“How Long Do SEO Results Take?”: What To Tell Your SEO Clients

June 26, 2020

Search engine optimization is an excellent product to offer your digital marketing clients, not only because it provides them with more brand visibility, more authority, and more conversions, but it’s more profitable and scalable for you.

However, SEO takes longer to show results than pay-per-click and Facebook Ads, which can frustrate clients if they are not on the same page from the get-go. Here’s how you can answer them when they ask how long it’ll take to see results from SEO.

Setting the right expectations

It’s crucial to first set the right expectations with the client when it comes to SEO. Make sure they understand the nature of SEO and to be very clear that SEO by nature will always take months to see the results you want.

Clients often believe that ranking #1 on Google is the only goal, and that’s not the case. Try to steer them away from this expectation as much as possible, so they are not disappointed if you don’t achieve it right away — even if you’ve increased impressions, clicks, and website traffic.

“So, when can we see results?” Well, that depends.

The timeline of results in SEO will depend on a combination of several factors.

Where they are now

First of all, where is your client starting out? Maybe they have a strong website and were already doing SEO with someone else, and are switching over to you. The transition may be bumpy, but you as an agency have solid ground to start on. Results may turn up quicker.

If your client has no website and no web presence at all, and is starting from scratch, they need to know that this will be a longer process, as more steps are required to get Google to “see” them and then start ranking and suggesting their site.

What you’re doing

Results also depend on what optimizations you plan on doing for the client. There are many types of optimization tasks you can do in SEO, including content, rewriting copy, optimizing metadata, creating new backlinks, creating a new keyword strategy, removing spam links, and improving the site’s loading speeds. Depending on which ones you’re doing and when, your client may see results at different paces, and these aren’t easy to predict.

Certain factors will matter the most for improving their ranking and visibility online, so you can use those to explain your various optimization tasks and what purpose they serve. This gives clients more understanding of the process and therefore helps them be more patient.


A crucial factor in seeing results, is how long it takes for Google (or another search engine) to index it after you have made changes and optimized their site. Crawling and indexing play a big role in how much and how soon Google sees you as a relevant or helpful site.

The Process

  1. First Google must “crawl” the web, i.e. find new and updated content through links.
  2. If it seems relevant and useful, they index (store) it in their database of urls they deem good enough to suggest to searchers.
  3. Then finally, they rank all those pages based on how useful the content is.

Seeing tangible results in SEO will depend on how long it takes for Google to register your site and begin to rank it in their search engine. SEO specialists can make sure a site’s pages are accessible to the crawler, but once they do, it’s up to Google.

Estimate 2-3 months to start seeing progress

Ultimately, you can safely tell your clients that it’ll take at least 2-3 months to start seeing initial changes in metrics from their SEO efforts.

In the end, SEO is a game of patience, and your clients should know that. Help them understand that even though the process may be longer, the results also have long-lasting results that can benefit them for years to come.


Daniela Chamorro Mantica

Managing Editor

Professional and creative writer with a passion for digital storytelling. I hold a BA in English from Amherst College, and have over 4 years of experience writing for a variety of industries, including non-profits, higher education, custody law, and marketing.



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