How Long Does It Take for Link Building to Work? (2023)

How long does it take to see results from link building?

This is a common question for people just entering the world of SEO.

Unfortunately, like so many related SEO queries it’s a question that there is no unanimously agreed answer to.

That’s a fancy way of saying, it depends.

Quite often you will hear the figure six to twelve months, but even that is the best guess. I have had clients who have seen extremely positive link-building results in the first month, but that’s not typical.

With that said, backlinks are an important factor in the world of SEO. They are fundamental to Google’s algorithm. So, you do need to take this topic very seriously.

How long it takes for you to get the results you need from a link-building campaign depends on a few things primarily.

  1. The overall level of competition in your industry.
  2. Expectations and KPIs.
  3. Strategy

We will briefly break down each of these now.

The Main 3 Factors


Everyone in SEO knows a bit about keyword difficulty and the likelihood of ranking. However, people who are new to SEO underestimate this all of the time.

So many new bloggers start their businesses in niches like personal finance. When they do, two things happen.

Best Case: They become really successful, but it takes a long time.

Worst Case: They spend a few months/years trying to grow their brand. But, they don’t have the level of authority needed to compete. Eventually, they quit and complain that SEO “doesn’t work”.

If your business operates in a competitive industry then you need to be prepared to:

  1. Wait longer to see results from link building
  2. Invest more resources into your link-building campaigns

What makes an industry competitive? The amount of money available.


That’s why ranking content in niches like finance, law, and dentistry can be really difficult. Businesses in these niches, fortunately, tend to have the resources needed to be competitive. However, it can still take 1-2 years to rank for ultra-competitive keywords e.g. “new york city attorney”.

In contrast, some niches are a lot less driven by money. For example, the pet care industry. The good news is that in less competitive niches like these, you may see results from link-building within the first 3 months. 

Pretty awesome, right?

Your Expectations and KPIs

This one may sound generic, but it’s really important.

The best answer to “how long does it take for link building to work?” is another question – what do you define as ‘worked’?

It’s important that you set your targets and goals in SEO. Ideally, there is no end goal… the sky’s the limit. Therefore, if you’re like us you will always feel like you haven’t reached your goals.

This is not a healthy attitude to have. Rewarding growth is crucial for your team morale.

Set yourself targets. Don’t know what? 

  • Improved rankings for a specific keyword
  • Improved traffic to a specific page
  • Increase in leads by x%
  • Increase in sales by y%
  • Z more Twitter followers

These are all examples of good targets that you can set yourself when measuring the results of your link-building efforts. Identifying the most important SEO KPIs to track isn’t difficult. 

Everyone has different goals though, so choose options that are unique to your business.

Some businesses make a big mistake, obsessing over traffic. As we often say, traffic is a vanity metric. By itself it’s nice, but ask yourself this…

Would you rather have 10k people a month reading your article explaining how a lawnmower worked, or 1k people a month reading your article about the best lawnmowers (where you can recommend your own and earn affiliate commissions).

Pretty easy choice right?

So while situation A has 10x more traffic, situation B will be generating far more income for your business – that is what matters.

Without trying to sound money grabbing… would you rather your business was seen as “influential” or had huge profit margins.

I thought so.

Strategy and Quality

Now, this should be obvious.

It goes without saying that the strategy you are using to build backlinks will drastically impact how long it takes to see results.


This tribute to George Orwell is my favorite way to explain how backlinks work in the eyes of Google. 

Some people really do think that all backlinks work the same, but hopefully, you already know that this is not the case…

The quality of a backlink depends on several factors: 

  1. The “authority” of the linking website.
  2. The relevance of the linking website.
  3. The link profile of the referring website
  4. Spam signals of the referring website
  5. The anchor text of the backlink
  6. The traffic of the referring page/website

As you can see there are many factors that determine the quality of the backlink and these six only scratches the surface.

So, to conclude. Yes, some backlinks are much “more equal” than others. Therefore, the first thing you need to do in your link-building strategy is to evaluate the quality of a website.

