I have some compiled data on the matter not so much from clients we part ways with (we tend to remove them from our ranking software to make way for others) or from current clients we cease to work with – no, this data comes from websites that we experiment with. As an SEO, as well as someone genuinely interested in SEO (it isn’t just a job for me), I find it important to take some websites and apply different techniques and tactics to them to see how they react. I try out various forms of content, link building, and optimization. Whatever is rigorously tested for about 6 months and proves a success, is then carried over to clients and other projects.
I have a handful of examples of websites that I ceased to work on to see how long results are maintained. This is for our curious clients (and potential clients) wondering if they can conclude their ongoing SEO. I’m torn on the matter – I do believe in the concept of scaling efforts up and down based on qualified traffic and, in turn, the business they are receiving. But SEO for the most part is an ongoing project and venture – there’s always something to do. If you let up on efforts, either:
- Your competition gets a hold of your positions by being more proactive than you
- You aren’t adjusting for new search engine algorithm updates, or
- You aren’t taking advantage of new business opportunities online
So what happens after you give SEO a break – how long does it take before you begin to “slip”?
As you can see above, our first wave of optimization started at the green line, where one keyword was more receptive than the other. At the yellow line, we began a new wave of proactive SEO and ceased at the red. The trend up was the residual effects of what we did as far as content and links. You can notice a downward trend happening at about February, roughly 6 months after we started. In this instance, it is safe to say our efforts began to diminish at the 6-month mark.
This scenario seems prevalent for this website as well, having optimized sometime between May and June displayed by the spike in rankings. The effects did maintain the site for again somewhere between 4-6 months and began to drop off.
Similar trends follow this website as well.
So these are examples of quality content and links being performed on the site. Above is an example of doing these things but instead of discontinuing proactive work, you remove the content and links on the site.
And lastly, a trend of continuous and consistent content and link building over time – the ideal trajectory for ranking your keyword.
In conclusion, it is safe to say your keywords will maintain around the 4 to 7-month range if you cease performing SEO on your website, the SEO being done isn’t reversed, and it was of good quality in the first place. This number will be lower if your keywords are competitive (meaning many websites are vying for your keywords).