How Zeno’s Paradox Relates to SEO

Today I got word that one of my clients does not want to continue with SEO for their site. Now, I don’t need the money. I’m not starving. Business is good. I’m doing fine. I would not be upset if the client just chose to go another direction (i.e. get a new SEO expert). But that is not what’s happening. This client is simply dropping SEO completely. “In this economy budgets are getting cut all across the board.” I’m sure you’ve also heard that statement at least once in the recent months. Like any other project where I invested time, effort and emotion, I am completely crushed that they are going to let their natural search gains slip away.

I told them what will happen. They will not see much drop off for several months. However, their natural search traffic will stop accelerating (increasing month over month), and then their natural search traffic will begin to stall out. After the growth has stopped, they will start to notice their competitors beginning to outrank them for many search keywords and phrases. The reversal may not happen over night, but it will happen. It actually reminds me of weight loss. I was watching a story about previous winners of the TV show America’s Biggest Loser. A few of them have kept the weight off over the years. They are able to keep the weight off because they continue to work at it. They bike, run, walk – pretty much any exercise that will keep them active and healthy, they are doing it for the goal of keeping the weight off. Then there are a few winners of that show who have actually put the weight back on. For some of them, they gained 100+ lbs after winning the show. The reason they gained the weight back? They dropped their good habits. They dropped exercising. They ignored their healthy diets. Essentially, they quit working at it.

As a person who is responsible for an e-commerce retail site, you must be aware that the work never ends. It’s marketing. It’s advertising. It’s promotion. The work never ends! You cannot simply cut a budget, halt a campaign, and continue to expect the same amount of return from that marketing channel. Here’s the real message in (online) marketing: You’re never gonna get there. There is a finish line, a point where everything is running smoothly, ROI is consistently increasing, and the retail, e-commerce life hands you no surprises. However, you’ll never reach that point. You must keep working as if you can reach that point, but you also have to realize that the attempt is futile. Do not give up. Keep on fighting for every last visitor. With every new build, your site should be getting closer and closer to being 100% optimized. Again, you will never reach the finish line, but you must keep all cannons firing to hit your traffic and revenue goals right now. It’s a never-ending struggle, a lifelong journey. You can’t just arbitrarily drop a marketing channel and expect that long terms gains will continue.

Being a person who enjoys a good math analogy, I can’t help but give you Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox:

“That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.”
—Aristotle, Physics VI:9

Suppose you want to reach a finish line. Before you can get to the finish line, you must get halfway to the finish line. Before you can get halfway there, you have to get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a fourth, he must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on. This description requires you to complete an infinite number of tasks, which Zeno maintains is an impossibility. It turns out that Zeno also knows that you’ll never get to the finish line. But the excitement in life comes when we try. Wait. But Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” So maybe I’m wrong about that try stuff. At any rate, this is getting very long-winded.

Bottom line: keep investing in SEO. It’s the only way to insure optimal long term growth, and it is also a great way to avoid huge drops in traffic and revenue when a new build launches where some IT guy did something that you didn’t know about and you miss out on a massive amount of traffic and revenue. Believe me. That happens. IT guys are smart, but sometimes it’s us SEO guys who catch technical problems that affect your site’s revenue. Good day to you.