Beginning an SEO campaign is a little like planting a garden. First, you visualize the result of the beautiful fruits you will harvest. Then you design a plan of action and work begins. You till the ground, plant the seeds, fertilize and water the soil. The anticipation grows as you daily check in on your garden. In a short time, a few sprouts start shooting up, and your hope swells even more.

However, as the days continue to tick by with no harvest, enthusiasm can flag. The work of watering and weeding starts to seem more like a chore than a labor of love, and little by little, neglect sets in and the project begins to die. Suddenly, you realize it’s been over a week since you even checked on your garden. What you see when you make it out to the yard amazes and disheartens you. Withered plants, weakened and choked with weeds stand where once healthy seedlings sprouted. You realize there will be no bounty this season.

All too often, this same pattern plays out with business owners starting their SEO campaigns. Excitement and determination are replaced with apathy and neglect when the harvest is not immediately available. Like gardening, search engine optimization is a long-term commitment based on hope for future results. Just as the sciences related to agriculture provide proof that if you follow the set rules you are likely to reap a harvest, the data-backed best SEO practices are likewise reason to believe in an eventual ROI.

When you stop work on optimizing your search engine results, some predictable things happen to your site. Your website is not the only thing to feel pain. Since digital presence is a vital component of most businesses, your entire operation can suffer tremendously.

You Lose Value in Your Customers’ Eyes

One of the primary reasons that people turn to online search engines is to gather relevant information for making buying decisions. Businesses with vibrant optimization strategies continually update information on their sites. Seeing fresh content from your page or noticing Google named your response to their question as “best answer” informs searchers that you are a reliable source of information. They know you are actively researching how your business is changing and that you will benefit them with in-depth knowledge of your industry.

When you drop your efforts, your content can quickly become stale. Customers planning to make a purchase often do many searches over time before making a decision. If they see the same old article on your site every time they search and fresh content popping up on a competitors site, whom do you think they are likely to choose?

You Miss Vital Connection Points With Your Customers

Those multiple pre-purchase searches mentioned above are just part of the story. Today’s consumers are covering their bases by:

  • Checking product and company reviews
  • Watching demonstration videos
  • Reading about brands
  • Studying industry trends
  • Consuming information on related product categories

Part of an effective SEO campaign is to connect with consumers as they traverse this “search journey.” Accomplishing this task is not an exact science, but by studying past purchasers’ behavior, you can arrive at an accurate picture of the steps your typical customer takes to reach your door. When you use analytics tools to design a campaign that meets customers at as many of these points as possible, you increase the likelihood of making a connection. By failing to study this data as it evolves and to incorporate it into your optimization strategies, you hamper your ability to serve those seeking you online.

You Risk Working Counter to Google

Like it or not, Google rules the world when it comes to search engines. To be successful at SEO, business owners must line up with its practices or risk penalization. The trouble is, Google keeps changing the rules. Being the world’s largest, most powerful search engine company comes with a lot of responsibility, and Google is undoubtedly aware that its actions affect the livelihoods of millions of people. So, when the company changes a Google algorithm, there’s a good reason. It wants businesses to benefit from search engine use because it makes Google even larger and more powerful.

When it sees a better way to do business, it does not hesitate to change the way its rankings are computed. For the aware optimization professional or business owner, staying on top of all the changes the search engine giant makes is essential to success. Neglected programs, however, may have initially followed Google best practices but failed to update with changes. Many sites who started with SEO and then dropped it are hurting themselves in rankings without even knowing it.

Your Ranking Goes Lower

Those all-important organic search results often suffer the most from a dropped SEO campaign. When your site is “below the fold” (meaning a ranking lower than the third response, forcing the users to scroll to see your page), you can expect your clicks to drop dramatically. It takes consistent and targeted efforts to stay at the top.

Understanding and implementing all best practices, keeping content fresh and aptly redesigning site structures when Google changes how it formulates rankings are all part of the big picture of SEO success. Like the garden example at the beginning of this article, following the known path to success will increase your chances of getting there. Consistent effort coupled with a willingness to hold on patiently when results are not immediately apparent is what it takes to reap a bountiful harvest.

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