seo process wash rinse and repeat

What Happens When You Stop Doing SEO? [It’s Not Pretty]


seo process wash rinse and repeatI worked with a service provider type business for a good portion of 2017.  At the end of 2017, they were very far behind on their invoices.  I offered the business an opportunity to pay off the outstanding invoices with a 35% discount.  They agreed and asked if they could spread the payments over the first quarter of 2018.  I agreed.

They made some payments but did not keep the commitment.  Meanwhile, I continued to handle their inbound marketing at a modified rate, mostly just SEO.  It started to become evident that they did not want to pay the past due balance as well as the new balance incurred.

This dragged it out until it came to a head in June 2018.  They made sporadic payments, but it was never enough to get caught up.  They continued to fall further and further behind.  In June 2018 I stopped all digital services that I was providing.

In a little over a year, they had increased qualified traffic to their website by 142.9%.  This might not seem like a lot, but their service area is relatively small in population, maybe a few hundred thousand at most.  The service is a high-ticket item so not all the few hundred thousand are qualified.

The office manager admitted to me on more than one occasion that the number of requests for bids had more than doubled over the previous year.  The SEO Campaign was working.

What Happened to Their Traffic & SEO

I turned over their Instagram account.  I had stopped posting to it at the end of 2017 because of past due invoices.  This is when I began focusing on only SEO and Content Creation.  They removed me as an admin of their Facebook page.  This is a clear indication of their intentions.

Another digital marketer began posting for them sporadically with almost no results.

What they did not do was remove me from Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Google Search Console was never even set up for them by the marketer/web designer/SEO before me.  They may not even be aware of its existence though I did review it with them several times early in the process.

A week or 2 after we parted ways I started receiving alerts from the Google Search Console for AMP errors.

AMP is the Accelerated Mobile Project.  The plan is to speed up the mobile web.  In short, it caches a stripped-down version of your web pages on Google’s servers so that they load faster on the mobile web.

The errors were regarding content mismatch.  Essentially Google was advising that there were two different versions of the website.  This alone can create problems when it comes to indexing the website.

Probably more alarming is in less than 2 weeks their traffic took a 40% dive.

traffic decline from stopping SEO

I checked again 2 weeks later, and that trend continued.  Compared to the previous year they were down 13.33%.

What Does That Mean?

As an SEO I am constantly testing theories on my own web properties.  I had a podcast site up for over two years that was receiving several thousand visits per month.

The podcast was discontinued, and the site was ignored for over a year.  The site was live, but no new content was added.

After almost a year the traffic to the site was non-existent.  It had between 10-50 visits per month.

SEO is not a set it and forget it process.  It is an ongoing strategy that needs to evolve as Google updates the algorithm and as search itself evolves.

My active SEO clients are currently seeing traffic increases of between 40 and 500%.  None of them are down in traffic, and even more importantly they are all experiencing increased call volume.

traffic increase from SEO efforts

You might ask what part of SEO requires constant maintenance.  I get asked all the time to just do an SEO refresh. I oblige.  Not without cautioning the client that results are usually temporary.

Here are some of the services that an SEO provides while managing a business’ SEO strategy:

Most of these activities are not visible to anyone other than the SEO providing the service.  This means on the surface you might not notice a difference when the SEO campaign stops.

The business will notice the difference when the SEO stops!!

Assuming the business does not hire another SEO expert I can just about guarantee that by this time next year their site traffic will be almost non-existent.  Their request for quotes will drop dramatically.

You also must account for your competition.  There’s a good chance they are at least doing some SEO.

What Can I Do If My SEO Provider Sucks?

Unfortunately, the SEO industry is full of snake oil salesmen.  There are great legitimate SEO experts who know how to do the proper research and implement an effective SEO plan. There are also those who claim to know SEO but practice outdated or unethical methods.

I would also avoid cold calling SEOs.

One common mistake I see with SEO is the keyword focus.

Here’s an example:  An online business that sells trinkets wants to be ranked for “random item name with 8-digit item number”.  The item number is only used by their business.

