Image of a wooden block with a red question mark on its side. This image illustrates the many questions clients have about SEO, including "how long does SEO take?"

How Long Does SEO Take?

So, you’ve discovered the magical place of SEO land. Perhaps you’ve been investigating this whole SEO thing for a while now and you’ve found Simplified. However, it makes sense that you have questions about the time, money, and energy investment that SEO requires. Today, we’ll discuss the time investment that you should prepare for in order to get your best return on investment.

First things first…

First of all, we want you to know that search engine optimization is an online marketing strategy. Now, this strategy in particular will take time.

SEO Takes Time

The simple truth is that SEO takes time. It takes time for you to figure out exactly what Google is looking for.  It takes time to work on the multitude of factors Google is considering when ranking your site. Then, it takes time for Google to recognize those changes you’ve made.  And the list goes on. The bottom line? No matter how much money you invest, SEO will take time.
Pro Tip: Some people choose to pay for Google Adwords when initially working on SEO. Now, from our side of things that makes it a bit muddier to see how well your SEO is working. BUT if you need to rank high overnight paying for Google Adwords may be the way to go.

We can’t predict exactly how long SEO will take

The specific amount of time varies from practice to practice, based on a few different factors. Therefore, beware of anyone who promises to get your website to the first page of Google in a month.
As a general rule of thumb, when clients begin working with us, we typically encourage them to have the mindset that it will take six months of intensive SEO work to get the best return on investment. Now, dependent on each individual practice, some websites need less time and some need more time. A few key factors we have noticed impact how long it takes us to get a website ranking well are how established the website is, the practice location, and specialty.

Age of Site

If all other factors are equal, an older website is likely to rank better on Google. This is for a few reasons.  First of all, a URL that has been around for a while has already shown Google that it’s steady. It’s reliable.  That URL isn’t going to change owners every other week.  So, Google will naturally trust an older URL a little more.  Additionally, an older URL is more likely to naturally have some backlinks already built up which are a HUGE help for SEO.  Lastly, if you have done previous SEO work on your site, it’s likely that you’ll get results more quickly than otherwise.

LocationImage of a laptop with a map pulled up. This image is representative of the importance of considering location in an SEO timeline.

Getting the SEO rankings that you’re hoping for will be more difficult and time-intensive if your business is located in a highly-populated area or an area where people, in general, are prioritizing digital marketing. I’m looking at you, business owners in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami! So, you may not see your site ranking on the first or second page until about months three or four with us. But, for private practice owners in smaller areas, you may see your site getting first page results within months one or two.
If you’re in a smaller geographic area, there are fewer options for Google to rank to choose over your site. Likewise, if you’re in a major city, there are plenty of options for Google to rank above your website. Therefore, a private practice in rural Illinois may be able to get to the top of Google much faster than a private practice in London or the San Francisco Bay area even if everything else about their website is pretty similar.  Regardless, keep in mind that you’re investing intensive resources temporarily into your site to get the results you want.  Then, you can back off from SEO and monitor your data to ensure you’re still staying relevant on Google.


Again, Google has to trust that you have expertise and authority on a topic. Now, if your private practice specializes in something very niche, it’s likely that you’ll naturally rank higher than other businesses. This is because when people search “therapy in Minneapolis,” they’ll get a ton of search results. But, if they search “eating disorder therapy in Minneapolis” only those sites that Google sees as experts will rank. And, if those are specialist sites you’ll likely have multiple pages on your site (this is where blogging comes in) that really communicate to Google that YOU are an authority on this topic.  This allows niche sites to rank higher. So, Google leaves out the same sites that may rank for a shorter keyword like “therapy in Minneapolis.”

When our SEO Specialists first start working with you, we want to know what makes your practice unique. We ask this, of course, to get to know you and the heart behind your business. Secondly, we want to make sure we use every opportunity available to show Google that your site and business have something unique to offer. In turn, getting you the results you want.

SEO Long Game

Image of a business person moving their finger along an upward moving line. This image depicts the goals of SEO in terms of what SEO timeline to prepare for.Even though search engine optimization is a time-intensive marketing strategy, know that it doesn’t take forever! You will definitely be spending resources during the first few months of SEO work. But, the time, money, and energy you spend at the beginning of your SEO-intensive period will pay off for years to come.
Over the past few years of working on private practices’s websites, we have consistently found that six months is the sweet spot. However, some sites are able to get ranking a little faster and occasionally we need a few extra months of that intense work.  But this period of intensive work doesn’t last forever. After enough groundwork has been laid and you’ve earned Google’s trust, you’ll be able to relax a bit.

Building Your EAT Score

Remember how I said, “Google essentially has a mind of its own?” Well, in order for Google’s “mind” to rank your site well, you need to build your expertise, authority, and trust factors. Likewise, just as if Google were a person, it takes time for it to make gains in these areas. So, by doing just two or three months of SEO work on your site, there is a high chance that Google will notice the work and rank you well for that time. However, there is a chance that Google will then discredit you if you stop. The reasoning for this is that Google wants to see your site-building credibility over time, not just stopping once it gives you the results you want.

