A common question that many search engine optimization (SEO) strategists are asked is, “How long until the SEO strategy takes off?” The short answer is, “It depends.” There is no concrete answer that will encompass the duration of time and hours needed to complete such a task.
The most important factor in determining how long it takes to start seeing results for SEO is making sure that your website’s pages are indexed.
Indexation Is the Initial Requirement for Rankings
Google must index each page on a site if you want them to be found in the search results. If a URL cannot be indexed, it has no chance of ranking. So, all of your hard work writing compelling content is for nothing if the content on the page hasn’t been indexed.
Depending on the site and many factors – how large the site is, how often content is added, and link authority – Google may come back to crawl the site more often. This could be daily or weekly and less frequently for some sites – once a month or even less often.
Until these pages get recrawled, Google has no idea that the content on the page changed. Maybe you updated the keywords on that page, added valuable links, or provided compelling content that answers a searcher’s query. All of these things are great but won’t help you rank higher until the page is reindexed. No indexation means no chance of ranking.
When you’ve optimized to improve SEO performance, you don’t have to wait until Googlebot decides to crawl your site and find pages that have changed and reindex the URL.
How to Request Indexation in Google
Google Search Console has a handy feature that allows you to initiate the process of indexing or reindexing a page on your site. In order to potentially get crawled faster, you can nudge Google, telling the search engine that you want it to crawl and index your page. You can do this by going to Google Search Console, making sure you are in the right account, and doing a URL inspection.
In the “Inspect any URL” field, input the specific URL for which you want to request indexing. Then, click “Request Indexing,” as shown in the image below.
Pushing the magical button labeled “Request Indexing” asks Google to recrawl that URL and then update its index. Once Google updates its index with the new page, it’s algorithmically able to reconsider its rankings for that specific page based on your optimization.
Google Search Console will display a message saying, “Testing if live URL can be indexed.”
It will then say, “Indexing requested” with the message, “URL was added to a priority crawl queue. Submitting a page multiple times will not change its queue position or priority.”
After any changes have been made to a page, requesting indexation on Google Search Console lets the search engine know that you made a change to it. You don’t have to wait until Google decides to crawl the page for your optimization to get indexed. The steps above allow you to try to speed the process up by telling Google that this page has changed and should be reindexed.
When Will Performance Change?
When Google changes its rankings — and how much the rankings change — depends on Google’s algorithmic evaluation of how new and valuable the change you made was.
For example, optimizing the textual content on a page could see an impact as soon as overnight once the optimization has been indexed, or it could take months to begin to perform. The difference is typically impossible to predict because you’re dealing with a complex algorithm whose secrets are closely guarded by Google.
Sites with high levels of authority or brand recognition tend to see performance improvements faster, though that could be related to the higher frequency with which Google crawls its sites.
However, those asking when they can see SEO start to work tend to ask the question at the organic channel level as a whole rather than the page level. Individual page optimization can see performance changes as they’re optimized and reindexed. It takes longer for enough of these pages to be optimized, reindexed, and re-ranked so that a performance change is visible for the site’s organic channel as a whole.
The more rapidly you implement strong SEO strategies, the sooner you’ll see a performance change in the channel as a whole.
It’s true: The results of SEO are not as instantly gratifying as running a pay-per-click campaign. SEO is a long-term, ongoing strategy for success that you need to invest in to stay competitive. While you may not be able to say precisely when SEO will yield efforts, continuous optimization efforts are critical to improving organic search performance over time.