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min read
April 5, 2024

How Long Does it Take to Rank on Google?

Keelyn Hart
Content Writer at Letterdrop

Factors for ranking faster with Google Letterdrop
Factors for ranking faster with Google


  • According to SEO experts, it can take three to six months to rank on the first page of Google if you're creating quality content and optimizing your website. However, if you're targeting extremely low-competition keywords, you can rank immediately.
  • Factors like search intent, user experience, technical SEO, backlinks, and topical authority impact ranking time.
  • To speed up ranking, target long-tail, low-competition keywords, understand and answer search intent, target complete topic coverage, optimize for technical SEO and Core Web Vitals, build internal and backlinks, create content pillars, optimize for EEAT, and regularly refresh your content.
  • Following SEO best practices and consistently implementing them is crucial for faster ranking in Google.

There's a lot of speculation and misinformation out there about how long it takes to rank in Google.

How long it takes is a dynamic thing, dependent on multiple quality and technical SEO factors — but to give you a general idea:

  • For websites targeting low-competition keywords and practicing consistent SEO best practices, immediately
  • For websites targeting higher competition keywords and practicing consistent SEO best practices, between two to six months
  • For websites targeting high-competition keywords and not practicing SEO best practices, more than a year (if even)

We targeted a low-competition keyword, "SEO plugin for Sanity.io" and ranked within a day.

You can rank within days for a low-competition keyword
You can rank within days for a low-competition keyword

Topical authority, keyword competitiveness, Core Web Vitals and more influence time to rank. Some factors are within your control and others aren't.

You need to leverage the factors that are in your control to rank faster.

SEO Factors That Impact Ranking Time

There's a lot of speculation on what are actually ranking factors. This leads to confusion and the spread of misinformation in SEO land.

Here are some confirmed factors that influence ranking.

1. Search Intent Answered or Content Relevance

The first link that a searcher sees on Google should, in theory, have all the information they're looking for and effectively end their search.

That's because Google has placed certain pages high up on the SERP that it categorizes as most relevant to the searcher's search intent.

The first link in a search should answer search intent
The first link in a search should answer search intent

There are four buckets of search intent:

  1. Informational. Searchers are looking for specific information and answers to questions.
  2. Navigational. Searchers are looking for a specific branded website.
  3. Commercial. Searchers are researching products for future buying decisions.
  4. Transactional. Searchers are looking to buy something.

2. Positive User Experience

Google uses metrics such as Core Web Vitals and page loading speed to compare the user experience of different domains and find the best websites to rank. 

You want users to be able to seamlessly navigate your pages to get to the information they need.

3. Technical SEO, or Clean Site Structure

A clean site structure makes it easier for your site visitors (and Google) to navigate your pages.

Here are some of the many rules you need to check for to technically optimize your pages:

  1. The title shouldn't be cut off in the SERP.
  2. Images need alt text.
  3. Images need proper file names.
  4. You shouldn't have more than one H1.
  5. You need at least two or three internal links.
  6. You need least one high domain authority external link per content page.
  7. No broken links.
  8. Create skimmable structure with bolding and lists.
  9. Use your keyword naturally in the introduction to make it clear what this article answers.
  10. Use your keyword naturally in the conclusion to make it clear what this article answers.
  11. No keyword stuffing.

4. Backlinks

Backlinks are a vote of confidence for a site's relevance and quality. When another site links to your content, Google sees that other site as trusting you.

The more signals you get from other domains, the more Google sees you as a trusted authority.

5. Strong Topical Authority

Topical authority is a measure of a site's expertise on a specific subject or topic area. From Google's perspective, each website is an authoritative source of information on a select few topics. If your topical authority score for a topic is high, all your pages around that topic are more likely to rank well.

Think about a company like NerdWallet, a personal finance company. They write a lot of content around credit since they are experts on the matter. Google now affiliates NerdWallet with searches like "credit cards" and "credit calculator."

NerdWallet is a trusted topical authority on credit cards
NerdWallet is a trusted topical authority on credit cards

If another site without topical authority writes a post about credit management, and NerdWallet publishes an equally good post, NerdWallet is far more likely to rank.

6. Content Quality, or EEAT Compliance

If you're in SEO, you may have heard of EEAT, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

It's a set of guidelines your content needs to follow if you hope to rank higher.

