Search Engine Optimisation has been helping websites to generate more visitors for years now (although it took a while for some businesses to recognise its importance). But even now, all too often businesses will commission some SEO work, carry it out, and think that “that’s SEO done”. So how long exactly do you need to do SEO for?

By and large, businesses now understand jow how powerful and important SEO is for generating business leads. Now more than ever, businesses are more and more heavily in their SEO strategy. 

However, despite this increased awareness about the importance of SEO, we still get clients asking the same question:

" How long do we need to do SEO for?

There seems to be a common misconception that SEO is one-off action that is "done" when first setting up a website, and can then be forgotten about. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

What happens if you stop doing SEO?

When a website stops working on its SEO, performance data drops but it tends to happen gradually rather than overnight. So, if new content is not getting published, or content is not getting regularly updated, you will miss out on new keyword rankings and new traffic. You also stand to have less earned links as people will not be linking to any new pages, because you are obviously not creating new pages. 

Traffic volumes will usually start to slip a month or a few months after you stop applying SEO strategies. Fresh content is what Google prioritises in search results, as an updated page will be seen to be more relevant than an older page where information is more likely to be out of date.

New content causes web crawlers to analyse and re-index your website each time you produce new content, as soon as you stop doing this, the web crawlers will not be getting drawn to your site anymore.

The other reason that your rankings will drop is because when you stop, the companies that are your competitors will be continuing with their SEO activity, so anyone ranked below you will gain ground and overtake you in the rankings whilst you are not creating new content.

If you have had a SEO strategy that got you a high ranking in Google or other search engines, then stopping a winning formula is a huge risk and it is not easy to make up for that lost ground. The other risk that you are taking when you stop doing SEO is that you will lose trust in your business, so whilst your customers or usual website visitors would see regular updates from you, as these dry up, so too will the trust. 

What about algorithm updates?

You also face the problem of not being able to adapt to the SEO changes that come with algorithm updates. Google regularly introduces updates such as Penguin and Panda that can significantly impact a website’s performance. After an update, a website will often need some updates to help to deal with any changes that have impacted ranking.

In a nutshell, smaller businesses who have not put huge amounts of effort into their SEO will not see much difference but businesses that have enjoyed good rankings stand to lose a lot of traffic and leads if they stop doing SEO. 

If you are looking to reduce SEO spend but continue doing some of the key SEO principles, there are some quick wins you can implement. as extending existing text, adding up to date facts, adding links to other articles or adding FAQs to a page. These types of activities take less time than creating new content but will help to keep the site fresh and more relevant and performing better than if you make no updates at all.