10 Reasons Why Your SEO is Failing (And What To Do About It)

Running a SEO program is hard.  It’s not just keeping up with the trends and best practices it’s also about balancing the needs of stakeholders involved in the program. 

When SEO programs fail to progress it is generally caused by the following 10 kiss-of-death actions:

  1. Having limited SEO knowledge yet restricting the SEO strategy and deployment by team members
  2. Failing to give the SEO program the attention it deserves
  3. Viewing the program’s progress using outdated metrics or irrelevant numbers
  4. Failing to heed the advice and recommendations of those with SEO expertise
  5. Letting distractions hinder the ability for the SEO program to be executed properly
  6. Impatience with the speed that the program is implemented
  7. Failing to acknowledge smaller wins while being overly critical of the program’s performance
  8. Targeting highly competitive keywords instead of med-tail and long-tail phrases (especially early in the SEO process)
  9. Confusing SEO efforts with lead generation activities
  10. Not optimizing for conversions and gauging their quality

If you can admit that there are some issues with your current SEO strategies, you’ve taken one big step closer towards solving them. Having the right mindset and the necessary background knowledge to be effective can help you go from page five of Google to possible the top-ranked result. Just make sure that your expectations match the reality of SEO work. It takes time to be effective!

Here’s how to turn your SEO efforts from failures into successes.

Be a King, Not a General

Great leaders leave the strategy of war to the generals.  Why?  Because generals have more feet-on-the-ground experience in tactics, strategy and know the “enemy” better.

If you want your SEO program to be successful, give your team the freedom to make the decisions necessary to capture the most opportunities.  Avoid injecting yourself into the process and hindering progress.  Instead, learn to ask intelligent questions that help the program succeed.

Make the SEO Program a Priority

If you’re responsible for heading up a team for digital marketing impact, it’s simply not good enough to put the program together without someone accountable for implementing it.  Delays in reviewing content and making coding modifications all have direct (and negative) impact on your SEO program.  Postponing tasks to prioritize other non-SEO projects translates to SEO impact at a later date, or worse yet, failing to achieve objectives all together.  Dig in, and chip away at what really needs to be done until it’s done…and then do it all over again with new content!

Know Your Numbers

Knowing how to read the numbers isn’t the same as actually knowing how the SEO activities impact those numbers.  It’s also imperative that you understand the numbers demonstrating that the program is progressing (as well as what numbers are success metrics). Googling a specific keyword to see if you rank, for many reasons, is not how you define SEO success.

  • Visibility –
    Gone are the days of using rankings to determine the overall effectiveness of a SEO program.  Today it isn’t about individual keywords; it’s about knowing how a group of related keywords (together and combined) along with trust and domain strength have increased your search visibility.

  • Domain strength or authority –
    This number going up indicates that your website is gaining strength based upon who is linking to your website.  This number going down indicates that you’re either performing link clean-up or could mean that you’re simply not acquiring enough quality links from third party websites.

  • Trust –
    Positive business review ratings going up each month indicates that you are working on creating a brand reputation online that encourages people to do business with you.  This number staying stagnant or going down indicates that you either have reputation issue (e.g. many negative reviews) or you need some extra help in improving your reputation online.

  • CTR (click through rate)-
    This number shows how good your meta data tags are in terms of attracting people to click through to the website.  Higher numbers tend to correlate with increased website traffic.

  • Traffic-
    Your website needs traffic, but volume isn’t the most important factor. Quality traffic involves conversions, but also helps demonstrate your website quality through low bounce rates, more pages per session, and increased visit duration. You can view all of these measurements on your Google Analytics dashboard.

  • Mentions and Shares-
    This number indicates that your content is relevant to your audience.  Content online should be valuable enough that visitors want to share it or mention it whether through social media shares or mentions. This, in turn,  helps you reach new people who may be interested in your services and products.

  • Conversions –
    This number can be a bit tricky because it requires SEO to target the right audience through quality content.  Conversions such as contacts from web form, lead generation forms, and sales specifically generated online are all important metrics to watch.

Minimize Distractions

Picking and choosing only parts of a SEO program can cause the program to be scattered, ineffective and lead to burn-out of your team.  If the program isn’t progressing well, find out what’s hindering the program’s ability to be implemented before pointing fingers.

