We at Webplanners, an SEO Company in Melbourne work on various SEO client projects, and the first and the most common question a client asks us is "how long will it take for my keywords to rank?" And, being in this space you know there is no definite answer to it. There are way too many variables involved such as; website strength, keyword competition, etc. that affect search engine results. It is very difficult to understand how the Google algorithm works. And it is even more difficult to determine what process will make your rankings better and quicker.
You must have some basics in place before you aim to rank for any random keyword. Once you have laid a solid foundation, the other things will automatically fall in place.
Following are the basic factors that can determine your website rankings:
Website age: The domain age plays an important role here. For Google, the older the website is the more credible it is. Similarly, a new website is considered less credible. According to an Ahrefs study, they found out that "the average Top10 ranking pages were 2+ years old. And those that rank at position #1 were almost 3 years old (on average). In fact, only 22% of pages that currently rank in the Top10 were created within 1 year". In the same study, it was also stated that the SERP is clearly dominated by "old" pages.
Website Quality: If you want to see your website on the first page of Google for a given target keyword or a set of target keywords, make sure you stay away from "BLACK HAT SEO" or any other unethical SEO practice. Black hat SEO is a cheat technique to dodge Google algorithm. No doubt, you may see some good results initially but it will harm you in the long run. Once you lose the reputation, consider it lost forever.
Backlinks: Consider backlinks (from good websites) as upvotes for a website. Higher the number of votes to your site, the higher your chances are of ranking in top search results. Backlinks are of two types; high quality (coming in from reputed & good websites) and low quality. These low-quality links are spam or paid links that aren't earned but bought in order to artificially increase the number of links pointing to any site. To be in top search results your website needs to have a number of natural links pointing to your site. The Google algorithm can clearly make out the difference between a low-quality backlink and a natural backlink.
The other factors that determine how soon your rankings can improve are;
a. Pageviews: A pageview is counted as a visit to a page on your website. A high number of pageviews on a particular page indicate its importance. Higher the number of page views, the higher the ranking is.
b. Website Traffic: Your website traffic is the total number of people visiting your website from any channel: organic (coming in from SERPs), Social (coming in from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), referral (coming in from backlinks) or direct. More the traffic, the better the ranking.
c. Bounce rate: The bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors leaving your website after a single page visit. A high bounce rate means more and more people are leaving your website after a single visit and it's not good for your ranking. Search engines like Google take a website's bounce rate into consideration when ranking, so a site with a low bounce rate has a higher chance of ranking faster in SERPs.
d. Time spent on the website: The time a visitor spends on your site also determines the quality of your site. A high amount of "time-spent-on-page" indicates positive engagement and this result in faster ranking.
e. Unique Visits: Unique visits to your website or a webpage measures the visitors coming in from unique IP addresses. A higher number of unique visitors to your website indicate its popularity and therefore it deserves a higher ranking.
While there is no recipe or a definite guideline to ensure quick & better ranking, but producing high-quality content and following the ethical SEO techniques can improve your chances of better rankings. Let your content mature so that search engines and users take notice.