber, Google needs to be able to tell that your site is about plumbing. And putting “I’M A PLUMBER in big, bold, black letters on the homepage won’t cut it.

You have to have content that is both relevant and resourceful to your site visitors. The more you have, the more Google will start to correlate your site to your industry.

When you work with One Thing Marketing, the first step of SEO we do for our clients is create content around their services/products. The content can be pages on your site about your work or blog posts will additional relevant resources for your site visitors. We then optimize that content using an SEO strategy that has been tailored to you. All this combined will achieve the ultimate goal of relevance.

2. Trust

This factor is a two-parter…

  1. Domain Age. Trust has a lot to do with how old your site is. The older the site, the more likely Google is to trust that site more and suggest it to searchers.

Let’s put this into a real-world example. You are single and using an online dating app to meet people. The first time you meet someone, you are not going to automatically trust them. It will take a few dates and text messages before you are ready to trust them and introduce them to your friends and family.

Google is the same way. Their reputation is on the line. They are not going to suggest a brand new website to its searchers.

  1. Links. Trust is also influenced by incoming links. These are the links that come from external websites to your website.

There's a lot of factors that go into SEO that can affect how long SEO takes for your Louisville, KY business.

{Image Credit}

Back to the dating example. You are more likely to trust someone that your friend introduced you to, right? Sure, you are. Now let’s say that ten of your friends recommend the same person. Wouldn’t you want to meet that person even more now? Of course! Your friends are not going to put their good name on the line and introduce you to someone they themselves do not trust.

Same for Google. If you have multiple external links from Google-trusted websites to your site, then Google will be more willing to suggest your site to its searchers.

How does this fit into your SEO strategy? Step one was building relevance and now we move onto establishing trust through continued content creation. Our content coordinators and SEO expert do this by creating content that answers industry-specific questions. This could be through FAQs, blog posts, and/or answering specific questions your customers are not getting answered by your competitors. This type of content will give you a better chance of gaining quality organic links to your website from Google-trusted websites.

3. Competition

This is another two-part factor…

  1.  Industry. How many businesses in your industry are in the area you want to target? How many of those are optimizing their websites?

The density of the competition in your industry can have a huge effect on how easy or hard it will be to rank in the search results. The more competition in your industry, the harder it will be to rank. Simple as that.

If you are the only plumber in the city, then you will have a much easier time being found online versus if you are one plumber among fifty in one city.

  1. Location. It is harder to show up in the search results for a specific city in which you do not have a physical address.

For instance, if you are an accountant whose office is in Shepherdsville, KY, but the clients you would like to target are in Louisville, KY. This is a case of Proximity of Address to the Point of Search.

If your business is not in the area in which you want your clients to be located, it will take a bit more effort to show up in the results when those clients do a Google search for your service/product.

Back to the question… “How does this fit into my SEO strategy?” Once we build relevance and trust for your site, these will play a huge part when it comes to dealing with the competition. If you are doing things that your competition is not doing, like creating relevant content and gaining trustworthy links, then Google will see your website as more relevant and trustworthy than your competitors, thus giving you a competitive advantage.

It’s also important to keep in mind that in order to be seen as an authority in a highly competitive industry, you will have to continually create content and build links to stay ahead of your competition.

For our clients who are in a competitive industry, we will work with them for the long term. We will make sure they not only achieve their goals, but exceed them.

Now you can see how these three factors are all connected. Pretty, isn’t it?

But why did we tell you all this?

Everyone needs relevance and trust. Period. But it is the competition that determines how much work, time, and effort it will take to gain the relevance and trust needed to compete and overtake your competitors’ websites that are already showing up in the search results.

The more competitive your industry is, the harder and longer it could take to see positive results. And visa versa. The point is, everyone wants to be where everyone else is. But they are there because they dedicated their time and effort to establish trust and relevance. So you have to do not the same, but more.

Here at One Thing Marketing, we take all this into consideration when we are creating your customized lead generation strategy.

Just keep calm and SEO on.

How Do These Factors Determine Your SEO Budget?

We know that your hard earned money is precious to you. We understand that. We all love our money. But in order to get your business noticed, you will have to set some aside for your marketing efforts.

Part of that budget needs to be specifically for SEO. As mentioned above, competition can really affect how we set up your specific strategy for your SEO timeline. It, along with the amount of trust and relevancy your site has, also affects how large or small your budget needs to be.

Just to give you a ballpark idea, you need to have the expectation going in that you will be spending a minimum of $1,500 per month on SEO. Don’t freak out. Trust us, it will be worth it.

There is an exception to this. (Yea!)  If you are the only company in the entire state offering your service/product, then you can get away with having a smaller budget and spending less. But realistically, that probably is not the case. So, be prepared to spend at least $1,000 per month, even if you are in a low competition environment. Whatever your competition is spending, you will have to spend the same or more to be able to compete.

Are you wanting a more concrete price estimate? Then sign up for a free strategy session with us! We will take a look are what your competitors are doing and spending, and create an initial strategy and SEO timeline just for you!