The problem with this strategy is no-one is searching for that.  And the SEO is not using Latent Semantic Indexing (using patterns to identify variations or synonyms of the keyword). 

More than likely the person or team doing the SEO has not done the proper research.

The best thing you can do is speak to a few SEO experts before deciding who to work with.

It is important to note that most SEO plans take at least 6 months before they really start paying dividends.  There are variables to this including your websites age and level of competition.

If you are already working with an SEO and suspect you’re not getting your money’s worth you can get an SEO report (free on my site).

I did speak with a service provider who questioned the methods of their current SEO.  They were right to question them.  I gave them the information they needed, and they went back to their current SEO to review.

I might have pissed off that other SEO, but I helped the business owner.  Maybe I didn’t get a new client out of it, but I suspect their current SEO will drop the ball again.

That SEO was using a questionable method of link building.  I told the business owner that it likely won’t hurt them, but it definitely won’t help them.

If they are not doing their part to honor your agreement, then you have every right to end the agreement.

Search Engine Optimization for Business Growth

Final Thought

SEO is truly an ongoing process.  It should be thought of as part of your overall marketing and advertising plan.  Like many other things in life the moment you begin to ignore it you will start to see negative results.

There is the initial SEO refresh as I call it but that is only to get the ball rolling.  After this is completed then you must maintain and evolve.  There’s always another business popping up trying to take that traffic from you.  Don’t let it happen to your business.

Ending an effective SEO plan will produce negative results for your business.  Unless you have a qualified SEO ready to take over be ready to take a hit on traffic and sales.

If you are a do it yourselfer then make sure to be consistent with your SEO efforts.  Taking a month off from SEO can have a very dramatic effect on your overall business.  I have seen business owners heart sink on more than one occasion.

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local business listings for SEO

Jump Start Your Google Rankings with a N.A.P. [Improve Traffic by 20-70%]

Jump Start Your Google Rankings with a N.A.P. [Improve Traffic by 20-70%]

  • N.A.P. is an acronym that stands for Name, Address, Phone Number
  • Maintain accurate and up to date listings across the internet is important
  • What happens when N.A.P. is updated on business listing sites to be accurate and up to date?


Why is N.A.P. So Important?

What I Discovered While Researching the Client’s Local Listings (This is Probably Happening to Your Business)

How We Fixed the Local Listings

What Your Business Needs to Know

local SEO local Search NAPIn a recent case study, I worked with a client on their local listings.  We uncovered the following before we got started.

Of 61 listings, 52 of them were nonexistent.  Five of the remaining 9 contained incorrect N.A.P. information.  We took on the task of updating these listings to improve their overall rankings in Google.  Once all the local listings were updated the traffic to their site saw a 70% increase in traffic and a 12% decrease in bounce rate.  These increases were from local, qualified traffic.  Meaning it was not junk traffic from another part of the world.  The traffic increase was from organic search results.  In fact, the bounce rate for organic traffic was even lower than the overall number.

See – What is Bounce Rate & Why Is It Important to SEO?

You might be wondering what N.A.P. is.  N.A.P. stands for Name, Address, Phone Number.  This is the basic information of any listing for a business on any number of local directory listing sites.  There are hundreds of local directory listing sites ranging from Google My Business to Yelp and lots of lesser-known ones in between.  Some of these sites are not very valuable to your SEO strategy (What Is SEO?) or your business in general.  Others will provide a boost as Google scans the internet to ensure business information is accurate.

Speaking of Google My Business, if you don’t have GMB listing accurately set up for your business then we need to have a different conversation.

Why Is N.A.P. So Important? 

Google My Business is a very important component of local SEO.  Having this set up completely and accurately is a necessity for any business.  Google does not only confirm your business information on Google My Business.  It also scans the internet to validate that your N.A.P. matches what you have on Google My Business and that all the other listings match.

Variations in your name, address, and phone number can send signals to Google that the information is not accurate across all your web properties.

