And, of course, you can’t have digital marketing without search engine optimization. A good SEO strategy will improve your website and increase its visibility for relevant searches in search engines.
On the other hand, if your search engine optimization strategy is failing, then customers won’t find your website. And even if they do, they won’t buy your products no matter how much you put into social media marketing and other strategies. At the end of the day, you won’t achieve your desired ROI.
The big question is, how do you know that your SEO strategy isn’t working? Whether you’re doing it in-house or outsourcing, here are 6 clear tell-tale signs that your SEO strategy is failing:
1. Your Organic Traffic Is Decreasing
Has your organic search traffic been steadily decreasing over time? That’s a sure sign that your SEO strategy isn’t working. The same goes for a dramatic drop in organic traffic (overnight decrease).
How can you check this? Start by pulling your Google Analytics data for the past 6 months or so. If the line graph indicates a downward trend, then it means that your web traffic has been on a decline.
In other words, there’s no growth over time. And that means your search engine optimization efforts are not working.
There are multiple factors that can lead to a drop in organic traffic. Top on the list is stiff competition from your competitors. If they outpace you in SEO, they’ll run away with some (or most) of your traffic.
Secondly, if Google and other search engines can’t easily crawl and index your website, then they won’t send traffic your way. The same goes for a website that has security concerns.
Another possibility is that Google and other search engines may have updated their algorithm. This happens more often that website owners think. The consequence is that some sites are dropped in rankings.
Finally, if your site lost most of its traffic overnight, chances are Google discovered black hat SEO tactics and slammed you with a penalty. Most search engines will go a step further and prevent you from ever ranking if they find out that you used unscrupulous shortcuts.
First things first, remove all the underhanded tactics that you may have used to rank. Things like keyword stuffing, comment spamming, cloaking, spinning content and buying backlinks should be a no-no. Play by the rules!
Then, do a thorough analysis of your website to ensure that it’s properly designed. Check for errors related to codes, content and security. Once you correct those, search engines will find it easier to crawl and index your website.
Find out the keywords that your competitors are ranking for and use them. Compare their landing pages with yours. See how long their other webpages are compared to yours. Then, update your search engine optimization strategy accordingly.
Again, you can use a free competitor analysis tool. But you’ll get more helpful information if you go with a premium service.
2. Your Keyword Rankings Are Dropping
Alongside a decrease in web traffic, if your keyword rankings are dropping, then it means that you’re losing out on organic traffic. That, in turn, points to a failing SEO strategy.
One thing to keep in mind is that slight fluctuations in keyword rankings are normal and shouldn’t bother you much. However, if the positions of your primary keywords steadily drop, then you have a reason to feel concerned.
For example, if a keyword starts by ranking 1st and then moves to 5th after a week and 20th after a month and possibly 100th after two months, then it means that it’s dropping in rank over time. You’ve got a serious SEO problem to address.
The same applies if your website is not ranking for the best keywords in your niche. These are typically keywords that are absolute winners in that particular niche.
Say, for instance, that you sell fashion in Fresno. If your website doesn’t show up when someone searches for “clothing stores in Fresno”, then it means your digital marketing strategy isn’t working.
Oftentimes a drop in keyword ranking means that your competitors have optimized their content for the same keywords as yours and that their content is superior. For that reason, Google is sending more traffic to their well-optimized, superior content as opposed to yours.
First of all, use Google Search Console as frequently as you can to track your keyword rankings. Pick out the ones that are plummeting and find out why they are losing rank.
Most of the time that involves spying on your competitors’ websites and pinpoint what makes their content superior to yours. Note down the keywords that they rank for and use them to optimize your content.
3. You’re Getting A Low Conversion Rate
It doesn’t make sense to splash loads of cash into digital marketing if you’re not getting any ROI. Even social media marketing should lead to conversion. If it’s not happening for you, then your SEO strategy is failing your business.
Ideally, a landing page should have at least 11.45% conversion rate. Above 5.31% is decent, but anything below that is a sign of failing search engine optimization efforts.
A low conversion rate can be attributed to two things: irrelevant traffic and thin content.
Using keywords that don’t carry intent will attract lots of visitors who are unlikely to be your customers. For example, a webpage that’s optimized for “makeup” doesn’t carry intent. However, “buy makeup products online” has a purchase intent.
