Local SEO Ranking Expert Survey - How Long Does It Take?


Linda Buquet

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<img title="LocalSEO" src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/LocalSEO.jpg" alt="" width="122" height="61" align="left" hspace="10" />Do potential new clients ever ask how long it will take to get to page one on Google? Of course they do… ALL. THE. TIME! How do YOU answer that question???


I participated in a great survey a couple weeks ago that Phil Rosek orchestrated. He asked some of the leading Local Search Experts 3 specific questions about how long local SEO takes. Below is a link to Phil's post with our answers, which was just published this AM.

Below I share my answer to the 1st Q, then click to read answers from the rest of the experts which include: Mary Bowling, Miriam Ellis (Moderator here at the Local Search Forum), Matthew Hunt, David Mihm, Dave Oremland, Mike Ramsey, Phil Rozek, Darren Shaw, Adam Steele and Nyagoslav Zhekov.

How Long Does Local-Search Visibility Take? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

Question 1: When a potential client asks “Roughly when can I expect to see results?” what is your typical answer?

(Linda's [long winded] reply)

“When I was doing optimization services I was very conservative in setting expectations with potential clients. I always try to under-promise and over deliver. But this, in a nutshell, is what I would tell Dentists:

“Ranking in Google local takes a well optimized Google+ Local page AND a well optimized web site to match PLUS the right local hooks for Google to tie it all together, so ranking is a 2 stage process. (In my process – that’s the way I did it.)

“1st I’ll optimize your Google+ Local page. For 2nd tier keywords like ‘[city] teeth whitening’, ‘[city] dental implants’, ‘[city] laser dentistry’ we can usually get significant results in less than a month because those keywords I can typically impact when I optimize your Place page. (That’s if they didn’t already have those KWs in G+ Local categories.) Most of my clients move right up to page one, but of course there are no guarantees and it depends on the competition in your market for each of those keywords.

“For your core keywords like ‘[city] dentist’ and ‘[city] cosmetic dentistry’ – just optimizing the Place page normally won’t move the needle, as those keywords are the most competitive. To impact ranking for your core keywords will take the on-site Local SEO and Local Hooks changes I need to do. After those changes are complete we normally start to see an improvement in about a month. But then rankings can gradually improve for awhile after that.

“(Note: I no longer personally do optimization – stopped a few months ago to focus on Local SEO training for other consultants, so no longer offer the above service).”
I have not even read the whole thing. Rushed over here to share it with you guys as soon as it was published. So I'm heading over there to read in detail now. You should too! :p

How Long Does Local-Search Visibility Take? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

What do you think? Learn any new insights?

How do you answer the "how long will it take to see results" question???
 

JoyHawkins

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Great article! We work with a lot of "brand new" businesses who have no history on Google and I find for those businesses it takes 6 months - 1 year to gain ranking. If they already have some citations and have been around for awhile I'd say closer to 3 months.
 

Linda Buquet

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Oh, really good point Joy! So glad you added that.

All my clients were mature businesses, so I was coming from that perspective. Have not worked with a brand new business for a long time.

Here's a very simple analogy I always used to use in explaining the Google Local Algo to prospective clients:

Ranking in Google Local is like a giant extremely complex PUZZLE. Some of the puzzle pieces are on your G+ Local Page, some are on other sites across the net, some are on your web site. But some puzzle pieces are ones I can't control which include things like how many reviews you have, how close to city center your office is, how old your business is and how old your domain is.

To a large degree whoever has the most important puzzle pieces,
all lined up in the right places WINS and gets to rank on top in Google.​
Then depending on situation I would explain that since they had a lot of the core pieces (like location and time in business) but things were just a little jumbled and they were missing some important pieces - we should be able to get some pretty good results. OR on the other hand I'd tell them I could add a lot of the missing pieces BUT since they were new in business OR had a brand new site OR were way far from city center it would be harder or take longer to get them to rank.

And of course location and time in business are 2 factors we can't really impact as SEOs. So glad you brought that up about new businesses Joy!
 
