For so many reasons it can be tempting to stop doing SEO for a period of time – maybe it’s budget, maybe you’ve had a bad experience with your SEO vendor or maybe you’re not seeing the results you thought you’d see.
When that happens, should you take a break from SEO? And if you do, what are the consequences?
SEO is like running a marathon. If you stop because you tire easily, your competitors will pass you. The longer you take a break, the further ahead the competition – and it might be hard to catch up.
Of course, no one is forcing you to do SEO. But you must consider what you are up against before you make a decision to stop spending time and money on it.
What you are up against is 12 changes to Google Search on average each day, millions of competitors per keyword and website maintenance that if not done will result in a poor-quality site, making it even harder to rank.
That’s why the secret to SEO success is endurance. SEO can only stop if Google quits changing things and all your competition goes away.
Here are three things to consider before you take a break from your SEO:
It’s no secret that Google is always updating its search engine. In 2020 alone, Google ran over 600,000 experiments that “resulted in more than 4,500 improvements to Search.” That’s an average of 12 changes per day, folks.
Some changes are minor, some are major. Some are announced, many fly under the radar. (You can see how many Google updates SEOs are talking about, here.)
In all cases, tracking and understanding how these changes impact a website is not a core competency of most businesses. So, you need SEO expertise.
And that is why SEOs spend countless hours testing and analyzing Google changes so their clients or employers can benefit from that knowledge.
If you quit SEO suddenly, your website will not likely stay afloat in the Google storm for very long.
Try doing any search in Google and see how many results show up. Literally any query can have millions or billions of results. Those are your competitors online.
Out of those millions of results, your content somehow needs to show up on page one. And if you want even more clicks, your content needs to be among the first few results on the page.
We analyzed data from three recent studies on search results position and click-through rate, and across the board, position one always gets the most clicks:
Add to that the fact that you need to be an expert on the different search verticals (like Google Images, for example) and all the search features that show up on page one – not just the 10 blue links – to effectively compete.
Every day that you pause your SEO is a day your competition can spend money and resources to get ahead.
Given that it can take five to seven months to start seeing the results you want from SEO, that is time you can’t afford to waste. (Plus, some keywords take even longer to rank; it took us two years to help a client rank No. 1 for “games”).
While it’s true that quality websites can build value over time in the form of links and traffic, you cannot set it and forget it in SEO.
You need to maintain both the technology that drives your website and the content on it regularly. And how often depends on what type of website you have and what type of content there is.
For example, if you have what Google calls “your money or your life” content, you will need to review it and refresh it regularly.
Consider also that every site will need technical SEO fixes on a regular basis to ensure it is operating at peak performance for search engines and end-users. Think: servers, content delivery networks, content management systems, pages crawling issues, etc.
Remember that Google said in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines that “unmaintained/abandoned ‘old’ websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is a reason for a low Page Quality rating.”
Because Google cares that websites are up-to-date and offer a good experience, if you stop SEO, you risk impacting your ability to rank.
When businesses want to take a break from SEO, it’s often because they aren’t seeing the results they want. And that is usually due to other factors like budget constraints, hiring the wrong SEOs or even mismatched expectations.
If you budget 5% to 10% of your revenue, though, and you work with the right SEO vendor, you should be able to get the results you want. And those results typically end up in more revenue to the business.
When SEO is driving revenue, stopping SEO is rarely a question that any business ponders. If you treat SEO as an essential marketing activity for the life of your business, you will often win the marathon. If you give up, you lose.