It is a common misconception that SEO is a ‘set it and leave it’ activity. It is not. SEO should be approached as a long term strategy that brings cumulative benefits. The reason why SEO is often thought of as being a short term fix is easy to understand. Quite often an SEO agency begins working on a site and discovers a large number of technical issues that prevent a site from being viewed and indexed properly by Google. By fixing these issues a site typically experiences a ‘bounce’ in performance that could easily be mistaken to be ‘an optimised site’. This is not the case. At worst, the site has simply had a sticking plaster applied – sticking plasters come off. At best, the site might be considered optimised for that exact moment in time.
That optimisation remains good only as long as nothing changes environmentally. This includes no changes to:
- Market demand
- Market behaviour
- Competitor behaviour (including competitor optimisation)
- Changes to the search environment
- Changes to the search guidelines
- Technical changes to the website (including no errors occurring)
- Malicious tactics from competitors that can result in penalties
Of course, some or all of the above will at some time occur. Without continued SEO, these occurrences will displace the visibility your site has in search. Your traffic from search will plateau and eventually taper off. What it all amounts to is a decline in your share of the search markets.
SEO is a cumulative activity and when you notice the decline it will already be too late to nip it in the bud. You will be able to recover your market share, but you will be at the pack again and need to catch up before you can get ahead.
Maintaining market share you have is not the only reason for approaching SEO as a long term strategy. Long term SEO is also about increasing market share. There is an unhealthy habit in business to focus only on the immediate ROI-oriented metrics.
The way in which customers engage with us has changed greatly since the advent of the internet. There are many more stages in the marketing funnel than there ever were before. Only targeting the typical ROI metrics means that a business risks short term, diminishing gains and neglects to engage with a larger group of prospective customers.
According to Forrester Research, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before contacting a vendor about a product or service. Consider it from a non-digital scenario. If three customers walked into your bricks and mortar store/office, you wouldn’t only talk to the person saying ‘I want to buy NOW’. You might perhaps place more priority in talking to that person, but you certainly wouldn’t exclude the other two who may be anywhere between ‘just browsing’ to ‘who is offering the best deal on what I want’. A short term approach to SEO does just that. It focuses only on the segment of the market that offers immediate transactional benefit – it ignores everyone else.