How Long Does SEO Take to Work

One of the most common questions we receive as we interact with prospects and clients is simply this: How long will it take for SEO to work?

Most people we speak with believe SEO can work, but they have an understandable skepticism of whether it actually will. We’ve spoken with many people who have been burned by other SEO companies. They walk away after a year not knowing what was actually done for them and feeling like it was all a scam. If this describes you, we certainly understand your skepticism when yet another SEO company tells you that SEO is a long-term play and you’ll have to be patient before you see results.

However, a little education goes a long way, and once we create a clear strategy and explain the factors that determine how long it will take to get results, we find that business owners get on board. There are many factors to consider before giving someone an estimate on how long it will take for the campaign to get traction. While there is no specific number that applies to all companies, Google themselves say to give an SEO company 4-12 months to produce results.  At Firestarter SEO, we usually see campaigns get their first real success between 4-6 months.

Most clients’ data closely follow what you see in this graph. Movement is usually fairly slow for the first 3 months or so. Inevitably there are small wins here and there, but things don’t really start happening until between months 4-6. Once the momentum starts building, it continues to accelerate each month after. This absolutely varies based on a number of factors, which we’ll dive into now.

Keyword Strategy

One of the biggest factors in any SEO campaign is the keyword strategy implemented. Many companies have unrealistic ranking expectations due to a lack of experience with keyword targeting. For example, a small landscaping company may think they want to target and rank for “Landscaping.” Once we explain that the competition on such a broad keyword is enormous and that a better, more targeted keyword may be “Landscaping Company in Denver” they reset their expectations. There are a few key things that go into choosing target keywords, so check out our guide here. What we want is to choose keywords that will increase our clients’ bottom lines and do so in a reasonable time period.

Starting Rankings

Once the keywords have been identified, a major factor that helps us understand how long a campaign will take to start getting results is where the client’s starting point is. If our client is sitting on the second page for a variety of our target keywords, the timeline is bumped up. Conversely, if they have zero rankings at all, it’s going to be a longer push. It is significantly easier to move someone from the second page to the first than if we’re starting from scratch.


The hard reality is that in most cases, your competition is also doing SEO. Depending on the industry, though, we find that only a select few companies are putting enough focus on their SEO strategy to make it truly effective.  These instances produce an opportunity to leapfrog competitors who aren’t doing anything for their online visibility. On the other hand, some spaces are full of companies actively working on SEO. In these cases, it’s crucial to have a clear strategy and work smarter than your competitors and their SEO firms. Ultimately, a good SEO company should be able to quickly identify what the competition looks like and how active they are with their own SEO.

Link Profile

Part of assessing the timeline for SEO is looking at your link profile, along with your competition’s. A quick scan of your links allows us to see exactly how established you are and what you’re up against.. Here’s an example of what we run:


Domain Authority 25 35 34 27
Total External Links 1.3k 6.8k 7.8k 4.1k
Total Links 13.5k 161k 219k 3.9k
Total Linking Root Domains 221 681 554 158


Let’s break it down into more understandable terms. The first thing we look at is the Domain Authority. DA is a Moz-specific metric and not an exact reflection of Google’s algorithm. However, it gives us a general idea of how authoritative your site is on a scale of 1-100, and where you are compared to the competition. In the case above, our client is established (Domain Authority of 25), but we can see that they are behind the curve compared to their top three opponents, who all post higher DA scores.

Next, we look at the link breakdown. While Total Links and Total External Links are important, we often pay more attention to the Total Linking Root Domains—in other words, how many unique websites are pointing to your site. This metric gives us a much better gauge of how difficult it would be to overtake your competitors. With the numbers above, it’s clear that link acquisition will play a major role in this client’s SEO strategy since they are well behind their top two competitors. It will probably take a longer, consistent effort to catch up since we likely won’t be able to acquire 400 links in just a couple of months.


The next area we want to consider in a timeframe estimation is the content on the site. We often inherit content that is extremely basic and thin. Our job when a client comes on board is to optimize this content. This means adding relevant, valuable content for your customers. In the process of enriching the site content, we also have opportunities to optimize it for that page’s target keyword. Contrary to what many people believe, this does not mean keyword stuffing at every opportunity we get. Usually, the keyword or a variation of it is only used 2-3 times in the text of any given page. Most importantly, we want the structure optimized with proper titles, headings, bullet points, pictures, etc.

