Launching an SEO campaign is a lot like conducting an orchestra. If the instruments were foreign to the conductor, they sometimes offer conflicting notes, and also, the conductor doesn’t quite know how to conduct.
If this zoo sounds like your SEO campaigns, take a deep breath. Chances are, you’re like many business owners–you know you need SEO, but you don’t have the first clue how to do it. No matter what you throw at your campaigns, you can’t seem to translate it into results.
The good news is that you’re not alone in your struggle, which means you’re likely making the same mistakes others are making in your position. We’re here to help you do SEO better.
Here are the top 5 things your campaign is missing–and what you can do to fix them.
Signs Your SEO Campaign is Failing
The first step in dealing with a problem is recognizing that you have one. And that means recognizing the warning signs that your SEO campaign is failing.
Organic Traffic is Decreasing
Organic traffic is the term used to describe traffic coming from a search engine’s organic results page rather than paid ads. If you’re doing SEO right, you want your traffic as organic as you want your carrots. All your SEO efforts are geared toward organic traffic.
So if organic traffic is going down, you have a flashing neon sign that your SEO strategy isn’t working.
If you take a look in Google Search Console and have a glance at your search traffic over the last 12 months, it should show a consistent upward trend. If it looks more like a steady downward slope, you’ve got a serious problem with your campaign strategy.
Organic Traffic Nosedives Overnight
Another alarming sign isn’t so much a gradual decline as a bad morning at the office: you log into Google Analytics one morning only to find your organic traffic went skydiving in the last 24 hours.
Most of the time, a quick drop in traffic means two things.
The first option is that Google updated their algorithm, which means the strategies you used are no longer working in your favor. Google updates their algorithm all the time, though you might not see a dramatic drop like this unless there’s a major algorithm update.
The second option is that you used a quick win strategy and the search engine caught on, which means you’re now being docked for that shortcut.
Either way, the net result is the same: you’re relying on quick-fix strategies rather than playing the long game, and that route is now coming back to bite you.
Keyword Rankings are Dropping
We can argue all day long about whether keywords are dead, but at the end of the day, search engines still rely on them, which means you still need to rank for relevant keywords.
It’s perfectly normal for keyword rankings to fluctuate day-to-day. If you see minor ups and downs, that’s not a cause for concern. What is concerning is when your keyword rankings turn into a steady downward trend over time.
Usually when this happens, it’s because your competitors are producing superior content optimized for the same keywords, which makes content your first problem. However, on a deeper level, you need to take a closer look at your keyword strategy to see if it really is working for you.
You’re Not Ranking for the Best Keywords
A related keyword strategy problem is not ranking for the best keywords.
There are keywords in your niche that rule the category. This is true of every industry. Now, there is a strategy behind choosing the keywords you optimize for, and if you’re not a giant in your industry, you may have a difficult time going toe-to-toe with the big fish in the pond, especially if you can’t match a big fish’s SEO budget.
A better way to think about this is ranking for the best keywords at your level. If you’re a mid-sized business in your industry, for example, you can look at the mid-range keywords your competitors rank for and target those. The same goes for small businesses.
However, if you’re not ranking for the best keywords at your level, then your strategy isn’t keeping you competitive.
You Have a High Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate refers to the number of site visitors who take no further action once they arrive on your webpage, such as clicking to another page, adding an item to their cart, or leaving a comment. It measures the visitors who stick their head in the door, take one look, and duck right back out again.
You want your visitors to engage with your site–when they engage with your site, you’re more likely to cultivate them as return visitors and customers. Which means you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible, especially for pages like landing pages that are designed to make your website sticky.
If your bounce rate is high, especially for “sticky” pages like landing pages, you’ve got a serious campaign problem.
You Have a Low Dwell Time
A related problem to bounce rate is your dwell time, i.e. the amount of time visitors spend on your site once they get there.
To be fair to you, users nowadays have notoriously short attention spans. Once they land on your webpage, you only have about 10 seconds or less before they decide to stay or go. In order to get several minutes of user attention, those first 10 seconds mean everything.
That said, your dwell time directly represents the strength of your value proposition. If users don’t see the value of your site quickly, they’re not going to stay, and that translates to a low dwell time that says your site isn’t making its value clear.
Your Conversion Rate is Lackluster
Last but not least is the metric that dogs your marketing team’s every move: your conversion rate, or the percentage of site visitors who carry out a desired goal. This could be a sale, but it could also be an email subscription or filling out a survey. It all depends on your campaign goals.
