How Long Will it Take for Your New Website to Rank in Google?

‘How long will it take for a new website to rank in Google?’ is a question I get asked a lot.

Sometimes at the point of sale related to new business ideas and entrepreneur conversations, at other times from existing customers branching out into new topic or solution areas of opportunity.

The answer to this question is one that most people end up not committing to, talking around the topic without answering it directly, or avoiding the topic completely.

More than a year?!

businessman upset about ranking progress

If you have decided that 2019 is the year to launch a new website or create a new product offering using a brand new domain, ranking in the higher impact areas of Google may take longer than you think.

In fact, many brand new domains could take 12-24 months prior to seeing high competitive, consistent rankings that impact the business bottom line, whilst another niche positioning website could be ranking well (‘well’ is based on progress made between expectations and business objectives for the new site) within a matter of weeks.

The real-world answer will always be specific to the:

  • Website
  • Brand
  • Competition levels
  • Industry/niche
  • Trust/authority/expertise
  • Scale of project
  • Technical health
  • SEO expertise/resource
  • Content quality/volume/frequency/targeting/type
  • More

In this article, I share the main factors influencing the success of a new website in Organic Search as is stands today, plus provide a few of the most important practical examples and tips for speeding up the process as much as you can.

If, at this stage, you are unsure of tracking Google Organic search ranking outside of the average ranks provided in Google Search Console (GSC), and snapshot rank checks using external tools (like SEMRush, Moz et al), or simply want to track ranks more granularly, there is a recent post on this site covering frequent rank checking, that I would suggest taking a look at.

Factors influencing time to rank (TTR)

TTR for any website is never a straightforward calculation, which in part is why the topic of time for Organic success is enveloped in ambiguities and vague statements, however, the factors that impact a sites ability to rank are very specific.

The impact of design, quality & scale of change

This is the fundamental holistic factor to consider.

These points impact moving a site to a new domain more than it would with starting from scratch on a new website and venture, and as a business, they form the primary initial consideration area for speeding up a new domain performance in Organic search.

I like to cite a Google Webmaster Central office hours hangout quote from John Mueller to support this, and you can see this below:

So usually these types of changes take time, it’s something where the algorithm has to kind of re-evaluate your whole website overall and a lot of low quality pages, they can play a role here. But sometimes there’s just so many other factors that come into play and that’s something that doesn’t just jump back up.

If you remove one part, you really have to think about what can I do across the whole website to make sure that it’s significantly better.

And that’s something that even if you make big changes with the design and the functionality, and you add new features and things, I would definitely expect that to take multiple months, maybe half a year, maybe longer for that to be reflected in search because it is something that really needs to be re-evaluated by the systems overall.

Initial crawling, indexation, and lower impact ranking is almost immediate

When working on a new domain and new venture, I would expect a new site to begin crawling and indexation almost immediately, with some level of targeted search query ranking to follow shortly afterward, in a few days and sometimes weeks, dependent on competition and other external factors that you can only influence as opposed to control directly.

When moving an established site to a new domain the consideration which you tend to focus on us how quickly you can initially regain lost visibility, traffic, rankings, and wider Organic metric performance against goals, then next, the time required to improve upon historical performance.

The added challenges this brings is the need to recrawl, re-evaluate, rank, update cached versions of pages, and see a site in its entirety ranking for the breadth of search queries (especially for larger sites).

Some top tips to expedite this initial crawl impact include:

  • Prioritization of crawl requests
  • Fresh content and value updates
  • Ease of access to all content
  • Navigation effectiveness, taxonomy, and efficiency
  • The simplicity of content discovery
  • Technical crawl/index (crawl budget, robots.txt. XML sitemaps, HTML sitemaps etc.)

You also need to make note that Google takes time to view content that is lower in the site hierarchy, or of perceived lower quality, so ensuring this is restricted to as fewer pages/sections/topics as possible is paramount.

Accounting for industry

An interesting nuance with new domain ranking is the industry.

