One of the most common questions I hear from my current and potential clients is: “how long it will take for my website and blog to reach the coveted first page of Google?” Because the answer to that question depends on a number of variables, it is quite impossible for any SEO services provider to answer with certainty.
A review and analysis of historical ranking data resulted in findings that, at first glance, seem dismal. However, with an aggressive and focused approach, you can beat industry averages and rank on page #1 faster than anticipated. Understanding what you’re up against is the first step. Here is what data on Google’s page #1 rankings suggests:
Most page #1 rankings are at least 2 ½ years old
On average, web pages ranked on page #1 are nearly three years old or more. In fact, only 22% of the Top 10 positions on the first page are less than one year old. The good news is that you have a 1-in-5 chance of making it to page #1.
(Image source: Ahrefs)
Only 5.7% of web pages reach page #1 rankings within one year
Although only 5.7% of the web pages studied ranked in page #1 results for at least one keyword within one year of being published, those pages from websites with higher Domain Ratings (DR) performed better. Domain Ratings, here, refers to a website’s backlink strength, scored logarithmically from 1-100. Backlinks are incoming hyperlinks pointing from one web page to another. Backlink strength comes from the reputation and authority of the web page linking to the other web page. For example, a link from Wikipedia.org would give backlink strength greater than a link from a local plumber.
For reporting reference, high DR websites score higher than 80, medium DR sites score between a 50-60, and low DR sites score below a 30. Of sites with high DR, 10.8% reached page #1 within one year. Another 19.5% of high DR pages ranked in the top 11-100 spots within one year.
So, if your website already has a strong backlink profile, it is more likely that creation of a new webpage will rank on page #1 within one year. Or, at a minimum, the new page is more likely to be indexed as part of the top 10 pages of search results.
Of web pages with medium DR, 7.2% ranked on page #1 within one year. Pages with low DR fared most poorly, with just 3.0% reaching page #1, and 17.1% reaching spots 11-100 in the first year.
(Image source: Ahrefs)
Timeframe to rank in Top 10 Google results
Of the 5.7% of pages that reached page #1 within one year, most of those pages (47.2%) reached that spot within 61-182 days. Just 9.0% did it in less than 60 days.
Rankings based on high-volume keyword searches
Looking more closely at the 5.7% of pages that reached page #1 within one year, it’s clear that keywords play a role too.
When analyzing the numbers looking at monthly search volume for keywords, just 0.3% of pages made it to Google’s page #1 for a high-volume keyword in the first year. High-volume keywords represent the most popular search phrases used on Google, scaled to the scope of the website (local or national).
Taking it a step further, the numbers show that most of those pages (68.4%) with high-volume keywords reached page #1 within 305-365 days. Just 0.4% reached that spot within the first 60 days.
(Image source: Ahrefs)
What do these findings mean for newer websites?
Based on this data, newer websites have the greatest challenge of all, a race against the clock. Investing in a website that will take 2 ½ years, on average, to produce page #1 rankings is often a tough reality to face.
How can newer websites overcome this hurdle, in order to return positive business growth in a shorter time frame?
With newer websites, you must have a targeted and aggressive approach. An SEO program is an effort to yield tangible results before the industry averages above.
Begin with a complete technical audit of your website, to ensure it was built on a solid foundation for positive ranking growth. The first 90 days of your website’s launch and SEO program are the most critical toward building the authority of your website by the search engines. If you’ve set up a website with several SEO violations, and ignore these violations for a long duration, the search engines are less likely to receive your website’s content as part of their routine website crawl.
In order to maintain an aggressive pace, while completing technical SEO fixes, I recommend selecting which keywords demonstrate the highest buying intent for your target audience. While the reporting averages above show us how long it will take to achieve page #1 rankings, it does not specify which keywords your site will rank for. Without thorough keyword research, your site may achieve rankings for irrelevant or unwanted keywords.
Reversing this common pitfall of irrelevant rankings will take another stretch of time, after appropriate content is developed around high-intent keywords. Delays in creating the pages that matter to search engines will have an immediate impact on your bottom line. All the while, your competitors are taking away valuable business by holding page #1 rankings ahead of you.
Once research has been completed, my team works directly with our clients to understand their business and target audience, and we move into our execution plan. We map desired keywords to existing content of the website and identify opportunities for new content that the search engines require in order to yield faster results.
At this stage, if technical fixes are complete, the runway is clear for the jet (SEO program) to take off. Keyword optimized content is the jet fuel required to improve rankings on any website. This requires setting an aggressive pace at publishing content, and maintaining this pace over a long stretch of time. The SEO team will determine what optimization changes are necessary for existing content, and provide topic recommendations for future postings.
As industry leaders in getting content to rank on the search engines, I recommend setting an aggressive pace, which is necessary at the execution phase. It may be different per client, tailored by your needs and the state of your website. Through an aggressive approach, I have been able to successfully help clients in many industries achieve page #1 rankings faster than anticipated industry averages.
How long will it take YOUR SEO strategy to achieve page #1 rankings?
According to Google, no SEO company can guarantee specific results or tell you exactly how long it will take your website and its content to appear on page #1 search results. However, when you work with an experienced team, you can be confident that you have a partner dedicated to helping your business meet and surpass your goals for website traffic and new business.