  • Experience refers to how much first-hand experience the author of any content has with the subject matter.
  • Expertise refers to the level of knowledge and skill that you have in the field. It's better to take medical advice from a physician than a freelance writer.
  • Authoritativeness refers to the level of recognition you've earned in your field or industry. For example, you wouldn't get SEO advice from a travel blog.
  • Trustworthiness refers to the level of reliability that you have established with your audience. Is the site a sketchy anonymous forum or a prominent and widely cited resource?

9 Steps to Speeding Up Your Google Ranking Time

Getting to Google's top ten spots comes down to how well you follow SEO best practices and how well you answer your searchers' search intent.

Here's an actioonable list of steps to follow to getting your content ranking, faster.

1. Target Long-Tail, Low-Competition Keywords

Unless you're a big site yourself, there's no point going after high-competition keywords.

Sites that rank for them have high topical authority, thousands of backlinks, and high domain authority. (Domain authority is not a Google ranking factor, but rather an estimation started by Moz of how well your site performs in searches versus other sites.)

You need to target more specific long-tail keywords that you actually stand a chance of ranking for — and ones that can move the needle for your business.

For example, instead of going for a broad, high-competition keyword like "sales tools", target "sales tools for startups" or something similar. That way, you're not competing against sales tool giants like Gong or Zendesk.

Use a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to find these keywords — better yet, talk to your customers in sales calls to find more accurate ones.

Targeting a low-competition keyword in Semrush
Targeting a low-competition keyword in Semrush

Remember: Keyword research tools offer estimates. You can go after low or zero-volume keywords and generate two orders of magnitude more clicks than estimated.

For example, Census targeted this keyword with a blog post titled "How to Fix SQL Compilation Error: Missing Column Specification."

A hyper-specific keyword entry that doesn
A hyper-specific keyword entry that doesn't have search volume

Semrush shows 0 people searching for it every month, but Census got 3,700 clicks on it.‎

Census drives a far better result than the SEMrush tool predicted
Census drives a far better result than the SEMrush tool predicted

2. Understand and Answer Search Intent

Once you know the keywords you want to target, you need to figure out how best to answer the searcher's intent.

Here's how you figure out search intent manually:

  1. Put your targeted keyword into Google.
  2. Go through the top pages to see what they're talking about.
  3. Determine whether the search is informational, navigational, commercial or transactional by taking note of modifiers.
    1. Example: "How to" searches are informational. "Login page" is navigational. "Best X software" is commercial. Any search that features the word "buy" is transactional.
  4. Take note of the dominant format. Are the top results mostly lists or video content? You want to use the same format to stay competitive.
  5. Look for a Featured Snippet to figure out how to write an even better one.

Letterdrop has a dedicated Search Intent feature to provide you with the information you need to best answer search intent.

It also gives you the stage of the buyer journey and conversion likelihood depending on your company offerings.

Automatic search intent analysis Letterdrop
Automatic search intent analysis

3. Target Complete Topic Coverage

If you want to rank for a topic, you have to make sure you're giving prospects all the information they could possibly need to answer their query.

Here's how to do that manually:

  1. Read through the top pages on the SERP for your keyword
  2. Understand what these pages have answered for searchers. Think about how you can answer the same questions better.
  3. Figure out what they're not covering so that you can close information gaps and optimize for information gain
  4. Incorporate any FAQs or People Also Ask (PAA) answers in your content

This is a lot of work, though — you can make sure you get all of this information (including suggestions for new angles to take) using the Letterdrop "What to cover?" feature as part of its on-page SEO tooling.

You can also auto-generate unique sections into your content.

Automatic suggestions for complete topic coverage (existing and new angles)
Automatic suggestions for complete topic coverage (existing and new angles)

4. Optimize for Technical SEO and Core Web Vitals

Technical SEO

To try and identify and fix all possible on-page technical SEO issues manually adds hours to your workflow.

Letterdrop has a tool that runs your content through over 60 SEO rules and can auto-fix most of them for you.

  • It can naturally insert your keyword in a sentence to the intro and conclusion as a suggestion with AI.
  • It can auto-generate a TL;DR for you with AI to make it easier for readers to skim.
  • It can auto-generate FAQs with AI to answer People Also Ask Questions.
  • It can auto-generate answers to the Featured Snippet if available and insert a section for you with AI.