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I thought this was a really fine effort on Phil's part. I read every response carefully, and came to the conclusion that it looked like I had copied answers off of David Mihm's sheet of paper :D

Seriously, though, a very noteworthy post.
 
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Hey Linda,

Great post and a great question - If only we could respond to our clients with unwavering certainty ;)

I'm up in Edmonton Alberta Canada, so life's a bit different here. It's not as competitive as some of the larger cities (Toronto, Vancouver etc.) however it seems that a ton of local listings are almost "grand fathered" into an old Google algo. They have an unclaimed Google Local page, with maybe 2 citations and they sit atop Google's search results for months and months.

In our experience for new clients with little to no web presence, I'd say that a healthy dose of onsite optimization, local SEO (citations, consolidating NAP) and holistic link building will give our clients the desired 'local results' in 6-8 months.

One of the problems that we frequently run into, is a business who has changed their name, phone number or business address. Even if we claim their Google Local page and close a duplicate listing, it won't matter until we clean up the NAP inconsistencies. Unfortunately Google will re-create an unclaimed places page based on the citations (especially Yellow Pages).

Anyway, just my 2 - cents :)
 
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I completely agree with you both.

One point I tend to stress with my clients is local visibility potential and start by running example searches for them. For instances, if the client expects to see their business grow naturally through local search for terms like, 'weed control northfield mn' or 'natural weed control northfield mn' they first need to realize that those searches are not displaying a local result.

Over time they may gain traffic in that arena but will need to be patient to see if those results in the appear local.
 

mborgelt

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I havent jumped over the for article yet but I agree with what Linda said. In my experience we usually can get some rankings right away after optimization and then again in 3-4 months after on-page and off page work has been done.
 

Linda Buquet

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Additional related insights, but no specific answers. And it's about general SEO, but at bottom it talks a little about SMB sites.

Why Do Some Sites Rank Faster Than Others? - Search Engine Watch

More often than not, SEO agencies are saying things like “probably 3-6 months,” without so much as determining what success/results really are, what the competitive landscape is like, what capabilities the company may have in content development, site structure/redesign, etc. Too many people are providing false hope to these prospects without giving them adequate counsel on determining what “real” success is or how to measure ROI.
 

JordanJCaron

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This is an old thread but still so important.

I've found that it really depends. Depends on what the competition is like, what kind of links they have, how many pages they have, how big the city is, what your clients website looks like and how many citations they have.

Like you say Linda, you always try to under-promise and over deliver. I'm sure we've all had impatient clients who want results right away. But you can avoid that by explaining the situation to them very clearly and manage their expectations. Especially if you are building links naturally.

Great thread though as this is a big question on a local SEO's sales process.
 

leadjoint

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I'm curious to know how this has changed over time? How long does it typically take to rank brand new clients these days?
 

Linda Buquet

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Also see LJ's related question from today in the Consultants Corner...

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/consultants-corner/37764-local-search-engine-optimization-newly-registered-businesses-getting-harder.html">Is Local SEO for newly registered businesses getting harder?</a>
 

JoshuaMackens

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In very competitive markets, less than a year to 1st page organic, over a year for a top 3 maps ranking, if not 2 years.

In semi competitive markets, less than 6 months to 1st page organic, around a year to a top 3 maps ranking, if not longer.

In low competitive markets, under 6 months to 1st page organic, around 6 months to a top 3 maps ranking, maybe less.

That's just been my experience lately. I'd love to hear other people chime in.
 

JoshuaMackens

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how about established sites too ?
Well, there are a ton of variables. Let's just go with established sites with no NAP issues and established GMB page.

Competitive market, less than 6 months for first page organic, less than a year for top 3 listing in maps.

Semi competitive market, 3 months or so for first page organic, less than 6 for top 3 map listing.

Non competitive market, 3 months or less for first page organic, less than 3 months for top 3 map listing.

Again, this is just my experience. Others may be doing this quicker. I really don't have any idea :) also, it has taken me longer sometimes than the window I just gave you based on different variables.
 

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