Let’s dive into some different budget scenarios…

  • Brand new company, no competition

Sarah just opened up a new bakery and launched her website. Luckily, she is the only baker in town. But to get those customers in the door, she has to let people know she is open for business.

In this case, Sarah will need a larger budget initially to get her name out there. Later on, once she is showing up in the search results when people search for a bakery, she can reduce her budget.

  • Brand new company, with competition

Michael is excited. He just opened his car repair shop in his hometown, but there are other repair shops in the area. His target customers are choosing the other repair shops over his. He needs to show everyone his shop is just as good, or even better, than those other guys.

Michael will need a larger budget. He may even need one larger than his competition because those established shops already have resources, like existing customers, trust, and age, that make them a step ahead in the SEO process. Michael has some catching up to do.

  • Established company, with competition

Evan is the CEO of a technical support business in a big city that has been around for many years. He has relied on word of mouth in the past but wants to grow his company further. As you can probably guess, there are other companies in the city who offer similar services. Evan wants to pull ahead of the competition and be the authority leader. What is he going to do? You guessed it…SEO!

Even though Evan’s company has been around for a while, he will consistently need a larger budget to pull ahead of the competition. His SEO timeline could be shorter, because people already know his company and will be able to more easily access his site with his SEO efforts. The reason for the continuous larger budget is because he will still be competing with other established sites who could also be executing their own SEO strategy.

To sum these scenarios up in one blanket sentence… if you want results, you need to have a budget that will allow the necessary work to be done to gain trust, relevance, and authority. Simple as that. There is no way around it.

Another important thing to note is, as the competition changes year after year and as more companies jump on the SEO bandwagon, we recommend increasing you budget at least 10% every year in order to stay competitive. If you wish to pull ahead and get more leads year over year, then we recommend increasing your budget more than 10% per year.

(Hold on tight, we are about to do some math.)

The online marketing budget for your Louisville, KY business can have some effect on how long SEO takes.

To break this down, let’s say your marketing budget is X% of your total revenue. Then ideally, as your leads increase, your revenue increases (still with us?), thus your total budget should automatically increase accordingly too.

Now we know what you are thinking, “If I just double my budget, then I will get double the leads in half the time!” Haha, wrong! Just because you have double the budget, does not necessarily mean the results will come twice as fast. But it will still get you a return on your investment sooner.

A great way to keep track of your progress, your ROI, and map out what the next steps are is to hire reputable marketing experts that can guide you through the SEO process. We just happen to know a great team you can hire! (Wink Wink!)

What Kind of SEO Timeline Can I Expect When Working With OTM?

So back to the question, “How long does SEO take?” We have worked with many clients on their SEO journeys and through the years we have seen a pattern form between the work that is done and when we start seeing results.

This is a breakdown of the work we typically do for our clients and when the results start appearing while they are working with us. This is not specific to each client, but just a general overview of what you can expect if you hire us as your SEO experts.

Months 1-3

  • Process
    • To get the ball rolling, we review your competitors’ websites and online marketing efforts. We do this to get a better understanding of the tactics that are currently working for your specific industry. By studying your online competition, we get a better idea of how difficult it will be to increase your ranking in your industry and the best game plan needed to hit your end goals.
    • We will then move onto the keyword research. This will help us create the initial content for your site, which typically includes pages/articles about each of your products and services.
    • Next comes SEO. We will optimize each page on your site and update/fix any technical SEO issues we may come across.
  • Results
    • During this time, the process is just getting started. You potentially will not see any increase in calls or contact form submissions. Remember, the results will not happen overnight, so be patient.

Months 4-6

  • Process
    • At this point in the process, we will set up call tracking for both your website and Google My Business listing. This is done to track the increase in contact form submissions and call volume so we can monitor and track the results.
    • During this time, we will also do a Google My Business audit to identify any issues or duplicate listings that could be hampering the visibility of your listing. Your GMB listing will also be fully optimized to ensure it includes as much information for searchers as possible. This optimization will help generate more clicks, calls, and as many other forms of engagement as possible.
    • Directories are next on the list. We will create, update, and verify your business information, like name, address, and phone number, on more than thirty-five major local business directories. Additionally, all duplicate listings will try to be removed so your information is as consistent as possible across the web.
    • During this time, “foundational” links (as we at OTM call them) will be built to establish trust in your business with Google.
  • Results
    • In less competitive industries and/or less competitive keywords, you should start to see some improvement in your rankings and site traffic around months three to four.

Months 7-12

  • Process
    • During this time we will be meeting with you to brainstorm on both content ideas and potentially quality link opportunities that might be available to your business and/or industry.
    • Our team will continue working on differentiating factors and other strategies like:
      • Site Speed
      • Conversion Rate Optimization
      • Content Creation
      • Content Promotion with syndication/republishing
      • High-Quality Link building to your site
    • Based on your strategy, budget and engagement, we will have the exact plan ready to achieve the best results for you.
    • Here is something to keep in mind… This is an ongoing process. We will continue to create and implement content and link acquisition strategies to build more trust and relevance for your site.
  • Results
    • At this point, the time and effort put into improving your site and online presence are paying off. We can start to see some moderate to significant improvements in the amount of leads/calls/form submissions that are being generated.
    • Google is beginning to have trust for you and can see the relevance of your site. You are now being shown to more searchers!
    • Don’t forget, how much your visibility and leads increase can vary based on industry competition and the keywords you are targeting.
      • The more competitive the industry and keywords are, the longer it will take. Regardless, you should still see great progress at this point.

