SEO and PPC Timeline: How Long Does It Take to See Results?

Contributed by Laura Jo Sharpe

Search engine optimization and pay-per-click ads are two of the top strategies for getting your content in front of the right audience. They aren’t competing strategies but complementary solutions depending on your marketing goals and needs.

SEO is a long-term and cost-efficient strategy for overall growth, whereas PPC offers quick, short-term solutions for messages you want to spread immediately or strategically.

Explore these two strategies in more detail and how long you can expect before you see results to help you decide which solution is best for reaching your audience on your schedule.

SEO Timeline: Long-Term and Cost Efficient

SEO is the best source of high-quality leads, according to 60% of marketers. It’s an organic process of finding readers by ranking in search queries. Since 68% of online experiences start with a search engine, platforms like Google and Bing are powerful tools for reaching your audience.

Unfortunately, SEO isn’t a simple solution that yields immediate results. Instead, it takes careful planning and patience, but the long-term results are worth the wait.

How Long Does SEO Optimization Take?

On average, you can expect results from SEO after four to six months. After that, you will continue to see your traffic grow for months and years to come.

SEO is more cost-efficient than most other strategies. You will initially invest money to hire content creators and the tools for researching and publishing content. Then after you post the content, you have very few additional costs except for refreshing the piece to keep it relevant and well-ranking and the cost of new content creation.

SEO Timeline Template

Here is an average six-month SEO timeline:

Month 1

Planning Your SEO

  • Research high-traffic, low-competition keywords for your industry
  • Brainstorm content ideas
  • Review content that is currently ranking well in your industry
  • Examine the content on your website for pages and pieces you might optimize

Month 2

Prepare Your Website

  • Create a content calendar of your keywords and topics
  • Begin optimizing your website to help it rank well and be recognized as an authority

Month 3

Create Content

  • Start creating content for your website
  • Continue keyword research for future content
  • Gather data as you see results

Month 4

Start Seeing Results

  • Optimize your website and content from the reports you collect
  • Continue creating new content
  • Link to your past content and website pages to improve your ranking

Month 5

Expand Your SEO

  • Start expanding your SEO strategy to other channels like forums, social media, and industry websites.
  • Continue creating new content and using internal linking

Month 6

Analyze Your Results

  • Take time to analyze your results and adjust your strategy if necessary
  • Continue researching and creating new content

Year 1

Refresh Your Content

  • Analyze your SEO results and readjust if necessary
  • Update and refresh old content to keep it ranking high

How to Speed Up the Process

There are several factors influencing your timeline that can either speed it up or make it take longer, including:

  • How much content you already have online
  • What other channels you are using (social media, guest posting)
  • How much traffic and competition your keywords have
  • How high is the quality of your internal and external links are
  • The quality of your content

For example, if you create quality content for a keyword with high traffic but very little competition, you might immediately see a boost in traffic. However, if you are in a highly competitive industry, you would wait several months to build your online authority and grow your ranking before seeing a return from your strategy.

Websites that already have online authority will also see results faster than new websites with little or no online content, traffic, and authority.

PPC Timeline: Short-term and Targeted

PPC ads require a higher investment, but you can see results almost immediately. Even though PPC costs more, many businesses see a $2 return for every dollar they spend on Google Ads. Two of the most popular platforms for PPC are Google and Facebook, accounting for over 60% of ad spend.

How Long Does PPC Take to Work?

To maximize your return, you should plan for a three-month timeline for your PPC content. Giving time for research before posting your ads will increase the effectiveness and return of your ads.

PPC Timeline Template

Consider the following three-month timeline for your PPC strategy:

Month 1

Research Your Audience

  • Gather data insights about your market and audience
  • If you don’t have data, consider running a broad campaign for data collection purposes
  • Create an ideal customer profile
  • Find the best channels for reaching your audience

Month 2

Prepare Your Ads

  • Research keywords with high impressions and low competition
  • Create optimized ads that target your audience based on the data you gathered
  • Start bidding on your platforms of choice based on cost-per-click and keywords

Month 3

Publish Your Ads

  • Start publishing your ads and seeing results
  • Begin with a broad audience, then optimize your future ads as you see results
  • Gather data for future ad campaigns

How to Improve Your PPC Results

If you want to maximize your PPC results, you must take the time to research and understand your audience. Just because you are paying for an ad doesn’t guarantee results or that you will reach the right audience.

Data collection from past PPC ads will speed up future PPC timelines. For example, some businesses running their first PPC campaigns didn’t see results until after six months because they had very little data to use when creating their ads. However, you can see results in three or fewer months with the proper research and data.

Running more complex campaigns can also increase your timeline. For instance, how long does Google ads take to review? On average, they approve ads within one business day, but larger campaigns will take longer to create and get approval for.

PPC and SEO Working Together

PPC and SEO differences help them work together better. Your SEO strategy is an ongoing process on your website to continue attracting visitors. The longer you use SEO, the greater results you will see. Over time, you might see results within just a few days of publishing new content if you already spent the time and effort on previous content that helped your website rank well.

PPC campaigns work well for short-term goals or when you have SEO downtime. For instance, around holidays or special promotions, you can use a PPC campaign to attract a new wave of visitors. This new traffic will in return help boost your SEO rankings.

How Long Should You Run a PPC Campaign?

You will want to run your PPC campaigns for three to twelve months. This schedule gives your ad time to generate traffic and yield enough data to improve future ad campaigns. It also provides time for you to generate enough impressions for Google, Facebook, and other ad providers to rank your ad quality higher, improving your ad auction performance.

Improve the Performance of Your SEO and PPC Campaigns

Are your SEO and PPC timelines not meeting your expectations?

Finding the right balance between SEO and PPC for your marketing strategies takes time as you test and analyze the results of past campaigns and adjust your processes. Getting the right tools is essential for staying on top of search trends and maximizing the return from your SEO and PPC campaigns.

Contact us to learn about our SEO and PPC solutions to improve the performance of your marketing campaigns.


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