What I Discovered While Researching the Client’s Local Listings

Let me start by saying that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of local directory listing sites.  There are the necessary listing sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp.  There are the lesser known but still somewhat important sites like Apple, Yellow Pages, YP, and Mapquest.

After these sites, there are local directories that are not very popular at all.  These include sites like ABLocal and AroundMe.

You may not have heard of the last few sites above, but they still provide value to your Local SEO efforts.

local business SEOThere are more listing sites that provide no value as well. In some cases, adding your information to low-value directory listing sites can send the wrong information to Google.  In most cases, you just won’t receive any benefit to adding your business to them.  This is where having an experienced and knowledgeable SEO comes into play.

We scanned 61 local listing directories for their business information.  Their business was not listed at all on 52 of the local directory listing sites.  Of the remaining 9 more than half had the wrong information.

The 9 that were set up included Google My Business, Bing, Google+, Yelp, and Yahoo.  The business at least knew the importance and value of claiming their business listings on these sites.

What happened to the listings is that over time the address and business name changed.  The listings were also created with the owner’s cell phone number rather than the business number in some cases.

This meant that of the 9 created listings there were Name mismatches, address mismatches, and an incorrect phone number.

How We Fixed the Local Listings

We were able to discover and update the listings quickly.  In a matter of days, 51 of the listings were live with accurate information.  The rest soon followed.

After day one of the updates, we saw a 20% increase in traffic and a small drop in bounce rate.  The traffic increase came almost exclusively from local organic search.

After one week we saw an increase in traffic of just over 70% while noting a decrease in bounce by 12%.  This is significant as it indicates more qualified visitors are coming to the client’s website.  In other words, people who want to potentially do business with the client.

We did not see an immediate bump in monitored keyword rankings.  It is possible that other keywords that we are not actively monitoring moved up.  We will know when we do our end of the month review.

What You Need to Know

There is no indication from Google that having N.A.P. set up correctly on these local listing sites impacts your Google Rankings.  I have no way to prove that a listing site helped or hurt SEO efforts.

It is obvious that Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook and other business listing sites of this caliber are critical to your SEO success.  They should be included in your plan.  The client did include 9 of the top business listing sites in their plan.  The client did not maintain those listings which eventually became stale and outdated.

The remaining business listing sites may or may not impact SEO and Google Rankings.  It’s hard to tell as we updated 61 listings at the same time.

If you as the business owner decide to do this on your own there are third party sites/applications that can assist.  Yext is the most well-known one.  Synup is also a good option.

You can also go the manual route.  This will take you more time obviously.  It also increases the chances of a listing becoming stale or inaccurate.

local business listings for SEOStart from the top of the business listing pile.  Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook are some of the most important ones.  Continue from there.  You can easily find a list of important business listing sites by, wait for it, Googling it.

Or you can ask us to do an initial scan for you!

You may or may not get the same results we got for our client.  Having your business listed on local directories is helpful regardless of the impact it has on your SEO.  Having accurate information is very important.

I will close with this.  Every year on Christmas Eve I get cannolis for the family.  Growing up in New Haven this was easy as there were a few Italian bakeries within a mile or 2 of me.  Now I live about 30 minutes away from New Haven.  A few years ago, I thought I would try a newer bakery closer to my home.  I googled the business information on Christmas Eve.  To my surprise, the Google listing said they were closed.  I had to go to New Haven to get Cannolis.

Turns out the bakery closer to me was open on Christmas Eve but their Google My Business listing was not accurate.  They lost my sale and potentially many others.  Have you ever gone to an Italian bakery on Christmas Eve?

Are you prepared to lose sales because you can’t be found or your information is not up to date?


SEO Case Study on the importance of having a secured website

Case Study: The Impact of SSL on Your [Google Search Results]

Case Study: The Impact of SSL on Search Results Your Business Should Pay Attention

Summary:  SSL Certificates on a website have become increasingly important.  83.33% of first page Google Search Results have an SSL certificate installed.  This study determines if there is a direct impact on your SEO plan and search results by having an unsecured site.

