Whenever I start a new link building campaign, the first question everyone is asking me is this one:
“How long it takes for links to take effect?”
If don’t know, you should. I didn’t know either until I decided to find out and in this article I’ll explain my findings to you.
In fact, backlinks can give Google authority signals and improve your positioning, generating more search traffic.
Fun fact: the number of linking pages (even from the same domain) might impact rankings. It’s not just the number of linking domains, but also the number of pages from the same domain that can have an impact, quicker and faster.
It’s important to know how long it takes for backlinks to impact our SEO campaigns because of a few reasons:
- It allows us to forecast our SEO results
- It helps managing clients’ expectations
So let’s analyse what factors influence the time it take for linking domains to work, to be able to calculate the SEO value in advance.
When does it take a few days? When a few weeks and in which cases a few months?
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
How long does it take for backlinks to kick in?
My answer is based on ranking more than 150 websites in a variety of niches in the last 10 years.
On average it can take from 7 days to up to 2 months for backlinks to start working. For example, my newly acquired HubSpot backlink took just 7 days to come to effect.
Also, Forbes.com linked to one of my posts on Thursday 24th of November 2022 and I am monitoring how long it take for that backlink to take effect. It might be a few days, or a few months because the Forbes backlink is a nofollow type, which may influence its efficacy.
SEO impact of backlinks depends on a variety of factors.
What do I mean by that?
This means that the average time for backlinks to work can quickly improve if you build a large number of linking domains in a short period of time AND you also optimise for other SEO factors.
Or it can take a longer time if you build links slowly and don’t optimise your website.
So, like everything in SEO, it depends on the situations. There isn’t an answer that is the same for every website.
Let’s examine each scenario.
- A new website without domain authority, history of search traffic or SEO foundation – this, my friends, is the worst scenario when link building takes the longest to work. If your website is brand new with 10 pages or so, you can even add 100 links a week and you still will see no traffic for months to come.
- The same goes for a brand new page, or blog post, on a relatively new website receiving many links every week. If your domain doesn’t have links but your page does have some, then you still need to wait a very long time to see the effects. I am talking about months of waiting.
- The same goes if your website is not optimised for other ranking factors (content, keywords, tech SEO, semantics, etc…). If you build many links quickly but your website foundations are not in place, you won’t see any results from link building.
- An existing website with a good domain authority and some traffic – this is when you have a website for 12 or 24 months of life and it happens to have gained a few backlinks in that period of time. Chances are you won’t see much of a change in your rankings.
- However, it can happen that for the least competitive keywords, a few great backlinks can speed up your ranking in a 4-6 weeks.
- A large website with lots of traffic – this is the best scenario you can possibly be in. Your new links will work instantly within 2-3 days and your traffic will increase.
- I know this for a fact because I recently added a huge link from Hubspot.com to futurefit.co.uk, a domain online since 2007.
- The domain already has an authority of 47/100, over 2,500 linking domains and receives over 100,000 visits a month from search. I added the HubSpot link to the home page with an anchor text of “personal trainer” and see what happened. After less than a week, the keyword jumped 24 positions on Google.
- This is not a small keyword either, it has 22,000 searches a month (according to Semrush) and it’s extremely competitive. But because Future Fit Training’s website is already very authoritative, it takes less than a week to see 1 good backlink taking effect.
10 factors impacting the time backlinks take to work
1. Link velocity
This refers to speed at which you create your backlinks. Some SEOs speculate that there is an exact number of links you should build, before Google spots you as spam link builder and then penalises your site.
But I don’t believe it’s the case. There is no set number of backlinks you should build and no limit.
How do I know?
Because with a Digital PR campaign you can reach 120 backlinks in a month to a single blog post. Digital PR is a very high speed link building practice.
Does implementing these types of campaigns negatively affect SEO? Of course not. It actually helps a lot.
In fact, my article on the “ROI of guest posting” with 120 linking domain acquired in a month has been constantly ranking #1 on Google, since 2019.
2. Indexing your site
Indexing your site means that all of your website pages are available to search engines. These pages are not blocked and can be crawled and indexed. They’ll be then shown on search engine results.
3. Crawling time
This refers to how much time it takes for Google to crawl your entire website. Also known as “crawl rate”, it refers to the amount of requests per second Googlebot can make to your site.
This speed depends on your server’s bandwidth and popularity of your URLs. Pages that are more popular take the least to be crawled, whereas new pages might take longer.
4. Domain Authority
Domain Authority is a metric invented at Moz.com, an SEO tool, to determine how strong is the correlation between your website linking profile and your rankings.
In other words, the more backlinks you receive, the easier it is to rank for your target keywords and your Domain Authority reflects that trend.
It’s measured with a scale from 1 to 100 and the higher the number, the higher your chances to rank better.
Also other SEO tools have this type of metric:
- SEMRush calls it Authority Score
- If you use Ahrefs is called Domain Rating
- For SERanking is Domain Trust
5. Page Authority
Similarly to Domain Authority, the same metric applies to a page from 1 to 100. Given that Google ranks pages, not websites, it makes sense to have a high page authority and your backlink efforts can be faster to work.
6. Type of link
Follow vs nofollow links are the two types of links.
Dofollows links are those that bring the link juice from a website to another one. In other words, dofollow links are a strong signal to Google that a link should be counted in the algorithm for ranking.
Nofollow links are, instead, those that don’t count for ranking.
👉 Also read: how to get backlinks from Forbes, without outreach
7. Anchor text
This is the text attached to a link. Instead of having your link as www.example.com, your anchor text is “Example”.
Google itself said the anchor text provides more accurate description of the topic better than the page itself.
If your anchor text describes a topic very clearly, this means your backlinks can be faster at taking effect.
8. Keyword difficulty
Some keywords are easier to rank for, while others are extremely difficult. All of the SEO tools provide you with this keyword difficulty metric and you can clearly see it in your keywords research reports.
If a keyword is marked as “Easy”, it probably will take you 5-10 to rank it higher from your backlinks campaigns.
If it’s marked as “Medium” or “High”, then it’ll take you a few weeks or 30-40 days in average. It also depends, as we have seen before, on optimising other factors of course.
9. Topic & link relevance
It’s not a secret that topics are very important in SEO right now.
When it comes to link building, do what makes more sense to you. Would you rather have 10 backlinks from relevant sites in the same niche? Or 100 links from irrelevant sites?
Well, I would prefer 10 links from relevant sites.
Because search engines can better understand the meaning of the linked page. If you have, for example, a link from a real estate website to your real estate agency, it’s easier to choose a coherent anchor text and contextual description of your link. This is what makes it also easier for search engines to understand that meaning.
10. Link position in the page
Even John Mueller said it in an interview from Google Hangout:
“[…] This is the area of the page where you have your primary content, the content that this page is actually about, not the menu, the sidebar, the footer, the header… Then that is something that we do take into account and we do try to use those links.“
In other words, you are able to place your links on the top of the hosting website, this means Google will take it into higher consideration compared to the link at the bottom.
In turn, your link will be counted quicker and you’ll see taking it effect also much quicker.
Follow these tips to make your backlinks work faster and better
You can actually influence the speed at which your backlinks affect your rankings. There is some level of control which is great news!
But most business owners and SEO pros don’t know which factors influence the speed, so in this article I listed what it worked for me. I would encourage you to start testing these factors that you can control, such as link position, link anchor text and other and monitor the results on your end.
But if you didn’t have to worry about this at all?
What if, instead, your link building campaign was done for you, including…
- A dedicated link builder outreaching relevant opportunities for your niche
- Link building guidelines
- Monthly link building reports
- Content management and campaign management