Alright folks, as promised, here is the case study on how I ranked 7th (With ranking fluctuations) in Google in 48 hours.
I went from not ranking in Google’s index at all for a given keyword to ranking on page 1 in less than 2 days.
And I followed a common formula that consistently gets great SEO results.
But before I get into the case study and tutorial on ranking quicker, I’ll be up front with you.
You see, I get asked “How long does SEO take to start working?” often. The answer is:
Ranking on page 1 in Google is extremely competitive, a long term strategy, and frequently takes months. Using white hat link building tactics you will increase domain authority and rank more quickly. Once you start achieving rankings, you can maintain them for months or years, building steady streams of traffic, leads, and sales.
There are enough posts out there trying to convince the world how you can rank in Google over night.
I did not write this post to convince the world that ranking in Google is easy and often done in a matter of hours or days.
That being said, there are advanced SEO strategies, such as whitehat linkbuilding, that you can use to significantly cut down on how long it takes to rank in Google.
I’m going to be as transparent as possible in sharing all of the strategies I use to rank quickly while also pointing out the potential hurdles preventing your site from ranking.
Today you will see exactly how I started ranking on page one of Google for a keyword with “commercial intent”, in 48 hours. I ranked 7th for “ecommerce seo packages”.
But possibly more importantly, I’m also going to tell you why you might not be ranking your site quickly.
Let’s get into it already! Feel free to jump directly to the different sections of this post using these links:
How Long Does it Take to Rank on Google?
Client Example Ranking Quickly
How I Ranked 7th in 48 Hours
My Process to Rank High Quickly
Structuring Your Content
Promoting Your Content
Why Your Site Won’t Rank Fast – Takeaways
Get Checklist to Rank Quicker
How Long Does SEO Take to Start Working?
If you read our SEO FAQ or ask any reputable SEO firm how long it takes to rank in Google, or how long does SEO take to start working, a common answer is 3 – 6 months depending on competition.
But really there is more to it, here is a list of some of the biggest factors that will determine how long SEO takes to see results:
- The age of your site
- The age of the webpage you are ranking
- Your domain authority / MozRank / Domain Rating
- Your manual actions and algorithmic penalties
- Your link profile
- Your content quality and quantity
- Your niche and competition
- Your resources for acquiring links
- Your resources for creating content
- Your goals, define what “results” are
This is not everything, remember Google has over 200 factors in its algorithm. But these are the biggest ones in determining how long SEO takes to see results.
How Long Does SEO Take to Update?
If you’re referring to Google’s index, it updates weekly. If you are wondering how long it takes to see updates in your rankings after making SEO changes, sometimes hours, days, weeks, or months.
After making on-page SEO changes, I recommend submitting your updated pages to Google Webmasters Tools using the “Fetch as Googlebot” feature. This will request Google to crawl your updated pages and update their index accordingly.
That said, perhaps you updated a page ranking 14th for your target term, made some significant on-page optimizations, and then submitted to Google. In this case, you may see your ranking improve to top 10 within hours or over night.
Without knowing your website, goals, and competition I can’t provide a more detailed answer on how long it will take for your SEO changes to update in Google. But hopefully after reading this post you will better understand the factors at play and the process to rank the highest the quickest.
If you don’t have time to read this entire post, then make sure to grab our free checklist to ranking quicker.
How Long Does SEO Take to See Results?
To answer this you must first define what results you want from your SEO campaign.
Although you will need to set keyword goals like ranking on page one for x keyword it is important for business owners to begin by setting goals around their budget and revenue. Once you know your resources and targets from a financial standpoint you can make decisions on keyword strategy.
You can use our free SEO calculator to estimate what your goals will take. With this info you can better determine your keyword strategy and SEO plan.
You see it is common for business owners to regularly ask their SEO provider for updates on keyword rankings when they should be looking at the bigger picture. That picture being resources, targeted traffic, inbound lead growth, and increased revenue. Of course rankings drive these results but they shouldn’t be your primary focus.
Some SEOs use a term “client ego keywords” describing clients pushing their SEO consultant to rank #1 for an extremely competitive keyword, when in reality the resources it would take to achieve the ranking don’t make sense from a business perspective.
This is why it is important to work with an SEO who will tell you “no” when you are wrong. After all, you hire an expert consultant for their advice, not so that you can tell them what to do.
