when to stop seo featured

Should you stop doing SEO? What happens if you do?

So you’ve worked on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your site for months, and you finally achieved some good rankings for your desired keywords. Congratulations!

Now you’re wondering:

  • Can I stop doing SEO now?
  • When to stop SEO?
  • Should I stop investing in SEO?
  • Are you telling me not to stop because you sell SEO services?

If you asked the last question – you are right to say that shame on you for questioning my moral values *cough*.

On a serious note, the following points should help you decide if it is worth stopping SEO.

Here are 6 reasons why you should not stop SEO without a good reason

1. If you have not achieved your goals, don’t stop on a whim

Obviously if you haven’t ranked and have not attained the traffic goals you set for yourself, you shouldn’t pause the SEO campaign.

If you’ve been doing SEO for months and still have not seen results, don’t give up yet.

There are many factors to why you are not seeing your keyword positions rise:

  • If your site is brand new, it could still be stuck in a Google Sandbox. (It’s like a girlfriend’s father purposely giving the boyfriend a hard time to test his resolve)
  • If you’ve built a bunch of links, it takes time for Google to find and index them all. Even when Google does find them, it also takes time for them to reshuffle the SERPs
  • Your competitor is that much stronger. It will take time for you to catch up.

So what if you finally caught up with your competitors and even surpassed them? Is it fine to stop then?

What happens if you stop SEO?

2. You shouldn’t stop yet because your competitors will keep improving and get ahead

Ever heard the phrase: SEO is a marathon not a race?

It’s not a matter of whether your competitors will catch up – it’s only a matter of when.

tortoise and hare
I think you are all familiar with the story. Don’t turn into the hare.

Don’t let your competitors smell the blood in the water. There is a wealth of data that is available to all your competitors to see when you’ve slackened off.

If you let your competitors gain momentum, to build their branding and authority, it might be an extremely tough uphill climb for you to regain your rankings.

Even if your competitors don’t capitalize on your inactivity, it doesn’t mean your reign at the top will continue.

Want to know what can happen when you stop investing in your SEO efforts?

3. Your ‘SEO Power’ actually drops over time

“SEO power” is not an euphemism for male libido. (I’m childish)

It’s just an expression I use to refer to the SEO authority that you gain when you do SEO correctly. People also use the terms ‘PageRank’, ‘Domain Authority’, and ‘Domain Rating’ to mean the same thing.

Why do you lose this ‘SEO power’ over time?

  • Because you will naturally lose backlinks over time due to the phenomenon called link rot
  • Even if your backlinks aren’t lost, many of these links lose their strength over time as well because those backlinks get pushed into deeper pages of websites
  • Your content isn’t as ‘fresh’, may not be as relevant, and not as cutting-edge as when they were first published
stop seo link rot
Example of a gradual loss of links due to link rot

When you lose ‘SEO power’ due to inactivity, it gives a chance for your competitors to catch up.

4. You have not tackled the more difficult keywords that will bring more traffic

There is a Chinese saying:


There are skies above skies, and mountains beyond mountains” 

Meaning, there will always be someone better than you.

You shouldn’t stop all SEO efforts just because you met some keyword ranking goals. Are you currently targeting your niche’s most difficult, highest search volume keywords in the first place?

You might rest on your laurels knowing you dominated a number of keywords, but in reality, there are better keywords out there you could be targeting too.

Below is an example of a client ranking well for the easier keywords, but missing out on the harder ones.

ranking for easy keywords
1. Ranking very well for the lower search volume keywords
not targeting harder keywords
2. But there are high search volume keywords to work towards

Of course, the competing websites ranking for the harder terms will be much stronger. It takes more time and effort to beat them – but the rewards are more significant.

Even if you somehow managed to climb to the peak and successfully ranked for all the high difficulty keywords, you still shouldn’t stop SEO.


5.  You aren’t achieving real growth if you don’t go after the untapped related keywords

One limitation about SEO traditionally is that you can hit a traffic ceiling.

Say you hired an SEO agency to focus on a set number of keywords; once you’ve achieved those ranking goals, they might just fall back into maintaining the rankings of that initial set of keywords.

Even if you’ve achieved top rankings for ALL of the keywords you want to target, you’ll still hit a ceiling. That’s because the search volume of keywords are relatively stable over time.

In order to achieve real traffic growth to increase the revenue of your business, you’ll need to target more keywords. There are plenty of related keywords and long tail keywords that you can discover through proper keyword research.

target long tail keywords

Going after brand new keywords might make you feel like you’re starting from the bottom all over again, but the ROI is immense.

  • Long tail keywords make up the greatest percentage of internet searches (high volume, high growth)
  • Traffic from long tail keywords are more likely to convert into sales because these people have more immediate needs (more sales)
  • Targeting related keywords also draws in traffic from the same broad audience that you were targeting in the first place (open up new opportunities)

The best way to start tackling a wider range of keywords is to formulate a comprehensive content strategy backed by extensive keyword research.

And finally…

6. Using outdated techniques will hurt your rankings in the long run

At the very least, you should not stop keeping up with the changes in the SEO world.

Google constantly updates their search algorithm to reflect real world changes in Internet user behavior, and to make improvements to a searcher’s user experience.

Some of these updates are not just minor tweaks; some  updates change the way webmasters build their websites from the ground up.

Here is a small sample of Google’s algorithm updates over the years that caused big ripple effects.

Businesses that stop paying attention to SEO might miss out on these far-reaching changes.

If you have been relying on outdated techniques to rank your site, you might find yourself getting penalized by Google’s newest algorithms.

If you don’t know Google’s latest preferences and don’t improve your website accordingly, your competitors might start outranking you.

LONG STORY SHORT, what you should do moving forward:

  1. If you just started doing SEO and have not seen results yet, persevere.
  2. If you’ve achieved good rankings, talk to your SEO consultant to see if there are any higher targets to set your sights on.
  3. If you’ve stagnated and are getting diminishing returns from your current keywords, ask your SEO consultant to come up with a new content strategy and content marketing plan.
  4. Keep up with changes in the world of SEO, and form good SEO habits.
  5. If you are satisfied with your achievements in SEO and already maximizing your earning potential from organic search traffic, you can reduce the budget you spend on SEO. Instead, funnel the funds into other marketing channels.

Diversify your traffic sources by investing in other forms of digital advertising strategies like:

  • Facebook marketing
  • Google AdWords
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing

Hang on.

If there is one good reason to stop SEO right now, it’s this.

If you feel that your current SEO agency does not take into consideration your long term interest; or if you suspect that they are using questionable outdated techniques, stop.

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