Months 12 and Beyond

  • Process
    • It’s time for spring cleaning! Each year will start with a complete audit of everything that was done in the previous year to check on the performance of previous work and to make the appropriate changes to continually improve this performance. This includes but is not limited to;
      • Website
      • Content
      • Technical and Onpage SEO
      • Local Search
      • Link Analysis
    • Any necessary updates will be made according to your business, industry, and best practices related to online marketing.
    • Then we will continue to build on our previous work.
  • Results
    • After one year of this full process,

Our typical client will experience around 400% or more ROI.

(Crazy, right?!)

Our goal is to continue to increase that percentage every year that the client works with us. With continued work,

Our clients have seen at least a 30% increase in leads year over year.

What Can Affect My Timeline?

After reading that timeline, aren’t you pumped and ready to start your SEO strategy?! Who can argue with those results?!

When partnering with a marketing agency, there are some things that can impact how long SEO will take. Some can speed it up a bit, while some can hinder the work causing lags in your results.

There are four factors that can affect how long SEO takes.

1. Budget – In a way, this is kind of like a fourth ranking factor, in addition to the relevance, trust, and competition. A larger budget allows for more work to be put into the lead generation, thus the results could be seen sooner, as mentioned above.

2. Client Participation – You and your employees are only ones who know the ins and outs of your business and industry. No marketing agency, not even the great people at One Thing Marketing, can guess and hit the nail on the head with 100% accuracy. Without your cooperation and willingness to help, we can not create the content needed to establish relevance and trust. This is a good way to slow down your SEO timeline and your results. Good clients have a better chance of seeing a higher ROI if they are willing to work with us and be available when we have questions or need additional information.

For example, if people are calling you asking a question, chances are they are also Googling it. By having content readily available that answers customer questions, you will stand a better chance of them finding your content and being seen as a knowledgeable company and resource. The more available and willing you are to share these insights with us, the better we can make your company relevant and an authority online.

3. New Business – Are you a new business with a fresh website? Then you will have a tougher uphill battle, because you are starting from ground zero. You have no established authority, existing customers, or relevant content. You could potentially be competing with other businesses who have been around longer and already have an existing trust with Google.

There can be pros and cons to being a new business starting SEO, but you will just have to be patient. The results will come if you dedicate your time and effort.

If your name, address & phone number are inconsistent online, this can negatively affect your SEO.

4. Inconsistent NAP – NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Has your business every changed locations? You may not know this, but changing locations, business names, or phone numbers can cause inconsistencies on directories.

There are hundreds of websites online that publish your NAP with and without your knowledge. If you have not claimed or corrected these, then this incorrect business information could negatively impact your ranking, thus slowing down your SEO timeline and results.

For OTM clients, this is something we do for them! We handle all the directories and ensure that all the information is correct and stays up to date.

SEO is an Ongoing Process

At least three times in this post (probably more), we have said that SEO is not a quick fix. You will not see results overnight, because it is an ongoing process.

For both current and past clients, we typically tell them that they can expect to see results from SEO around the six-month mark. And like we said just a minute ago, this can be shorter or longer based on numerous factors.

Every client strives to hit their goal ROI. And we want them to! It means we both are doing our jobs effectively. But once you hit your goal, regardless of what it is, there is one more thing you have to do…


“Paying for just a few months of SEO is, in many cases, no better than throwing your money away!”

– Josh Steimle of Forbes

Say it with us, “SEO is an ongoing process.” It is a long term marketing tactic and should not be viewed as a way to quickly generate leads. But, with the right combination of hard work, determination, and budget SEO will help you produce a stellar ROI.

What happens if you do stop, you ask? Well, nothing right away. Overtime, your ranking, trust, and relevance will diminish and you will lose the lead generation you were used to getting. Just think of it as diet and exercise. You can cheat on it, but after a while you and everyone else will notice your metabolism for new business slowing down.

Once you have hit your desired goal, you must focus on three things…

  1. Relevance
  2. Trust
  3. Competition

With a continued focus on these factors, you will see nothing but ever increasing ROI and happy customers. Isn’t that the goal of any business?

Like What You See?

You finished reading our blog post, great! What did you take away from it? Hopefully, we convinced you that SEO is worth its weight in gold.

While some may say that SEO is too expensive to not get results right away, trust us when we say that with a good solid effort, SEO will pay for itself. So if it pays for itself, then there is no reason why each and every business owner shouldn’t rally up their marketing team or hire a marketing agency to start the SEO process now.

With good SEO efforts, you can create a well-optimized site that sees increased traffic that generates more revenue. Music to our ears!

Happy Optimizing!