Failure is rather a tough word and very hard to digest at the same time. While being on the winning side is always joyful. Being a winner in the digital marketing world is a whole different story.
But before we dive into the question of failure or success with SEO, I would talk a bit on a few more questions like does SEO work? SEO is dead ? is it wise to invest time & money in SEO?
Every now and then we keep seeing blog posts on the topic SEO is dead or SEO is dying. While it’s not true for the SEO itself but holds some truth about techniques being used for SEO.
Over the years SEO has evolved so much and it’s a continuous process. SEO technique that used to work a few years ago might not work anymore or maybe even working against you.
Do you really need to invest in SEO?
Marketing is multi-channel and it’s an important decision any business needs to take. Here are some of the important points you should keep in mind while making a decision –
Organic traffic converts best –
A Hubspot study shows lead to customer conversion ratio for various channels and SEO traffic converts far better than Paid search and social traffic. Search traffic converts at 11% better rate than social channel traffic and 8% better than paid search traffic.
By not doing SEO you are leaving your competitors at ease –
Yes, your competitors will be really happy when you are not competing with them for organic traffic. By not doing SEO you are letting them stay on top with ease. A business you will be spending money on paid traffic and your competitors will keep enjoying free traffic from search engines.
SEO is a long term strategy and if you want to stay longer in the business, It can be really harmful to ignore search traffic.
Marketing is multi-channel
Marketing is multi-channel and a channel missing is like a pillar missing in the building. And in a well planned digital marketing campaign, each of these channels can complement each other.
For example, your traffic channel can drive traffic to your blog or product pages. Now a good campaign will try to capture email from the visitor and at the same time will install a remarketing pixel to retarget them with future campaigns.
So missing on an important organic traffic source might not be a wise decision in most cases.
70-80% visitors ignore paid ads
70-80% of the search engine users are only focusing on the organic results. (MarTech, 2018) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
That’s a big number to check for someone who is interested in Paid search traffic. This doesn’t mean PPC should not be a part of your campaign. PPC can be really helpful to keep your business running when you just starting out and have no traffic on your website.
The only thing I would say is, SEO cannot be out of your marketing plan when there are so many advantages it brings to a business.
Why do marketers fail with SEO
1. Not following the basics of SEO.
Not just SEO, this applies to almost everything we do. There are some basics that need to be followed otherwise the rest of the work can be derailed.
What are the basics of SEO?
In my opinion, satisfying search intent is the basis of everything we do throughout the rest of the SEO campaign.
Ultimately satisfying searcher’s intent by providing the best & most relevant result for a search query is the biggest goal of a search engine.
If your target page is not able to satisfy search intent, no matter how good the page is, it is not going to succeed. Even if you are able to rank better for the target keyword, your CTR will be low and the bounce rate on the page will be higher.
So what does it basically mean by satisfying search intent is – Provide searcher what they are looking for. And satisfying search intent is not that hard.
Simply search the target keyword in google and analyze the results.
If the majority of the ranking pages are blog posts means you need to create a blog. In case the majority of the ranking pages are product category pages, try to rank a category page for that particular keyword. If the result page is filled with product pages, it’s ideal to try and rank a product page or your website.
2. You were expecting results too quick –
SEO is not an overnight thing that you do today and expect quick results. SEO is a long term plan. As a marketer or a merchant, your expectations need to be realistic while setting up your goals and outcomes from an SEO campaign.
As a digital marketing agency, we also put estimates for our clients. Generally, we put a timeline of 4 to 5 months for any campaign to start showing results. But that’s a timeline for a campaign to start showing results. This doesn’t mean the objective of an SEO campaign will be achieved within this time frame. It’s also not the time to conclude a failure or success for the campaign.
Turning into a success –
As a digital marketer, you need to be transparent with your client. Being transparent on the process is always helpful in formulating realistic expectations. SEO is a continuous process and will show gradual growth and benefits over time.
However, it’s important to set up a periodic status check and evaluation process so you can refine your plan and make the required adjustments.
3. Using Outdated SEO Techniques –
The primary goal of google or any other search engine is to please their users and provide them with the best possible results for whatever they are searching for. And in the same process search engines keep tweaking their search algorithm.
At times these tweaks are major and so is their impact on search results. All these ongoing improvements in the search algorithm make SEO the most evolving thing in the digital world.
So there are possibilities that you are still using outdated SEO techniques which used to work with the old algorithm but not any longer. And sometimes these outdated techniques can work against you.
