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How long it takes for SEO to work is not an exact science. Why? None of the search engines, especially Google, provide precise details on how their search algorithms work.

However, we do know three factors that do have an impact on how long it takes for SEO to work:

  • Competition
  • Backlinks
  • Content

1). Competition

The move of so many physicians being employed by healthcare systems rather than being in private practice has resulted in less competition for physicians who want to build their own website and personal brand. Instead of competing with a large number of practices in a local market, most physicians now just have to compete online with one or two hospital sites.

From an SEO standpoint, you can begin ranking much faster if you’re competing against fewer websites.

This is why there’s a greater opportunity now than ever for physicians in most US markets, even ones employed by healthcare systems gain market share through online marketing.

2). Backlinks

Inbound links from other websites (backlinks) still play a significant role in SEO. However, it’s important to know that not all inbound links are positive.

You do want links back to your website from other sites, especially local ones. This sends a message to Google that your content is relevant and helpful to people in your local market, thus improving your SEO results.

SEMRush and other tools can help you identify and request these links easily.

3). Content

I’ve said it many times before, content is king. You need to be producing relevant, helpful content on a consistent basis to rank for multiple keyword searches and attract new patients.

Creating and sticking to a consistent content publishing schedule is the best way I’ve found to ensure this gets done.

For most physicians, publishing new content weekly or bi-weekly is a good schedule that will lead to positive results.


In the end, understanding these three areas and committing to consistently creating content will help shorten the time it takes for SEO. However, whether you’re doing everything yourself or working with a professional, keep in mind that how long SEO takes is not an exact science, so maintain realistic expectations.

SEO success is the result of consistent, quality effort over time.