How Long Does It Take to Learn SEO and Start Seeing Results?

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How long does it take to learn SEO? 

It really depends on how well you want to know the ins and outs of optimization. I like to divide it into the three phases I’ll discuss below. After that, I’ll talk about how to go faster and keep track of your progress.

The Learning Process: Phases and Timeframes

These are the three learning phases that I find accurately distinguish the different levels that most learners target.

Initial Learning Phase

The initial learning phase is about grasping the basic concepts of SEO. This includes keyword research with a tool like Google Keyword Planner, on-page optimization, technical SEO, content strategy, and link building. This phase takes about one month on average, but can depend on your learning style and the time you dedicate. For example:

     – A fast learner with 4-8 hours a week can get a good understanding of the SEO basics in 2 weeks. This means actively studying solid resources and potentially supplementing with short online courses.

     – An average learner dedicating 2-4 hours a week will usually spend 1-2 months on the basics. After this, they should be able to apply the core principles of SEO.

Other Factors

Learning style and experience can also influence the time it takes to learn SEO.

Think about what you prefer, like reading versus watching videos or getting hands-on practice. If you can choose learning resources that fit your style, you can accelerate your learning.

If you have a background in web development or some experience with content creation, you might learn SEO concepts faster. This usually means you can handle more complex material.

In any case, if you start with free resources, you’ll get a feel for what you like best. Then you can choose the right mode of learning when you’re ready to dive into the serious learning. 

Free Resources Suggestions:

– Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO

– Search Engine Journal’s Learn SEO: A Blueprint From Beginner To Advanced 

– Google’s SEO Starter Guide 

– Yoast SEO Blog

– Search Engine Land SEO Library

– Ahrefs Blog

A notebook with writing in it.

Intermediate Learning and Application

The intermediate phase of SEO learning is about taking the foundational knowledge you got and applying it strategically. This phase means going beyond basic tactics into practical implementation, analysis, and refinement. 

Practical Applications

You’ll want to prepare to move into conducting thorough SEO audits of websites at this stage. Learn the practicals of identifying technical issues, crawl errors, on-page optimization gaps, and content optimization opportunities. You’ll use tools like Google Search Console and Screaming Frog to help you.

This stage involves learning how to develop data-driven content strategies that target relevant keywords and user intent. You’ll get into different content types, content creation best practices, and content promotion strategies.

Building backlinks is a crucial aspect of SEO that you can start dissecting at this stage. Advanced link-building techniques will come into play, like broken link building and outreach strategies. 

You’ll also want to practice more technical SEO, like optimizing website speed, fixing crawl errors, and implementing structured data.

Deeper into Core Concepts

At this point, you already know basic keyword research. Now, you’ll dive into analyzing search intent, identifying long-tail keywords, and leveraging competitor research. This will refine your keyword strategy.

Your on-page optimization skills will also deepen here with understanding user experience (UX) signals and technical considerations for on-page elements. You’ll learn how to optimize internal linking structures, too. 

Looking at SEO data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you’ll begin to analyze it more effectively. You’ll be able to use key metrics like organic traffic, rankings, bounce rate, and user behavior to measure SEO success. You will also be able to identify areas for improvement.

how long does it take to learn SEO

Advanced Expertise Development

Reaching advanced expertise in SEO means going beyond applying tactics. An expert is a strategic thinker who can understand and ride the waves of search engine algorithms and user behavior. Here are some markers of advanced SEO experts in key areas:

Search Algorithm

  1. Have a deep understanding of how search engines like Google work 
  2. Familiar with ranking factors, user behavior signals, and the latest algorithm updates.
  3. Develop and implement long-term SEO plans for ranking success that lasts.

Keyword Research

  1. Use advanced techniques and sophisticated tools to find highly relevant keywords with strong search intent and commercial value. 
  2. Find hidden keyword opportunities that competitors might miss.

Technical SEO 

  1. Do thorough audits, fix complicated website architecture problems, implement schema markup for rich search results.
  2. Stay ahead of the curve on technical SEO best practices.

Content and Link Building

  1. Build out comprehensive content plans using various formats designed to be informative and naturally attract high-quality backlinks. 
  2. Execute advanced link-building campaigns that earn quality backlinks from authoritative websites.

