One of the first things you will want to do when starting search engine optimization on a website is to ensure that the website is indexed. If the site is not indexed within the search engines then it cannot be found within the search engines because they do not know of its existence. The first objective will be getting the site indexed within the search engines. This can be done by informing the search engines that your site exists or by pointing links to it that will be crawled by the search engines thus showing them that your site exist. Either way is effective but depending on the type of site you are building sometimes you do not want to inform the search engines of your existence you would rather have them find your site on their own and then start ranking it from there. The next thing you will want to do is to determine the age of the site. If you have a brand-new site in the ranking process will be extremely slow because you have not built up any trust your site in the search engines do not want to rank a brand-new site right off the bat because like stated earlier your site is not trustworthy. If you have an older site however with links pointing to it already then it can be trusted by the search engines and the ranking process can be much faster.
The next thing you will want to do is to check to see if the website is penalized. If your website is penalized then it will not be able to get any higher than the third page of the search engines because they have dubbed your site as being untrustworthy and they would not want to show it within their search engine results pages because they only want the best information for the individuals using their search engines. If this happens to your site you need to completely start over most of the time because you will have found yourself with a spam penalty which more than likely than not cannot be undone. Once you have determined if your site is penalized or not you will want to look at the on page content. If you are attempting to rank for plumber then you will want to make sure that the word plumber is on the actual site itself and on the specific pages your attempting to rank for that keyword. You will want to make sure that it is on their at least a handful of times but you do not want to have it on there more than 2 to 3% in comparison to your overall word count. For example if you had 1000 words you would not want to have the word plumber on there more than 20 to 30 times and realistically you would want even less than that because you will very easily become over optimized for that keyword which is something the search engines do not like.
If you are over optimized then you will want to under optimized yourself and if you are under optimized then you will want to optimize yourself. Next you will look at the back links that are pointing to your site along with anchor text that are used within those back links. If you have a lot of spam he back links pointing to your site then you can disavow them. This is generally where you will get your base idea of how long it will take for you to rank depending on the links pointing to your site and by also analyzing the competition in seeing what kind of links to have pointing to their site and the power in which their site possesses. Once you have done this you will want to check your current rankings. This will also help you to get a baseline as to how long it will take for you to rank within the search engines. These are just a few of the first steps that you will want to partake in when attempting to rank a site in the search engines and conduct search engine optimization for either yourself or a client.