However, no matter what your conversion rate measures, if your conversion rate is low, your campaign is not successfully transitioning visitors into the right conversion mindset.
There are several reasons this might happen.
Maybe you’re not bringing in the right kind of traffic. If you sell table saws and bring in customers looking for chain saws, you’re never going to make sales.
Maybe you’re optimizing for keywords that don’t carry intent. Let’s say again that you sell table saws. It might seem logical to optimize for the keyword “table saw”, but the problem is that keyword doesn’t carry any buying intent.
Either way, the problem is the same: you’re attracting visitors who have no intention of becoming customers, either because they’re not interested in what you’re selling or because they’re not interested in buying right now. And if you can’t meet their needs when they find you, they’re unlikely to come back.
10 Things Your Campaign is Missing
Do any of those failure points sound familiar? If so, we’re sorry to say you’ve got a struggling campaign on your hands.
Here’s the good news: your campaign is salvageable. Once you recognize what’s going wrong, it’s that much easier to start fixing it.
That said, the issues outlined above are often symptoms of a larger problem. They tend to crop up in campaigns that are missing critical components, without which your campaign can’t stand on its own two feet. Keep in mind that fixing one of the symptoms above doesn’t necessarily fix the deeper issue, which is why you have to identify what your campaign is missing before you can help it succeed.
Here are a few of the most common things your campaign is missing.
1. An Anchor
What is your campaign trying to achieve? It sounds like a basic question, yet this is the one area where campaigns fail the most.
The single most important part of any marketing campaign is the goal–what you’re trying to achieve. It should be a SMART goal–specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. This serves as the anchor for every decision you make, rooting your campaign in what’s most important.
Without that anchor, without a clearly defined goal to guide you, your campaign is a ship at sea, adrift and uncertain of where to go.
How to Fix It
In most campaigns, you’ll see three goals:
An awareness campaign, for example, might focus on traffic, while a sales campaign might focus on time on the site and a loyalty campaign might focus on customer recommendations.
Whatever your goal is, start by fitting it in one of these three categories. This will automatically limit the metrics you can use to track success. Once you do that, you can make your goal SMART. For example, you might say that you want to consistently get 100 more page views per week within the next six months for a specific product category.
This will make it easier to focus on actionable metrics and build a campaign geared toward them. That way, you’re not wasting valuable SEO dollars on efforts that don’t serve your purposes.
2. Promotable Content
What do you need to get a customer to do something? Before you make a sale or get new email subscriptions, you need to get the customer’s attention. You need a magnet to pull them in. Otherwise, they’ll never transition from passive looking to active engagement.
The problem, for many campaigns, is that your content shoots you in the foot.
In most cases, the point of your campaign is to drive attention. And yet we still see far too many campaigns without promotable content. Hint: just because you can promote content doesn’t make the content promotable, i.e. likely to pick up steam online.
Promotable content varies from one site to the next, but all promotable content has the following traits:
- Unique and interesting
- Meets a need for your readers
- Optimized for reader engagement
Think about why users go to search engines. Think about why you go on search engines. When you go online, you’re almost always looking for the answer to a question. A satisfying search result is one that meets your needs, is enjoyable in doing so, and is crafted in such a way to ensure you stay engaged.
How to Fix It
Start by taking a hard look at your audience in connection to your campaign anchor. What does your audience need? What problem do they want you to resolve? How can you resolve it for them? And how can your content answer their problems?
From there, turn a critical editorial eye to your past campaign content. If you can, get an SEO expert and a professional digital marketing writer to review it.
All users have short attention spans, which means your content has to be stripped down to the core message. The way that you communicate that message has to be easy to understand and easy to share. That means:
- Easily differentiated sections
- Simple, conversational language
- Clear answer to the customer’s problem
Don’t force your readers to dig. They don’t have the patience for that. Instead, focus on providing utility in an easily scannable format. Craft content as though visitors will skim, because that’s exactly what they’ll do.
To be clear, content isn’t all you need. You’re going to have to supplement promotable content with promotion strategies. But content is the building block upon which all your other strategies rest.
Marketing is all about one thing: the customer. SEO campaigns are no different. So if you’re not focusing on people, your campaign is completely devoid of context, and you’ll never be equipped to answer the customer’s needs.