Why am I talking about the quality of backlinks so much? Well, because the strategy you use to build links will directly impact the quality of backlinks you build and the pace at which you see results.

For example, HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is the best service to use for building high-authority backlinks. However, guest posting and niche edits can help you get backlinks from the most niche-relevant sites. Additionally, the Skyscraper technique can be used to help you steal anchor-text optimized backlinks from your competitors, whereas PBN links should be avoided.

This is only a sample of the link-building methods that exist. There are in fact various different ways to build backlinks. Each of which has its own advantages and drawbacks.

The message is. Be selective about the strategy you use for link building. 

The right strategy will enable quick results, whereas using the “wrong” strategy will hold you back.

By working with us we will provide you with a completely free consultation and audit to plan out the perfect backlink acquisition strategy for you.

My top SEO tip for you. Always be on the lookout for link opportunities and if you get a good chance to earn a new backlink, take it. Alternatively, outsourcing link building presents a good opportunity to grow the authority of your website.

How Long To See Results From a Link-Building Strategy

We have already spoken about how there are no guaranteed timelines when it comes to link building, but, let’s be honest that’s an answer you didn’t want to hear.

So, we have gone a few steps further. We have gathered data as well as our own personal experiences building backlinks to give you more definitive timeframes for the major link-building techniques.


HARO is a massively underrated link-building technique.

It is perhaps the most time-efficient way to earn highly authoritative media backlinks. I have used HARO to earn backlinks to this website. Building backlinks like these from simply responding to journalists…

If you are confident speaking about your niche, you will earn backlinks like these… it’s inevitable.

Backlinks like these also offer you huge SEO benefits, but more importantly exceptional PR that helps you build expertise in the eyes of search engines.

In terms of how long it takes to see the effects of these backlinks, the answer is… not too long.

Building 2-3 backlinks from HARO every month consistently will help you see results. When I started this website, it had zero authority.

Creating lots of comprehensive content and building authoritative backlinks helped me to see results like this.

Not everyone will see results this quickly.

As we have already mentioned there are tons of factors. However, hopefully, these results help provide you with confidence that link-building can yield results quickly.

One new link from HARO has the potential to help you see big ranking improvements. Don’t underestimate this technique. These are super high-quality links!

The ranking signal sent to Google of one awesome link massively outweighs 100 low-quality links.
Quality over quantity always… but preferably both.

Guest Posts and Niche Edits

So, yes, HARO can be an incredible way to build backlinks for your website, regardless of experience.

However, it would be wrong to talk about link building without mentioning the main strategy used for backlink acquisition in the SEO world. 

Of course, we are talking about guest posting. 

One successful blogger, Adam Enfroy, relied heavily on guest blogging to build up the authority of his website. The results were exceptional.

In just a few years Adam started to attract over 500k monthly readers in a very competitive niche.

Just look at the data!

Similarly, niche edits (or link insertions) can be even more effective than guest posts. This is because link insertions are typically backlinks from pages already indexed and getting traffic from Google.

In other words, these pages are trusted!

You might be wondering how you can build these niche edit links… the simple answer is “broken link building” and Brian Dean’s “skyscraper technique”.

This article isn’t a deep dive into the particulars of these methods, but there are loads of good resources you can take advantage of to learn more. Ultimately, these methods are a great way to build contextual links and achieve higher rankings in search.

The bottom line though is that niche edits are extremely powerful backlinks. Typically, if you can acquire 3 or 4 of these backlinks every month you should make significant ranking improvements within as little as 3 months. Especially when you are building high domain authority backlinks from websites with tons of organic traffic.

Link Bait

So, the previous methods of link building we spoke about are also known as “active link building” techniques. However, link bait is much more of a “passive link-building method”.

Link bait doesn’t typically yield quick results, but over time, the results can have a whopping impact. It is also completely white hat, follows all of Google’s guidelines, and couldn’t possibly be construed as a link scheme.

Link bait can include things like statistics posts, ultimate guides, and useful tools like specialist calculators. The reason why link bait is so effective is that it is so hard to replicate… making them extremely linkable assets.

