I know ‘it depends’ isn’t the answer you’re looking for, so we’ll be able to narrow down some realistic timeframes for different starting points, and varying circumstances as we cover the factors that affect how long it will take for your SEO campaign to begin producing rankings – and results. 

A Fundamental Truth About Search Engine Optimization

A high-level SEO campaign, executed by an experienced lawyer SEO expert, is absolutely the best investment any attorney can make in the growth of your legal practice, BUT… you need to be committed to the long-term vision of the successful firm you’re trying to build.

Because in the short-term (the first 6-12 months) you’re going to invest in the campaign without a lot to show for it in terms of increased revenue, or more new clients. Google makes it difficult to rank at the top of search results for a reason, several reasons actually.

Search engines are in the user experience business, and they give a lot weight to sites that were ranking the top spots before you decided to join in the fight. You’re the new kid on the block, and the algorithm doesn’t know if it can trust you to satisfy searchers needs yet.


However, once your SEO efforts have produced the rankings you set out to achieve, the ROI from all the phone calls and online leads coming in should make your lawyer SEO campaign extremely profitable.

Factors That Affect Timeframe For Results From SEO:

  1. level of competition
  2. age of website
  3. domain authority
  4. referring domains
  5. your practice area
  6. budget

2 Categories of Results From SEO

Next, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the types of results produced by an SEO campaign for any law firm:

Category 1: Your rankings begin to improve

Category 2: Your website starts generating more online leads


Best to view ‘results’ of any search engine optimization campaign in separate phases.


Phases of an SEO Campaign


  • Comprehensive SEO Audit

Phase I – Building A Solid Foundation

  • keyword research
  • website architecture
  • mobile friendly
  • on-page SEO
  • optimize title tags
  • optimize meta descriptions
  • optimize h tags
  • technical SEO
  • page load speed
  • mobile speed
  • fix crawl errors
  • xml sitemap
  • SSL security
  • schema markup
  • fixing crawl errors
  • address duplicate or missing image alt text – correcting crawl errors
  • correct any broken page re-directs


Phase II – Initial Movement In Search Results 

This phase is all about beginning to build your law firm’s trust, authority, and relevance with search engines.

All three of these attributes must be developed using a consistent approach over time.

Maps vs. Organic

  • building quality and complete content
  • building topical relevance
  • building geographical relevance
  • content optimization
  • navigation and inter-linking
  • outbound authority links
  • image optimization
  • optimizing for user experience

Phase III – Search Engine Rankings Trending In The Right Direction

You’ve invested the time, and put in the work to build trust, authority, and relevance for your website.

Unfortunately, Google isn’t going to give you credit for all the work you’ve done – at least not right away.

The boost you can get from on-page optimizations can show up fairly quickly, but it takes considerably more time for search engines to acknowledge your off-page and link-building efforts.

Popular SEO expert Neil Patel estimates that it takes anywhere from 3-6 months for backlinks to kick in, and start contributing juice to the SEO campaign for your website.

If search engines gave credit for backlinks right away, it would make it far too easy for people to manipulate the algorithm that determines search rankings. Google is in the user experience business, so it’s not I their best interest to make it easy for anyone to game their algorithm.

  • On-going content creation
  • On-going link building

Phase IV – Staying At The Top Means Continuing To Play Offense… And Defense

SEO is a zero-sum game.