EXPERIMENT: I took 7 months off from SEO and why you probably shouldn’t

This post will show you what happens when you stop your SEO work. Spoiler… it’s not pretty if do.

Just as an FYI, I did not take this time off on purpose. Clients came in, work priorities took my attention from my own search ranking focus.

This will happen in small businesses, so I thought I’d share with you what happened to my rankings.

Basically, lots of keywords dropped out of the top 100 (about 140) as to be expected, but some from my better-performing blog posts actually moved up. Let’s look at it in more detail…

“Oooooh a chart :)”

Going through this chart, on the far left you have:

  • Keywords: – These are search phrases that are in the top 100 (top 10 pages) Google results.
  • Traffic: Estimated traffic.
  • Traffic Cost: Estimated traffic if you were to spend money on Google AdWords.

The line graph shows the last years worth of Google ranking keywords for this site. As you can see my initial efforts started in April. This was all of the technical side of SEO. This is the standard first step in any SEO campaign. Making sure the site is running as smoothly as it possibly can.

May, June and July were spent writing blog posts and adding pages to the site, tweaking pages that were already on the site and writing guest posts on other established websites. As you can see the number of keywords that were in the top 100 went up significantly month by month.

“Great tune, I think it was about SEO rankings?”

Getting the technical side of your website correct is always the first step of an SEO campaign because you need to know that you meet Googles strict (and ever-changing, which is why I build on WordPress) criteria before getting on with the content building.

“No point starting a race when you’re going to get disqualified anyway :)”

If you run a website that has content but isn’t getting the rankings hike that you assume you’d be getting then maybe that is the issue. [Insert shameless plug to a one-off technical update of your website]

Negative rankings change

So, let’s delve into the bad news. The lost keywords. Now, saying 140 of my ranking keywords fell out of the top 100 sounds pretty dramatic, and as it was around 70% of my total it was a big deal.

Some of them were phrases that were highly competitive and take time to establish. Such as “local web developer” or “seo company”. In highly competitive markets, these need to be nurtured and worked on constantly. If you take a break, your competition can and will outrank you. These were really bad to lose.

When you’re writing decent amounts of good quality content regularly, you will rank for some keyword phrases that you didn’t plan too. This just happens naturally. Losing some of these didn’t lose me much sleep and actually made the list of words I did rank for much more focused.

Having 100’s of phrases ranking in the top 100 but only getting highs of 20-30 will still mean little to zero traffic, but even 1 keyword in the top 3 will potentially give you hundreds of organic site traffic.

This leads us nicely into…

The positives

As I mentioned before, Google cleared out of lot of keywords that weren’t relevant to what I offer as a service. This is Google keeping the search results as useful to you as possible.

Watching the change in rankings for some of the posts that I wrote meant that I could determine which post type worked best. The changes lead me to write this article on my best ranking blog post (since the writing of that one, this post is now the top performer). In addition to that, writing reviews and recommendations on software that you use that your clients could find use in also worked really well.

That’s pretty much it for the benefits, but other things that still improved, even though more slowly, were:

  • DA Score: Domain Authority is a score from 0 to 100. Its a scoring system that determines how established and useful a website is. Brand new websites will start at 0 obviously, they will slowly move up as the rankings improve. This site is currently at 19. Doesn’t sound like much but its a good achievement seeing as some of Googles pages only get to 70-80. Once around the 20 mark, you will start to get people reaching out for you to put up a guest post on your website, with a link back to the author’s site of course 🙂
  • Better content: By this, I mean that the articles I did write (like this one) would be better valued than just following what everyone else is writing about. Not focusing on the same thing meant that my work was more varied and would lead me to potentially better insights, which in turn would help my clients and future clients. I’m actually reading a book by Gary Klien on the subject which I would recommend.

“There’s always one…”

Final thoughts

I see a lot of companies that just churn out content that they have seen their competition working on. Take more time, write better, more informative and stimulating content. Banging out post after post of the same stuff as your competition will just make you blend in. That’s not the going to get you to stand out as an authority.

If you are focusing on a highly competitive market then don’t stop for too long. 1-2 month maximum. It will give your competition a chance to get one over on you, but you will be able to analyse more specific areas to focus on, plus it will give you a mental break.

Even if you are outsourcing your SEO work, they should be in regular contact with you to pitch guest posting and blog ideas. A break from this will help both parties.

Hope this helped! Feel free to email or comment with thoughts on it as I love to hear feedback 🙂