Just as new musicians relish hearing their songs on the radio and authors adore seeing their novels in bookstores, webmasters delight in reaching the top of Google’s rankings. A top ranking isn’t a trivial or superficial feat. It can increase your click-through rates and traffic, save you money on PPC marketing, and boost your website’s image and authenticity. No one wants to scroll through pages of search results, so if your page is numero uno, you’re guaranteed more attention. For all of these reasons, when webmasters first begin exploring SEO, they often ask, “How long does it take to rank in Google?” The answer is 100 days.
I’m kidding! Unfortunately, the answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, and no one can say for sure how long it might take a specific webpage to climb the ranks.
How Long Does It Take to Rank in Google?
How long does it take to rank in Google? A few months ago, Ahrefs sought to provide a quantifiable answer to this popular question. They studied two million random keywords, compiling the data of all their Google Top 10 ranking pages to better understand how the age of a page correlates with its ranking. This research revealed many interesting facts, including all of the following:
- Only 5.7% of newly published pages will reach the Google Top 10 within their first year online. The majority of these high-ranking websites reach their valuable positions approximately two to six months after publication.
- When you peruse the first page of Google after submitting a query, you’re rarely looking at brand-new pages. If you randomly choose a result within the Google Top 10, on average that page will be over two years old. If you randomly choose a page at the #1 position, it will be almost three years old on average.
- Of the pages currently ranked in the Google Top 10, only 22% were created within the last year. Less than 1.5% of those reach #1. Less than 2% reach #2.
Although it’s certainly possible to reach #1 in a day if you generate enough buzz, write high-quality content, use an easy keyword, and post on an established domain (the Ahrefs article accomplished this, funnily enough), typically you will need to wait a few months at the very least. Reaching the peak of a Google results page takes time, so be patient and don’t lose hope.
Bringing High Expectations Down to Earth
Although we encourage you to aim high when it comes to your rankings on Google, you can’t expect to reach the summit ASAP. How long does it take to rank in Google? The search engine’s algorithm takes an abundance of factors (at least 200) into consideration when deciding where a page should land within its results. Although we don’t have time to review those hundreds of factors right now, the following factors are amongst the most important:
- High-quality, relevant, and comprehensive content
- Backlinks from diverse and authoritative domains
- Mobile optimization and responsive design
- Keyword use (in title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, the URL, the copy, etc.)
- Page speed
Google does not reveal all of the factors its bots take into consideration, nor does the search engine disclose how important each of those factors are. The SEO community speculates on potential ranking factors, using trial and error to deduce the truth, and sometimes Google will confirm or deny the existence of a ranking factor.
It’s important to remember that your ability to rank for a specific keyword will also depend on the keyword itself. How specific is the keyword? How many of your competitors are also targeting that keyword? How many people are searching for the keyword? For example, when it comes to high-volume keywords, according to that same Ahrefs study, “Only 0.3% of pages ranked in the Top 10 for a high-volume keyword in less than a year.” Keywords that people search for often are highly competitive, and more established sites within your industry may have a significant head-start on those searches. If you want to land on the front page, try spending a little more time researching optimal keywords.
Why the Wait?
So why does it take so long for new pages to reach Google’s top 10? Although no one knows for sure (omitting the Google engineers working directly on the algorithm), we have a few theories:
- A Lack of Trust: Why should Google trust a young domain with the first page for a given keyword? They have no incentive to do so, and they want to ensure that their top 10 results are high-quality, relevant pages that their users will appreciate. When it comes to young domains, Google may be taking a wait-and-see approach. Will these websites stick around? Can they prove their worth?
- Weak Backlink Profile: Building a strong backlink profile can help you rank higher more quickly. The strength of a backlink profile is shown in the domain rating (DR), and pages from websites with a high DR perform far better than those with a low DR according to the Ahrefs study.
- Quality SEO Takes Time: You can’t construct a high-quality, fully optimized webpage in a day, a week, or even a month in most cases. It takes a long time to build real and lasting authority, to accumulate quality backlinks, and to compose good content. Work hard to amass these valuable features as quickly as possible.
So how long does it take to rank in Google? Honestly, we can’t tell you. We would need to take into account your chosen keyword, your domain rating, your content quality, your domain’s authority, the number and quality of your backlinks, and much more – and even then, we could only provide a very unsound estimate. However, we can tell you that it will likely take time for you to reach the Google Top 10. Remember that less than 6% of pages reach those coveted positions within their first year online. At the very least, you should expect to wait two to six months. And if you want to zoom to the top, you need to select the right keyword, work hard, and have a strong knowledge of SEO.
For help, check out 417 Marketing. We are an online marketing company based in Springfield, Missouri, that specializes in SEO and web design, and we would be happy to help you learn how to boost your SEO even further. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.