How long does it take to rank in Google?
Now, I’m sure that you know that there is no fixed timeframe to rank. Sometimes it can take you a year to reach the top 10 and other times, you can get there the next day after publishing.
Since it’s so variable, we’re going to dig into the data, and then build out a simple SEO strategy to consistently rank your pages faster on Google than the rest of the web.
Now, the word “fast” is a relative term, so we need to define that word with some benchmarks. Based on our study of over 2 million random keywords, we found that the average top 10 ranking page is at least two years old.
And on average, those that ranked in position #1 are almost 3 years old. But there’s a glimmer of hope here for faster rankings.
22% of pages that currently rank in the top 10 were created within 1 year. So it appears that age of the page matters and based on this data, getting a top 10 ranking within one year is faster than average.
But we took this study one step further and analyzed 2 million random pages’ ranking histories over the period of one year from the time that Ahrefs‘ crawler first discovered the page.
Only 5.7% of all pages were able to get a top 10 ranking result in the first year for at least one keyword.
Now we discovered two very interesting things.
#1. Pages from websites with a high Domain Rating performed way better than those with a low DR. And Domain Rating represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile.
#2. Of the 5.7% of pages with a top 10 ranking, only 0.3% ranked in the top 10 for a high volume search term. Ranking for keyword terms with a lower search volume generally tends to be faster.
And low search volume keywords are usually lower competition.
So let’s dig into the 5.7% of pages that ranked in the top 10 in under a year.
Alright, so let’s make some practical applications from all of this beautiful data. We know two things that help a website rank faster.
First, we know that low search volume terms tend to gain visibility in the top 10 SERPs faster than head terms.
And low search volumes within a broad topic generally translates into low competition.
And second, we know that websites with a strong overall link profile consistently rank faster than those with weak ones, which is represented numerically by our Domain Rating score.
Now it’s important to note that Domain Rating is an Ahrefs metric so I wouldn’t focus so much on the score itself, but more on building quality links back to various pages across your website.
So let’s build an SEO strategy from these key points.
Assuming that we’re working with a website that does not have a strong backlink profile, we can start by creating content that’s within our wheelhouse, which again, will likely mean lower competition and lower search volume topics.
From there, we’re going to build links to these pages along with links to our home page, because we want to rank faster and build our website’s backlink profile as a whole while we’re at it.
Alright, so we have a strategy in place, so our first step is to find low competition topics with low to medium search volumes.
And the first way to do this is to generate keyword ideas with modifier keywords.
Now, modifier keywords are add-ons to a base keyword.
For example, let’s say that you sell wine, then you can go to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and type that in as your seed keyword.
And you can see from the Keyword Difficulty scores, that the competition is quite weak. We can further narrow this down by setting a maximum Keyword Difficulty score to, let’s say, 10.
Another way to find lower competition topics is to look at the Questions report, which you can access from the sidebar.
Next, I’ll set a maximum Keyword Difficulty to a low score like 5.
And here’s an interesting topic that you could write about. From here, we’re going to follow this 3 point assessment checklist to see if this is a worthwhile topic to cover.
First, we need to assess search intent, then traffic potential, and finally competition.
Now, all 3 checkpoints can be covered by analyzing the top 10 SERPs.
From the looks of it, all of the top ranking pages are blog posts.
So you’d probably want to stick with that format since Google is telling us what searchers want when they type in that query.
These pages generate a good amount of traffic and they’re ranking for hundreds of other keywords.
So this tells us that there are other long tail variations that this page is ranking for, which we could also rank for if we were to achieve a top result.
Now, I don’t want you to take this as, “I can create a piece of content and rank for it. The end”
I want you to look at this as an opportunity to rank relatively quick but to also acquire links in the process because we want to increase the strength of our website’s backlink profile so we can eventually compete for more competitive terms.
You don’t need to try every link building strategy to do this.
Instead, I recommend focusing on 1 to 3 strategies.
Fortunately, you’re here and I’ve got some very effective ones for you.
One of my favorites is guest blogging.
So first, you need to find websites to pitch. And you can do this by going to Google and typing in something like “guest post by,” and typing intitle:wine, or whatever your topic may be.
And you can see some highly relevant results here.
But if our goal is to get links from other quality websites, then we’ll need some kind of SEO metrics to make educated decisions.
So you can do this by using Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar.
The two metrics you’ll want to look at on each result are the Domain Rating and the Domain’s total search traffic, which you can see here.
And you’ll see that there are a few good sites worth pitching.
An easier way to do this is to search in Content Explorer.
Just enter in your topic and then I’ll set it as In Title search to find relevant results.
Next, I’ll use the “one article per domain” filter since we don’t need to pitch the same website twice.
And we now have around 90,000 unique websites that mention our topic in the title with all of the SEO metrics.
So I might pitch a guest post to this site with a post and link back to my article.
Now, if you’re new to guest blogging, you can set the maximum Domain Rating to something like 40, and as you gain experience and confidence, you can loosen up your filters a bit.
The next link building strategy is to use HARO.
HARO stands for “help a reporter out” which connects journalists with sources.
So after you’ve signed up for an account, you’ll get emails like this where journalists are looking for sources on a specific topic.
Just respond to them with a helpful answer and if they use your information, they’ll almost always link back to your site.
Now, it’s worth noting that they’ll mostly link back to your homepage, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
Most of these websites are quite powerful and as you acquire multiple links from multiple sources, it can have a big impact on your website’s link profile.
Best of all, all you need to do is respond to an email with your expert advice since they’re the ones looking for answers.
The next link building strategy is to steal the links from the top 10 ranking pages.
Looking at the SERP overview for the target keyword, you’ll see that none of the top ranking pages have that many unique linking domains.
But if you add up the backlinks from all 10 results and steal them, you can potentially get more links than any of these pages.
So what you need to do is open up the backlink profiles from all of these pages and then pick the best places to get links from because these are probably the ones that are moving the needle for your competitors.
So I’ll open out the backlink profile on this one to give you an example.
First, I’ll set the filter to “Group Similar,” which will weed out a lot of duplicate links like you’d see from a header or footer link.
Next, I’ll set the “link type” filter to “dofollow,” to see just the value-passing links.
And now you can sift through these results and reach out to other blogs to gain high-quality editorial links.
Now as you continue to rinse and repeat this strategy, you’ll be able to build up your website’s backlink profile and you should get two things from that:
#1. Slowly but surely, you should be able to start competing for higher search volume keywords as your backlink profile gets stronger.
#2. You should be able to rank faster for other low and medium competition topics.
So the next time that you publish content and you’re wondering why your page isn’t ranking after a couple of weeks, remember that more than 94% of newly published pages don’t reach the top 10 within a year.
And if you’re able to rank them in less than 6 months, know that you’re well ahead of the curve.