The Value of Ongoing SEO Management – A Search Marketing Case Study

Keeping an eye to the futureIs search engine marketing a one time deal or a ongoing  process?  It’s a question a lot of people face, especially in a tough economy.  Do I really need a service that is ongoing or will I be fine just optimizing my website for the search engines and forgetting about it?

I would suggest that a one-time search engine optimization (SEO) service is missing the big picture.  The search engines are constantly changing and your website is constantly changing to keep fresh content.  New websites are coming online and old sites are realizing the potential of SEO bringing more competition.

But how bad could it be…really?  Let’s see… 

The Client:
As they used to say at the start of Dragnet, the following story is true, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  I have purposefully omitted the name of the organization, but wanted to give a little background information about them.

The client is a large Christian publishing company with several departments and hundreds of products and services who offers great Christian curriculum options for both children and adult.  There’s a good chance your church has done business with them.

They have always been a great client with an important ministry.  Over the course of several years we have optimized several pages for them for various product lines.  They host their website with another web host (not OCC) and have a team of web designers who control their website design.  Our contacts, the heads of the product lines, did not have control over website itself and because of the size of the company and complexity of the website; they decided to have their web team implement the optimization as per our instruction.

The Service:
The client purchased several marketing services from OurChurch.Com over the years, but the primary service they had was the SEO Management service.  With this service, OurChurch.Com:

  • Performs in-depth keyword research
  • Optimizes the web pages for the search engines targeting the best keywords
  • Monitors the optimization of the pages
  • Runs regular search ranking reports
  • Keeps the optimization practices current

The Initial Results:
With each page optimized, the initial results in the search engines were dramatic.  On average, we were able to reach 50 top ten, 37 top five, and 14 #1 rankings for each page.

1. The Sudden Drop:
Getting a helping handAfter having optimized several pages and maintained many of them for a couple of months, the rankings suddenly dropped for all of the pages we had optimized.   We discovered this during a mid-month review of the search rankings of the pages we were managing.  We immediately reviewed the web pages we were maintaining and discovered that much of the optimization of these pages had been lost.  Just in case, we then checked some pages we had optimized previously, but were not currently managing, and discovered they too had the same issue.

It turned out that the web design team made some changes to the client’s entire site and, while making these changes, inadvertently removed some of the optimization.  We notified the client of the issue and they were able to quickly re-optimize the pages.  Within a week the top rankings were returning for all of the pages.

2. Duplicate Content:
A few months later, the rankings for several of the pages started dropping again, this time more gradually.  We made a few adjustments to the optimization of the pages and continued to monitor the pages, but the rankings continued to drop.  This decrease in rankings was a bit baffling.  All of the typical things that may cause a website’s rankings to decrease looked fine.

Just to be sure, we did some manual checking of the keywords in the various search engines and made a discovery.  The rankings had not actually dropped, but had shifted.  After further research, we found that they had performed another significant web design change and created duplicates of each of the websites.  Some of the search engines were now listing the duplicate web pages instead of the original pages.  In this case we recommended making some minor changes to the code of the websites to make sure the search engines would not penalize the client’s site for duplicate content issues.  We were able to adjust our ranking reports as well to show all listings.

3. Another Drop In Rankings:
The roller coaster ride wasn’t over yet.  Several months later the client decided to make some major changes in the structure of their website and the website’s design.  Two of the pages we are managing were affected in the website redesign.  Much of the optimization was lost and rankings began to fall.  I would love to tell you that we contacted the client about the issue immediately and once again they were able to reapply the optimization and regain their rankings.  We did contact them about it immediately; however, in this case, due to the continuing changes in how the company is handling the website, the client decided not to re-optimize the pages.  Several months later, unfortunately, the rankings for both pages had continued to drop.  The pages had less than half the top ten rankings they had just a few months ago and have lost most of their #1 rankings.

So, is ongoing SEO Management important?  I think the case study above demonstrates that it is.  It’s a bit like landscaping your business or church.  The initial landscaping takes a lot of work and costs quite a bit, but it makes the business or church look a lot better.  If you just left it at that, it wouldn’t take long before weeds started growing and flowers started withering.  After a few months the landscaping that was making your location look great is now an eye-soar making the investment in landscaping worthless.  However, if instead you have the landscaping company come out every couple of weeks to maintain the landscaping, it will continue to look great.  It costs a little extra, but it keeps the investment valuable.  A SEO Management service is similar in that it keeps your website optimized, producing traffic and leads.

As illustrated in this case study, ongoing SEO Management services have several benefits, but the three biggest benefits are:

  1. They allow you modify the content of your website and keep it current with fresh content without having to worry about losing your positions in the search engines.
  2. They protect you from changes to your website that inadvertently affect the optimization of your website and changes within the search engines that affect rankings.
  3. They keep you informed of your current situation in the search engines and allow you to address issues that may come up.

Perhaps there is one more benefit that comes with an ongoing SEO Management service, peace of mind.

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Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

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