How Long Local SEO Takes: the Short Version

Like my post? Please share!

Some topics demand epic blog posts.  The question of how long it might take your business to see good results from a local SEO campaign is one of those topics.

If you’ve read my post on this from last October, you know that it took a few vials of cyber-ink for me and 10 of my fellow local-search junkies to get our opinions across.

But sometimes you just want a handy recap.  A project I was working on with Ken Fagan recently led me to whip together such CliffsNotes.

Wondering roughly how long it might take for your business to get visible in the Google+Local search results?  Print this out and clear your kids’ artwork off the fridge:

(click to enlarge)

Please note that although the above “cheat-sheet” largely reflects my fellow local SEOers’ opinions, it doesn’t speak for them: Rather, it’s a summary of my opinion, informed by theirs.

Oh, and be sure to read the Big Daddy post if you haven’t already.

Special thanks to David Deering of Touch Point Digital Marketing for spiffing up the cheat-sheet.  He kindly offered his eye for design to create a version that’s sexier than the version I originally threw together for this post.

Any questions?  Penny for your thoughts?  How about leaving a comment?


  1. Interesting, compart to SEO campaigns with a global or national target, local optimization seems to take far less time (in terms of months) to show results. Even so, deadlines are pretty dangerous lines to draw. Google works in unpredictable ways and sometimes the 4 months you guaranteed to a customer can stretch to a longer period of time..

    • Good points, Dorothea. But I’m not defining any “deadlines”; I’ve taken pains to point out that these are rough estimates. Of course one case can take longer than another. This is just to give business owners a basic idea of what to expect.

  2. Hi Phil,
    Enjoyed reading through the original post last year, so this is a tasty little bonus! Really useful information to use as a broad estimate with clients (both existing and potential). Managing client expectations is one of the toughest things I think we have to do and this chart just makes that process a whole lot easier. Many, many thanks for putting it together.

    • Thanks a bunch, Nick! The chart definitely begs a lot of questions about the particulars and “what ifs,” but at least it (I hope) takes care of a few questions potential/existing clients might have.

  3. Hey Phil. Thanks so much! This is a great share and follow up to your other post from last year (which I loved). Just yesterday, was referencing it on the comments section of David Mihm’s latest SEOMoz local seo article. The topic is a real point of interest for those in Local SEO. It really differs to organic as there are certain methods in organic of speeding up the process (pinging Google, Sitemaps etc) whereas with Local, we are waiting for the changes to settle into the Ecosystem. Obviously, with a new listing, it also needs to establish “trust” as well.

    Yeah, as I mentioned in your other blog post, this topic is quite important to me as I can play the “waiting game” and checking the rankings regularly. One positive to this though: I’ve personally found it to be the best feeling on the day when you see the results taking effect, and the hard work paying off!

    Hey, just like I did (said I’d do) with your “Local SEO Substituations”, I’ll stick this on the Fridge and I’m sure my girlfriend will understand.

    • Hey Nick,

      No problem! I did see your mention in the comments on David’s post the other day, so thanks for that.

      Good point about organic. That may be even more “all over the place” than local is, in terms of when to expect any sorts of results. I’ve found that it can also be much quicker to get organic results, in some cases.

      Given all the stuff I’ve produced that’s cluttering your fridge door, I may have to start turning these into little magnets 🙂

  4. One of the first sponsors I had, actually complained when she immediately had people calling for photos of her sales item, (a horse). She said, “I thought this would be like advertising in magazines, so my photos aren’t printed yet!” Thank you for clearly laying out a time line for everyone. This helps a great deal.

  5. Awesome. Thanks for the cheat sheet PDF, Phil. It’s definitely gonna go into my folder that I take to prospective clients. Seeing this in black and white will no doubt help some business owners see the urgency of getting started asap instead of waiting. Thanks, Phil.

    • Hey David, thanks for stopping by. Local SEO is definitely an area where the tortoise can beat the hare – and often does. It’s also best to start it before you need it urgently.

  6. Thanks for the PDF!
    It’ll sure come in handy when dealing with some clients.

  7. Nice pdf Phil. I would have to say from my experience (more limited than yours) these timelines are good ranges. It really does depend on where the site is at when you are asked to look at it as you state, that is obviously the main factor. (website state, address changes, prior optimization etc.)

    I also appreciate the link to the older post. I hadn’t read it before having only (fortunately) stumbled on your blog about a month ago. That post had some great insight from many of the stars of local search.

  8. Thanks, love this. Even though each situation should be treated on a case-by-case basis, this is a fantastic guide to help us set expectations with local search clients. I have a client who has ranked well organically for over 2 years now and have just moved locations. We need to change their business phone number unfortunately, so it will be interesting to see how their rankings fluctuate during this process – even with us taking all the necessary precautions and abiding by local SEO best practices etc. This timetable will really help me with setting the correct expectations with my client so thanks again!

    • You’re quite welcome, Dave. Thanks for the feedback. The length of time it sometimes takes to see results can be a hard pill to swallow, but all is well if everyone’s on the same page. I’m sure you’ve seen the longer, in-depth version of this.

  9. I just found an SEO Goldmine! I saw you were listed in Local Search Legends on the Whitespark website and visited here and I’m already learning great information. I’m getting ready to move my business location soon. I’m nervous about two things. First, I’ve lost some of my log-ins for some directories. I think I can fix my NAP. I’m more worried that the new place has multiple businesses that have already claimed locations at that address. There is NOT really suite numbers it’s just a row off separate offices in the same building each a different company. It’s office suites with no suite numbers. I’ve noticed Google doesn’t punish businesses the way they use to for having multiple businesses at the same location. Any thoughts or advice. Thanks…

    • Hey Chris. Sharing the same address with other businesses is fine, even without suite numbers. That’s a common situation. Google is used to it. As long as you’re not affiliated with them or the name of your business isn’t similar to theirs, you’ll be fine.


  1. How Long to get Local SEO Ranking Results? Answers Inside…

    “How long will it take before I’ll see ranking results???” Isn’t that always one of the big questions clients ask? Well now you have a quick and easy way to answer them and give them at least a genera……

  2. […] Totally depends on how competitive the local competition is for those search phrases.  It can take months and months. […]

  3. […] Job #1:  Understand how long a good local SEO effort can take to bring results, and work on growing other sources of […]

  4. […] yes, you’ll probably need to work at it.  But it also takes time.  In fact, I suggest you work on it a little more slowly than you might be tempted […]

  5. […] bigger question is: will you rank well locally?  As you probably know, it usually takes months.  It really just comes down to how many local competitors there are who offer what you offer.  If […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.