Is SEO a One-Time Thing or an Ongoing Process?

In this article, I will share my insights regarding one-time SEO vs. ongoing SEO. I will cover the differences between them, the pros and cons of each approach, and the scenarios in which each of these SEO practices can be useful. Finally, I will provide my recommendations on which one I consider more worthy of your investment.

What is one-time SEO?

One-time SEO refers to performing SEO in a single round, with the expectation of results. Typically, when agencies market one-time SEO packages, they provide extensive SEO services that may be adequate for starter websites. Sometimes, it turns out that one-off SEO packages are not quick fixes, but instead involve numerous SEO activities, whose implementation may take one to two months.

Starter websites can benefit from one-off packages, ideally simultaneously with website development. In such cases, SEO consultants must collaborate with web developers to construct a user-friendly website that can be easily crawled and accessed by search bots.

What can be included in one-time SEO packages?

A well-defined one-off SEO package can include, but not limit to, these SEO activities:

  • Website design evaluation from SEO perspective
  • Checking page speed and UX
  • Reviewing permalinks
  • Adding the website to Google Search Console and Google Analytics 4
  • Verifying proper implementation of tracking codes
  • Setting up redirections, robots meta tags, and canonical, if needed
  • Checking robots.txt file
  • Creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console
  • Recommending necessary website pages
  • Conducting keyword research for pages
  • SEO copywriting
  • On-page optimization
  • Developing a complete content strategy for one year in advance

There may also be one-time packages available for short-term SEO investment as a reactive strategy against Google penalties, significant traffic drops resulting from the Link Spam Update or the Helpful Content Update, and improper implementation of E-E-A-T.

Typically, businesses that have experienced negative impacts on their traffic seek the assistance of SEO consultants to investigate the cause and suggest future solutions.

Is it possible to get results with one-time SEO packages?

As is often the case with SEO, the answer is—it depends. There are always numerous factors at play. As a business owner, you can certainly gain results from a one-time SEO package, if it’s well-defined and comprehensive.

If the one-time SEO package includes comprehensive coverage of copywriting, on-page SEO, keyword research, and initial technical setups, tailored to your specific CMS, you should be in good shape to start. However, it’s important to note that periodic SEO tweaking, adaptations, and further implementation of content strategy may be necessary.

Let’s delve into the similarities, differences, potential ROI, and time investments between one-off SEO and ongoing SEO.

one-time seo vs ongoing seo

Pros and cons of one-time SEO packages

Pros of one-time SEO packages are:

  • Cost-effectiveness: they are a cost-effective way of getting SEO services, with one-time payment,
  • Customization: these packages can be fully customized to meet your business goals and tailored to your industry.
  • Comprehensiveness: One-time packages can provide in-depth coverage of all essential SEO activities, such as on-page SEO, copywriting, and technical optimization.

Furthermore, some businesses may find it more suitable to pay for SEO services once and then learn how to implement the best SEO practices themselves. Therefore, one-time SEO packages can be nicely combined with SEO training sessions. This approach can help businesses save money in the long run and achieve better results by applying SEO best practices in-house.

On the other side, the cons of one-time SEO packages are:

  • Lack of ongoing support: typically, once the agency delivers the one-time SEO package, communication between the agency and the customer stops.
  • One-time SEO is not proactive: while it provides SEO support according to current best SEO practices, some tactics used today might become outdated in the future.
  • Short-term benefits: while they can provide quick ranking improvements, there is questionable value in achieving long-term results due to the constant changes in the search landscape.

Given that the search landscape is continually changing, a one-off SEO service may yield short-term results. Nevertheless, in cases of future algorithm changes, you will be left to deal with the changes on your own.

What is ongoing SEO?

Ongoing SEO is a long-term investment aimed at increasing organic visibility in search results over time. It is also referred to as SEO retainers or monthly SEO packages. Monthly SEO services usually involve recurring monthly payments and a long-term relationship with an SEO consultant or an SEO agency.

With ongoing SEO services, you can expect to have a dedicated SEO consultant available at any time to address any SEO issues that may arise. In addition, continuous SEO services allow you to address more complex SEO issues and fine-tune your SEO strategies in response to Google core updates, industry changes, and other shifts in the search landscape.

Therefore, ongoing SEO is particularly well-suited to websites that already invested in SEO but want to improve their ROI, businesses in competitive industries, and businesses that want to align to the latest Google updates and try out innovative SEO strategies.

What can be included in ongoing SEO packages?

Ongoing SEO services encompass a wide range of packages that can vary greatly, from narrow and highly specific offerings to broad and comprehensive monthly packages.

