Google’s John Mueller discussed how long it takes for Google to re-crawl and re-rank a site when significant changes to web page quality have been made.
In a Google SEO Office Hours hangout, someone asked John Mueller about unstable rankings in the Google search results pages (SERPs).
He related that the site in question was fluctuating from page one to page four then back to page one results to subsequently slipping back into the abyss of page four of Google’s search results again.
Mueller answered that maybe it was because there were quality issues that needed to be improved on the site.
In a follow up question the member who asked the SERP fluctuation question next asked how long it takes Google to take major changes in a website into account and then re-rank that site.
“Could you please let me know how much time it takes?”
Google’s Mueller paused as if thinking and repeated the question as he presumably considered how to best answer the question.
“How long that takes… yeah… it’s hard to say…it’s really hard to say…”
Screenshot of Google’s John Mueller Pausing to Answer a Question
He then offered an answer comprised of a scenario where major changes were made and how Google would subsequently handle those changes.
Mueller first highlighted the first step of crawling the content and how long that would take.
“It’s like, on the one hand, we have to re-crawl the content… like if you make significant changes on your website we have to re-crawl that.
And to re-crawl that across a larger site that can take a bit of time, especially if you make bigger changes like across everything if you change the structure of your website.
I would assume something like that, just purely from a technical point of view would take… I don’t know… maybe a month.”
Mueller next answered how long it would take to then take that crawled content, make sense of it and then re-rank it.
“And for understanding the quality changes overall, I would see that as something where it probably takes a few months on our side to actually understand that this website has significantly changed.
So not something that you can fix in a week. It’s probably more like… I don’t know… three, four months, something like that, if you make significant quality changes.”
Might Take Months to Fix Quality Issues
Google’s Mueller highlighted that improving a website (as opposed to a few pages) is a process that takes at least two time-consuming steps.
The first step is crawling the changed and updated site might take about a month. The second step of understanding the site and what all the pages are about takes even longer, up to approximately four months.
Mueller did not affirm a firm date for how long it would take to understand and re-rank a site that had fixed quality issues. His statement was accompanied with qualifying phrases like, “something like that” to indicate that this may be a generalized answer for a hypothetical website.
His answer is very helpful because it helps to contextualize what is happening on Google’s end and to be able to communicate that to a client or to understand it for oneself.
Watch the Google Office Hours hangout beginning at the 24 minute mark.
Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience.
I offer site audits and link building strategies.