So, while you may get that instant gratification of ranking in the first one to three months of working with us, it’s unlikely that you’ll stay at the top of Google without completing six months of optimization. Google wants to be able to crawl your site and find everything it needs to know that you are an expert that it can trust to rank well. You can read more about EAT scores in our blog post about Google’s algorithm update in December 2020.

Service Pages and Blog Posts

A concern we often hear from smaller private practice owners is that they don’t provide enough services to complete our full timeline. For example, if you are a private practice owner who has just recently added clinicians to your team, you may only have three to five specialty pages. But, where you can continue to get a huge return for SEO when you don’t have many service pages is blogging. Yes, the ever-feared writing portion of your site.

Your SEO Specialist will recommend that once you have optimized each of your service pages, you begin optimizing blog posts. Our team recommends you have at least one cornerstone blog post for each of your service pages. Now… what’s a cornerstone blog post? You can read more about blog post length here, but for now, just know that they are hefty blog posts with roughly 2,000 words each. These long blogs show Google that yes, you have a service page, but you also really care about providing quality information, too. This helps website viewers and Google really understand that you’re an expert. Essentially, it shows Google that it can trust to show your site to searchers.

How do I know when it’s time to switch to an Alumni Package?

Image of a wooden block with a red question mark on its side. This image illustrates the many questions clients have about SEO, including "how long does SEO take?"

After we have worked through service pages and have optimized blog posts accordingly, we want to know if you are getting results. The whole goal of SEO is yes, to get you ranking well on Google. But, it is more so about getting clients in your doors and continually coming to appointments. And, not just any clients, but the right clients. The clients that you and your team are excited to work with. So, how do you know if it’s time to switch to one of our alumni packages instead of doing consistent SEO-intensive work?

Ask yourself…

  • Do you feel confident that the number of phone calls you’re getting will help you fill and grow your practice?
  • Are you getting the right calls? More specifically, calls the convert to the clients that your clinicians are excited to work with?
  • Is your website ranking well on Google? Meaning, are there a variety of keywords that your site is showing up for on the first or second page of Google?
  • Have you had all of your key service pages and a handful of cornerstone blog posts optimized?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then it may be time to switch from consistently optimizing to an alumni package. You can find more information about our alumni services in this blog post written by our Alumni Services Coordinator.

Alumni Tools

The vast majority of our clients “graduate” from comprehensive SEO services after about 6 months and enroll in our smallest alumni package, the Alumni Tools package. The truth is that while you don’t have to actively work on your SEO forever, there are things you need to do to maintain your SEO.

Our Alumni Tools allows you to continue monitoring your SEO & continue to access our staff for support. While there will not be changes made to your site, it’s important to be able to monitor its metrics to ensure correct functioning. We want to see that the rankings maintain and potentially even grow a bit as an alum. Earlier, I referenced Google’s EAT score. Once you have done consistent SEO work on your site for six months and move to our alumni tools package, we anticipate that you will gradually gain rankings. This is because Google has gained trust with your site, and as it continues to recognize you as an expert on the subject, it will continue to build trust.

We don’t want you to invest your time, money, and energy in SEO forever. Our team believes that search engine optimization is a time-intensive project for about six months. But, after you’ve weathered that storm, you will reap the benefits of the work for years to come.

Begin Your SEO Journey with Simplified SEO Consulting

We understand that beginning SEO work on your website can be incredibly intimidating. So, we want to be transparent with you that yes, this will take time, money, and energy. However, the results you can see for years to come will be so worth it. Follow the steps below to start getting your site ranking on Google.

  1. Make an appointment for a free 30-minute consultation with our Client Success Specialist.
  2. Learn more about our process and our SEO Specialists.
  3. Get ranking and get the calls you’ve been waiting for!

Other Services at Simplified

Here at Simplified, we are passionate about helping therapists get connected with the clients they can make a difference with. We make that happen by working on private practice websites and helping Google see how awesome they really are! There are a variety of ways that you can begin working on your site’s SEO. If you’re the DIY type, you can teach yourself with the help of our DIY Online SEO Courses or Done With You services. Likewise, if this whole thing feels like too much, our SEO Specialists would be happy to take the lead using our Done For You services. We hope that you’ve found our blogs to be helpful. In addition, we hope that you reach out if you have any further questions about search engine optimization.

About the Author

Olivia Bahr is one of Simplified’s Mental Health SEO Specialists. Olivia’s mental health education and experience are extensive. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Missouri in Spring 2020. And, she has experience working as a case manager with survivors of intimate partner violence. Further, Olivia will be working toward her Master of Social Work degree later this year. She enjoys helping private practice owners optimize their websites throughout each of Simplified’s stages. And, she especially likes writing blogs and writing about blogging.

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