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A Discontinued SEO Campaign: What Happens If You Stop SEO?

Chris Kirksey
Chris Kirksey

CEO, Direction.com

What Happens if You Stop SEO
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Halting an SEO campaign prematurely is like planting seeds without waiting for them to sprout; you miss out on the fruits that structured optimization efforts bear over time.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pivotal strategy for organizations aiming to expand their organic visibility and traffic. While pausing SEO efforts may seem appealing to control short-term costs or due to impatience with expected results, this approach is inadvisable for long-term success.

Cutting SEO prematurely prevents companies from fully benefiting from compounding returns as optimization builds authority and rankings over months and years. Halting efforts erodes organic search positions, relinquishing advantage to competitors still actively optimizing.

In contrast, businesses who stick to SEO as an ongoing initiative will see steady, consistent growth in qualified visitors, conversions, and ROI. SEO also reduces dependency on paid ads.

In summary, SEO fundamentally relies on persistence and patience. Stopping optimization works against core best practices. Savvy companies view SEO as a long-term priority at the heart of their digital strategy, enabling sustainable organic growth.

4 Reasons Businesses Often Stop SEO

While ill-advised, some understandable reasons lead companies to halt their SEO efforts prematurely:

1. Cutting Short-Term Costs

Some look to slash expenses in the moment, failing to take the long view. Pausing SEO may provide temporary cost savings but hurts revenue over time.

2. Impatience with Results

SEO is an incremental, long-term play. Some businesses lose faith when rankings don’t rise quickly, not realizing progress compounded over months.

3. Shiny New Marketing

With so many tactics vying for attention, some shift focus to new channels like pay-per-click ads, at the expense of core SEO.

4. Lack of Understanding

Without properly setting expectations, SEO’s gradual gains go unnoticed. Some don’t grasp the lasting impact SEO makes over years.

While these reasons are common, they stem from underestimating the power of continuous SEO done right. Patience and commitment remain key.

One of the more comical reasons we’ve had clients stop their SEO campaigns, is because we did such a great job for them — seriously. 

When doing SEO for Pura Vida House in Costa Rica — a premiere resort destination — they had to stop their SEO campaign because we booked so many reservations they couldn’t take on new business. While this is an awesome result, when the bookings dry up, it will be an uphill battle to get back to the top of SERPs for their target keyword phrases. 

Even still, this is actually a decent reason to stop an SEO campaign.

5 Consequences of Stopping Your SEO Campaign

To fully understand the effect on your website if you stop SEO, we have to understand what SEO is. We aren’t talking about the Webster’s definition, but what SEO actually is. Let’s get into some real talk.

Back in the infancy of the digital marketing game, Google said that they were against SEO. In other words, they said search engine optimization was not condoned. What they meant was that shady black hat SEO tactics were not the way of the future.

Back then, search engine optimization was all about keyword stuffing and bad backlinks. To counter this mess and bring quality content back to its users Google fought back. 

Their weapon of choice was the development of a sophisticated algorithm. This scientific formula judges the quality of content across the internet. This algorithm scours sites all over the web and rates them based on many different factors.

There has been a Google algorithm update almost every month for the last ten years. Sometimes, there were multiple updates within a month. 

Search engine optimization is the art of riding this algorithmic wave; in other words, negotiating your website content to appease these algorithms.

SEO does not “game” the system, but it is like getting the playbook of the opposing team before the Superbowl. You make plays based on the plays the other team will make.

But, if you ditch the playbook at halftime, you won’t win the game.

One of the biggest SEO mistakes you can make is stopping all your efforts. With SEO rewards come SEO dangers. Google algorithms rank you based on a variety of signals.

What happens when the signals turn off? Penalties.

The crawlers will see your site as-is, not based on historical data. You’ll only win rankings based on your current signals.

Here are 5 disadvantages of stopping your SEO campaign:

1. Lost Organic Traffic

Halting optimization means newly published content will not get indexed and ranked by search engines, as metadata, keywords, tags and internal linking go unoptimized. This causes existing rankings to steadily decline as brand-new pages outpace the stale, unoptimized content.

Without ongoing SEO, search engines have no signal that new website content is valuable and deserves to rank. Unoptimized pages get buried, losing visibility in SERPs.

As a result, the brand forfeits a growing stream of organic visitors who would have discovered the business via search engines. This traffic loss is hugely detrimental, as organic visitors have high intent and conversion potential when finding a business through relevant search terms.

