How Long Does It Take For A Backlink To Work?

How long does a backlink take to work?

How Long Does It Take For A Backlink To Work?

As any good SEO knows, link building is a very important part for any SEO marketing campaign. For anyone who spends money on SEO, there will forever be that all-important question: “how long will it be before I start seeing results?”

In this blog, we will be researching and trying to answer that famous question for link building. Exactly how long should people expect to wait before seeing an impact from backlinks and why does it take this long?

Read our blog as our team of SEO experts in Warrington answer these questions!

Firstly, It Needs To Be Crawled

The first step for a backlink to impact your SERP is waiting for it to be crawled so Google actually knows the backlink exists. This step is all about the quality of the site your backlink is coming from, and what kind of page the backlink is posted on. For example, if your backlink is on the homepage of a website it should be crawled relatively fast. In comparison, a backlink on an old blog post without any internal links will probably take a lot longer to be crawled.

Then, It Needs To Be Indexed

Once the backlink has been crawled, we now need to wait for the page to be indexed. Just because it has been crawled and Google knows the backlink & page exists is not enough for it to be weighted. If your backlink is from a low quality page with duplicate content, Google isn’t going to index it. If Google doesn’t want to index the page, why would your backlink have a positive affect? 

Technically, unless you have access to the website’s Google Search Console, there isn’t a 100% correct method of knowing whether a page is indexed.

The most reliable tool you can use is the Google Cache. This allows you to see when the last time GoogleBot crawled the URL. Google only keeps caches of its indexed pages (if a page isn’t good enough to be in the SERPs, why would Google bother to keep a copy of it in their cache?) You can view Google’s cached version of any URL with cachedview.com.

Another method to check whether a page is indexed is to search Google with the “site:” query, using the exact URL of the page. If the search results come up empty, then it is very likely that the page is not indexed. However, according to John Mueller, the “site:” query isn’t always a reliable method for finding all the pages belonging to a single domain, which is why I prefer to use the Google Cache method instead.

Now The Waiting Begins!

So your backlink has been posted, Google has crawled the URL, and the URL has passed all quality checks to finally be indexed. Now the waiting actually begins!

So to actually answer the question: “how long does it take to for a backlink to work?” Well, it depends. 

Firstly, we need to recognise that not all backlinks are equal. A backlink from a homepage is going to be more powerful than a backlink on a new blog post. But that might not be true if the homepage link is nofollow… and then you have to consider the anchor text… and what about the relevancy of the surrounding content?

The only thing we know for sure is a backlink will never give immediate results, even if we don’t count how long it takes to be crawled or indexed. In fact, according to a Moz case study, it takes around 10 weeks (average) for a backlink to start impacting the SERPs. 

In Blue Whale Media’s own results, we have seen powerful backlinks that ended up taking around 14 weeks before showing any lasting results. 

And to wrap it up, all of these findings are concurrent with Google’s patent for applying rank transition functions. In this patent, we can see that Google does not immediately change a webpage’s ranking to their new calculated ranking. Instead, Google will slowly transition the page from one rank to another. According to the patent, this transition can be anywhere from a few days up to a few months!

So to conclude, whilst link building is very important for SEO – the massive majority of businesses are not going to see a lot of quick results. On average, it’ll take around 3 months before links will make an impact on the search results.

This is unfortunate as we all know how results-focused many clients are, but it is important to educate people about the longevity of SEO before they start spending money on something they do not understand or have unrealistic expectations on.

If you would like to learn more about link building for SEO, you can read our latest guide on link building in 2022.