What this SEO Case Study Found:

  • 83.33% of Google’s First Page Search Results have a secured website
  • 95% of generic, one-word search queries that appear on the first page of Google have SSL installed.
  • When performing hyperlocal searches using town and state in the query the number drops to 74%
  • Overall searches using town and state are minimal to non-existent
  • Local businesses can rank for one-word keywords, locally.
  • Having an SSL certificate on your website does improve your search ranking on Google for high volume keywords.

There’s been so much said about the impact of having an SSL certificate for your website.  It used to be that only sites that handled financial or sensitive information required this extra layer of security.  For the last few years, Google has been indicating SSL will become increasingly important for ALL websites.

Some SEOs and business owners believe there is no need for an SSL certificate.  Others believe it weighs heavy on their search rankings.  Still, other SEOs believe there is more of a correlation rather than a causation as it relates to search rankings on the SERP.

I decided to test search results to determine who was right and how having an SSL certificate on your website can impact your search results.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.  The short answer is it encrypts data.  When you visit a website, you may notice that some websites have HTTP or HTTPS in front of the web address.  The “s” in HTTPS stands for secure.  You may also notice a lock icon or other icon indicating a site is secure.  In Google Chrome you will see small “I” in a circle.  This indicates the site is not secure.  Clicking on the lock/secure or i will provide more information.

secured site for SEO and Google

We technically don’t use SSL anymore.  We now use TLS (Transport Layer Security).  However most still refer to the extra layer of encryption as an SSL Certificate.

Results May Vary

To understand the results of my case study you will also need to understand how Google Search works now.  When you search for something using Google it will pull results based on multiple factors.  This is determined by the Google Search Algorithm.  Those factors can be:

  • Your Geolocation
  • Relevancy to your query
  • Quality of the website
  • The device you are using
  • Previous search query results (if you are logged in to Google)
  • Age of the site

There are more factors, but we will just use those for this case study for now. Your search results will not look exactly like mine because of some of these factors.  This helps insure the relevancy of your search results.  A dentist in Meriden CT may not be relevant to you.

The Results of SSL Certification’s Impact on SEO

I performed numerous searches.  Most of the searchers were service related businesses but a few were product based.  I did not include restaurants in my research.  The first page of Google almost always has 10 organic results.  Since most people do not go past the first page my results are based on Google’s first page results.  I did not include Ads or Google 3 Pack results.  The results are the percentage of first page results that had an SSL Certificate installed on their website.  You will see where this gets interesting in a little bit. Here are the overall results:

  • Generic (1-word search query)-95%
  • Overall-83.33%
  • Searches with the state included (CT)-80%
  • Searchers with town included (Hyperlocal)-74%

As you can see from my results the majority of first page results have an SSL certificate installed on their website.  As you drill down based on the location the number gets a little lower.  That kind of makes sense since you’re more likely to uncover local businesses who have not adopted an SSL Certificate.

Or Does It?

But Scott, you said geolocation was a factor in your search results.  Why should I add (mytown mystate) to my search if Google is doing that for me?

And Scott, so far all you have proved is a correlation, not causation.  Isn’t it possible that the reason such a high number of first page results have SSL certificate is that those site owners understand the importance of it?

Good questions, I am glad you asked them.  For this, I am going to use some specific results to show you why SSL is important.  My case study proves there is an impact.

The first result that blew my mind was:

Dentist in Meriden CT

Only 40% of the first page results had an SSL certificate installed on their website.  That seemed like a really low number to me based on the other results.  Most queries were somewhere between 80-100%.

It got me to thinking.  Is this because Meriden is a smaller city compared to say New Haven CT?

Dentist in New Haven CT

80% of the results of this search query had SSL installed.  Now it seems to make sense. Bigger city, more options for Google to return.

Wait for it!!

Let’s do some more hyperlocal searches and see what percentage of first page results have SSL installed on their websites.