Each month and year that passes without SEO compounds the gradual descent into obscurity. By continually optimizing new on-site content, brands maintain and grow organic search traffic as the lifeblood of their digital marketing strategy.

2. Ceding Ground to Competitors

Pausing SEO signals to search engines that the brand is not invested in maintaining its organic presence. Meanwhile, competitors in the space who are actively optimizing reap the benefits.

With new blog posts, product pages, and other website content going unoptimized, search rankings begin to slide. Competitors begin outranking for key terms as they continue strengthening their sites with ongoing SEO best practices.

Each passing month where a brand halts optimization while rivals stay the course compounds this negative impact. Competitors claim page 1 search results, increasing visibility and traffic to their offerings.

When brands eventually try to restart SEO, they face an uphill battle to regain lost ground, as competitors have firmly entrenched themselves in the pole position. This forces brands to fight for scraps of traffic rather than owning their rightful share.

Staying committed to SEO protects hard-won rankings while keeping competitors at bay. Pausing efforts only opens the door for others to swoop in, at great detriment to organic visibility.

3. Diminished Authority and Trust

Ongoing SEO strengthens domain authority and trust indicators that search engines value highly. Pausing optimization can erode the hard-won authority a brand has developed.

Earning high-quality backlinks from other authoritative sites is a key trust signal. But new links and mentions are unlikely to happen organically without actively creating and promoting valuable content.

Similarly, without optimized new content and outreach, referral traffic and engagement from other sites will steadily decline. Lower engagement on the brand’s own site also weakens authority over time.

Domain authority and page authority metrics will also fall as pages age without optimization, new links, and engagement. This diminishes the brand’s overall search engine perception and value.

Losing these trust and authority signals makes it extremely difficult to re-establish rankings later. It’s exponentially easier to maintain existing authority through ongoing optimization rather than attempting to rebuild it from scratch.

Staying committed to SEO preserves the brand’s hard-earned authority and trust indicators, which serve as the foundation for long-term organic growth.

4. Regaining Lost Positions is an Uphill Battle

When a brand halts optimization, competitors claim high-ranking positions in search results. Restarting SEO means trying to recapture those lost spots months or years later.

Unfortunately, search algorithms heavily factor in the time and consistency that competitor pages have spent in top positions. Knocking those rivals down the ranks is exponentially harder than if the brand had simply maintained their own rankings.

The brand must completely rebuild relevance and authority from scratch. Competitors, meanwhile, have only strengthened their foundation during the time SEO efforts were paused.

It requires starting over with extensive keyword research, optimizing brand-new pages, generating backlinks, and proving overall authority. Only then can the uphill battle to reclaim former rankings commence in earnest.

Rather than losing ground and having to fight tooth and nail to get it back, maintaining SEO keeps businesses perched in organic search results with minimal effort. Smart brands play the long game.

5. Increased Ad Spend Dependence

As SEO brings free organic traffic, pausing optimization means brands must pay to reach the same audience through ads.

With rankings falling, brands allocate larger portions of marketing budgets to paid search and display ads to make up for declining organic visibility. Cost per click and impressions rise as brands bid for the same keywords they used to rank for.

Limited organic reach also typically necessitates expanding paid advertising to new platforms like social media ads. Costs rise further trying to recapture lost organic visitors.

More money flows to ad platforms instead of the brand’s bottom line. Profit margins drop as paid advertising now makes up a larger share of customer acquisition costs.

By maintaining strong organic visibility through SEO, dependence on expensive ads decreases. Savvy brands focus paid spend on incremental reach rather than trying to backfill for lost organic traffic.

Committed SEO efforts keep brands visible to high-intent searchers for free while reducing ad spend needed to drive growth.

Benefits of Maintaining SEO

The compounding returns of SEO highlight why stopping optimization is unwise. When done consistently over months and years, SEO steadily grows organic rankings and traffic. Like interest in a bank account, these gains build on themselves exponentially over time as more content gets indexed and new backlinks accumulate. Patient brands who take the long view reap the full fruits of SEO’s incremental yet perpetual growth.

Ongoing optimization also elevates brand visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines. As more pages get indexed and rankings improve, brands appear prominently for relevant user queries, cementing their expert status. Strong domain authority signals derived from backlinks, engagement metrics and optimization best practices further validate a brand’s reputation. This enhances perception not just for Google, but for users who equate search prominence with trust.

