Last Updated on June 21, 2021 by Amy Geldean
Unfortunately for business owners everywhere, Search Engine Optimization isn’t an exact science.
While you can find some great advice online about how to create a successful SEO campaign, there’s no such thing as an SEO quick fix. However, that’s not to say that some corners of the internet won’t push the idea of the One True SEO Path and tell you every way that’s not theirs won’t work at all.
Whether you’ve followed one of these programs or you’ve designed your own campaign, you’re probably reading this because your results aren’t what you were promised or hoping for, and you’re wondering what went wrong along the way.
The good news is that SEO campaigns failing is a normal part of the SEO process, and depending on how your campaign failed, it’s nothing that you should worry about.
So, today we’re going to go over the biggest reasons why SEO campaigns fail, and what you can do to fix those issues.
Why SEO Campaigns Fail #1 – Your Website Isn’t User Friendly
Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that SEO is all about keywords and backlinks. So, they focus all of their attention on optimizing these, while neglecting to update their website and make it user-friendly.
The key rule of thumb to remember with SEO is that Google loves what your users love. While designing an SEO strategy solely for search engines will fail – and we’ll talk more about that later on – improving your website’s user experience (UX) is a key part of ensuring that your other SEO efforts are successful.
But how do you know if your website is holding your SEO efforts back? Here are some key signs:
- Increased bounce rate. This means that a greater percentage of your users are leaving your website from the same page they clicked on.
- Unchanging or reduced average page view per session. This can indicate that your website is too confusing to navigate, or that your SEO campaign hasn’t targeted the right users.
- Unchanging or reduced session duration. This shows that users aren’t spending long on your website.
Of course, there are more metrics that can suggest that your website’s UX needs updating, but it can be more difficult to separate these from other factors of your SEO campaign.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to update your website’s UX, and it can be done either as a DIY option or with the help of an SEO agency.
Improve Your Website Loading Speed
Research shows that 1 in 4 users will abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load and that even a 1-second loading delay can reduce customer satisfaction by 16%. Your website’s load speed is often a customer’s first impression of your business, however, many businesses fail to optimize this for both desktop and mobile browsing.
By abandoning your website within the first few seconds of visiting, your users are sending a message to Google that your website isn’t trustworthy or useful, which often leads to either a stagnation in the rankings or even worse rankings than you started with.
The following sites will help you diagnose slow site speed issues.
Explore Your Internal Links
Most digital marketing experts recommend that every page on your website is within three clicks of your homepage and that all of your main pages are featured on your homepage’s header. This makes it easier for users to navigate your website, and it also makes your website easier for Google to crawl.
For internal link building, we recommend and use Link Whisperer. Link Whisperer can automate internal link building, help you explore internal link opportunities, and even recommend internal links as you type.
Optimize For Mobile
In 2018, mobile traffic accounted for over 58% of site visits, and this number is only increasing as smartphones are becoming more integral to our modern lifestyles. However, 60% of mobile users have said they’ve encountered an issue with mobile browsing within the last 12 months, which goes to show that many website owners still aren’t optimizing their online experience for mobile users.
With the introduction of mobile-first indexing by Google in 2016, websites that use responsive design and are easy to navigate on mobile devices are actively favored by Google’s ranking algorithm. So, if you’re getting a lot of traffic from mobile devices but aren’t seeing any results, you should check how your website works on mobile.
Why SEO Campaigns Fail #2 – You’re Using Black Hat SEO Techniques
If you’re new to SEO, then you might not know about the ethics of SEO. Just as there are white, grey, and black hat hackers, the same principles apply to SEO. So, black hat SEO techniques are those that attempt to game search engine algorithms to gain search rankings, but they don’t offer any benefit to the user.
These techniques are often appealing to DIY SEO practitioners because they’re quick and, to some degree, offer short-term gains. They’re also widely used by cheap SEO agencies that offer a vastly undercut rate compared to legitimate SEO professionals.
However, they put your website at a severe risk of being penalized by Google, which either means your website will be downranked or de-indexed completely. As search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated, it’s now near impossible to escape detection if you use black hat SEO.
If you’re not sure what black hat SEO looks like in practice, here are some common techniques:
- Keyword stuffing. Content is filled with as many instances of the ranking keyword as possible to the point where it is no longer useful to the user.
- Cloaking. A website is coded in such a way that a search engine’s crawlers are served with different content to the content displayed to users.
- Invisible keywords. Keywords are set to the same color as the background, so they’re visible to crawlers, but not users.
- Bait-and-switch. A website owner creates content that ranks for a certain keyword, and once it begins performing well, they switch out this content for something else.
- Paid links. A website owner pays for backlinks to their website to be featured on link parties, on link farms, or even on unsuspecting websites.
- Clickbait. Using deceptive headlines and page titles that don’t relate to the content of a webpage.
If you recognize any of these techniques, whether that’s because you’ve been doing them yourself or you suspect the cheap SEO agency you’re paying for to be doing these on your behalf, then you should correct this immediately.
Why SEO Campaigns Fail #5 – You’re Building The Wrong Links
Backlinks truly are the backbone of modern SEO, but that doesn’t mean that any old link will boost your website. As we just mentioned, Google’s algorithm is extremely aware of link schemes that offer paid-for link placements, and using one of these schemes can end up with your website being slapped with a Google Penalty.
However, these aren’t the only kind of links that you have to think about with your SEO.
When a search engine crawler comes across a link in someone else’s website code, it’ll check the HTML tags that surround it for instructions on how to treat that link. If there’s no specific instructions on that link, it’s automatically followed by the crawlers. In essence, this means that the search engine recognizes that the website it’s just crawled is linking to another, which is treated as a vote of confidence in that second website.
