Do I Need Ongoing SEO Services?
Should you invest in ongoing SEO services, or a one-off SEO consulting package?
A popular question we hear from new clients is “how long do we have to do SEO?” and “can we stop SEO?”
At FrontPage Interactive we tell clients that we want to work with you for the life of your business. So my answer on how long you have to do SEO is; “forever or until you close your business. Whatever comes first.”
In an ideal world, you could build an SEO-friendly website with a Search Engine friendly content management system, insert your keywords naturally and organically into the copy, and pay for quality link building without needing ongoing SEO services. Unfortunately, the commercial reality is that optimization of a website requires maintenance.
Site examples that have stopped SEO
Over the past 20+ years, we have worked on a lot of website projects. And some of them, for better or worse, stop doing SEO. So below are a few examples of websites that decided stopped doing SEO.
The following declining SEO examples are pulled from Google Search Console
While these results are not indicative of every site that stops SEO, it does clearly show a pattern of what can happen when you stop maintaining your SEO campaign long-term.
The images are screenshots from Google Search Console over a 16 month period. I feel Google Search Console is one of the best representations of what SEO looks like from a data point of view.
Without getting into too much detail on each of the examples above, they do represent a range of new, old, local, regional and national websites.
GSC does a great job showing the subtle changes in a website once you start making updates and optimizing the website. The two metrics that it tracks really well is Clicks (from search engine results pages) and Impressions (which I call opportunities).
The impressions data helps to show clients and marketers visible progress in SEO. While ranking is an important metric, sometimes that comes later.
Why Does Exposure Fall Off after Stopping SEO?
You’ll see that for a period of time after SEO services are canceled the search engine interest is steady. In some cases, you might even see a residual bump from previous SEO activities finally taking effect.
Changes in key SEO factors:
You stop improving your site: When you are constantly optimizing and creating targeted content and links for your site, it’s continually inviting web crawlers to re-investigate your website – which in turn prompts them to re-index, analyze and rank your site for appropriate search engine results. If you stop doing these tasks web crawlers and people lose interest and stop coming around.
You stop building trust: Companies that end up losing big are new businesses in crowded markets that have little or no representation or digital trust in the local market.
Your competitors don’t stop SEO: Just because you decide to stop doesn’t mean your competitors are stopping their SEO efforts. Eventually, the people on page three, who keep working hard, will take over your organic positions and map rankings. This will not happen overnight but it will eventually happen.
Ongoing Changes by Search Engines
The primary reason why ongoing SEO services are the best choice is that search engines are constantly changing, so your SEO strategy and implementation must change to match. Search Engines such as Google are always trying to bring out new and innovative products, update and refine algorithms, and to improve the integrity of search overall. In the recent years, Google has made major changes to how it handles local search, mobile search and redirection.
Search Patterns Change
Search patterns may change over time and people may be using different terms to find your products and services via Search Engines. It is best to monitor the keywords people are using to find products and services such as yours by looking at Google Analytics, Google Search Console, social media trends, competitor research, keyword ranking tools and so on. It is important to stay abreast of what matters in terms of search habits and find new keyword opportunities.
User Expectations Change
A five-year-old website is much less likely to deliver user satisfaction than a new one. As time goes on, users expect clearer content, precise navigational directives, cleaner and friendlier design, more specifically focused content, and easy-to-use interactive forms and features. SEOs specialize in providing feedback on user interface and user experience, as these are factors in on-page metrics that are of increasing importance to Google’s search algorithm.
Not Enough Resources
Some companies can’t justify the expense of ongoing SEO services but at the same time do not have the necessary resources to look after optimizing their website in-house. Research shows that SEO is seen by some as the most important small business marketing channel. It should be viewed as part of your profit, not part of your costs. It may be false economy to take SEO back in-house if you do not have the time or staff to maintain websites.
Failure to Implement Recommendations by SEO Experts
One of the reasons why rankings can slip after hiring an SEO company is that some marketing teams fail to implement the recommended changes. This may be simply due to time restraints or some clients may believe the changes are not really necessary thus undermining the efforts of consultants. The best optimization recommendations in the world can be given, but if they aren’t implemented properly, then they’re pointless.
No Focus on Fresh Content
Over the past 5 years, algorithm updates by Google show increasing preferences for websites with fresh, original and recent material. This has always been important but more so now than ever. Content needs to include relevant keywords so that it meets the objects of your overall SEO strategy. This is made easier with ongoing SEO services and making website optimization a long term priority.
No Focus on Link Building
Link building is a very important component of SEO (probably the most important) – all things being equal, when two web sites have similar structure and content, the site with the best links from quality websites will be served up first. Working with an SEO agency can help you create a quality link building profile but as per best SEO practice, this needs to be maintained long-term. There are always new link building opportunities to be found for your website.
Lack of Understanding of Google Analytics
It’s important to tie in SEO with marketing goals, but you may not have a good handle on Google Analytics and how it can improve your online revenue. From looking at traffic referrals to finding new keyword opportunities to setting goals and funnels for your site, SEO consultants have the know-how and experience to be able to monitor reports and help companies to make smarter decisions about what’s working and what’s not.
Some sites can stop SEO
In some cases, local websites and larger brands can stop SEO services and maintain some level of search presence due to several factors. Some of those factors include brand recognition, lack of competition or a historical archive of well-respected content and quality information.
In small markets with little or no competition, the rate of search engine fall off may be minimal after ongoing SEO strategies have been stopped. This is a risky move that can have detrimental effects. If the decline in search engine exposure kicks in and SERP fall off is greater than expected, this decision can result in devastating results to your bottom line.
There is no finish line with SEO, so while you are resting on your rankings, your competitors will be paying for ongoing optimization and finding new and more relevant keywords, better link building opportunities and other ways to tweak their campaigns which will result in them taking over your prominent ranking spots.
If you knock someone out of the top ten results on Google, you can be sure they will be doing everything they can to get back on top. Competitors try to and WILL outrank you. You cannot ignore your competitors, because they will not ignore you. If you rank higher than them on the search engines, you can be sure they will be working to outrank you.
Over time if SEO is not maintained then rankings and traffic will slip. Competitors who perform SEO consistently will overtake or you’ll simply slide with the absence of fresh signals and new links coming to your site. Google and other search engines consider the freshness of your content and on-page SEO as important ranking factors as well as the sites linking to you. If you do not have new links coming to your site from other quality web pages, your site will be deemed (over time) increasingly less relevant.
In order to maintain and grow your search engine results, SEO should be maintained consistently. If you stop temporarily your site will not drop off the cliff, but leave SEO for too long and you’ll begin a slow slide back to the bottom.
SEO can be a bit daunting. Keeping it up 365/24/7 may seem impossible, but the benefit is more visibility and exposure. The alternative is often lost visibility and fewer clients. Once traffic is lost and visibility is gone, you will often have to invest as much, if not more, to get it back.
That is why on-going SEO is critical for clients interested in achieving and maintaining top results in the search engine results.