Roofers in Meriden CT – 100%

                Doctors in Meriden CT – 100%

Taxi in Meriden CT – 80%

                Food Delivery Meriden CT – 80%

                Lawyer in Meriden CT – 50%             

Whoa! I guess roofers and doctors have good SEOs and site owners.  That last one blew my mind though.  Before you ask, yes Attorney in Meriden CT returned the same result as far as percentage of sites utilizing SSL.  I don’t count Food Delivery as a restaurant.  There are services that offer to pick up and deliver food for you.  Some of them were restaurants.  Kudos to their SEO.  Interesting that Uber Eats was not on the first page.

Here’s Where it Gets Interesting

Based on the information I have provided so far you would think that searching Lawyer in Meriden CT and just searching Lawyer would return the same results.  Right?

You would be hugely mistaken.


Same search, same computer, same connection to the internet.

If I just search using the following queries I get much different results:

Lawyer – 90%

                Attorney – 90%

                Dentist – 100%

Those are huge discrepancies.

Why is this so important? 

Google recognizes where you are searching from and returns results based on your location.  In theory Lawyer and Lawyer in Meriden CT should return the same results.  If we analyze search volume according to Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool, we find that the number of searches per month for each keyword (phrase) is:

Lawyer in Meriden – no data (meaning no search queries)

Attorney in Meriden — no data (meaning no search queries)

Dentist in Meriden — no data (meaning no search queries)

Lawyer – 70.8k-118k per month

Attorney — 30.3k-70.8k per month

Dentist – 118k-300k per month

I am certainly happy to see more people search for Dentist than Lawyers.  These numbers are for nationwide searches (US).  I don’t need to analyze in Meriden results any further because there are none.  Let’s go to the Google Keyword Planner and drill down some more.

If you recall from my Keyword Research blog post I talked about using Google Keyword Planner to research keywords.  I also talked about Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool.

In Meriden CT

Lawyer – 20 per month

                Attorney – 20 per month

                Dentist – 70 per month

If you’re a lawyer, you have 40 chances to show up on the first page of Google in Meriden per month.  If you’re a dentist, you have 70.

We know that Google’s Search Results are returned based on your location.  It used to be trying to rank for a single keyword like Lawyer or Dentist was mission impossible because there was so much competition.  Now you’re only competing locally for these coveted keywords.  Your SEO should absolutely be optimizing for these one-word keywords as well as long tail/LSI keywords.

I noticed while doing the research that Dentist Near Me (90) gets more searchers locally than Dentist (70).  I checked the first page results for Dentist Near Me results and 60% of the results had SSL on their websites.

What We Learned

The results returned for the more powerful single word keywords had a very high percentage of SSL certificates installed on their sites (90-100%).  While seldom or never used keyword phrases returned different results including a lot of results without SSL certificates.

The seldom or never used keyword phrases should not be part of any SEO strategy as it will not yield any results.  If your content is written for your audience and not for Google (as Google recommends) then those keywords will naturally be a part of the search results.  That means the more competitive keywords that do yield results should be your focus.  If the return on these keywords shows that a higher percentage of the websites returned have SSL installed, then that would indicate Google is using security as a ranking factor. Google may be using ranking as more of a ranking factor then most believe.

The results of this case study prove that SSL Certificates need to be a part of your SEO strategy.

Final thought.  In July Google Chrome will start warning users of ANY site that does not have SSL installed. The message will warn users that the site is not secure.  This further indicates Google’s desire for a secure internet and the importance they place on having an SSL Certificate.

future nessage for unsecured websites in Chrome starting July 2018

This warning will likely scare users off your website increasing your bounce rate.  A high bounce rate is an indication to Google that your content is not relevant to the search query used.  This will mean your search rankings may take a hit because you did not install an SSL certificate. This is an indirect correlation to not having an SSL certificate installed on your site.  While there has been no official word you may also see a negative impact on your search rankings as a direct result of you not having SSL installed on your website.

OK, time for me to go talk to some lawyers and dentists!