Here are the important KPIs to an SEO campaign that impact your business the most:
- Increased organic impressions in SERPs
- Higher organic Click Through Rate (CTR)
- Growth in Organic Traffic
- Geographical targeted traffic increase
- Growth in non-branded search traffic
- Increase in number of pages on site generating traffic
- Organic conversion rate increase
- Inbound lead growth
- Sales and revenue growth
From a technical SEO perspective, these are the important KPIs that will ensure you meet the previous business KPI goals:
- 1st page ranking for main keyword(s)
- 1st page ranking for secondary keyword(s)
- Increasing number of inbound links
- Increasing number of domains linking to site
- Improved Citation Flow
- Improved Trust Flow
- Balanced Trust and Citation
- Improved site usability
- Improved user behavior and engagement statistics
- Growing Domain Authority or Domain Rating
- Growing Page Authority
- Decreasing, or maintaining a 0, Spam Score
Hopefully this info helps business owners understand what data to track and review. Most business owners should be relieved to spend less time looking at rankings and more time looking at leads, sales, and revenue growth.
How Long Does it Take to Rank on Google? (Page 1)
Ahrefs performed a study on 2 million random keywords. Pulling data for the top 10 pages ranking on page 1 for these terms.
Here were their insights:
- On average, pages ranking top 10 in Google are 2+ years old
- On average, pages ranking #1 in Google are 3+ years old
- Currently, only 22% of top 10 ranking pages were created within the past year
- Only 5.7% of the pages studied ranked top 10 within a year for at least one keyword
- Of these 5.7% of pages, it took 61-182 days to rank top 10
- Of the studied pages, only 0.3% ranked in the top 10 for a high volume keyword within 1 year
- 18% Of the studied pages ranking top 10 had a domain rating (similar to domain authority) of 50+
If you didn’t notice, there is a re-occurring theme here. Age.
And if you didn’t know, aging takes… time.
In addition to age, authority, aka domain rating, was also a big factor.
Guess what building up your domain’s authority takes? time.
Ahrefs study certainly presents good insight into how long it takes to rank on page 1 of Google but to further illustrate their insights lets look at a real example.
How long it takes to rank in Google – a real world example
Dollar Shave Club (DSC)
Dollar shave club is a well known web based razor subscription service for shaving. In just a few years this company went from idea, to inception, to selling for $1 Billion to Unilever.
Let’s see how they utilized organic SEO as part of their marketing efforts to achieve these amazing results.
Historical Organic Traffic Growth
Looking at a graph of historical organic traffic data from SEMRush, we can see that from July 2011 – August 2012 the Dollar Shave Club website received less than 1k organic search visits per month. Then from September 2012 to December 2013 their organic traffic shot up to nearly 100k organic visits per month!
Historical Link Data
Looking at link profile data from Majestic, we can see that during the early time when SEMRush showed very little organic traffic, the DSC website was acquiring inbound links at the highest velocity.
As you can see, although this is only one example it confirms the insights from AHREFs study and from my opening statement about whitehat linkbuilding speeding up your rankings in Google.
DSC didn’t rank in Google over night, but by implementing high velocity whitehat linkbuilding tactics they have drastically increased their domain authority, rankings, and targeted organic traffic – all important SEO KPIs from above.
Today, the DSC doesn’t have to build as many links to enjoy ranking quickly in Google as their domain authority is very high in their space.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t rank in Google faster than the DSC. You most certainly can. Some blackhat SEOs are able to rank websites in a matter of hours or days.
The problem with utilizing black hat SEO techniques is that they won’t last for the long term. Google has become very good at identifying black hat SEO tactics and penalizing website’s using them.
So, for a business that plans to be around for the long term I highly recommend avoiding black hat SEO for the quick gains you may see. Don’t worry, blackhat SEO isn’t the only way to rank quickly in Google.
There is a whitehat linkbuilding process and social promotion process that legit long term businesses can use to rank quickly. I use them for myself and clients all the time and consistently get great SEO results.
Client Example of Ranking Fast in Google
Due to competition and out of respect for my client, I won’t share their brand name or domain. However, I will share the important details to show you an example of how scaleable whitehat linkbuilding campaigns can quickly increase your keyword rankings and organic search traffic.
Site Launch: November 2015. Linkbuilding Begins July 2016.
As you can see in the screenshot below, our client launched their site in November 2015. After 8 months of no gains in traffic they inquired about my linkbuilding services. We devised an advanced linkbuilding campaign that employed all of the tactics I share in this post.
Rankings Quickly Increase Along With Organic Search Traffic
Specifically for outreach, we promoted a scholarship and sponsorship that my client offered. This involved reaching out to and requesting links from colleges, scholarship databases, and any party that could benefit from the sponsorship. My team sent over 1 thousand emails and obtained dozens of high quality links helping us achieve 2,500 keyword rankings and a sharp increase in organic search traffic.
