Keyword ranking chart illustration
If there was ever a $64,000 question in today’s SEO digital landscape, it’s this one. Let’s be honest; there isn’t a definitive answer because every business is different. What can be agreed is that three key factors will impact your success – your website, the competition and what you do. 
Keywords and phrases are still a key part of SEO and help in the indexing of web pages. However, when implementing SEO and keyword strategies, it’s important to understand that it’s a long-term plan. In fact, it can take up to a year before you start to see measurable SEO results. There is no quick fix or shortcuts when ranking for keywords. So, what do you need to do to rank your keywords? 

Is SEO worth it? 

An SEO strategy does more than boost keyword ranking. It drives organic traffic to your website and other online channels, optimises your website, increases user experience and helps keep you in front of your competitors. Using keywords and key phrases is an important element of this strategy. When 75% of people never go past the first page of a Google results page, and the first organic search result on Google gets 31.24% of the clicks (on average), it’s clear that keyword ranking is vital to drive website traffic. 
But just throwing a load of keywords into your online content will not help you rank higher in search results. The three factors we mentioned above come into play: 
Your website. If your website is over-complicated or there are technical issues, it can have a negative impact. Also, previous SEO efforts may have resulted in Google blackmarking your website, or a Google core update could have created a problem. Remember, a new domain may take time to rebuild keyword ranking. 
The competition. Search Engine Land believes you should aim to beat your competition rather than Google’s algorithm. The reason is that Google makes thousands of amendments to its search algorithm every year, so focus on beating your competition at SEO rather than trying to outsmart the algorithm. 
What you do. Nothing will fall into your lap; you have to work at it to get results. Yes, you can hire specialists and take all the recommendations but it’s what you actually do that will get the ranking you want. So, rather than debate the plan, wait for internal buy-in or sit around until IT gets in gear, implement your SEO strategy now. 
But remember, it takes time for your actions to yield the positive, measurable results you’re seeking. 
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Google’s algorithm 

You can learn about SEO tactics and strategies, but you must also understand how Google’s algorithm works to get the best out of your actions. Google is constantly updating its algorithm, but the basics remain the same most of the time. 
It’s designed to promote websites that have worked to build a certain level of ‘authority’ over some time. This means websites that are trusted and respected and have proved their worth to their customers, i.e. they gain a lot of traffic for the right reasons. Some factors that Google use to determine this authority are: 
The age of the website. 
The quality of the content. 
The quantity and quality of backlinks to the website. 
The technical quality of the website. 
Other online content, such as social media channels, review platforms, citations, etc. 
Considering all these aspects, it's easy to see why SEO takes time to generate results and returns. 
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What is an average timescale to rank keywords? 

Of course, any business wants their keywords to rank as soon as possible, but there are three areas to consider: 
How quickly the website builds authority. 
How competitive are the keywords and SEO market? 
Make sure you avoid doing anything that Google doesn’t like, such as keyword stuffing. 
Building website authority can be achieved in a relatively short period, especially if the quality of the website, content and backlinks are excellent. Avoiding Google no-gos is also simpler to monitor. But competitiveness takes more time and effort. 

How to rank keywords in a competitive SEO market 

If you’re in a very competitive marketplace, many keywords or phrases – popular search terms – you’re using will be employed by your competitors, too. Here’s a general rule of thumb to remember: 
“The more people search using a specific keyword/phrase, the more SEO competitive it becomes and the longer it will take for your website to gain authority and rank for that keyword/phrase.” 
So, you want to aim for keywords and phrases that are less competitive, i.e. a good search volume but low competition. For example, the term ‘website ranking’ has an average search volume of 6,600, making it a highly competitive keyword with an SEO difficulty ranking of 67. However, ‘website ranking by traffic’ has an average search volume of 2,400 but a low SEO difficulty ranking of just 6. A great way of targeting less competitive keywords is through blogs, as they can be used to target your audience who are searching using more specific terms. 
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Average SEO timescales 

Although we’ve so far skimmed around giving you definitive SEO timescales, we can give you some general time frames for achieving SEO/keyword ranking: 
For a well-written, quality blog with imagery, you should start seeing traffic driven to your website within a couple of months. 
Optimising a product or service page, or a home page, with relevant but low competitive keywords should see your website ranking better within three to six months. 
Optimising a product or service page, or a home page, with relevant but medium competitive keywords should see your website ranking better within six to twelve months. 
Optimising a product or service page, or a home page, with relevant but highly competitive keywords, expect ranking to be better from twelve months upwards. 
But there is a caveat to these timescales; a lot of SEO and keyword ranking success stems from the quantity and quality of any SEO methods, what’s gone before, and your ongoing actions. The moral of the SEO story is – the more time and effort you put in, the quicker and better your website will rank and the more returns you will see. 
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At it’seeze, our network of experienced website consultants throughout the UK and Ireland are well-versed in using keywords and phrases and how they should be woven into your website. We help businesses of all shapes and sizes design and build fully SEO and keyword-optimised websites.  
Get in touch with us today to start your it’seeze journey. 
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