The high intent and conversion value of SEO traffic also improves ROI against other channels. Visitors arriving via organic search have explicitly sought out the brand’s offerings, making them primed to convert compared to untargeted traffic. The relatively low acquisition cost of these visitors through SEO leads to greater customer lifetime value and superior cost per conversion rates. Maintaining rankings locks in access to this high-quality traffic source.

By staying active with optimization, brands solidify their search engine presence rather than giving ground to rivals. Consistent indexing and keyword targeting keeps pages ranking prominently. This ownership over valuable search real estate builds an asset that delivers value for years to come via recurring organic visits.

Finally, SEO serves as the fuel injecting a perpetual stream of qualified visitors into the sales and marketing funnel. Strong organic visibility supplies this flow of customers continuously exploring brand content and offers. This self-sustaining source of high-converting traffic is the hallmark of an effective optimization strategy firing on all cylinders.

In our experience, savvy brands play the SEO long game, reaping exponentially greater rewards over time versus short-term thinking. They commit to SEO as the cornerstone of visibility and traffic, securing success through consistent optimization.

Get Yourself a Combo Punch of SEO Expertise

Your best bet for faster results is to partner with a team versed in both SEO and content creation. Why?

Google’s Best Practices is the handbook they release every once in a while. It gives hints to what they’re looking for. This whole book focuses almost completely on website content now. Remember how we said, in the beginning, Google didn’t like SEO? Now that they’ve accepted that it’s here to stay, they’ve created a handbook.

The way to get visitors to your site is a combination approach. A combination of brand authority, trust, and content quality. You need to get these things perfected throughout the site to earn the rewards of rankings.

Teaming up with marketers who understand both SEO and content marketing gives you a leg up. The content marketing team will edit the site content to have the best tags, titles, and meta descriptions. They’ll give you blog content ideas that will get you results and will work on the site’s structure content silos. 

At the same time, the SEOs will be getting you placements on major sites, publishing press releases to get your brand buzz, doing proximity optimizations in your niche, and building citations in every market. 

When these two teams work together it’s a powerhouse in Google’s eyes. Your site will be doing everything right. You’ll be creating fresh new content all the time. The site will have the right structure. The content will be easy to find and will be written around topics your target audience cares about; you’re not writing into a void. 

This, coupled with the backlinking and brand work of the SEO team, wins. All this means that you will win the organic rankings game over your competition. Now we hope you see why all this takes time. There are no shortcuts anymore.

No More Shortcuts, Just Hard Work.

Organic traffic is harder to win than ever before.
 
Everyone is online now. The audience demands it. Every business needs a website and a social media presence. 

Ten years ago you could invest a couple of months of work into a black-hat link building strategy and be page one for anything you wanted. Those shortcuts don’t work anymore. 

Now, you have to play by Google’s rules. And that rulebook changes every month. So, you have to stand your ground. Have confidence in the marketing team you have hired. Trust them to understand your business and the niche. Trust that they know how to make the search engines pay attention.

This process is going to take time. Work on building a relationship with your team. Send ideas to them about what your customers like. Share things that are converting well with them. Tell them your highest-priced items and where you want more conversions. The more involved you are in the research and planning stages upfront the faster things happen.

If you don’t answer questions and give the team what they need to succeed it takes even longer. Why? Because they will guess what to go after based on their research. They will choose the target keywords on their own. If they choose wrong because you wouldn’t participate, then you’ve lost critical time and money.

Work with your marketing team and support them with the information they need. Then, they can work their magic and get you found online.

Downsize, Adapt, Re-Strategize: Just Don't Quit

Starting an SEO campaign is a long-term commitment. Results can take anywhere from 6-18 months. But, the most important part of SEO is continuing to make the effort. 
 
Part of what the search engines are analyzing is the dependability of your brand. They’re judging the consistency of your marketing. They want to know you’re remaining fresh in the marketplace and keeping up with trends in your industry. Actively campaigning and creating fresh content proves reliability.
 
These are the actions that win you page one rankings for major volume keywords. As in every aspect of a business, consistency and accountability are what produces the most success.
Looking for a team of seasoned digital marketers to represent your business? Ready to hire a team of SEO experts?
 
Contact us today to get a quote. We’re happy to take you on a journey to the top of the SERPs.

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