Whether you’re a plumber starting your own Emsworth website or a seasoned website pro doing eCommerce nationwide, you’ll naturally want to know how long Google will take to rank your site – either from scratch or for new products you’ve launched.
With enough experience you can look at case studies and give best guess estimates of how long it takes you to rank websites for a number of keywords and queries, but ultimately it will always be little more than a stab in the dark.
Google is 100% the boss of this game and as SEO practitioners and a website agency, the very best we can do is to understand the variables in their algorithms and work within the rules to make it happen.
Domain Authority and Domain Age are two major factors that determine how long to rank in Google – it’s a conundrum we mulled over for a long time when setting up WaaSup. Should we try and accelerate our organic rankings by purchasing a domain that’s been around for a while or run with something brand new. We took the hard path and started afresh, but there was a strong case to do the opposite. Whilst we’re a Hampshire based web agency, we have national customers and planned to be around for a while, so we’ve taken the long term view.
Anyway, leading SEO website AHREF tracked over 2 million web pages that were first registered in their database a year ago and found that on average, it takes roughly three and a half months to reach the top of Google’s results. They also noticed that the average domain rating for these high ranking pages was 49.6 which is pretty strong.
Next, let’s take a look at the process for sites that sit on brand new domains.
There’s no doubt that recently created web domains are at a disadvantage and the main reason in our eyes is Google Sandbox. This refers to a new entrant filter that prevents brand new websites from reaching the top of Google’s SERPS regardless of how big the brand or budget is. Once Google is able to understand what your website is about and how it relates to the market you’re in and the competition, it gets the nod from them and you’re able to climb the rankings as normal.
John Mueller, one of Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, said in 2018 that:
“With regards to sandbox, we don’t really have this traditional sandbox that a lot of SEOs used to be talking about in the years past. We have a number of algorithms that might look similar, but these are essentially just algorithms trying to understand how the website fits in with the rest of the websites trying to rank for those queries. […] It’s always kind of tricky in the beginning when we have a new website and we don’t quite know where we should put it.”
In our experience, this is a very real hoop to jump through and in reality it could last anywhere between 1 to 3 months when dealing with a newly registered domain, and it’s something you need to consider when estimating how long it takes to rank in Google.
If we look at AHREF’s data, the average top 10 ranking page is around 2 years old. When they analysed the results at the number one position for a given query, the pages were on average 3 years old.
Don’t panic if you’ve a super new domain as the stats show that around 22% of pages that rank in the top 10 were created within 1 year.
Around 1% of all pages on the first position were created within a year, approximately 2% of all pages on the first position were 2 years old and around 3% of all pages on the first position were 5 years old
This inevitably leads to the question – is it simply a matter of domain age and a trust factor that Google considers or is it because these websites have built their domain credibility over time?
There’s definitely a knack to writing content for your website that gets a tick in the box from Google and meets the needs of your audience and you really need to bear both in mind when building your website.
SEO copywriting is a way of writing that is both SEO-friendly and speaks to your audience in a way that attracts and converts them. What is 100% isn’t is chucking in a load of keywords into your pages or meta descriptions and hoping for the best.
We get asked a lot about keyword density and what’s the right amount of keywords to include on any given page. To be honest, there probably is a ‘correct’ ratio, but we can hand on heart say that we’ve never once measured it.
If you’re genuinely writing high-quality, accurate and informative content that answers a question your website visitors may have, it’s already taken the biggest step towards being SEO-friendly.
Google is focused on providing the best possible experience to web browsers – from accurate data in map packs, through to rich content on pages, accessibility on mobile devices and for those with disabilities, so the bottom line is this – address the needs of your visitors and you’ll be meeting Google’s needs too.
Let’s take a look at the next contributing factor which is backlinks.
Backlinks are a crucial part of building SEO credibility and there are two main ways to build backlinks – through traditional white hat SEO and black hat SEO.
White hat SEO is all about networking, building relationships, and content marketing. It begins with local citations and ends with a consistent flow of editorially sound, contextually relevant links from credible websites.
Blackhat SEO, on the other hand, typically revolves around buying private blog network links and dubious editorial links. It’s super cheap to do and can deliver results, but it’s not a path we’d ever follow or recommend for our clients.
We conduct blogger outreach to secure quality genuine backlinks that are useful for the website hosting them and useful for our clients – anything else is risking the wrath of Google when discovered. It does take time however and time is the one thing that our clients are often in short supply of.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that a new website can’t rank for valuable keywords within the first 12 months, especially if you work with a specialist SEO agency like us to help.
So, in summary, older websites with a well-balanced backlink profile will have a definite advantage, but with good on page SEO focused copywriting, code and content, it’s definitely within your grasp to achieve results within a few months.
To conclude, a fair answer to the original question of “how long to rank in Google” would be somewhere between one and three months for a local business and much more if you’re competing on high competition keywords nationally, perhaps more if you’re going for very competitive terms.
But and it’s a big but..if you work with the right SEO company, things can happen much quicker – here’s a real world snap shot of a recent SEO project we’re working on – have a guess when we began working on this? This is a dashboard view from the SEMRush platform that we use to track and report on SEO campaigns – a picture tells a thousand words!