For example, Vertical Leap, the company I work for, completed research on ranking factors in the travel sector, which listed the top five SEO ranking factors for travel brands (that are more important to travel as an industry – NOT in order of overall ranking action priority) as:

  1. Word Count (density and value)
  2. Overall Content Relevance
  3. Number of images
  4. Bullets per List (max.)
  5. Number of Internal Links

Other above-average ranking factors for the travel sector were:

  1. Content Relevance Central Area
  2. Presence of Unordered Lists
  3. URL Length
  4. Number of External Links
  5. Interactive Elements
  6. Presence of H1
  7. Presence of H2
  8. TLD

As you would expect common impact ranking factors also highlighted:

  • Bounce Rate
  • CTR
  • Number of.edu Backlinks
  • Number of Backlinks
  • Number of Domains Linked from the URL
  • Number of External Links from the URL
  • Number of No-Follow Backlinks
  • Time on Site

The top-level takeaways from this specific study are to:

  • Create long-form, comprehensive content
  • Use plenty of images
  • Use longer than average lists
  • Don’t fret too much over keywords
  • Make browsability a priority

Brand, location, trust & authority impact

I’ve combined these areas as they have in many cases a symbiotic relationship, as they interact and impact each other more often than existing in isolation and performing separately.

When migrating an existing site to a brand new one most of this (but never all, as some things are not possible to move, and others lose historical value or weightings associated to time) can be directly changed with updating; external referring URLs, GMB/Bing Places, profiles on content placement sites, and completing related updates.

The value derived once completed often returns fairly soon (weeks in many situations) but the ongoing effort and expertise are required for complete return to performance (or improvement) on rankings tied to these brand/location/trust topics and intent.

For a new site/venture entirely growing trust and authority is difficult to fast track by nature, needing lots of time, resources and ongoing commitment to make progress as effective and quick as possible.

Again, location, levels of competition, market awareness/interest, social PR, influence, budget, and items including the activeness of the brand/company, will also skew timeframes positively and negatively.

Older domains rank more prominently

This is a fact, and clearly a factor (age) that cannot be artificially impacted but can be supported by related tactics like; social PR, backlink building, brand awareness, the scale of content coverage and quality, plus others.

According to ahrefs research on this topic:

  • Fewer than 4% of page one rankings are less than a year old
  • Only 22% of pages that currently rank in the top 10 search results were created within 1 year
  • Only 5.7% of all pages within the study ranked in the top 10 search results within 1 year for at least 1 keyword

Examples of new domain progress

Here are two real-world examples of new domain launches over the same timeframe.

The first is launching a new site/service and company, the second is moving an existing domain.

New domain, and a new company

example new domain Organic progress

The key stages of this progress from zero to hundreds of monthly Organic visits fall into 5 areas (they overlap from point to point):

  1. Initial site design, launch, citation building, social profiles set up
  2. Technical updates, new sections launched including added company pages, authority building ongoing including backlinks
  3. New solutions/services pages identified and launched tied to key personas (ongoing content fill pages added and traditional SEO performance boost actions including CTR optimization and content refinement)
  4. Peak Organic performance levels achieved data-driven updates, ongoing fix/boost/fill methodology applied
  5. Seasonal (Dec) decline tied to industry, CRO focus, planning for next year

New domain, and an existing company migration

Here you can see changes between approach and main progress stages (four in this case).

example new domain Organic progress 2

  1. Site migration completed to new URL following SEO best practice and main focus tracking integrity and completeness, technical SEO including usability, and content
  2. Seasonal peak inflating progress, however, the launch date was assigned to maximize this yearly opportunity
  3. Ongoing seasonal change with the main focus on getting the full site content re-evaluated, understood, ranking, and contributing maximum value to goals (including technical updates, external signals, quality, social engagement and sharing, CTR, CRO, and associated areas)
  4. Positive trendline reflecting the mean progress being made outside of seasonal skewing factors. Year on Year performance against benchmarks being a key qualifying factor driving task prioritization including; impressions, traffic, goal completions, pages and more

Conclusion

The time it takes for a new domain and website to rank in Google is highly dependent on the unique circumstances of the situation (as you would expect).

There are, however, persistent factors which influence the time to rank (TTR) and these include the:

  • Website
  • Brand
  • Competition levels
  • Industry/niche
  • Trust/authority/expertise
  • Scale of project
  • Technical health
  • SEO expertise/resource
  • Content quality/volume/frequency/targeting/type
  • More

There are also proven tactics (examples provided) to speed up this process and these should be considered within the context of your own related digital projects.

Post from Lee Wilson