Thin content is another culprit that causes low conversion rate. Search engines value user experience more than anything else. As such, they rank helpful, detailed and informational webpages better.
That’s why 300-word articles won’t do you any favors – they’re just not long enough to be deemed helpful. They don’t inspire a high conversion rate either.
As already mentioned, consider optimizing your website for keywords that have intent. For instance, instead of “makeup”, try “buy makeup products online”.
Additionally, aim for 10x content. In other words, your content should be 10 times better than your competitors’. That’s the best way to outrank them and convert traffic into customers.
4. Behavioral Metrics Show That Visitors Aren’t Sticking Around
Behavioral metrics are not just limited to social media marketing. They’re also handy in search engine optimization, especially when you want to find out if your strategy is working.
More specifically, head over to your Google Analytics account and look at your visitors’ behavior. If you notice a high bounce rate, one page viewed per session, low average time spent on site, and spammy traffic to your website, then it means that your strategy isn’t working.
Chances are you’re tracking the wrong metrics, which is preventing you from tracking the right ones. Because SEO goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing, most people focus too much on Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, Instagram impressions and such.
That often occurs at the expense of organic traffic from search engines. If your strategy doesn’t lead to a high conversion rate, then it won’t matter if you have 1 million followers on social media.
For one, make sure that you’re tracking the right metrics as far as SEO. They include social signals, bounce rate, organic traffic and ROI. You want to up the numbers for each of those.
Also, consider creating “sticky” landing pages that will get visitors to browse your website some more. That will not only reduce bounce rate, but it will also improve conversion rate.
5. The Quality of Your Backlinks Is Poor
Building inbound links is an important part of SEO and ultimately digital marketing. The more the number of quality backlinks you get, the higher you rank.
The contrary is also true. If you get too many poor-quality and irrelevant backlinks, then Google will push your website downwards.
In fact, manipulative and spammy backlinks can get your website permanently banned from organic SERP. So, if you’re getting them, it means that your SEO strategy isn’t working.
Bad backlinks come from not-so trusted websites. As such, your website is deemed guilty by association. Alongside that, black hat SEO also creates toxic backlinks to your website.
Always, always earn your backlinks. Do not use black hat SEO to try and manipulate Google into ranking your website higher. It will backfire when the search engine finds those toxic backlinks – which it will.
If you suspect that you’re a victim of bad backlinks, use an online tool to weed them out. These tools will usually allow you to see how each of your backlinks looks like and whether it’s from a reputable source.
6. You Haven’t Changed Your SEO Strategy in Forever
In the world of SEO, forever is 3 to 4 years. In fact, using the same strategy for 2 years will almost certainly lower your site’s ranking.
Search engine optimization evolves into something totally new every so often. For that reason, outdated SEO strategies can actively harm your website’s ranking. Therefore, if you haven’t evaluated and changed your SEO tactics in over 2 years, then your strategy isn’t up to date.
Well, this is awkward…
You’re squarely at fault if you’re using an outdated SEO strategy. With a lot of free SEO information available online, you surely have no reason for not keeping up with the latest in this form of digital marketing.
Even if you outsource search engine optimization, ultimately the buck stops with you. You would highly benefit from having regular evaluations of your SEO and overall digital marketing strategies. A good SEO expert will analyze your website, strategy, goals etc. and tell you if you’re using the latest norms or if you’re stuck in past practices.
In addition to keeping up with the latest SEO practices and having regular evaluations, you may also want to know a thing or two about algorithm updates. Search engines frequently change how they rank websites.
These changes affect crawling and indexing, and may require you to adjust your code, design, layout, content etc. Don’t hesitate to do that.
To wrap it all up…
Search engine optimization does help with ranking, conversion and return on investment. But only if you do it right.
If your strategy isn’t working, then your website won’t rank on the first page of search engines, you’ll have an abysmal conversion rate and, in the end, you won’t get any return on your investment in digital marketing. Even your social media marketing efforts won’t help.
Therefore, before you invest any more in SEO, make sure that you have a working strategy in place. Look for the six signs above and if you spot any, fix it ASAP to correct your SEO strategy.
Never hesitate to call an SEO expert when need be. Oftentimes bringing in a professional can be the shortcut to eliminating everything that’s preventing your SEO strategy from working.