What happens if you stop investing in organic search? (2023)

Unhappy Growth Manager without SEO investment

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you stopped doing SEO for your website? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s the process of making changes to your website to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Unlike paid search, which has an immediate drop in brand visibility and traffic, if you stop doing SEO, your website’s visibility in search results may start to decline but more gradually. This means that fewer people will find your website when they search for keywords related to your business or industry – decreasing brand discoverability from a resultant decrease in relevant traffic and sales. It can also lead to a further increased reliance on more expensive paid media channels to replace the lost traffic and visibility.

and it was going so well…

Three things happen when you stop investing in SEO

  1. You may lose brand discoverability and resultant traffic and revenue from a decreased visibility in the organic search rankings.
  2. Your competitors will take the higher positions gaining that brand visibility (those tasty answer boxes) and those potential customers that could be yours.
  3. Without this organic traffic, there could be an increased reliance on paid media channels which at a time of financial uncertainty may conflict with business goals.

There are a number of reasons why your brand discoverability, and resultant traffic/sales may drop after cutting investment in SEO. All of these are related to the ultimate decline in the organic search visibility of your brand. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t cut SEO spending.

5 Reasons you shouldn’t stop SEO investment

1 SEO is a never-ending competition

Like a cycle race, you could be way out in front but if you stop cycling you will be caught. Stopping SEO means you stop pedalling. Your traffic and brand visibility may coast along for a while but, in time, your competitors, who may be pedalling hard will catch you and they will pass you. The opportunity to reach new customers will now be theirs. Lifetime customers that could be have been won from organic search are theirs not yours.

2. Google changes the rules (snooze you lose)

In 2022 there were 10 major algorithm changes, including the helpful content update. Major brands saw their organic search visibility collapse as Google changed the rules on what they felt was important. Brands that aren’t investing in SEO will miss these changes and could see an overnight plummet in visibility and traffic.

3. Lack of Freshness

Google rates freshness. Stopping SEO could mean stopping your investment in fresh relevant content. The pre and post covid world are very different places. What consumers want, how they search and what they search for have changed. Google needs to reflect that by surfacing the latest most relevant content which may not be yours, and those broken links that look terrible won’t fix themselves.

4. Missed Opportunities

Approximately 15% of searches made on Google each year have never been made before. This means that the opportunities you previously optimised for may not be relevant or valuable today. Hopefully that doesn’t make your brand look out of touch?

5. Increased Reliance on Paid Media (Short Term Gain – Long Term Pain)

Cutting your investment in SEO may save some marketing budget in the short term, but if you are growing challenger brand you’ll still need those customers. That could mean even greater reliance on paid media channels which aren’t getting any cheaper.

But it’s actually more than just that. We know that SEO takes time to see those step changes in performance. Like keeping a balloon in the air, stopping the SEO investment means your visibility will drop not stay the same. That will require more time, and more budget to get back to where you were.

How can we help with SEO?

Escaping Gravity is my third digital marketing business. I have been doing SEO for well over 20 years which means I have seen most strategies and know the ones that work – and the ones that don’t. Our team have extensive experience in delivering profitable SEO campaigns in the UK, USA and abroad.

If you’re a challenger brand considering an investment in SEO or having second thoughts about your current SEO activity, please reach out to me. Let’s have a conversation before making any hasty decisions. You can find my contact details using the form provided, and I look forward to hearing from you.