Crawl Errors 

A very influential component of how fast SEO can work falls down to the crawl errors we find. Using tools like Moz or Agency Analytics, we are able to identify items on a client’s website that could cause search engines to diminish their trust in the site. These span a very wide range, from 404 errors all the way to missing alt text on images. When auditing a site, we want to know how many errors are found, and what type. There are critical errors (like 404’s), and some that have minimal impact (like a missing meta description). The answers from that audit will give us a good idea of what the scope of the project looks like.

Site Speed

Website speed has grown more and more important over time. With Google’s emphasis on mobile-first search, its importance has increased even more. We need to ensure that your site is mobile friendly and fast on a mobile device. Using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, we can quickly see a site’s performance and what needs to be done. Page speed can be tricky to fix, though. Sometimes it can be a simple plugin, and other times it may require much more extensive work like re-coding areas of the site, upgrading hosting, etc.

Site Size

At Firestarter SEO, we often have companies primed and ready to roll, but in our initial audit we find a glaring problem – their site is extremely small. What we mean by this is that they have a home page, a services page, maybe an “About Us” page, and a contact page. The issue arises when we learn they have 20 key offerings for their business, and all of them are found on the services page. Ideally, each page should have its own target keyword. At most, you should target 2 keywords per page. This means if the site size were to stay the same (4 pages), you’d be limited to targeting 4-8 keywords, and the rest of your services would be underserved. To combat this, we often need to build out the website. By creating unique service pages for each core service, we bolster our ability to target the right keywords on a given page and to target many more words overall.

Site Age

One last factor we take into consideration in determining how long SEO takes to work is the age or longevity of the site. Google likes established sites who have survived the test of time. Think of it this way – let’s say you were looking to build your dream home. This is what you’ve worked towards your whole life. If all things were equal, and you had to choose between a custom home builder who has been around for 30 years, versus a custom home builder who just started a couple of months ago, who would you trust to build your dream home? Chances are you’ll go with the company who has been established. Google treats your site the same way. Most brand new sites take a while to establish trust with the search engines.

Putting it All Together

While there are certainly other factors at play in projecting the length of an SEO campaign’s success, at the end of the day there is no exact science. Google could release a major algorithm change a few months in, which would push back the entire project. The key to success is consistency and fine-tuning all of the elements we mentioned above.

SEO is truly a process of accumulation that relies on consistent effort. It requires patience and the ability to put in the work, and if you give up after a month or two, you’ll never see results. We always position SEO as a long-term play. When done right, it can produce truly remarkable results and a phenomenal ROI for nearly any business or industry.



Local Sponsorship Marketing

In online business, local sponsorship marketing often gets overlooked in favor of other marketing methods and platforms. However, even small businesses can benefit from using it – especially those in the Denver area who want to boost their brand visibility and recognition. Local sponsorship marketing can work hand in hand with Denver SEO efforts to help your business grow.

What is Local Sponsorship Marketing?

When you visit your local high school football stadium, everywhere you look there’s a sign that highlights a local business. That’s one form of local sponsorship marketing. You can sponsor events with businesses related to yours, sponsor little league teams, donate money to an organization to have something built – such as a park or a monument, and so on.

The good thing about local sponsorship marketing is there are often opportunities at various levels, so even small businesses with little revenue can get in on the action. How do you find these opportunities?

Finding Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Join platforms like SponsorMyEvent. These platforms connect events and businesses who are interested in sponsoring. Similar platforms include SponsorPark, SponsorPitch, and Sponseasy.
  • Look at events in your local area. Contact them and inquire about sponsoring future events.
  • Look at your competition to see what kinds of things they are sponsoring and follow their lead.

And of course, you could include a page on your website that lets others know you’re willing to sponsor events, bloggers and influencers, and so on. Include a contact form so people who are looking for sponsors can easily get in touch with you.

Remember, as you would expect the event or team you’re sponsoring to provide information about what you get from it as a sponsor, you should be ready to provide clear guidelines on the contributions you’re willing to make, and what you hope to get in return. Be prepared to offer multiple levels of sponsorship options.

 Why Should Your Business Consider It?

There are multiple benefits to Denver local sponsorship marketing, including:

  • Advertising
  • Logo on signage/clothing
  • Social media mentions (grow your fan base)
  • Links to your website in email newsletters
  • Booth at events
  • Media spots – newspaper, TV, radio
  • Verbal recognition
  • Speaking opportunities at events
  • Networking opportunities at events
  • Guest posts on organization’s blog

How Does it Help Your Online Presence?

Local sponsorship marketing in Denver helps SEO in a number of ways:

  • More traffic to your website
  • More links to your website
  • More people talking about your brand on social media
  • More likes and followers on your social media page

All of these things indirectly affect your SEO efforts. Google, and other search engines, pay attention to the traffic you’re getting, because the more traffic you’re getting, the more people are finding what they are looking for with you – in most cases. If you’re getting a lot of traffic but they bounce off your website quickly, this can backfire, so make sure you’re able to follow through on what you promise your website visitors.