A few questions to ask relevant team members:

Use answers to these questions to get the the bottom of the problem and strategize on how to move forward.

Listen to the Professionals

Your SEO project involves a number of skilled professionals: web developers, SEO strategists, social media managers, copywriters, data analysts, etc.  It’s important that all team members have a stake in the outcome and that they can agree on a plan of action.  However, there will be instances where decisions come down to who is more skilled to make the decision based upon the desired outcome.

A web developer, for example, may have a better understanding of the complexity of the existing site structure.  A SEO strategist may be more aware of what pages, content and tactics are more effective in driving in quality traffic. 

Ask smart questions such as what the recommendation is based upon (e.g. case studies, metrics, data, best practices, limitations within existing site architecture, etc.) to determine its importance in SEO efforts.

  • Are too many opinions causing the program to stall out?

  • Are coding changes taking longer than expected?

  • Are team members juggling multiple projects without prioritizing what needs to be done for the SEO program?

  • Are some parts of SEO ignored due to internal red tape or politics?

  • Are technical support issues that are unrelated to the SEO program hijacking the project?

  • Are other internal teams unwittingly causing problems with the SEO program (e.g. submitting the site to low quality or spam directories?)

Use answers to these questions to get the the bottom of the problem and strategize on how to move forward.

Patience Grasshopper

Contrary to the many SEO firms that promise results in 48 hours, white hat (or ethical) SEO is not an overnight campaign.  This is especially true if your site has never before implemented a SEO program, launches a new website on a new domain, or is trying to come back from a Google penalty.

There will likely be small gains along the way, but don’t expect leads and sales to come pouring in within a few weeks to a few months after launching the SEO program.  A great SEO program will increase steadily over time.  Therefore, patience is your best friend when running a SEO program.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Performing SEO is a difficult task.  It involves a lot of analytical analysis, predicting trends, observing changes and keeping ahead of the curve. It isn’t a jack rabbit project, rather one where like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.  Teams can be discouraged and frustrated when progress is ignored or when office politics or red tape stands in the way of progress.  To keep your team motivated and focused, look for smaller wins and acknowledge them.  Over time those smaller wins will lead to bigger and bigger successes.

Avoid Overly Competitive Keywords Early On

Competitive athletes train their whole lives for one chance in the Olympics.  They focus on learning the skills and refining the technique before going head to head with the best in the world.  An SEO strategy follows more or less the same line of thinking.

Highly competitive keywords, or “money” keywords can be difficult to rank for right out of the gate when your site is trying to establish its credibility in the search engines. A better option is to look at how a portfolio of less competitive keywords, especially those with high commercial intent, perform together as a group.  These may be smaller wins, but the end result is the same, if not better than, and easier to obtain results.

Don’t Confuse SEO with Conversion Optimization

SEO by its definition increases the visibility of a website in the search engines with the intent to drive more traffic to it.  Conversion optimization, however, is what is responsible for improving the conversion rate at which a website visitor becomes a lead or sale.  While SEO and conversion optimization ideally should be implemented together, conversion optimization cannot be effectively performed without traffic as to allow for testing and further refinement of messaging and SEO.  SEO alone is not lead generation and conversion optimization cannot be performed without SEO.

Measure and Track the Quality of Conversions

Conversions whether micro (e.g. visiting more than one page on a website, clicking on more than one link, etc.) or macro (e.g. filling out a web form, subscribing to a newsletter, etc.) in nature all have value.  Micro conversions can indicate whether content has value to information seekers, where macro conversions define whether or not trust and rapport have been established with a website visitor.  Tracking conversions and their value (also known as lead scoring) can provide actionable data and insights into the mind of website visitors and buyers.

Depending on your current SEO strategy (or lack thereof), you now have a lot to think about in regards to next steps. Focus on creating long-term gains for your company – not short term fixes. Assemble a team of people with varied but related skills that help with a solid SEO strategy. And don’t expect a change overnight! The SEO strategies that require the least maintenance in the long run are those that were set up right in the first place.

Does your team need help with SEO? Get in touch with CaptureHits to determine where your weaknesses lie and how to get past them.