Link bait takes hours, days, or even weeks to produce. So, other website owners won’t even attempt to create their own versions. Instead, they will simply link back to you (the topical resource).

So, how long does it take for link bait to start having results?

Unfortunately, the answer is still that it depends. The main thing that it depends on is the way that you promote the content. Ultimately, no one is going to link to your content if they don’t know it exists (no matter how good it is). Therefore, in order for your link bait to start attracting backlinks you need to promote it ruthlessly.

You may get lucky and see your link bait go “viral”. In this case, you can expect tons of new backlinks that will start having a positive effect on rankings in as little as 10 days. However, your content promotion will either have to be exceptional or very lucky to see this level of success.

This is one of the best examples of a good linkbait campaign.


Oxford Royale conducted a piece of research into the royal family, ranking all the royals based on the ranking of the university they attended. The research for the above example was not overly complicated but as a result of the study and the distribution of the report Oxford Royale obtained hundreds of powerful backlinks.

Large media sites around the globe pounced on the story from the NY Post to The Guardian and CMM. Hence, Oxford Royale was able to gain a huge spike in backlinks. As a result, they were able to gain a lot of authority in the eyes of search engine algorithms.

As you can see, this strong backlink profile has allowed Oxford Royale to rank really well in organic search for some highly competitive target keywords.

This is the power and importance of backlinks in SEO.


Link building isn’t going to yield overnight results. Unfortunately, it is a continuous process that requires you to invest time and resources consistently. 

It is only when you stick to it and build backlinks on a regular basis that you will see significant shifts in search engine rankings.

The timeline for seeing link-building results really does depend on the competition in your industry. In some niches the level of competition is negligible and you can see impressive results after building links for as little as a month.

However, this is not common, and should not be your expectation. In most niches, there will be a hundred, or a thousand, other businesses trying to grow. This means that even if you build quality backlinks at scale you may not see rapid results (your competitors will also be building links).

Fortunately, by having a defined off-page SEO strategy that focuses on multiple channels for backlink acquisition you will be in a far better place than 99% of your competitors. Therefore, even in the most competitive niches, following a solid link-building strategy should allow you to notice real results in six to eighteen months.

Remember, valuable backlinks and great content is the foundation of ranking success. Technical SEO is important too, but as long as you get the basics right you will be fine!

Try not to focus too much on social media. Instead, keep writing informative blog posts and building a strong link profile. If you focus all your attention on SEO, you will get better results.


What is the minimum time required to get results from link building?

The minimum time required to see reasonable results from link building is 3 months. However, typically it will take at least 6 months to see substantial traffic gains. With that said, our clients have seen good results from link building within the first month before.

What is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links?

A dofollow link is the default type of backlink and they are highly sought after. This is because dofollow backlinks directly pass authority – “link juice” – from one website to another. In contrast, the nofollow link attribute signals to search engines that they should not reward the website being linked to. However, that’s a very simplified explanation. I recommend that you read our full article explaining the difference between dofollow and nofollow backlinks.

How do I tell whether link building is working for my website?

You can tell whether your link-building campaigns are working by tracking key SEO metrics. We recommend using rank-tracking software or monitoring data directly in Google Search Console. As a result, you will be able to identify positive patterns and trends that are indicative of your link-building strategy working.

Is there any risk associated with link building?

Yes, link building does present some risks. However, there is a lot of scaremongering around it in SEO. Some people will advise you to avoid link building at all costs, but this isn’t good advice. 
If you want to rank well online and attract loads of traffic, link building is a key part of the game. When building links you need to earn them from reputable and authoritative websites and avoid spammy websites, link farms, and PBNs at all costs. Simply, there are multiple types of links, some are great, and others are better avoided.

How can I speed up the link-building process?

The best way to speed up the link-building process is to outsource. SEO service providers like us have spent a lot of time building great relationships with authoritative websites. We also have defined systems and processes that allow us to work more effectively than newbies. Therefore, if you want to find a cost-efficient way to build backlinks at a huge scale you should consider outsourcing. Building good external links alone takes time. But, high-quality backlinks pack a major punch so it’s definitely worth being patient.
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