On a regular basis, I get asked the question, “how long will it take my website to get ranked?” Aside from the fact that we are always at the mercy of the Google Gods, I am going to explore this question to the best of my ability. When I originally sat down to write this post, I wanted to find the perfect analogy to explain the timing of SEO.  It finally struck me to correlate SEO to a real life experience of my own.

Lane George playing guitar

Before I worked at Cardinal, I was a professional musician. I started playing guitar at 15 years old and worked diligently to hone my skills over the next several years.  This musical journey, in some ways, can be related to the long road of building a successful SEO strategy.  Let’s explore this comparison in greater detail…. explore this question to the best of my ability.

The Guitar (aka Your Website)

Obviously, before you learn to play, you need a guitar.  That being said, you don’t necessarily need a brand new Gibson Les Paul, but you do need a guitar that plays, has strings, is in tune, and functions for the style you want to play. The same goes for SEO, you need to have a website with meta tags, descriptions, on-site content, and the proper functionality for conversion. You don’t need the perfect site from day one, but over time, you will get there!

Taylor Swift

Learning to Play Taylor Swift Songs (aka Link Building)

Now that you have a guitar that works, you need to learn to play it. So, where do you start? You can buy books, watch YouTube videos, or take lessons from a professional. From here, you are going to learn how to play the basic chords aka Taylor Swift songs. (Note: Taylor Swift songs are made up of the same 4-5 chords in almost every song, yet she is still an office favorite!)

It will take time to obtain the muscle memory required for success and continuous practice to perfect it.  The same concept applies to SEO. When link building starts, you have to consistently practice at getting better. You have to acquire enough links from other websites to gain traction in the eyes of the search engines.  However, for long-term success, it’s extremely important to develop a link building strategy based on quality versus quantity. Google aimed to destroy “black hat” SEO tactics with the release of Panda, Penguin, and most recently, Hummingbird.  Now, back to the musical/SEO journey…

At this point, your rankings have most likely improved from non-existent to the 4-6 positions. Although significant progress has been made, there is still more work to be done to achieve the #1 ranking, an improved click- through rate, and profitable ROI.

John Mayer

Becoming John Mayer (aka Becoming Top Ranked)

When I was learning to play guitar, I really idolized John Mayer. (Insert your joke about me liking John Mayer here_______.)

All joking aside, John Mayer is an exceptional guitarist and talented musician.  So, I began to practice my heart out until I could play all of his songs and more. This took me to another level of guitar playing and I eventually became good enough to perform at local venues. Again, the same concept applies for SEO. The practice of continuous link building and on-site content releases will eventually result in your SEO rankings reaching John Mayer status.  Most likely, this process has taken another 3 – 6 months and your website is now ranking in the top three positions on the search engine results page (SERPs).

Legen…wait for it..dary (aka SEO Domination)

Now, you are a great guitarist, but to become a legend like Jimmy Page, you must continue to practice.  This strategy will refine your skill set and keep you at the top of your game. Yet again, the same notion applies to SEO. At this point, your website is ranked in the top three positions on the SERPs, but you need to continue link building, guest blogging, and releasing quality content to ensure an SEO rise to the very top.