Core Web Vitals

Google's PageSpeed Insights is an excellent tool to help you optimize your Core Web Vitals.

Here are some other ways you can improve them to likewise improve your rankings:

1. If you're comfortable with code, use Preconnect Commands to Speed Up Font and Image Load Times. Custom font and images have quite the impact on loading times since your site has to retrieve files. Instead of adjusting them manually, you can use the following code:

<link rel="preconnect" href="https://assets.website-files.com/" />
<link rel="preconnect" href="https://global-assets.website-files.com" />
<link rel="preconnect" href="https://fonts.googleapis.com" />
<link rel="preconnect" href="https://fonts.gstatic.com" />

2. Optimize Your CSS, JS, and HTML by minifying them in your website settings. Site-builders like Webflow let you do this. This means removing unnecessary characters from the source code to dramatically increase loading speeds.

Minifying code for page speed in Webflow

‎‎3. Monitor Any Third-Party Scripts. Limiting third-party scripts down to what you need will allow you to get the important things loaded first and speed up general loading time.Limit the number of third-party scripts to what you need.

  • Consider delaying, deferring, or loading scripts asynchronously for faster loading times.
  • Selectively load different scripts for mobile and desktop users.

4. Manage your Image Files. Images are often the largest files on a page and have long load times.

5. Set Attribute ‎Dimensions to Your Images and Videos.

  • If you don't set dimensions for images and video, the user's browser will have to wait until it loads the image before it can render the page, which may cause sudden jumps or shifts.

Here's a code example of how to set specific dimensions for your images:

<img src="http://letterdropimagecodesample.com" width="120" height="100" alt="image alt text">

5. Build Your Internal Links

We've already touched on the importance of internal linking for your site — here are best practices for internal linking:

  1. Include 3-5 internal links per blog post. Including too many can come across as spammy.
  2. Use relevant anchor text when hyperlinking, including keywords of the target page instead of generic phrases.
  3. Direct readers from high-traffic pages to high-conversion pages, guiding users through the conversion funnel (only where relevant of course).
  4. Regularly check existing blog posts for broken links before publishing your page, ensuring that all links are functional and lead users to the intended destinations.

You can create a spreadsheet to track your links across all pages, but it does get difficult once you've published even a few dozen pages.

Letterdrop can:

  • Suggest relevant internal links per blog post, which you can add in one click.

Letterdrop suggests and automates internal links per blog post
Letterdrop suggests and automates internal links per blog post

  • Suggest and publish internal links in bulk across your pages.

6. Build Backlinks the Right Way

Buying backlinks and other shady backlink practices will get you penalized by Google's Link Spam update. The only way to earn backlinks is through legitimate channels, like:

  • PR efforts
  • Co-marketing with other businesses
  • Asking for guest posts
  • Writing for reputable sites like Medium
  • Answering questions with sites like HelpAB2BWriter and HARO

HelpaB2BWriter is a legitimate way to earn backlinks
HelpaB2BWriter is a legitimate way to earn backlinks

In addition to writing pieces, you can take part in interviews, podcasts, and webinars or interviews for other businesses you work with. You'll often get a backlink in return.

7. Build Content Pillars

In order to improve your topical authority, you need to build content around topics relating to your company's core offerings and products. This is done through building content pillars.

Content pillars allow Google to affiliate your company as an authority on the topic(s), reduce bounce rate, and encourage backlinks from other sites.

Here's how to build a content pillar:

1. Understand Your Audience:

  • Conduct sales calls or use social media analytics tools to gather data on your target audience.
  • Identify age, gender, online preferences, location, industries, job titles, education level, and socio-economic status.
  • Utilize tools like Letterdrop to automate data extraction from sales calls.

2. Create a Content Calendar:

  • Plan content at least a month in advance to maintain consistency.
  • Sync your content calendar with your workflow using tools like Letterdrop.
  • Consider special dates, allocate posting days for different types of content, and include clear calls-to-action (CTAs).

3. Repurpose Content:

  • Focus on repurposing existing content to save time and effort.
  • Transform articles into newsletters, videos, infographics, and social media snippets.
  • Always incorporate a clear CTA when sharing repurposed content.