Specialized SEO packages

For instance, monthly SEO packages can concentrate exclusively on content SEO and strategy, which may include keyword research, creating content briefs, SEO copywriting, on-page optimization, and developing a long-term content strategy. SEO retainer packages may also specialize in developing effective backlinking and PR strategies, as well as conducting recurring technical SEO checks.

SEO reporting is often an integral part of continuous SEO packages because it’s a reliable way for a client to check the results, and estimate ROI from SEO.

All-inclusive SEO packages

Often, ongoing SEO services offer a one-stop-shop solution, covering various aspects of SEO that are comprehensive enough to produce long-term results, provided by agencies and freelancers. With this in mind, here’s an example of a comprehensive ongoing SEO package:

  • Technical SEO checks (Checking GSC to detect crawling and indexing errors, broken pages, crawl stats, page speed, and other technical issues)
  • Keyword research
  • Creating new pages according to the content strategy
  • Optimizing existing pages
  • Competitor research
  • Following Google updates and reviewing clients’ websites
  • Periodically reviewing internal link structure
  • Optimizing for local keywords (if the client has a local business)
  • Increasing topical authority on the website
  • Reviewing content to see if it matches the E-E-A-T requirements.

Pros and cons of ongoing SEO

Pros of ongoing SEO are:

  • Building long-term relationships with your SEO consultant
  • Compared to one-off SEO projects, the likelihood of achieving long-term success is much higher with continuous SEO services
  • With ongoing SEO, you have a dependable SEO partner to support you when you need it, and you won’t have to face it alone
  • In case of changes in the search landscape or Core updates, you can feel secure as your SEO consultant will continually monitor the changes and provide SEO recommendations accordingly.

The cons of ongoing SEO:

  • The SEO investment will be far greater than one-time SEO
  • It takes patience to see significant organic rank improvements, especially in highly competitive industries

Similarities of one-time and ongoing SEO

Of course, both SEO packages have certain similarities, such as:

  • They are both grounded in thorough SEO research
  • They aim to implement the most effective SEO practices
  • The ultimate goal for both is to enhance organic visibility and improve rankings
  • Usually, they both cover essential SEO aspects such as content optimization and strategy, keyword research, and technical SEO fixes.

Differences between one-time and ongoing SEO

There are also some noticeable differences between the two SEO packages:

  • Time: Ongoing SEO is characterized by consistent and steady efforts, while one-off SEO is more suitable for quick fixes and prioritization.
  • ROI: Investing in monthly SEO retainers usually provides a much higher ROI because you have a reliable SEO consultant at your disposal who can fine-tune SEO strategies according to changes in the search landscape. On the other hand, the benefits of one-off SEO are short-term.
  • Cost: The cost of ongoing SEO is much higher than the cost of one-off SEO.

My verdict: Ongoing-SEO provides better long-term results

If you decide to outsource your SEO to a reliable partner, you can achieve better long-term SEO results with continuous SEO efforts, such as:

  • Enhancing your brand visibility in search engines
  • Improving the quality of content and rankings on your pages for top commercial terms that bring conversions and new clients
  • Executing proper content strategy will help you rank for informational content at the top of the sales funnel, increasing your brand awareness among your target audience
  • Eliminating technical errors on your site and enhancing the user experience
  • Boosting your E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) which is crucial for websites in medical and financial niches
  • Expanding the topical coverage in your niche and increasing your website’s topical authority
  • Identifying opportunities for PR campaigns and obtaining backlinks from relevant sources
  • Discovering new and untapped keyword opportunities
  • Staying up-to-date with the latest industry changes
  • Regularly monitoring, refreshing, and updating your website’s content.

Best practices for ongoing SEO services

  • Focusing on communication – Proper communication is essential to understanding how SEO works and the results that can be achieved in the short, medium, and long term.
  • Emphasizing transparency – SEOs should reveal their strategies and explain the importance of ongoing work to clients. Otherwise, clients may become impatient, demand quick results, and start looking for quicker solutions elsewhere.
  • Always prioritizing – Always prioritize the SEO actions that will have the greatest impact first. For example, focus on creating a content strategy rather than fixing too-short meta titles on all pages.
  • Not overpromising – overpromising can lead to client frustration and a loss of trust. It’s important to be realistic and honest about what can be achieved. Once a client starts feeling like he has been ripped off, it’s hard to regain trust.

About the author

Sonja Marinkovic is a freelance SEO consultant and SEO enthusiast with more than 5 years of relevant industry experience. After working full-time in the iGaming industry for 3 years, she decided to make a turn and start her own SEO consulting business. She is passionate about content and SEO strategy, technical SEO, and managing websites in different CMS systems. Her favorite animal is the rabbit. More in "About Me" section.

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