This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked about search engine optimization.

The answer is; it depends. Why? There quite a few factors that weigh into how long it takes to rank well in search engines like Google. Some of the things I look at include; the domain name’s age, the domain name’s history, has SEO been done previously? Does the domain currently rank for anything? How competitive is the market?

While we see website’s that have incredible, meaningful improvements within 30 days, the general rule of thumb is 4 – 12 months. If a website is new, and the industry is competitive, expect more like 12 months. If the website is established and has some existing (good) history to it, expect closer to 4 months.

“Four months to a year is a realistic estimate of how long it takes to reap results.” — Google

SEO is an investment, not an overnight strategy. If you’re unable to swallow the idea that it could very well take 4 – 12 months to start getting an ROI, SEO is probably not for you. If you’re comfortable with it and know that you’re investing in a long-term strategy, you will be thrilled.

Watch: How to hire an SEO