Every website owner knows that getting a top rank in Google doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. So exactly how long does it take to rank on the coveted first page on Google? I’ve got some numbers for you!

According to a cool little study carried out by Ahrefs, there are several factors that determine the average time it takes for websites to rank on Google.

The first variable in the Ahrefs study was the age of top-ranking websites. After the Ahrefs team took 2 million random keywords and pulled data on the top 10 ranking pages for each word, they determined that the average top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old, while those that rank at #1 are almost 3 years old on average.

The study then looked at what percentage of pages at each ranking position were less than 1 year old, and it turned out that the SERP is clearly dominated by “old” pages. In fact, only 22% of pages that currently rank in the top 10 were created within a year.

In the end, the study found that:

95% of new pages don’t reach the first page of Google the same year it’s published.

I have a bit of a man-crush on the little guy over at Neil Patel, and he performed a similar study and discovered some remarkable conclusions, like:

Larger and more established websites tend to rank faster than newer sites. This means a site like BusinessInsider or Forbes with incredible “Domain Authority” will generally find its content ranked before one of our blogs – but of course, exceptions can (and do) apply. Think of this as a snowball. The larger and more authoritative your site becomes, the better its chances of ranking on Google, and those ranks effectively get reinvested back into your blog’s domain authority and help it rank for your next article, and the next.

Give it time. It generally takes several months (at least six) to even have a chance at getting the top ranking in Google. Resist the temptation to quit after a couple of months if your stuff isn’t ranking well yet. It takes time…for all of us.

Google likes freshness. In general, Google would rather link to a newer and fresher piece of content rather than one that’s year old – though, if the older version is “better”, freshness tends NOT to trump higher quality content in my experience. Take a look at Moz.com for an insightful look at Google’s freshness wizardry.

In summary, Google looks at:

  • The published date of an article
  • Update frequency of the article (how often)
  • The importance of changes (core content is better)
  • Increase in backlinks from external pages
  • The frequency of newer posts (how often new posts are published)

Strike within two months of the publish date. According to Patel, you’ve got slightly less than two months (1.8 to be exact) to maximize your link building for newer posts. After about two months, the “freshness” factor begins to fade a bit. Whenever possible, strive to get as many backlinks to your newer content immediately after publishing your awesome stuff.

It’s infographic time

Check out this comprehensive infographic from The Website Group that summarizes the findings from the Ahrefs study in a pretty and colorful infographic.

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