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Why SEO is a discipline you can't afford to ignore

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Your business is ranking well in Google Search, the traffic is coming in and you’re converting a healthy number of visitors into customers. And now you might feel like the job is done, that the traffic will keep rolling in and your website will, more or less, continue to convert.

It’s tempting to take your foot off the pedal.

So what would happen if you stopped producing content, optimising pages and running technical audits?

What happens if you stop creating new content?

One of the key principles of SEO is creating regular quality content but why is this so important? In November 2011, Google rolled out the Freshness Update, affecting up to 35% of queries - THAT'S almost 3 times the impact of Panda.

In other words, content that performs now won’t continue to perform unless you keep optimising it (see the next section).

That’s not the only reason you need to keep creating fresh content, though.

  • New content keeps your brand up-to-date with industry trends and the changing needs of your audience.
  • It also ensures you’re targeting new keyword opportunities.
  • New content feeds your social media campaigns.
  • It earns you more links allows you to build more internal links.
  • New content creates new pages
  • The more content you have, the more specifically you can address unique/niche audience needs.

Take all of this away and you’re missing out on new traffic, links and all the good stuff SEO provides. And, to make matters worse, your top-performing content is going to slip down the rankings and generate less traffic over time.

The bigger problem, though, is that your content is no longer relevant even when visitors do land on your page - and what is that going to do to your conversion rates? A strong search presence will bring visitors to your website but it’s relevant, compelling content that engages them to take action.

What happens if you stop updating old content?

If Google cares so much about freshness, what does this mean for your best-performing content? Thankfully, you can make old content fresh again to maintain performance over time and you’ll often find performance improves after ongoing optimisation.

Some brands report 40% traffic increases after updating old content, others put the figure more in the 75% region.

Why does this happen?

  • Fresh content ranks better in Google
  • Users want the latest information (more clicks)
  • You can promote updated content like it’s new (more impression, clicks, etc.)
  • Updated content tends to be longer, more in-depth
  • Updated content tends to be written/edited better
  • Updating content keeps it relevant

That last point is particularly important in the days of E-A-T and YMYL. Recent core algorithm updates have made relevance more important than ever and what was relevant last year may not be now.

If you’re not sure how to update your old content, read this guide and follow these steps:

  • Run a content audit
  • Pinpoint high-performing older content
  • Assess content quality: Accuracy, recency, readability, originality, accessibility, UX and visual content.
  • Update outbound links
  • Update any data, stats, etc.
  • Update time references
  • Ensure key points are relevant
  • Check links are working
  • Add new sections for recent developments
  • Update old images
  • Update meta description
  • Update publish date
  • Add schema if relevant

By updating your content, you should be able to maintain or increase traffic volume to your best-performing pages and keep convincing users to take action.

What happens if you stop running technical audits?

Technical SEO is possibly the least glamorous but most important aspect of search optimisation. Tinkering with robot.txt files and link redirects might not sound like much fun but this is what keeps your online presence together.

Here’s a quick reminder of what a technical SEO checklist might look like:

  • Indexing: Sitemaps, robot.txt file, crawl reports, etc.
  • Page speed: Server response time, server requests, image optimisation, minimising files, etc.
  • Mobile optimisation: Page speed, mobile navigation, mobile vs desktop KPIs, etc.
  • Link profiles: Check the quality of inbound and outbound links.
  • Nofollow links: Ensure the correct link attributes are applied where necessary
  • Broken links: Detect and fix any broken links.
  • Redirects: Ensure redirects are working.
  • URLs: Ensure all URLs are descriptive and readable

Fail to keep on top of the technical stuff and you could end up with content not ranking, losing traffic to broken redirects and getting hit with link penalties for not disavowing dodgy links.

To make matters worse, your social and PPC traffic will suffer the same performance issues. It doesn’t take long for your SEO problems to have a negative impact on your other marketing strategies and the overall experience of your website.

In many ways, SEO and content marketing are the glue that holds your wider marketing strategy together and everything starts to fall apart if you take your foot off the pedal.

Lee Wilson, head of services, Vertical Leap

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