Google also looks at the links to your website and where they are coming from. The more links you have, the better, as long as they are coming from related websites and from numerous domains. When people link to you, it’s a good thing, but if the links are from spam websites, it’s not.

When people are talking about you on social media, it expands your reach, as people you may not have been able to target through ads are now exposed to the posts that mention your name. When this happens, you may see an increase in your social following and interaction. Google also factors social signals into your overall ranking.

While you may not see an immediate change in your ranking because of your participation in local sponsorships, in the long run, they can provide a great boost to your efforts.

What to Expect

If you’re looking for immediate results, local sponsorship options are not the best choice. Because these campaigns take one to three months to execute, they should be part of your longer term marketing strategy. If you need immediate results, increase your PPC ad budget.

Also, don’t expect to be able to use a one-size-fits-all approach, as there are many different opportunities with vast diversity. Look for opportunities that align with your brand and can help you reach your goals, rather than going for just anything you can find and afford. You’ll end up with a much better return on your investment that way.

Here are Firestarter SEO, we know the value of local sponsorship marketing, and are willing to help you navigate it as part of your overall online marketing plan. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how to leverage our Denver SEO alongside local sponsorships to help your business grow.


Photo credit: StockUnlimited

How Can I Target Multiple Cities With the Same Website?

Local SEO

Part of building the best, most useful website is making sure it reaches your entire customer base. SEO is a wonderful tool to help you do that, particularly local SEO keywords that target your customer base. If yours is a small business operating within a region that spans multiple cities, it may have occurred to you that potential customers are conducting web searches for services in their city specifically. Thus, including a city name in an SEO keyword is often a good idea.

But this raises an issue. You don’t want to alienate members of one city by focusing on another. You want all your site’s content to reach everyone. How can you optimize your site for the multiple cities within your region?

Create Individual Location Pages

When you claim a location with Google My Business, it’s essential to create a landing page for that location to link back to. You should also make sure the location landing page links to the Google My Business location page. Ensure that your landing pages are exceptional by including tags in various places throughout – this will increase their visibility to search engines.

These pages should not be carbon copies of each other, with nothing but the name of the city changed. Google catches on to that, and it might even end up harming your SEO. Instead, try to come up with ways to differentiate the pages that specifically focus on the city in question. There are a number of ways to do that:

  • Cultural touchstones. Reference something everyone in town knows about, like a local sports team or a popular museum. It doesn’t need to be relevant to the product you’re selling. It’s just a good way of letting the city’s residents know that you really did create this page with them in mind; that it’s not just a copy/paste job.
  • City history. Go back to the founding of the town. Even a casual reference to this can let page readers know you really are writing for them.
  • Common problems. What issues do residents of the city face? Is it cold there? Is it hard to grow plants? Is there something your company can do to help?
  • Find the way you relate. No matter what else there is to say about the town, there’s a reason your business serves them so successfully. Even if that reason isn’t unique to them, you can build on it and use it to explore things that are. For example, Firestarter SEO helps companies build a successful online presence. We might choose to use a city landing page to congratulate residents on the number of successful small businesses in their town before moving on to what we can offer.

Linking to Your Landing Pages

Your landing pages should not stand alone. Integrating them with the rest of your website is absolutely crucial. You can do this by mutually linking your page with other local and relevant sites, which will generate more traffic for both your site and theirs, and by ensuring that your site contains internal links that take visitors to the landing pages.

Your landing pages should also be developed with informative and concise anchor text. Anchor texts lets both search engines and users with an overview of what to expect from the page. Therefore, it’s important to include the target keyword you want to rank and the location you’re trying to target in the anchor text.

Additional Tips for Local SEO Targeting

If your business does not have a brick and mortar location, it’s worth considering registering an address in a city or town you wish to rank for so that Google and other search engines will spot your business name in association with that location. This might be a good strategy if you live adjacent to a large city. However, use caution. If you register multiple addresses, Google could decide you’re misrepresenting your business and penalize your SEO.

Another handy little trick is geotargeting every piece of content you post. When you upload a photo to your homepage, tag it with the name of the city as well as a description of what it shows. When you geotag each piece of content, your city name is suddenly layered much more densely throughout your website.

Targeting multiple cities on your website is an important and delicate part of your SEO strategy. If you’re giving local SEO a try and want the benefit of years of experience at your back, contact Firestarter SEO today.