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The usual answer to this burning question is ‘it depends’. Luckily, thanks to a study from marketing data company Ahrefs, we finally have a more concrete answer.

In order to determine the average age of the pages in Google Top 10 results, the team from Ahrefs took 2 million random keywords and pulled data on the Top 10 ranking pages for each of them. The results showed that the average Top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old, while those that rank at position #1 are almost 3 years old on average. In fact, only 22% of pages that currently rank in the Top 10 were created within 1 year.

The study then looked at what percentage of pages at each ranking position were less than 1 year old, and it turned out that the search engine results page (SERP) is dominated by “old“ pages.

To answer the question of how long it takes for a page to rank in Google, Ahrefs randomly selected  2 million pages that were first seen by their crawler a year ago and then tracked the position history of each page for any keyword it’s ranked for.

If you want to find out what they discovered, check out the comprehensive infographic below by The Website Group.

How long it takes to rank top of Google is a question we get asked daily... infograph helps explain

This is probably our most commonly asked question by prospects and clients a like.

It is such a loaded question for so many reasons, including:

  • Each website is unique.
  • The credibility and history of each business is unique.
  • Search Engines use 300+ factors when evaluating your website.
  • Each industry and local area have varying levels of competitiveness.

A recent study by BrightLocal took an objective approach to trying to answer this question by asking 18 experts and pooling their responses a variety of different cases. What category does your website fall into and what is a realistic timeframe for results?

How long does it take for a new site to rank in Google?

Answer: 78% say 3-9 months. In non-competitive markets this could be cut down to 1-6 months.

How long does it take for a website with some previous optimization to rank in Google?

Answer: 89% answer between 3-9 months. In non-competitive markets this could be cut down to 1-6 months.

How long does it take for a local website with previous low quality optimization to rank in Google?

Answer: 55% answer 6-12 months and 28% say 3-6 months. In non-competitive markets this would be around 3-6 months.

Key Takeaways from this Age Old Question

  • “It takes 6-10 weeks generally for Google to index and insert a brand new listing, let alone have it rank for anything.” – Joy Hawkins
  •  “Ask yourself: why should your business rank higher than the approx. 7-10 others that currently occupy the top positions?” – Chris Silver Smith
  • “I’m convinced there’s a sort of “waiting period” imposed by Google after they notice a lot of changes being made to a site, almost as if they don’t want the site owner (or site editor) to believe that their changes can affect rankings.” – Scott Hendison
  • It is interesting to note experts’ opinions towards the difficulty of getting websites to rank. Only 6% feel it would take more than 9 months to rank a previously optimized website and 11% said it would take 9 months to rank a brand new website. But 28% say it will take more than 9 months to rank a website with poor optimization, NAP inconsistencies, poor backlinks and other issues. This proves that poor SEO causes lasting harm, where in some cases it could be easier just to start all over from scratch!

One Final Question –
How long will SEO last after you stop spending money on SEO?

A common fallacy of marketers is to see all the hard work pay off with SEO and feel there is no longer a need to continue investing in SEO. When optimization stops there isn’t an immediate noticeable effect like you have when you cancel advertising in the newspaper or stop running an AdWords campaign. Most experts agreed it is usually between 6 months and 2+ years before you may see a ranking or performance drop.

While at first you may think this gives the go ahead to stop SEO with the assumption you’ll be safe for a couple years. The other side of the coin is that your competitors will continue on with SEO and keep gradually growing. When you come back around to SEO the second time, you’ll be at a disadvantage and have over 2 years of updates to do.

Is it time to stop wasting time and get on with SEO? Give us a call a 1-888-262-6687 so we can evaluate your website and develop a localized SEO Strategy to help get you local rankings sooner than later!