When Can I Stop SEO? (And What Happens When I Do?)

Discover the risks of pausing SEO and the benefits of ongoing optimization, including maintaining search visibility, increasing organic traffic, and building thought leadership.
  • Portrait of a smiling woman with long hair, transparent background.
    Sarah Berry SEO Consultant
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  • October 25, 2023
  • 4 min. read

Meet the digital marketing strategy that never ends: Search engine optimization (SEO). If you’re wondering when you can stop SEO, the answer is never. SEO is an ongoing strategy, and pausing SEO will erase all your hard work over time. Learn more about what happens when you stop SEO!

When can I stop SEO?

You can stop SEO at any time, but there are risks to stopping SEO. When you stop search engine optimization, you won’t see immediate changes, like when you pause a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Over time, though, you will see decreases in rankings, traffic, and conversions.

What happens when you stop SEO?

When you stop SEO, you’ll notice a few things in several months:

  • Decreased rankings in search results
  • Decreased organic traffic
  • Decreased organic conversions

Unlike other digital marketing strategies, SEO’s contributions decay over time vs. overnight.

Why do businesses pause SEO?

Businesses pause SEO for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Money: From decreased budget to lowered returns, companies will stop SEO due to money.
  • Time: Companies will also pause SEO if they don’t have enough time for the strategy.
  • Reallocation: A shift in priorities, like due to a company merger, can also put SEO on pause.
  • Returns: Businesses that aren’t seeing a return from search will also respond by stopping SEO.
  • Search algorithms: Websites hit hard by algorithm updates sometimes abandon SEO.

In our experience, businesses pause paid or DIY SEO efforts without considering its extensive impact on the company’s operations or researching how they could turn an underperforming SEO strategy around, like by investing in an SEO consultant or agency.

5 reasons to continue doing SEO

If you’re thinking about stopping SEO, consider these reasons for continuing your SEO program:

1. Maintain your search visibility

Search engine optimization is critical to search visibility. While you can invest in pay-per-click ads, you’ll pay for every click on your website. In comparison, SEO is free — you don’t pay when people visit your site.

Continuing your SEO strategy will help your business maintain its search visibility.

If you stop or pause SEO, you’ll see your presence in organic search results decay. You’ll likely see this change sooner for competitive keywords. That’s why it’s important to investigate your organic traffic before stopping search engine optimization.

2. Grow your organic traffic

SEO is a traffic driver, and when you pause SEO, you pull the plug on that traffic source. However, continuing your SEO program can help your business maintain and grow its organic traffic, which can help you bring more qualified users to your site and sales funnel.

Organic traffic also evolves. New searches happen every day, and if your business pauses SEO, you’ll miss the chance to have a presence in these search results. Instead, you’ll miss out on this traffic (unless you buy it with ads).

In the long term, exiting from search results doesn’t make sense, even for well-known brands.

3. Increase your online conversions

Most SEO programs use search engine optimization to generate conversions, whether through a newsletter sign-up, quote form, or product purchase. Even if SEO doesn’t drive a conversion directly, it likely played a role in someone’s journey from visitor to customer.

Ending your SEO efforts will result in decreased conversions.

Unfortunately, most businesses don’t see this effect until several months later and then have to react to the lost revenue through more expensive digital marketing efforts, like paid advertising. That’s why it’s important to research your buying funnel and the contributing channels.

4. Build your thought leadership

Becoming a thought leader happens over time, and search contributes to this development. That’s because search engine optimization focuses on acquiring reputable backlinks from authoritative websites, and earning those links requires unique, high-quality content.

When you stop SEO, you stop investing in your role as a thought leader.

This change happens fast, too, since thought leadership revolves around responding to what’s new or trending in an industry. Soon, your site will have the reputation of a website that isn’t active or useful anymore to users.

Choose to continue SEO, though, and you can continue building your thought leadership.

5. Expand your search rankings

Stopping SEO also stops your search rankings from growing (with existing keywords) or expanding (with new keywords). Again, you limit your organic visibility and reach, which chips away at your website traffic and online conversions.

However, continuing SEO can help your organization claim more search results.

Continue your website’s SEO with SEO experts

You’ve learned what happens when you stop SEO, but what happens after this is up to you. If you fear your SEO results aren’t up to scratch, or you need help streamlining your team’s time or proving the value of SEO to leadership, consider SEO.com’s award-winning team of search engine optimization experts.

Contact us today to learn more!

Portrait of a smiling woman with long hair, transparent background.
Sarah Berry is an SEO Consultant at one of the largest SEO agencies in the USA — WebFX. With more than 10,000 hours of SEO experience, she offers practical insights and strategies you can use to grow your rankings, traffic, and revenue from search.

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