7 Month Growth in Organic Search Traffic
In the screenshot below you can see the 7 months prior to us starting our linkbuilding campaign compared to the 7 months after we began our linkbuilding efforts. Our client experienced a 2,596.85% increase in organic search visits during this time period.
So, as you can see, 3-6 months is often the right amount of time to develop your SEO strategy, implement the plan, track results and make adjustments as needed. However, results can be sped up.
So, let’s see how I used these tactics to rank 7th for “ecommerce SEO packages” in 48 hours.
So.. Keller, How Did You Rank on Page 1 in 48 Hours?
You can jump below straight to the step by step tutorial on my strategy to rank quickly. Or keep reading for some background prior to the steps.
I want to be transparent here, so before I explain the advanced strategies I implemented I’m going to be completely open about a few things.
- My website VolumeSEO.com is 5 years old
- My domain authority (MozRank) is 34
- I have thousands of inbound links already (Many quality links from trusted sites like Moz, Technorati, Business2Community, etc)
- My site already had relevant content on it supporting the term I targeted
What does this mean for you? This means ranking quickly will be more challenging if:
- Your site is younger than mine
- Your domain authority is lower than mine
- Your competition’s domain authority is higher than my competition’s
- You don’t have as many inbound links as my site
- If your competitors have more inbound links than my competitors
- If you don’t have quality relevant content already to support the term you target
- Your competition has published amazing and expensive content
I’m sharing all of this because one thing I can’t stand are marketers who pull at the heartstrings of innocent newbie webmasters and business owners without enough SEO experience.
There are tons of marketers out there who want you to think you can get amazing SEO results overnight if you buy their SEO courses, services or products.
Maybe they ranked their 5 year old authority site quickly – like I did mine, but that doesn’t mean your site will rank quickly.
Does your site have high domain authority/rating, do you have a substantial amount of quality links, do you consistently receive new links, how old is your content?
The truth is, when asking how long does SEO take to update in Google, or see results, 3 – 6 months is a much more accurate answer for most.
Whether it be small businesses, bloggers, new sites, and even established sites in competitive industries or established sites that need a lot of optimization. 3 – 6 months is a realistic time frame for your SEO results to kick in.
Typically this is enough time to analyze competition, devise a strategy, implement that plan, while tracking results and making adjustments as needed.
But, I wouldn’t be a very good SEO if I didn’t know how to rank at the top as fast as possible.
And it is possible to rank on page 1 of Google in less than 3 – 6 months.
So, here are the steps I took to rank 7th for “ecommerce SEO packages” in 48 hours.
Just remember, following these steps will help you rank higher and quicker, but there are many factors, some of the most important being age and authority both of which require time. It isn’t common to rank on page 1 as quickly as I did but it can be achieved.
Also important to note is that my page is fluctuating in the SERPs, I also tracked it at position 12. This is common when you first start ranking for a term, it used to be called the Google dance and it occurred periodically. Nowadays, Google’s SERPs are constantly fluctuating weekly.
My Process to Rank High in Google Quickly
So, now we know that there isn’t a definitive answer to questions like, “How long does SEO take to start working?”, “How long does SEO take to update?” or “how long does it take to rank in google?”.
But, there is a proven SEO process that you can follow to rank your site the highest and the quickest. In other words, your site will be limited in how fast it can rank on page one based on all of the domain and competition factors we’ve covered.
But, you can speed up that ranking by implementing the following SEO process.
- Performing long tail keyword & competition research to identify low competition keywords
- Structuring your content to optimally target your keywords & any semantically related terms
- Including social share lockers or incentives to share your content
- Executing outreach and linkbuilding plans to acquire links to your content
Long Tail Keyword Research
The first step to ranking is picking the right keyword. You’re looking for terms your buyers are searching.
It doesn’t have to be a keyword with commercial intent. In fact much of your traffic will come from keywords that are educating your prospect on your product/service offering during their discovery phase – before they’re ready to buy.
If you haven’t already heard about long tail keywords, these are ideal. Especially for ranking quickly.
Long tail keywords have lower search competition, are more specific and targeted, and easier to rank for.
Here is how I find great long tail keywords.
Step 1: Research Long Tail Keywords
Use your preferred keyword research tool such as SEMRush or SERPED.net, or if you don’t have access to paid tools then follow our guide to free keyword research to start identifying relevant long tail keywords that are low competition and receive search volume.
In my case, I started by typing “ecommerce seo” into SERPED.net’s longtail keyword analyzer. (The tool pulls data from SEMRush, Moz, Majestic, and more so I get a ton of data in one place).
