You now know some of the determining factors, but how long will it take for your site to see an improvement in its organic rankings?
With such a vast array of variables there is no way to know for sure. However, the timelines below are fairly accurate.
Niche Competitive Industry
A niche industry is represented by phrases that are relatively specific, such as “widgets Melbourne”. While they don’t require a geographic modifier, phrases focused on a very specific area often are considered niche. Phrases used for a niche site will also often return less than 100,000 results in a Google search. The top 10 ranking sites will also often have less than 100 inbound links each.
Brand New Site: Possibly as little as a few months
Established Site: Potentially it could literally be over night, but most likely around 6 weeks.
Medium Competitive Industry
Medium Industry terms are slightly more general, but still include some kind of modifier, such as a state or color; “Victorian Widgets” or “Blue Widgets”. These phrases often represent no more than a few million results in a typical Google search with the top 10 ranking sites having between 100-1,000 inbound links.
Brand New Site: 6 months to a year
Established Site: 2-4 months
Highly Competitive Industry
These pages are those with phrases that are rather broad and seldom have any modifiers, such as simply “widgets”. You will often find tens or even hundreds of millions of competing pages in Google for your target phrase. Often the links required for the top 10 will be in the thousands, or tens of thousands (sometimes even in the millions).
Brand New Site: Anywhere from 1 to 5 years
Established Site: Could be as long as a year or more
For a brand new site, starting with nothing, in most cases you will be looking at around a year before you start to see significant ranking changes. You may get the odd ranking here and there, and start to see some traffic, but for any phrases that are remotely competitive, it can take quite a while. Unless you have a very tight niche, expect to wait at least 6 months before you see any movement at all. This is not to say that you can’t get quick results, but in the majority of cases it is quite rare.
For more established sites, rankings tend to come much more quickly. One significant factor in determining time is links. If your established site has lots, but the site itself is simply lacking fundamental SEO or proper navigation, then you can sometimes see results rather quickly. If you have no links and need to build them, it significantly increases the wait time. Even for an established site, achieving links in a competitive industry can still take some time.