Search engine optimisation (SEO) is digital marketing discipline that needs to be carefully planned, executed and maintained over a long period to generate a significant return. This is because the very nature of search engines like Google demand that websites play by a certain set of rules to climb out of obscurity and onto the front page of search results.
Many websites that implement SEO and reach page one make the common mistake of assuming that their online presence is now fully optimised and will remain that way indefinitely. The truth is that SEO is a constantly ongoing process that needs to be monitored and maintained to generate a return.
So, what exactly happens when you stop your SEO?
Both rankings and traffic will begin to decline
Because SEO takes time to gradually build on itself, it also takes time for it to be reversed. This is because your ranking will drop relative to your competitors who are continuing their SEO.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint
You can imagine that you are a sports person who is training every day to run in a marathon. Every day you are better and better, even better than your competitors. Suddenly you stopped training. You are still good, however, with every day you will become weaker and weaker – without continuing your training. It happens the same with SEO. If you stop your SEO activities (like your daily training), your SEO efforts (done up to now) will become weaker every day, until your competitors will push your website down in search results.
With that said, when you stop SEO your ranking is going to fall much faster than it originally climbed. This is because you’ve stopped implementing the SEO tactics that inform search engines your site is still relevant.
Since this is usually a slow decline, you may not notice any significant drops in rankings or traffic for a few months after stopping SEO. This is because the SEO work you did is still having an effect, but this is normally short lived.
When you stop refreshing your website with new content and reaching out via link building strategies, search engines will begin to forget about you. This will inevitably lead to a drop in organic traffic and may even leave your website more hidden than it was when you originally started SEO.
Another reason behind a decline in search visibility is the fact that search engine algorithms aren’t going to cease getting smarter just because you’ve stopped SEO. This means that algorithmic updates can make optimisation work you’ve relied on obsolete, hastening the decline of your website’s authority.
Is it too late to start SEO again?
Even if you’ve stopped SEO for a long period and experienced a massive drop in search rankings, it’s never too late for you to claw back your way into the light. When you reengage SEO, you will notice that you can quickly regain the position you once had and prepare for continued growth in the future.