I got a list of 111 related long tail keywords, it looked like this:
Step 2: Analyze Each Long Tail Keyword
So, I dug into each keyword to see more data like keyword difficulty percentage and rating, search volume, domain authority and competition. I analyzed “ecommerce seo packages” which looked like this:
Looks great, a keyword with commercial intent and search volume (albeit low) for a service I offer with low competition. My domain authority was higher than half of the sites ranking in the top 10.
Potential hurdle: You are trying to rank for a keyword where all of your competitors have much higher domain authority than you.
I also analyzed the content that ranked in the top 10 spots and it was nothing spectacular.
This is important, you need to be able to create something better than what Google currently considers to be “the best”.
Potential hurdle: You are trying to rank content that is sub-par to your competition’s content.
I wanted to make sure I was going to rank on page 1 and eventually rank #1. So, I decided to find more semantically related long tail keywords with search volume that I could also target.
Why? Seems like targeting more keywords would make it harder to rank for all of them.
If I was trying to rank 1 webpage for all 9 terms, this would be true.
However, when I created a list of the 9 targeted long tail keywords I had analyzed, looking at all of the semantically related keywords, I realized I could make 3 pieces of content.
And together, these 3 pieces of content would truly add more value than what my competitors in the SERPs were offering.
Step 3: Create a List of Targeted Long Tail Keywords
Here is what the grouped keyword list looked like, by creating a list you can identify the best way to structure your content.
These keywords can be split into multiple pieces of semantically related content. Now, I can interlink these pieces of content to instantly pass authority between them and also to give Google clear semantic relevancy signals.
Additionally, the 3 pieces of content I plan to create offer more value than the content my competitors are currently ranking. They better satisfy a number of related queries for users saving them time and even giving them a free download.
Structuring Your Content
So, I had 9 keywords to target now, even though I really was hoping to rank at the top for “ecommerce SEO packages”.
Actually, I do want to rank for all of these terms, however, the term with the most commercial intent and also lowest competition was “ecommerce SEO packages” so I’m still declaring this my main keyword target for this particular case study.
But how do you target 9 keywords in one piece of content? You don’t.
Here is how I broke up my content into 3 pieces:
- A massive blog post targeting 4 of the keywords along with a few variations, so 7 total.
- A short “sales page” with a form for building an ecommerce package that targeted my main term plus one very close variation.
- A PDF of an ecommerce SEO audit, this is not targeting keywords but plays a specific role I will share in a minute.
I decided to create one massive post that targeted most of the keywords from my list and then to create a second piece of content that targeted my main keyword “ecommerce seo packages” and the most related terms like “ecommerce website seo packages”.
Using this structure, I can build links to both pages and the authority funnels to the page I’m trying to rank. Additionally, the page I’m trying to rank is clearly focused and optimized solely for its main keyword plus it is receiving helpful semantic relevancy signals from the blog post.
This way Google won’t get confused. It may take Google a little longer to rank my massive post for 7 keywords, but it should fairly quickly recognize what my “ecommerce seo packages” page is all about and start ranking it sooner.
Now, why the PDF you’re wondering? For social shares.
I’ve written content about some pretty boring subjects like exams, stuck something of value behind a social share content locker, like a practice exam, and gotten hundreds of shares.
In this case, I decided to create an easy to follow ecommerce SEO audit checklist and give it away when people liked or shared my blog post containing ecommerce SEO tips. The social locker looked like this:
Within hours the post had 50 plus shares. This drastically increases the speed at which Google indexes the post.
Promoting Your Content
I’m not going to cover the content research and creation process in this post. I will have to dedicate an entire post to that.
That process consists of analyzing the top 10 pages currently ranking for your keyword, and then making a new piece of content that is better than all 10 of them.
You could make something that is more in depth with more detail, backed by more data, designed better or more user friendly, and in some cases something that is just more accurate and well written.
Ok, so once you’ve created content that deserves to rank in the top 10, it is time to promote that content.
Here is a solid social media plan for promoting new content, even if you aren’t big on social:
Join relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, share your posts in those groups.
- Get creative here, I didn’t just go join SEO groups to share my post. I joined ecommerce groups and I also joined groups for dropshippers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, digital marketers, online businesses, magento, and wordpress.
Share your post with relevant hashtags.
- Again, get creative here. I didn’t just share my post hashtagging #ecommerce or #seo. I used hashtags for words like #smallbusiness #marketing and more.
Direct message influencers.
- Find folks in your space that would be interested in your content. Shoot them a direct message sharing your content with them and letting them know it could be great for their audience.
