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How Long Does It Take To Rank in Google for a Startup?

Helga Moreno 0

It’s hardly possible today to be entirely focused on one occupation. I mean if you are a web designer and don’t optimize websites for search engines professionally, this does not mean that your clients won’t ask you questions like this:

How long will it take my beautiful brand new site rank on top of Google?

On the contrary, I’m sure they will, without any exceptions, so you should know what to answer.

I believe you have already guessed that the most common answer to this question is “It depends,” because there are too many variables that affect the result – website strength, competition, budget, skills, etc.

Please don’t get upset. We, at Ahrefs, have petabytes of historical ranking data and are ready to sift through them to give you a much more concrete answer.

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask “How old are you?”

If you are just starting up, I advise you to identify the age of the current top-ranking pages.

For instance, we, at Ahrefs, took 2 million random keywords and collected data on the Top10 ranking pages for each of them. Our efforts resulted in the graph you see below:

Average Ageof the page in Google Top 10 Results

In this graph, you can see that the average Top10 ranking page is 2+ years old. Ok, how old are those that rank at position #1? They are almost 3 years old on average.

If you look below, you’ll see that only 22% of pages that currently rank in the Top10 were created within 1 year.

Age of Pages, Ranking in Google Top 10 Results

I bet that the next thing you want to know is what percentage of pages at each ranking position were less than 1 year old. We have the graph for that either.

Pages Less Than 1 Year Old in Google Top 10 Results

If you are a startupper you don’t really like what you see. Older pages are dominating the search results.

How long does your startup need to rank in Google?

To tell you the truth, it was not so easy to answer this question. So, what did we do? We randomly selected 2 million pages first seen by Ahrefs crawler a year ago.

Then we tracked the position history of each page for any keyword it’s ranked for and displayed it in this graph:

Ranking Performance of Pages within 1 Year From First Seen

As you see, only 5.7% of all studied pages ranked in the Top10 search results within 1 year for at least 1 keyword.

Please note that pages from websites with a high Domain Rating performed much better than those with a low DR. This is not surprising because Ahrefs’ Domain Rating metric, which shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile correlates with Google rankings.

But we didn’t stop there and took a closer look at this 5.7% of pages. We wanted to see how quickly they got from zero to the Top10.

The majority of them achieved such results in nearly 61 to 182 days.

Days to Rank in Top 10 for 5.7 Lucky Pages

What are you thinking of when you look at this graph? That it takes a page from 2 to 6 months to rank in Google’s Top10. Am I right?


Nope. This doesn’t work here as the data represents only 5.7% of pages that were really lucky to rank in the Top10 within a year. The rest 95% of the studied pages didn’t make it to the Top10 within that time frame.

Here is the graph showing how we re-calculated the numbers based on monthly search volume of the keywords:

Ranking Performance of Pages within 1 Year From First Seen_2

What does this mean? That only 0.3% of pages ranked in the Top10 for a high-volume keyword in less than a year.

Would you like to see the dynamics of these 5.7% “lucky” pages broken down by search volume of the keyword that they ranked for? Here is another graph.

Days to Rank in Top 10 for 5.7 Lucky Pages_2

As the study shows, a startup can rank high on Google in a short time. But this is possible for low-volume keywords only. If you want to rank high for the high-volume ones, it will take your brand new website about a year to get into the Top10.

Do you still remember that this data is applicable to 5.7% of “lucky” pages that ranked in the Top10 within a year? Unfortunately, most of the pages don’t perform that good.

To conclude

I understand that you didn’t get an accurate answer to “how long does it take a new web page to rank” question.
Nevertheless, now you know that almost 95% of startup pages don’t get to the Top10 within a year.

Besides, there is a category of “lucky” websites that manage to get into the Top10 in about 2–6 months.

And you know what? This is not too fair from my side to label these pages as “lucky”. It’s a light-minded approach to rely on luck when you want to get into the Top10 in a few months. A startup must work hard and have strong knowledge of SEO to reach such amazing results.

Are you stronger in web/UI/UX design than in SEO? Check out these tips from SEO pro if you want to rank #1 in Google quicker.

The takeaway is – if you are ready for the hard work and dedication, your chances to get into the Top10 significantly increase.

P.S.: please let me know in the comments whether our survey clarified things for you or not and don’t forget to share this study with other designers so that they also knew what to answer when their clients ask “how long will it take my website to rank”.


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