4. Internal Linking:

  • Link your main pillar content to sub-posts to enhance visibility to search engine crawlers.
  • Ensure a strategic network of internal links between pillar pages and related content.
  • Optimize linking to improve search engine rankings and user navigation.

8. Optimize for EEAT

Optimizing for "Experience" in EEAT

  • Share your first-hand experiences on the topic.
  • Show evidence of your experience, such as credentials in your bio, screenshots, and more.

Optimizing for "Expertise" in EEAT

  • Differentiate your content by suggesting new points of view.
  • Regularly audit your content to keep up with the latest information and for any changes in search intent.

Optimizing for "Authority" in EEAT

  • Use unique first-party data like graphics, studies, quotes, and videos in your content. This helps you optimize for information gain and Google's Perspectives, too.
  • Interview experts and use that data in content. This helps you optimize for information gain and Google's Perspectives, too.
  • Comarket with brand-name authors and experts, such as asking them to write guest posts for your site.
  • Cite credible websites and sources.
  • Credit other authors and creators on graphics and other assets that aren't yours.

Optimizing for "Trustworthiness" in EEAT

Trustworthiness refers to the level of reliability that you have established with your audience. Is the site a sketchy anonymous forum or a prominent and widely cited resource?

  • Include your credentials and experience in your author bio.
  • Only link out to reputable websites and sources.
  • Structure your pages with clear headings and make it easy for users to navigate to the right answers.
  • Put the most important information and assets at the top of the page.

9. Regularly Refresh Your Content for SEO

Sprucing up existing content for SEO can drive more traffic, and it costs a lot less than pushing new content campaigns. You want to refresh your existing content regularly. It's often the highest ROI activity and can jump you up the rankings faster.

How to Do Content Refresh Monitoring Manually

You can use tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics to find and fix pages that need an SEO refresh:

1 . Check Google Analytics (Reports -> Engagement -> Pages and Screens) to find pages that previously brought in traffic but have declined.

Solution: See if ranking has dropped or if general interest in the topic has declined.

2. Use Google Search Console (Search Results -> Pages) to identify pages that rank low for their target keyword but rank for unrelated keywords.

Solution: Consider splitting the page into multiple more targeted pages.

3. Use Google Analytics (Reports -> Engagement -> Pages and Screens) to find pages with high engagement rates but low views.

Solution: You need to make sure you're distributing enough to the right channels.

4. Use Google Search Console (Search Results -> Queries) to identify pages that are close to ranking in the top positions but need a final push.

5. Perform a Google search using the syntax "site:yoursite.com (topic)" to identify any instances of keyword cannibalization where multiple pages compete for the same keyword.

Solution: Think about combining very similar pages.

Monitoring content with GA4 and Google Search Console can take a day or two of effort every month. Letterdrop cuts it down to minutes.

Its Content Refresh Monitoring Dashboard can alert you to pages that:

  • are almost ranking
  • need to be split
  • are facing keyword cannibalization
  • have low traffic despite high engagement
  • are declining
  • need to be distributed again
  • have opportunities for People Also Ask sections

Automatic content refresh monitoring Letterdrop
Automatic content refresh monitoring Letterdrop

10. Promote Your Content Elsewhere

While not an SEO ranking factor in itself, a proper distribution strategy can get more qualified eyeballs on your content and make you more visible in search results.

  1. Push insights from your SEO content to social media. For example, LinkedIn is a goldmine for B2B prospects and an excellent push channel. You can repurpose blogs into quick insights, carousels, and shareable video snippets
  2. Share insights and content links in your newsletter. These are great for re-engaging lost leads and bringing more attention to your SEO posts
  3. Run ads against content ‎to push content to prospects and lower your CAC

Follow SEO Best Practices To Rank Immediately

It's impossible to say exactly how fast a piece of content will rank without knowing all the factors at play for an individual site.

To get ranking quicker in Google, it's essential that you follow SEO best practices, target keywords that you're actually capable of ranking for, and build a reliable hub of content for specific topics.

Applying this approach consistently is the only way of climbing the rankings.

We can help you implement SEO best practices in half the time with our automation tooling. Read our blog for more information on SEO best practices or feel free to reach out to us.

Ready to automate SEO best practices?

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