How long does local SEO take to work efficiently?
We all want instant results from local SEO. However, there are misconceptions regarding the time it takes for local SEO to take effect.
The answer often is: it depends. I’d like to shed some light on how long it typically takes to see local SEO results.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a Google Business Profile or website to increase visibility and rankings for location-relevant search queries.
Imagine you’re in your town looking for a place to eat on your phone. Local SEO helps places nearby, like cafes or restaurants, show up in those search results. It tells people in the area, “Hey, we’re close by and this is what we offer!”
So, if you have a business, local SEO is a way to make sure people nearby can find you easily when they search online. This article will tell you how long it takes to do so.
How long does it take to rank on Google Maps?
You will rank as soon as your Google Business Profile is verified. You will even rank #1 at your business location in most cases. That’s why “How long does it take to rank #1 in local search” is a very misleading question. Usually, it doesn’t take any time at all to rank #1.
A more useful question would be: ”How long does it take to rank #1 in more areas” or “how long does it take to expand the ranking area”. These are the questions that can’t be answered so easily. If you want to know the answer, read on.
Factors Influencing the Time it Takes for Local SEO
We have to differentiate between local search results, aka the map pack, and local organic rankings.
Status of your Google Business Profile
If you haven’t done any optimizations on your Google Business Profile you will see results much quicker. Going from 0 to 50% is easier and faster than going from 50% to 100%. Taking on clients that haven’t done anything on their GBP or website is usually a great idea, especially if you’re new to the SEO world.
Local Search Competition
The local competition and their marketing efforts affect your progress by a lot. If there are many competitors in your immediate area, it will be tougher for you to see results and therefore it will take more time to see results.
Accuracy of work
How accurate you work and how thorough your marketing efforts are determines your progress and the time it takes to see certain results. If you have to adjust a lot because you didn’t do the right things at the beginning, that will obviously have a negative effect on your efficiency. Poor quality work is detrimental to the speed of local SEO results.
Website age and established authority can speed up things for you. If your website was launched a couple of years ago and you’re tapping into local SEO just now, this will speed up the process of local SEO. Google trusts established businesses more than new businesses that Google hasn’t shared any information about so far.
The keywords you want to rank for play a significant role in a local SEO campaign. The more competitive the keywords are the longer it will take you to increase visibility for them.
Keep these factors in mind when thinking about the time it could take for your business listing to improve rank on local search and Google Maps.
The local search algorithm can impact your local rankings at any time. Don’t expect a linear progress and count in algorithm changes. Nothing in SEO or business is for sure and can be 100% predicted.
Your competition is one of the biggest variables you have no control over. If a competitor opens a business next door, expect your local search rankings to get a huge dent. On the contrary, if a local competitor shuts down business, you’ll certainly see a boost in search visibility.
Time it takes features to impact rankings
Some features have a much bigger and faster impact than others. The Google Business Profile name, choosing correct categories, and adding relevant services on a service-based business profile can impact rankings within a few hours.
Other features like website optimizations and collecting reviews can take a few weeks to several months to see effects. The latter are also harder or sometimes even impossible to measure because of ongoing market and algorithm changes.
General timeline to rank in Google’s local search
New Google Business Profile
A new Google Business Profile will rank immediately after the verification. Its ranking radius and attractiveness might not be big but at least it can be found online.
Established Google Business Profile without optimization
An established Google Business Profile with no prior optimizations takes a little longer to see results. Usually in an average competitive area it can take a few days to three months to see first significant results.
In a very competitive space that can go up to 6 months. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about perfect rankings but significant rank improvements through an unoptimized GBP.
Established Google Business Profile with optimization
The progress you’ll see when working on an established and optimized Google profile is certainly much longer. It can take from several months to years. Local SEO is limited through proximity. That means improving rankings is limited.
That’s why ongoing optimization and maintenance efforts are necessary to keep a certain status quo. Either way, don’t expect surprisingly amazing results on an established and optimized Google Business Profile.
Best Practices to speed up local SEO
Complete and relevant Google Business Profile
This is the foundation of your local SEO campaign. Be sure to complete your Google Business Profile with relevant information and don’t leave a single stone unturned. If you want to do local SEO more professionally, check out my extensive local SEO checklist.
Encourage customer reviews immediately
You can boost your prominence by collecting new reviews. This will certainly speed up your local SEO results. If you can get high-quality reviews from your local customers right after you start working on it, people will notice and choose your listing over others. Which is in turn a great sign to Google that your business provides a great user experience to Google users.
Partner up with neighboring businesses
The more you network and spread the word the more branded searches you will get. That will help you gain more authority in Google’s eyes, which leads to better rankings eventually. The earlier you get into that, the faster you’ll see results from local SEO.
Basic website work first
Basic website work is crucial for fast local SEO results. Don’t get stuck optimizing Schema markup and focusing heavily on advanced techniques if you haven’t gotten your basics straight. They will have the biggest impact and determine your future success by a lot.
Local SEO can take from a few hours to a few years to take effect. How long local SEO takes to see results depends on multiple factors and can’t be generalized for every local business.
If you want to see fast results, you’ll need to do thorough local keyword research and make sure your work is of high quality. Because that is the only factor you have full control over.
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