One of these link instruction tags is nofollow, which as you might expect, tells the crawlers not to follow that link. If they can’t follow a link, then for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist, so it can’t count in favor of a website.
There are other link instruction tags following a 2019 Google update, including “sponsored” and “ugc”, for links that were created as part of an advertising deal and user-generated content respectively. According to Google, these will be used as hints for ranking purposes and the links will still be followed.
It’s worth noting that given the proliferation of link schemes as we mentioned earlier, the only way that you can build backlinks legitimately is by asking websites that you guest post on or are featured on to use either the sponsored tag or add no tag at all. If you’re failing to see an uptake in traffic following your guest posting, then it’s worth inspecting the code of that website to make sure they’re not using nofollow links to point back to you.
Low DA Links
DA stands for Domain Authority, and it’s a measure of how credible your website is seen by search engines. Typically, when you’re building links, you’ll want to try and get guest posting spots or link placements on websites with a higher DA than you, as a link from these websites will generally be considered as a larger vote of confidence than one from a low DA source.
While having links on a low DA website won’t hurt your SEO efforts, they won’t generate the results that you’re looking for either.
Google’s algorithm often treats links in a footer as spammy or unreliable, which can potentially harm your SEO efforts. If a legitimate website is linking to your website from their footer, it’s worth contacting them to ask if your link can be placed elsewhere. However, if you’ve got a large number of footer links pointing to your website, you can disavow them in your Google Search Console settings.
Why SEO Campaigns Fail #4 – You Don’t Know Your Audience
A common mistake that people make with SEO campaigns is that they believe that it’s all down to non-human factors. In other words, they think that as long as their content is geared towards search engines, they’ll rank regardless of if it’s valuable to their audience or not. Of course, what many people forget when they think about traffic is that it’s made up of (mostly) real users who are clicking on links because they want to find something useful to them.
By neglecting to figure out your audience, you’re setting yourself up for a failed SEO campaign. After all, you could have a perfect website where you’ve used great keywords, built a portfolio of backlinks, and the best UX anyone could ask for, but if no-one cares about what you’ve got to say, then your website is dead in the water.
If your SEO campaign isn’t delivering the results you’d hoped for, then it could be because you didn’t take the time at the start to research your customers and build buyer personas. This will help you to understand which keywords you need to target, where you need to be publishing guest posts, and what kind of content will help them along the buyer’s journey.
Why SEO Campaigns Fail #5 – Your Primary Keywords Are Too Niche
When you’re doing keyword research, SEO experts will tell you to pay close attention to the competition score, as this will determine how easy it is for your website to rank for these keywords. However, what’s rarely discussed is that if those keywords also have a low search volume, then that competition score isn’t going to matter because people generally aren’t searching for those keywords.
When you do your keyword research, you need to know what your customers are actually searching for. Sure, you might rank easier for a keyword like “blue paint drying time video”, but if your customers aren’t looking for that, then they won’t see your content. Instead, you’ve got to find a good balance between that competition score and search volume.
It might be harder to rank on the first page of Google for keywords like “dry time for blue emulsion paint”, but your customers are more likely to see your content and click on your link.
That’s not to say that you should avoid using low search volume keywords in your content, and chances are that you’ll end up ranking for some keywords that you never originally planned for. The best strategy is to try to optimize your content for high search volume keywords, and after three to six months, seeing what keywords your content is ranking for. Then you can reoptimize if necessary.
What To Do When Your SEO Campaign Fails
As we mentioned earlier, a failing (or failed) SEO campaign isn’t the end of the world. It’s a surprisingly common part of SEO, and it’s one that even the top experts understand to be par for the course. After all, a failed SEO campaign will show you for certain what isn’t working, so you’ll have a better idea of how to succeed next time.
Fixing A Failed SEO Campaign Yourself
Now that you’ve got some experience in SEO behind you, you’ll probably have already started to figure out what went wrong with your previous approach. Whether that’s something we listed above, like you’ve realized your website needs a redesign to make it more user friendly, or you’ve got a hunch that you were too impatient in the planning stage, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to fix a drop in your metrics.
Hiring an SEO Consultant
If you’ve looked over your metrics so much they’ve stopped making sense, and you still don’t know what went wrong, then consider hiring an SEO consultant to look over your website. SEO consultants are experts in sniffing out what went wrong with your SEO campaign, and they’ll also be able to give you pointers on what you need to fix to improve your metrics and rankings.
If you want to continue doing your SEO yourself but you need some expert help, then hiring an SEO consultant can help you to build on your SEO knowledge while shortcutting a lot of the learning experience. However, most SEO consultants won’t fix your campaign for you, so if you don’t have time to re-optimize your website or make the required changes, then this may not be the best choice.
Hiring an SEO Agency
It’s perfectly normal to feel discouraged when your SEO campaign fails, which is why SEO agencies can help take away the stress of reoptimizing your website. Most SEO agencies offer consultation, content writing, keyword research, backlink generation, and more as part of a single monthly payment, which makes them a great option for saving your time.
Our SEO agency offers a wide range of services that not only help you to understand where your SEO campaign failed but the steps you need to take to fix it. Not only that, but we’ll work together to create a new SEO campaign, combining your knowledge of your customers and our decades of expertise.
At Nimbletoad, we have a range of different service packages to help you optimize your website and keep it ranking for the keywords that matter to you. We know that every business is unique, which is why we’ll spend as much time as we need to get to know you, your customers, and your business before we start designing your SEO campaign, regardless of the service package you choose. And, if you ever need to chat with our SEO experts, ask questions about your SEO campaign, or simply clarify something we’ve discussed, someone’s always on the end of the line to help you understand our process. So, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your SEO campaign is in expert hands.
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