What Happens When You Stop Doing SEO? [It’s Not Pretty]
I 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.
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.
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:
- Content Development (Blogs, Vlogs, Images, Podcasts are all possible content opportunities)
- Back Link Building and Management
- Review of analytics for opportunities
- Content distribution and curation
- Guest blog and podcast opportunities
- Directory Listing Management
- Online Reputation Management (ORM)
- Google My Business Management
- Staying up to date with Google changes
- Check the Competition
- Website Maintenance
- And probably more that I am forgetting
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.
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.
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.