Personalization is a driving differentiator. Think of it like hygiene: customers take it for granted, but if you get it wrong, customers won’t come back. It’s true of retail and it’s true of SEO.
Think about it. Customers today are spoiled–they don’t need to engage with generalized marketing because they only search for what they want when they want it. If something isn’t tailored to them, they won’t stick around.
More to the point, if your content isn’t carefully targeted toward your audience, your audience will never even see it, which means you never get a chance to attract them. This goes back to the anchor problem–if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll never achieve it.
How to Fix It
SEO is all about people, which means the context problem is all about data.
SEO experts make targeting decisions based on first-party data and demographic information, ranging from page views to where your customers live. If you’re not targeting based on data, you’re talking right past your customers. And if you’re looking at the data without understanding it, you get the same problem all over again.
Here’s the good news: users tell you what they want all the time. You just have to look. So the first step is to look. Sit down with your marketing team, open up Google Analytics, and take a look at your data. Get to know your customers.
From there, you can develop SEO strategies targeted toward them. Don’t be afraid to upend your old SEO strategy–remember, if the old method isn’t reaching your customers, it’s not serving you.
4. Realistic Goals
Having goals is one thing. Having realistic goals is another.
To achieve optimization, you have to have a clear understanding of what’s realistic and what isn’t. We see this problem all the time, and it isn’t necessarily the business owner’s fault.
You’re great at what you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have built a business around it. But unless your business is SEO, we’d bet money you don’t know SEO. That’s not your fault–after all, you have a business to run–but it still hurts you.
For many business owners, this translates directly into misunderstanding SEO goals or not knowing what’s realistic.
It would be nice for your boutique to rank overnight. It would be amazing if your indie clothing store could rank #1 for the keyword “women’s dress”. But that’s not going to happen. You need a huge budget, a huge following, and a lot of time to get there. You can take a shortcut and get a temporary win, but it’s only going to hurt you in the long-run.
How to Fix It
The solution to this problem is simple: set sensible goals.
This begins with understanding your limits. Recognize the facts of your business: your size, your budget, your following, your customer base. Then recognize the limits of your competitive reach.
This doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It just means that you have to recognize where you’re competitive. And while your indie boutique might not rank when stacked against H&M, you can certainly rank ahead of your close competitors.
Instead of focusing on the big fish, focus on the competitors you stand a chance of beating. Once you build up a solid following, you can start competing with progressively bigger opponents, but for now, focus on sustainable growth.
In SEO terms, that means focusing on attainable successes. You might not rank for the biggest keywords in the industry, but you can certainly rank for the keywords in your competitive category. A good approach is to look at the keywords your closest competitors use and restructure your campaign strategy to outpace them.
5. Investment in Success
Another common missing link in SEO campaigns is investment. Small and mid-size businesses in particular often struggle with this point.
Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Unfortunately, this is true of SEO. If you pay for cheap SEO, you’ll get cheap SEO. In other words, if you don’t invest in the results you want to see, you’re never going to see them.
We’re not saying that you should pay more than you can afford in SEO. We are saying, however, that you should pay for the best SEO you can afford. SEO is not a quick fix–it’s an investment, and it’s going to take time. Invest in the results you want to see.
How to Fix It
There’s only one way to fix this problem: invest in better SEO. This often spooks small and mid-size business owners, but it doesn’t need to.
First, if you can’t afford in-house SEO experts, invest in outside experts to help you. Even if you have an in-house marketing team, they won’t be able to deliver SEO results if they don’t know SEO. Besides, would you rather have a marketing manager doing SEO as the 20th item on their list, or an expert whose sole job is strengthening your SEO?
Second, keep in mind that price should not be the deciding factor when you look for an SEO firm. Look for a firm whose offerings fit your business, then look at their pricing.
Third, avoid firms whose promises seem too good to be true. Hint: they are. SEO is a long-game investment, not a quick fix, so if a firm promises overnight results for little money, it’s too good to be true.
Ready to Invest in SEO Success?
If you saw your own campaigns in our list of five things your campaign is missing, you’re already on the right track. You recognized that something isn’t working and you’re trying to figure out what it is.
For everything that comes next, we’re here to help.
We offer SEO marketing done by the best. We know SEO the way you know your business–like the back of your hand. More importantly, we know how to fit SEO strategies to your business and your goals, ensuring you see real, sustainable results.
Ready to make SEO work for you? Then let’s talk about your campaigns.