Why SEO Services Are Not A One-Off Activity

I was inspired to write this piece after being asked this question two times in less than a week. Once by a peer who was asked and in turn wanted to know if I had any resources to point his client to, and a second time by a prospect of my own.  For those among us who are seasoned veterans the answer may seem obvious and if you view the answer as a given, then this piece if not for you.

No, this article is for those who know they need this thing called SEO, who know that it’s the path to higher rankings when done right, but who haven’t spent their entire career following how it’s done.

There are a wide range of reasons that one can’t simple “do SEO”, walk away and expect to rank indefinitely. Here are some of the most universal.

Laurels Rested On Get Crushed

Lawrels Rested On Get Crushed

Arguably the easiest concept for any business owner to understand is this one. For those not familiar with the phrase, it essentially means:

To remain satisfied with where you are and stop putting in the effort to advance will result in the loss of what’s already been attained.

To understand how this happens one need simply consider that there are a finite number of positions on page one of the search results. When you worked to attain a position, someone had to lose it. And they want it back.

And not only are you up against the person you took a spot from, you’re also up against the next person entering the race. If you pause, if you rest on your laurels, you will lose your position to one of these two or …

Google Algorithm Updates

There are more updates to Google’s algorithms each year than there are days.  Now, many are minor tweaks and most don’t impact all sites but there are a large number of updates that do and many need to be catered to.

In just the past month there have been significant announcements of updates regarding page speed, Search Console, a possible significant update on January 15th and one on the 29th and as a restaurant owner you can now edit your menu via Google My Business. And those are just the bigger changes and while Search Console can be argued not to impact rankings, if you don’t keep up in understanding what’s going on there or have someone hired who does you’ll miss some very important information on your site health and that will impact your rankings.

To give you an idea of how impactful these algorithms changes can be, for some they can yield double-digit changes overnight. Here are some comments from over on Webmaster World during the updates to put some context to it here are some of the comments:

“Anyone seeing another bump or drop in traffic yesterday / today?

We are up 15% today. Yesterday ended 12% up.” – SnowMan68

“Traffic and headline conversion rate has been normal, but our revenue has taken a massive hit since yesterday morning. Traffic is currently arriving to low-value items (we sell things from sub-£10 to multi-£1000). Very frustrating.” – Shaddows

“From 12 December -30% and from 17 January a further drop of 20%.

I do not know what to do I’m desperate.” – analis

“Mozcast again pointing to high fluctuations. My niche in particular is hit hard. Sigh.” – KaseyM

So that’s what we can see regarding just the impact on businesses.

Google used to announce the percentage of queries impacted but no longer do. That said, at the time we were seeing announcements of updating impacting significant number of results such as the Penguin Update with 3.1% of all queries impacted and the first Panda update with 12% of all search results affected. You can find these metrics on the Google blog if you’re interested.

Essentially, there are algorithms updates that can have a huge impact on a large number of results and even smaller updates can have a dramatic impact on individual sites and business owners.

I mentioned above multiple updates per month.  Here’s a look at just what Advanced Web Ranking is showing for fluctuations over the past 6 months. Even the relative “quiet” of the past few weeks is littered with movement as illustrated in the quotes above.

Basically, if you’re not keeping up with the changes at Google and pivoting with them you’ll be lost. It may be a small fluctuation that just pushes you down a couple spots or something major like failing to have a mobile friendly site or knowing to determine and address speed issues that could see you fall rapidly from traffic to bankruptcy.

User Behaviors Change

And let’s not forget about the users themselves.  A good SEO or DIY business owner will know that it’s important not just to keep updated as to what’s going on with Google’s algorithms, understand which changes are important to adjust for and do so – it’s also important to keep updated on what users are doing and changes to their patterns.  Thankfully this sort of information is discussed often among SEOs and those interested in it. Perhaps more thankfully, SEOs like to share so finding out what’s happening isn’t difficult, BUT it does require keeping up, and provided that SEO to you means attracting visitors via organic search wherever they may be rather than ranking in a specific spot when you Google your favorite vanity phrase on your PC it’s critical.

Here are the types of things that require constant attention and again, just a handful of those that have come up over the past month:

This type of information is what helps us prepare for the future. It’s what helps us understand what’s working and what’s not, how user interactions with search are changing and how this impacts us. Basically – it’s informs us of where we need to be, when we need to be there and let’s us start laying the groundwork now for it.

To put some context to this, did you know that according to a recent study by Stone Temple Consulting the number of users who will perform a voice search ina  theatre increased over the past year from about 7% to almost 20?

Did you know the people with higher incomes are more likely to use voice search more often and bo comfortable with it in a wider array of situations?

Voice search by income.

Keeping up with this type of information is what allows SEOs and business owners to grasp where their market is and how they’re interacting with the devices hey will be using to find you. If this was static, if there weren’t dramatic changes year-over-year this wouldn’t be such an important consideration but the fact is devices and how people are using them are changing rapidly.

Environments where people use voice search

That means you need to be working now not just for the rankings you want later but for the structure and experience to rank where your users are.

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Of course we can go on-and-on with myriads of examples as to what you miss by not keeping on top of your SEO but hopefully you don’t need further argument (if you had one to begin with).  At it’s core it breaks down to these three points:

  • Old competitors want their position back
  • New competitors want to take your position from you
  • Google is changing constantly and this is only getting faster with machine learning
  • Users are changing how they search rapidly and your strategy needs to adjust with it

And if you aren’t convinced that SEO is not a “do it once and you’re good forever” activity my only hope is that you’re a competitor of one of my clients.  I apologize in advance for the wake-up call that’s coming.