SEO Is Done When Google Stops Changing Things and All Your Competition Dies

What a wonderful world it would be if succeeding on the web meant hitting publish on a website, sitting back, and watching the traffic and leads flow in.

Many spend countless hours perfecting the design of a website — the layout, the colors, the logo — but pay little attention to search engine optimization. Still a great many others check off items on an SEO checklist, then never make another SEO decision again.

To have even a chance of succeeding on the web, nearly every aspect of a website launch should have SEO in mind. And then it needs to be an ongoing concern for the life of the site. In fact, SEO is only “done” when people stop searching, Google stops changing things, and all your competition dies.

Until then, we must make continuous, strategic decisions about our websites. We must take into account things like the nine search changes Google averages each day (and growing), a million competitors for every separate keyword, and technology and content upgrades that if not done make our website irrelevant.

That’s why the secret to SEO success is longevity. Let’s look next at why.

SEO is done when ... quote by Bruce Clay with illustration.

Nine Improvements to Search per Day

In 2018 alone, Google “ran over 654,680 experiments, with trained external Search Raters and live tests, resulting in more than 3234 improvements to Search.” That’s an average of nine changes per day.

It’s a stark contrast to the mere “hundreds” of changes to search we were so used to hearing about for years.

We’ll never be able to peek behind the scenes for a majority of those 3,234 updates. But when they are significant, we track them. Many have created lists of known algorithm updates such as here, here and here.

And then, of course, the types of changes Google makes vary from the smallest tweaks to major infrastructure changes. Some start out as minor updates that happen from time to time, and others impact the core algorithm.

But as we know, every change can have an impact. Many professional SEOs spend untold hours dissecting these changes and determining how they should influence their strategies — as it should be.

Millions of Competitors

You can’t do a Google search these days without finding endless pages of results. Even “hamster sweaters” returns about 1.8 million. Needless to say, whatever you’re doing, there is competition.

Now, look at a target keyword set. How many results are you competing with to get on Page 1 of the search results for each keyword? After all, we know and data supports that Page 1 is all that matters.

Chart showing how many visitors to page 1 of Google and beyond.
Image credit Backlinko

Add to that the fact that for many, keywords will have a local component. And so you now have to be an expert in local SEO and everything that comes with that, too.

Not to mention all the other search verticals that show up as elements on the SERP for one keyword. And by the way, we now need to master or at least keenly understand each element and search vertical on Page 1 of the search results to be competitive.

Chart showing the features on a search engine results page.
Image credit: Searchmetrics


Neverending Maintenance

An unmaintained site is a doomed site. This is true in both the technology that’s driving it and the content that’s on it.

On the back end, the long list of considerations for SEO includes things that might impact the speed of a site. Think about servers, content delivery networks and AMP (how about a 15 percent increase in SEO traffic when reducing user wait times by 40 percent?). Or common challenges with content management systems like duplicate content, pages that are hard to crawl, and general disorganization.

Keeping up with the latest technology that impacts SEO is a full-time job in and of itself. Unmaintained sites will not find favor in Google’s eyes.

In fact, in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google has this to say:

Some websites are not maintained or cared for at all by their webmaster. These “abandoned” websites will fail to achieve their purpose over time, as content becomes stale or website functionality ceases to work on new browser versions. Unmaintained websites should be rated Lowest if they fail to achieve their purpose due to the lack of maintenance.

As Google points out, content is a key factor in maintenance. Find out how Search Engine Journal was able to increase pageviews from 910,000 to 1.9 million in two years by maintaining its current library of content.

When we maintain both content and technology, we are well on our way to achieving expertise, authority and trust with Google.

SEO Is About Longevity

In my 24-plus years in SEO, I have only had to reinvent and recalibrate about 24 times. The only thing that is constant in search is change. If you are good at the game, you win. If you do not adapt, then you die, but SEO does not. SEO is forever.

Some worry about having to recalibrate every year as changes accelerate more and more. That’s fair. But the issue of recalibration is not as hard as some think. If you are good at what you do, think two years ahead, and anticipate the big changes now.

What do you think? Let’s start a conversation in the comments section.

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Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

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Comments (3)
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Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!

3 Replies to “SEO Is Done When Google Stops Changing Things and All Your Competition Dies”

As always, excellent food for thought. Thanks a lot, Father of SEO

SEO is forever, and forever changing.

However, the core SEO fundamentals have remained the same for many years.

Plus, don’t forget the user experience.

Write your posts and website content for the user.

Once they love it, you’ll be loved.

Agree with Jim above – Backlinks, GMB optimization are gold mines.

Amen, brother!
So many local business clients want a “one fix, forever” solution. It is SO frustrating to witness their frustration when I tell them “it doesn’t work that way”.

Solution: Feed The Beast.

Update GMG profiles, posts, photos. Integrate social media posts into newsletters, blogs, etc. Rather than turning over $X to a local charity or NPO, GET the link! Feed the beast

Today, Tomorrow, Forever.


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