Make a list of websites that could potentially link to your content. This could be a wide variety of sites. Here are a few ideas:
- Find sites with broken links to similar content and suggest they update their link to your content
- Find sites with an audience who could benefit from your content and ask them to share it
- Find sites in your space that publish “round up” posts and ask to be included in the next one
- Find sites with resource pages on the topic you covered and offer your content as a resource for them to link to (Learn how to find opportunities for resource page link building)
- Blog commenting is an overlooked outreach strategy. People invest time and energy in writing their blogs, engaging through commenting on their posts is a great way to reach out to sites in your niche. Learn how to scale your blog commenting efforts.
Pro tip: Use a real company persona and an email @companywebsite.com when performing outreach for higher success rates. In my client example above I had my outreach emails approved by my client and then my team used my client’s email account to send their outreach messages.
As I mentioned before, although I tracked my keyword ranking at 7, my ranking is currently dancing or fluctuating.
So, I don’t yet know exactly where it will stick in the SERPs.
By building links I can help it hold its page one ranking and improve. To get started there are some good opportunities:
- Search for resource pages and offer my post as a resource link, since my page offers a free SEO audit PDF I can probably get a few links this way
- Upload my PDF to document uploading sites like scribd.com and include a link back to my post
- I could also reformat my PDF and upload it to sites like slideshare.net and link to the post
- I will include links to my post in guest post opportunities that I research and pitch
- I will encourage my team to engage on any relevant articles they read by commenting and linking back to the post when it makes sense
So, currently I haven’t done the above to achieve my fluctuating position of 7. Once I start implementing this linkbuilding plan I will see my ranking stick on page one longer and climb the SERPs.
It is best to spread your linkbuilding activity out over time. Building links too fast can get you penalized, this is especially true for younger sites.
I’m planning to complete each of the above linkbuilding tasks over the period of a month and I expect to build a couple dozen links.
There is no definitive number of links to get a page ranked, it takes trial and error. This is another reason to spread your links out over time, so that you can measure your results.
After building say 3 links, check on your rankings to see how they were impacted. If they improved a lot, then maybe you can slow down your linkbuilding. If they didn’t improve, then consider building more links.
Reasons Why Your Site Won’t Rank Fast – Post Takeaways
If you are trying to rank fast for a keyword, you need to set realistic goals. Unless you are running one of the oldest, most authoritative sites in your niche, you won’t rank quickly.
SEO is a long term strategy, and if you stick with it over time you will build up your authority and begin to rank more quickly.
Here are some of the hurdles you are going to run into that prevent you from ranking quickly:
- You pick a keyword that is too competitive
- Your website is too young
- Your domain doesn’t have enough authority
- You don’t have enough links
- You don’t have high quality links
- Your content structure isn’t optimal
- Your content isn’t being shared on social media enough
The good news is, you have control over these hurdles and you can over come them.
Go for low competition long tail keywords, especially while your site is new
Use the process I outlined in this post to find the lowest competition keywords.
If you are a newer site, then this is essential to gaining rankings quickly. You can’t start out targeting too competitive of keywords.
Build your domain authority through outreach and linkbuilding
Over time, as your domain ages and gains authority, you can start to target more competitive keywords.
The best way to build your domain authority is to consistently perform outreach and link building tactics steadily over time.
List all of your keywords & break up your content accordingly, linking every relevant page together
When it comes to content structure, don’t try to target too many keywords on 1 page. Break your content up and link related pages together.
Promote your content on social media and use social lockers to increase shares to the pages you want to rank
To increase social shares, create content that you can lock behind social lockers within your posts that you want to rank in Google.
Checklist to Rank on Page 1 of Google Faster
This was a long post so we created a quick and easy to follow checklist to help you rank on page 1 of Google quickly. So, rather than asking “How long is it going to take to rank in Google?” get started improving your rankings right now.
Click the image or here to access our Quick Page 1 Ranking Checklist.
Alright, so sitting there asking, “how long does SEO take to see results?” is a waste of time.
You now know that there isn’t a definitive answer to this question and you also know the best ways to speed up your rankings.
Don’t expect to rank overnight unless you are running a very old and authoritative website but rather set goals to rank in 3 – 6 months.
During that time frame, implement the process I outlined in this post and you will see improvement week by week so you know you are on track to ranking on page 1.
And make sure to take our free checklist to ranking faster with you.
So, how long does SEO take to start working? Seriously, tell me how long it takes you to rank in Google below in the comments. 🙂
PS – If you’re a small business owner trying to rank in Google, you’ll want to checkout the 5 Best SEO Tools For Small Business.