SEO Marketing

Report: Cost steep for companies that don't maintain SEO marketing for their website

How long can a #1 website ranking on Google last? Apparently, only as long as a company is willing to continue investment in search engine optimization to keep it, according to an analysis by SEO services company Pilot Fish.

Methodology: The Akron, Ohio, SEO company conducted a two-year review of website rankings, comparing companies that had discontinued regular, organic SEO marketing activities after achieving #1 SEO rankings on Google vs. companies that had continued search engine optimization efforts.

Pilot Fish examined the organic SEO rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for 20 company websites – 10 in each group (Group A being those that continued SEO marketing and Group B being those that did not). All the companies examined operate in the business-to-business space, meaning that the audience for their websites, products and/or services are other companies.

The analysis examined the website rankings for keyword terms that the SEO company determined were of high interest and relevance to the respective companies and that were considered to be competitive.

The analysis compared Group A vs. Group B in following categories:

  • Growth/decline in #1 SEO rankings on Google;
  • Growth/decline in Top 10 website rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing;
  • Growth/decline in Top 30 SEO rankings on Google.

Results Summary: Companies that continue to invest in SEO marketing after initial optimization are able to maintain or add top website rankings on the major search engines, while companies that stop investing in SEO activities after initial success see their top rankings decline quickly, within a year.

Value of Continued SEO Marketing
Group A businesses that invested in new high-value content for their sites along with organic SEO marketing tactics to generate inbound links increased their #1 SEO rankings on Google by 18% in a one-year period, from June 2011 to June 2012.

Although the overall number of Top 10 SEO rankings remained flat from year-to-year, the number of Top 30 website rankings on Google among Group A businesses increased 8.3% in a year's time.

The websites in this group experienced even higher growth in visibility on the next two most important search engines, Yahoo and Bing, with 15% and 18% more Top 10 rankings, respectively, over the one-year period.   

 SEO Rankings: June 2011-2012 Group A* Group B**

 Increase in #1 SEO rankings on Google



 Increase in Top 10 SEO rankings on Google



 Increase in Top 30 SEO rankings on Google



 Increase in Top 30 SEO rankings on Yahoo



 Increase in Top 30 SEO rankings on Bing




*Group A:  Companies that continued SEO marketing on their websites after initial optimization

**Group B:  Companies that discontinued SEO marketing on their websites after initial optimization

"Achieving a #1 organic ranking on Google for important keywords can be time-consuming and difficult to achieve, but has high value to any business," said Pilot Fish President Angela Charles. "The volume of traffic to those sites is considerably more than for companies whose listings fall lower on the first page of results or further back. Because of that, we recommend that businesses continue optimization techniques that will help ensure their sites continued top placement ahead of their competitors."

A 2011 report by Optify detailed the importance of earning and maintaining one of the top spots in search engine rankings. Sites on the first page of results (Top 10) will get 89% of the click-throughs from searches on that keyword term. However, the majority of clicks (58.4%) will go to the top three results, with the #1 SEO result reeling in 36.4 percent of the click traffic, the #2 result getting 12.5% of the clicks and the #3 result generating 9.5%. Here's more detail about the Optify report on search engine click-throughs.  

Cost of Discontinuing SEO Marketing
The Group B companies also had achieved #1 website rankings on Google through organic search engine optimization, but had elected to discontinue additional SEO marketing more than a year ago (in some cases more than two years). This group saw its number of #1 SEO rankings on Google drop 12 percent from 2010 to 2011, and then drop another 30 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Additionally, the number of Top 10 results for this group on Google dropped 22 percent in 2012. The number of Top 30 SEO rankings on Google fell 14 percent this year.

The companies in Group B fared better on Yahoo and Bing. Their Top 10 website rankings on Yahoo only dropped by 2 percent in 2012 and actually increased by 5 percent on MSN's Bing.

"The Group B companies' results illustrate the effect of the divergent algorithms used by the top search engines," Charles said. "Google has recently made changes to its algorithm that reward companies that update their sites regularly and, consequently, penalize websites that have grown stale. Other changes to Google's ranking system reward businesses that seek out quality inbound links to their sites. These are areas in which the Group B companies largely have not participated."

"Although those businesses continue to perform well on Yahoo and Bing, the reality is that Google drives much more traffic as a result of its market share dominance," Charles added. "And, because Google's algorithm is more difficult to navigate, we recommend that clients focus on the recommendations for performance on Google and results on Yahoo and Bing will follow."

As of May 2012, Google had 65 percent of market share for U.S.-based searches, while Yahoo and Bing had 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, according to Experian Hitwise.

Conclusion:  Companies that use organic SEO marketing methods to optimize their websites and that engage in a longer-term SEO strategy are more successful at obtaining and maintaining #1 and Top 10 website rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Organic SEO methods used by the companies studied in this report included:

  • Repair of any non-conforming website coding;
  • On-page content optimization;
  • Addition of new, high-quality, optimized content to the website on a regular basis;
  • Appropriate inbound link strategy that focuses on developing high-quality, relevant links from organizations that value the content of the website.

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For assistance in determining your website's ranking on Google, Yahoo and Bing or SEO marketing help, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 or fill out this form.