Having worked with many local contractors across the United States, and although not every contractor is the same, there is one question that unites them all “how long will it take to see results with local SEO?” or “when will I see results with SEO?”
And this is the answer that nobody wants to hear, but it’s the answer that needs to be said: it depends.
But if you’re only here for rough estimates, try this:
If you’re competing in an area with roughly 100,000 to 250,000 people and have a budget of $800-1,000/mo, it isn’t uncommon to see increased rankings within 90 days and an increase in phone call volume within 6 months.
However, you should not take this as your standard and hold your agency accountable to this figure all the time because WAY too many factors affect the timeline, so much so that even experienced agencies have difficulty answering this question to prospects.
So today, we’re going to resolve that issue once and for all.
Setting the Stage for Our Timeline
Before we continue, let’s get a few things out of the way:
- We are ONLY talking about local Search Engine Optimization, NOT national SEO
- Results are defined as increased rankings in relevant phrases that have a high likelihood of converting to a phone call.
- We are talking about Google Maps and Organic Search traffic
- You have an appropriate budget of between $800/mo and $1,500/mo.
- You are looking to not only drive traffic to your site but have that traffic convert to actual leads
Now that we’ve cleared the basics, it’s time to answer this big question of how long it will take to see actual results from your SEO campaign.
Your budget will determine how fast or slow you move
The more money you put in, the more you can receive in return. It’s that simple. If you spend $200, you’re going to get $200 results. If you spend $1,000, you’re going to get $1,000 results.
Here’s a common situation for most local businesses:
You own a plumbing company and want to appear on the first page for “plumber near me” and let’s suppose you’re in a city of roughly 0.5 million people.
The first problem you may notice is that the biggest competitor in your area may have 100 pages while your site only has 10. While correlation doesn’t mean causation, especially in SEO, if multiple first-page sites have around 100 pages to their name, it’s likely that Google is favoring them over you partially because they have more volume/bulk on their site.
So your goal is now to create 90 pages (location pages, service pages, blogs, etc.). If you’re hiring an SEO agency, you might receive 5-10 pages a month on average for $850/mo. Let’s suppose you receive the full 10 pages every month. It will take roughly 9 months until we can expect to see similar results. Now, if we up the budget to $997/mo and you start to receive 15 pages a month, you will have a better shot of ranking alongside your competition in about 6 months.
This will greatly depend on your agency and its policy. At JCSURGE, we might create 12 one month and 3 the next month depending on the agreement, rate of indexation, etc.
This is just one example of how budget plays into the timeline. Other items that a budget might affect are the following:
- Number of backlinks that can be acquired
- Number of press release distributions
- Number of Social Media and Google My Business posts
- The length of individual articles and pages
In summary, the more you’re able to invest, the faster this process will be for your business.
How does competition affect the length of an SEO campaign?
Competition, meaning how competitive your industry-related phrases are, will be a huge factor in determining how long it will take to rank. It will also give you a good idea of how much you can expect to pay for SEO.
If there are hundreds of contractors in your area, and you’re competing with all of them for the same phrase like “plumber near me” or “HVAC near me” then it’s going to be very hard to rank on the first page. So if the terrain is rugged, it’ll either take more resources (money) to get through or more time.
In cities with a population of less than 500,000, you can expect to see increased rankings within 90 days. If you service a population more than 500,000, expect the process to take between 90-120 days until you see forward keyword momentum.
You can ask your SEO expert what your competition is like or type in Google phrases related to the industry like repair and service terms to get an idea as to who is already ranking. You probably will find that the people advertising on TV, radio, and billboards are often going to be the ones spending money on online marketing, although this doesn’t always mean they know how to utilize the digital space to its full potential!
When Will I Get More Phone Calls?
This is a very tricky question to answer. So please, take this with a grain of salt.
We’ve noticed an increase in phone calls for home service contractors usually occurs after 3 months of working with us and our SEO strategy. However, the noticeable spike will usually occur in months 4-6. But this is by NO MEANS what you should hold any agency accountable for. There are too many variables to give you a definitive answer. It can take up to a year in some cases to notice more phone calls.
Phone calls from Google My Business
The above image indicates the calls made directly from a prospect clicking the “call” button on the Google My Business listing. This is important to note since there are many people who will physically dial the number or visit the website and then dial the number.
You can guesstimate that the number of phone calls, as a result of Google Maps SEO and optimizing your listing, will be roughly 3 times the amount listed on the “Calls” section in your Google My Business dashboard.
How Long Will it Take to Rank My New Website on Google?
A new website will struggle a lot in the first few months to generate traffic and rank on Google. This is because new websites don’t have the authority to rank high. There is also a common belief in the SEO community that new websites are stuck in what’s called a “sandbox period” in which websites cannot rank high within the first 30 days or so. Whether this is true or not is hard to say.
However, if you have a brand new site, you can expect to add an additional 30 days to your process simply because a new site needs to be built, and it takes time, even if you manually index each page, to appear for any search phrases.
Less content means more effort is needed
When you have a new website, you don’t have much content. So when people ask “how long will it take to rank my brand new website?” the best answer we can give is, “it depends on how much content you’re ready to put out.” This is because a website that doesn’t have much content won’t have much relevancy in the area or industry, so it’s hard for Google to understand what you’re trying to rank for and why.
We typically recommend publishing an article a week when you first register your site. If you’re lucky and put in the effort, you can start to see high rankings and increased traffic within the first 90 days of your website launch, assuming you do everything right and have external links (backlinks) pointing to your website.
SEO is a long process. It’s not something that sprouts overnight. Increasing your visibility and then reaping the rewards from that is a form of art, and each business is different. If you’re trying to rank locally for highly competitive phrases and are butting heads with the guy down the street who spends $10k/mo on advertising, it’s going to take much longer than trying to rank for low-hanging fruit or in areas where the competition is less.
We can, with some level of confidence, say that you can see increased rankings and an increase in search traffic within the first 90 days in most scenarios, assuming you’re hiring a skilled SEO expert. Although you may want to extend this period to 120 days if you’re new to SEO and or have more competition or a smaller budget.
- What Determines the Price of Local SEO? Learn How to Keep Costs DOWN
- SEO Terminology Basics
- The First 7 Steps to an Explosive SEO Campaign
Contact JCSURGE to get a timeline
If you’re looking to get a more accurate timeline for your SEO campaign, consider reaching out to us at JCSURGE. We’ll provide your contracting business with a complimentary video audit going over your company’s site and comparing it with your competitors.
Give us a call at (917) 747-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!