How Long Does It Take for a Page to Rank on Google? (An Ahrefs study)

How Long Does It Take for a Page to Rank on Google? (An Ahrefs study) pixelwork

How Long Does It Take for a Page to Rank on Google? (An Ahrefs study)

If you are offering SEO services to your clients, I assume that every new client, without exception, will ask you this question:

“How long will it take for my website to rank at the top of Google?”

The common answer to this question is obviously “It depends”, because there are too many variables to consider: website strength, competition, budget, skills, etc.

But our friends at Ahrefs decided to look at the petabytes of historical ranking data they have and come up with an answer that's a little more quantifiable, a little more concrete than simply, “It depends.” Below is his report:


How old are the pages that have high ranking?

To start, we have identified the age of the current high-ranking pages.

We took 2 million random keywords and extracted data from the top 10 rankings pages for each of them. Which resulted in this beautiful graph:


NOTE: . “Age” is calculated from the date Ahrefs crawlers first viewed the page. But since we crawl the web, the actual age of the page should be very close, if not identical, to our records.

As can be deduced from this graph, the average Top10 ranking page is 2+ years. AND those in position #1 are almost 3 years old (on average).

In fact, only 22% of the pages currently in the Top 10 were created within a year:


So the next thing we wanted to know is what percentage of pages in each ranking position were less than 1 year old:


This doesn't look very promising, does it? The SERP is clearly dominated by “old” pages.


How long does it take for a page to rank on Google?

To answer this question, we randomly selected 2 million pages that were first viewed by Ahrefs crawler a year ago.

We then track the position history of each page for any keywords it ranked for.

Which resulted in this graph:


Only 5.7% of all pages studied ranked in the Top10 search results in one year for at least one keyword.

Website pages with a high Domain Rating (DR) performed much better than those with a low DR. Which shouldn't be a surprise, because Ahrefs' Domain Rating metric (which shows the strength of a website's backlink profile) correlates with Google rankings.

Below, we analyze these “lucky” 5.7% to see how quickly they made it to the Top 10 from nowhere.

Most achieved this in approximately 61 to 182 days.


Looking at this graph, you might think that on average it takes 2-6 months for a page to rank in Google's Top10.

But that conclusion is not valid, in as much as These data only represent 5.7% of the pages that were lucky enough to rank in the Top10 within a year, while almost 95% of all the pages we studied did not reach the Top10 Inside within this time frame.

Only 5.7% of all newly published pages will reach the Google Top 10 within a year.

We also re-calculate the numbers based on the monthly search volume of the keywords:


Only 0.3% of pages ranked in the Top10 for a high-volume keyword in less than a year.

And here are the dynamics of these “lucky” 5.7% pages, broken down by the search volume of the keyword they ranked for:


Clearly, you can rank for low-volume keywords in a very short time, while high-volume ones take almost a year to break into the Top10.

But again, don't forget that this data only applies to the 5.7% of the “lucky” pages that occupy the Top10 within a year. The vast majority of pages don't work that well.


What does this all mean?

Did our study give a definitive answer to “How long does it take for a page to rank on Google?”


But at least we have shown that almost 95% of newly published pages do not reach the Top10 within a year.

And most of the “lucky” ones, who do manage to get there, do so in about 2-6 months.

You shouldn't actually be framing these pages as “lucky,” because the reason they made it to the Top10 in less than a year is more likely due to hard work and great SEO knowledge, not luck.

So here is the answer “It depends on hard work and dedication!”