Data Analysis and Reporting 

  1. Easily analyze a ton of SEO data from various tools to identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement. 
  2. Translate complex data into clear and concise reports that highlight the impact of SEO efforts and support recommended future strategies.
  3. Use SEO knowledge and data analysis skills to spot potential SEO trends to proactively adapt strategies for long-term success – even though the SEO landscape is constantly evolving.

All that being said, remember that you are an SEO expert only as far as you can keep up. SEO experts are lifelong learners who actively look for new knowledge and updates. Most experts are also thought leaders who contribute to the field by sharing their knowledge and insights. 

Practical Steps to Accelerate Learning

People with notebooks and a laptop sitting around a table.


You need hands-on practice in SEO more than most other fields. Theory is not enough to really understand and internalize SEO concepts. Only doing SEO can help you grasp challenges and nuances.

With real-world application, you can see how different SEO elements work together to improve a website’s ranking and organic traffic. This is also how you get to develop and refine a variety of SEO skills.

Trial and error is a better teacher than textbook scenarios, which rarely reflect what happens with actual websites. 

Hands-on experience builds confidence in your SEO abilities and also a portfolio of real projects. Showing the positive impact you’ve had on website SEO is valuable when you want to attract opportunities.


Mentorship gives you guidance from a seasoned SEO expert who can answer specific questions. A mentor can direct you and help you avoid common pitfalls from the start. This can save you a lot of time and frustration. 

Mentorship helps you focus on the most important aspects of SEO and prioritize your learning based on your goals. A mentor can also help you stay motivated on the challenging SEO journey.

Wrapping It Up

Three people pointing at a laptop screen.

When you’re asking how long does it take to learn SEO, you’ll want to understand the process in stages. You might be tempted to become an expert before going professional, but you don’t have to wait that long. If you’re a few steps ahead of a client, you can begin to help them.

How Long Does It Take to Learn SEO: Your Burning Questions Answered


Can I learn SEO on my own, or should I attend formal classes?

Many resources available online can help you learn SEO. The best ones are updated  regularly, too, since SEO is an ever-evolving field that means you need to stay up-to-date. 

I recommend you start with free online resources like blogs from SEO experts to get a handle on the basics. Then you can start using free SEO tools like keyword researchers, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics. 

Tools can help you learn the practicals and understand your website’s strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t have a website, think about building one so you can experiment with SEO techniques.

If you want to move on to higher learning, enroll in formal classes and consider getting certified. 

How much time should I dedicate weekly to learn SEO effectively?

If you’re a complete beginner, set aside more time initially to learn SEO. If you have some SEO experience, you can do well with a few hours a week. 

Think about your learning pace, too. If you like to take things slow, factor that into the time you have. 

Be honest with yourself and think about your goals. You will need eight hours a week or more if you want to become an expert. If you are aiming for a basic understanding of SEO, it’s not going to take much time. 

Whatever you decide, remember that consistency is key. An hour a day consistently is better than eight hours one week, then nothing for the next month. 

Two people shaking hands over a table.

How do I know when I’m proficient enough in SEO to take on clients?

Once you have a solid understanding of fundamental SEO concepts, you can actually already take on clients. These will be basic projects, but you can still help. 

Most people don’t know much about proper keyword research or technical SEO. Many business owners think content strategy and link building is writing any old thing and stuffing links into it. If you know more than that, you have value to share.

I must remind you, though, to stay updated on all the recent algorithm updates and how they impact SEO strategies. This will help you conduct effective SEO audits and create plans.

Other than that, you can level up your services when you get more practice in:

  1. Understanding and interpreting SEO data and communicating findings effectively.
  2. Clearly explaining complex SEO concepts to other people in a way they understand and feel comfortable with.
  3. Successfully improving the SEO performance of a personal website or blog or projects you’ve completed for others. 
  4. Setting realistic expectations about SEO timelines and results.
  5. Troubleshooting and adapting SEO strategies based on results and changing algorithms.


Want me to run SEO for you? 
Apply to work with me & my SEO team. I’ll research your SEO then reach out with next steps. 

Do you want to
better SEO?

Grab my 50+ SEO & marketing strategies to drive more traffic, leads, & sales to your business.

About Connor Gillivan

In the past 10 years, I’ve started 7 businesses & built two to $10M+ in annual revenue, teams of 30+ & an exit in 2019. Today, I run SEO & growth for my 4 B2B companies while teaching millions how to make SEO simple.

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