As content marketers, one of the most common questions we hear from clients is “how long will it take for my pages to reach the top of Google?” It’s a fair question from anyone investing in web development and content marketing, even if the answer may be quite complicated. To help demystify SEO and content marketing and explain how long it takes to see results – and what influences those results – we’ve created this handy guide that breaks down the most important factors.
How long does SEO content take to rank on search engines?
As a baseline, SEO content can take between three to six months to begin ranking on search engines like Google. The reality, however, is far more nuanced. How long it takes for SEO content to rank on a search engine, and how high up it will eventually rise, depends on myriad factors.
We get it; “it depends” isn’t the most satisfying answer to this question. And while the three to six months baseline is a good barometer, it is just that — a barometer. Whether you rank and how quickly you do so depends largely on your ability to check lots of boxes that aren’t just about what you write, although that’s certainly a significant factor. One thing is true for all native content marketing efforts: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What factors influence how long SEO content takes to rank?
There are many factors that influence how long it takes any given piece of SEO content to appear in search results, and how high they’ll climb in search engine results pages (SERPs). When creating SEO-driven content, consider the following:
- Targeted keywords: The keywords that are relevant to your audience matter, and the more competitive the keywords you pursue, the more difficult it may be to rank. For example, attempting to rank for general keywords like “cannabis” are too challenging and likely present little value to your customer. Instead, choosing more specific, less competitive keywords may help your site build authority more quickly and attract more relevant online searchers to your pages.
- Page speed: A big piece of SEO is user experience, and nothing drags down user experience than a site that moves like a sloth. Slow loading pages frustrate users and lead to a higher bounce rate, which measures how quickly someone leaves your site after viewing a single page. A too-high bounce rate reflects negatively on your site. For this reason (and many others!), search engines generally prioritize websites with faster page load speeds.
- Mobile experience: Have you ever tried to navigate a website on your phone where you can’t read the text properly or you can’t tap on any links or buttons? It could be that your site isn’t properly formatted for mobile. With the majority of searches taking place on smartphones, an improperly formatted mobile view can ensure that even the best content doesn’t get any views. It’s critical your pages are adaptable to these platforms. Search engines know this and prioritize mobile responsive designs.
- Content structure: The content itself is not the only important piece of the puzzle. How it’s presented to the user also matters. Structuring content in such a way that makes it easy to read and digest can help a page rank more quickly. Organizing topics in a way that reinforces the main keyword and any associated keywords you’re targeting is an essential component as well.
- Linking: What you link to and how you link to it are also important factors when it comes to ranking on a search engine. This is particularly important when it comes to linking to other related content on your website, as it gives search engines a clear path to crawl and index multiple pages. The reverse is true, too — valuable content increases the possibility that another site links to your blog, which in turn indicates to search engines that your site is one providing worthwhile information.
- Metadata: Elements like page title, meta description, and URL slug can help search engines better understand how to index your content. Optimizing these elements for the keyword you’re targeting can go a long way to expediting the time it takes for a piece of content to rank.
- Domain authority: Your domain authority is a measure of the way your website is perceived by search engines. This metric was developed by third parties, and although it’s not in itself a metric weighed by search engines, the components that contribute to domain authority can all impact your performance on search engines.
Generally, we think of domain authority as a composite ranking that signals to search engines how reliable and useful your website and the content on it are to users. Building strong domain authority requires an extensive library of updated and accurate content, as well as backlinks from other authoritative sources. Even if you write the best and most optimized blog post ever written on a topic, it likely won’t gain traction unless your broader website has a healthy domain authority.
What’s the best way to improve search engine rankings?
To rank well on search engines like Google and Bing, and to do so as quickly as possible, it’s critical to apply a holistic SEO strategy that takes into account all the factors that influence what appears on the SERP.
1. Develop a website with sound technical SEO principles
Content marketing doesn’t start with web copy and blogging, it starts with web development. Unless it’s housed on a technically optimized and secure website, any content you create isn’t likely to gain much traction. So building an optimized site from the ground up is the first critical step to take when creating a foundation for your content marketing strategy.
If you already have a website and want to begin content marketing, it’s a good idea to perform a site audit first. In addition to web development services, CannaContent offers a thorough site audit that covers dozens of important technical SEO elements to make sure your website is well-positioned to rank before publishing a single blog. After all, why spend the time and effort creating content if you’re not set up for success?
2. Conduct comprehensive keyword research
Once your website is optimized, you can dive into the keywords that your audience is using in their queries on search engines. Choosing relevant keywords that have a good balance between competitiveness and search volume is key. Doing so will help you capture a significant amount of traffic from users that are also interested in the information, products, and services you offer.
Properly performing keyword research requires getting into the mind of the average user in your target audience. Called searcher intent, this explores what and why of an online search. It also involves some creative thinking and data collection, which can be time consuming. That’s why at CannaContent we build keyword research into our content marketing process, using some of the best SEO tools out there to help devise a keyword strategy that will boost your brand’s content to new heights.
3. Create helpful content with on page SEO in mind
When users are searching for information, they want answers, not sales pitches. That’s why it’s important to create your content with education in mind. Google recently unveiled its Helpful Content SEO update and explicitly stated that content users found helpful and informative would be prioritized in the SERP. This means answering questions directly, succinctly, and completely, providing users with a positive experience and leaving them satisfied that they were able to find the information they needed. This is still true, even in the era of ChatGPT and other AI-assisted writing tools.
In addition, helpful content means considering how users are searching for it. While many still type queries into a search bar, the rise of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri mean more and more users are relying on voice search to access web content. Structuring your content in a way that takes this into consideration will be key to competing well into the future.
4. Share your content far and wide
Once your content is published, be sure to share it with your entire network. Distribute the link on your social channels and in email newsletters. Not only will this help drive traffic to your website and promote your brand as an expert in your space, it will also increase the likelihood that other sources link to your content — and backlinks are critical for boosting your domain authority.
When you work with CannaContent for both content marketing and social media management, this becomes a seamless process. Our content and social teams are tightly integrated, so one hand always knows what the other is doing. Once a piece of content is published, it can easily be added to the social calendar to ensure as many people in your target audience see it as possible.
Work with an expert SEO team for the best results
Content marketing is a full time job and it can be difficult to properly manage when you’re trying to run a business. If you want to implement an SEO strategy that helps you rise to the top of the SERP, your best bet is to work with a team of professional SEOs and content creators. By outsourcing your content marketing strategy, you can take the burden off your internal team and ensure that you’re consistently publishing high quality content that is perfectly optimized. And, when it comes to cannabis content marketing, you’ll want to partner with industry specialists like the team at CannaContent. If you’re looking for the best content the hemp and cannabis industry has to offer, we’ve got your back — contact CannaContent today.