For example, Google released its Hummingbird update in August 2013. With that update, Google is now smart enough to understand the meaning of a search query and generate results based on its broad understanding of the topic. Now as a marketer you don’t need to create separate landing pages for a subset of relevant search queries.
India tour operator and travel company in India now give you more or less the same results.
But surprisingly, I still see many marketers using this old technique of creating lots of landing pages for each individual search term.
Turning into a success –
Keep your SEO knowledge up to date. It’s ideal to keep following top SEO experts and websites. I personally follow Nathan Gotch in most cases.
4. You are not able to build high-quality backlinks –
Backlinks are still among the biggest ranking factor and building high-quality backlinks has become more difficult over time.
Google is not really strict about the kind of techniques you use for building backlinks and not every link counts.
In fact, official Google doesn’t want you to be involved in any type of link building activities. Google wants you to earn backlinks instead of building backlinks.
If you are not following the right way, there are greater possibilities of being caught by google algorithm and that’s preventing your website from ranking better in google search results.
Turning into a success –
Building high-quality backlink which google loves these days are really tough to get and at the same time requires lots of dedication and effort. However, that also creates an opportunity as an SEO Expert. It’s hard so not many people are going to take that route.
So putting this extra effort is surely going to pay off and ranking for your keywords can sustain longer. If you follow the moral link building techniques you also negate the impact of any future algorithm updates from search engines.
Try and get some high-quality contextual backlinks from an authority website in your niche. Quantity is no longer important, Quality is more important now.
5. Your niche is too competitive –
If you are competing in a competitive niche against well-established brands and websites – you may be unfortunate to see your efforts not paying off. These sites carry an authority on their name which is hard to beat.
Find alternates to be successful –
It could be frustrating at times but in most cases, it’s better to be realistic with your goals. Instead of competing against these big cats it’s better to find alternative channels of generating website traffic. Content marketing, social media & PPC could be other alternative options to consider.
Being smarter with your targeting can be another way of winning safe with SEO in a competitive niche. Try a different set of sales funnel in your keyword targeting. If your big competitors are targeting “Best women’s perfume”; you can re-focus on “Women’s perfume deals”.
6. Issues with keyword targeting –
Keywords have always been the core of any SEO campaign. At the same time its the area where most of the SEO campaign fails. Sometimes keyword targeting becomes too narrow and despite getting ranks you don’t get the desired traffic. At times keyword targeting can go too broad that most of the traffic coming on the website is not helping the business in getting leads or sales.
Turning it into success –
Search volume should not be the only deciding factor for your keyword selection. You should follow a process of keyword selection where satisfying search intent becomes your primary goal. A business website gets maximum benefits only when it starts ranking for relevant search terms. Making your keyword targeting to include a mix of long-tail, medium tail & primary keywords can be a great way to avoid issues like this.
Using the topic clusters in your keyword selection and content creation strategy can be also helpful in creating topical relevance for your website pages.
7. SEO Strategy –
Your SEO knowledge can yield random success. But as an SEO marketer you are expected to produce results over and over again for all difference niche and the target markets you get to work on.
If you don’t have a proper SEO strategy in place, your campaign has greater chances of failure or it will not be able to achieve desired success.
When your SEO campaign fails to achieve the desired success, the first thing you should check is your overall SEO strategy.
Turning it into a success
In order to achieve repeated success with SEO, you need a proven SEO strategy that you can apply on each SEO project you get to work on.
I have personally worked on 50+ SEO campaigns and tried suggestions from many SEO gurus around the world in terms of what should be the best SEO strategy. The SEO strategy which I follow and worked best for me almost every time is by Nathan Gotch from Gotch SEO.
Check out it out here – https://www.gotchseo.com/seo-strategy/
Over time you can develop your own SEO strategy based on your own learning and experiments.
Concluding Thoughts –
Failure always hurts but that’s not the end of everything. And In my opinion, there is no real failure in SEO. It’s a process where we have to evaluate our process from time to time and make the required adjustment.
Also, it’s better to learn from the mistake & success of others and stay updated with what’s working and what’s not working in SEO today.
Another important thing to keep in mind – SEO is a long term marketing strategy so don’t try shortcut (black hat SEO techniques) to achieve success. The shortcut can show you some initial results but will not sustain for longer.
One more thing – SEO today demands quality & hard work so don’t accept cheap contract; Search for merchants who understand the real value of SEO and the work you do for them.