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SEO Is Not a One-Time Task

Chris Bardsley / 10 June 2024

Today, I want to discuss something I always see in digital marketing: the misconception that SEO is a one-time task. If you’re a marketing manager, this one’s for you.

The One-Time Task Myth

Let’s kick things off with a story. A few years back, we took on a client who had just finished a major website overhaul. They’d spent much money on a fancy new design and some initial SEO work. The site looked great, and their traffic spiked for the first few months. But then it flatlined. They couldn’t understand why. After all, they had “done” SEO.

Wrong. SEO isn’t something you do once and then move on. It’s not like ticking a box on a to-do list. It’s more like tending a garden – constant care, watering, and weeding.

SEO is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Think of SEO as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long game, and those who win are the ones who understand this. Search engines are constantly evolving, and what worked last year might not work today. Algorithms change, new competitors emerge, and user behaviours shift. If you’re keeping up, you’re staying caught up.

The Initial Boost Trap

When you first implement SEO, you might see a quick boost in your rankings and traffic. This is often due to the “freshness” factor, where search engines give some weight to newly updated content. But this is temporary. Without ongoing effort, this boost will fade. It’s like that initial adrenaline rush – it feels great but doesn’t last forever.

The Ongoing Effort Required

To maintain and improve your SEO, you need to be constantly working on several fronts:

  • Content Updates: Regularly update and expand your content. This signals to search engines that your site is active and relevant. It’s also a great way to keep your audience engaged and returning for more.
  • Technical SEO: This includes things like site speed, mobile optimisation, and fixing broken links. Search engines favour sites that offer a smooth, fast, and user-friendly experience.
  • Link Building: Acquiring high-quality backlinks from reputable sites is still crucial. But remember, quality over quantity. One link from a highly authoritative site is worth more than dozens of links from low-quality sites.
  • Competitor Analysis: Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. If they start ranking for a keyword you’ve overlooked, you need to know about it and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • User Experience (UX): Search engines increasingly consider user engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session. Improving your UX can boost these metrics and, in turn, your rankings.
  • Algorithm Updates: Stay informed about changes in search engine algorithms. When Google rolls out a significant update, it can significantly impact your rankings. Being proactive and adapting your strategy can mitigate adverse effects.

The Cost of Neglect

Refrain from paying attention to ongoing SEO. Our client above’s traffic didn’t just flatline—it started to decline. Their competitors, continually investing in SEO, began to outpace them. It took months of dedicated effort to regain lost ground. The moral of the story? Don’t let your SEO gather dust.

Common Excuses and Why They’re Wrong

I’ve heard all the excuses for not maintaining SEO efforts. Here are a few common ones and why they’re nonsense:

  • “We don’t have the budget.” Not investing in SEO is a false economy. The cost of regaining lost ground is often higher than regular maintenance. Plus, the ROI on consistent SEO efforts is usually substantial.
  • “We’re too busy.” If you’re too busy to invest in SEO, you’re too busy to grow your business. Simple as that. SEO should be a priority because it drives traffic, leads, and sales.
  • “We don’t see immediate results.” Patience is key in SEO. It’s not about instant gratification; it’s about building a sustainable digital presence that pays dividends over time.
  • “Our website is already optimised.” SEO is more than just a one-and-done task. Even if your site is currently optimised, it needs regular updates to stay that way. Think of it like a car – even the best-maintained vehicle needs regular servicing.

Building a Sustainable SEO Strategy

So, what does a sustainable SEO strategy look like? Here are some key elements:

  • Regular Content Audits: Review your content to ensure it’s up-to-date and relevant. Remove or update outdated content, and look for opportunities to expand on topics that are performing well.
  • Consistent Blogging: Regularly publishing new blog posts can help keep your site fresh and attract new visitors. Aim for quality over quantity – one well-researched monthly post is better than four mediocre ones.
  • Technical Health Checks: Regularly check for technical issues that could impact your SEO. This includes site speed, mobile usability, and broken links. Tools like Google Search Console can help you identify and fix these issues.
  • Backlink Strategy: Develop a strategy for acquiring high-quality backlinks. This could include guest blogging, partnerships with other sites, or creating shareable content that naturally attracts links.
  • User Feedback: Pay attention to user feedback and make improvements accordingly. If users complain about certain aspects of your site, fixing these issues can improve UX and SEO.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with industry news and algorithm updates. Follow SEO blogs, attend webinars, and participate in online communities. Staying informed can help you stay ahead of the curve.

Final Thoughts

SEO is not a set-and-forget task. It’s an ongoing process that requires regular effort and attention. The digital landscape constantly evolves, and your SEO strategy needs to grow. By understanding this and committing to continuous improvement, you can build a strong, sustainable digital presence that drives long-term success.

At List & Found, we’ve seen firsthand the difference that ongoing SEO efforts can make. Our most successful clients understand that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. They invest the time and resources necessary to keep their SEO strategy fresh and compelling, and they reap the rewards of increased traffic, leads, and sales.

So, if you’re still treating SEO as a one-time task, it’s time for a mindset shift. Embrace SEO’s ongoing nature, and you’ll be well on your way to digital success.

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