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The Top 7 Reasons Why SEO Campaigns Fail,

and How to Make Sure Yours Don’t

If you’re like most business owners, you know that search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative to the success of your online business.

But if you aren’t careful, your SEO campaign may be doomed to failure from the start. So how can you avoid falling victim to an SEO campaign that costs a lot and provides little result? Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why SEO campaigns fail and explore what you need to do to make sure your campaigns deliver results.

And here’s a hint: Your choice of an SEO firm makes a big difference!

1. You’re aiming for the wrong goals.

Ensuring your site ranks well for important keywords in the search results is an ongoing competition,

and one you should enter into with realistic goals in mind. Want your independent shoe store to dominate Google for the “tennis shoes” keyword in six months? Unless you’re spending an absolutely absurd amount of money—and even then—that isn’t likely to happen. There are a ton of companies who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last decade to show up on Google’s home page for that particular term.

Instead, you should...remember,

Google only shows 10 search results on page one, and the first 3 results get the vast majority of the clicks. Work with an SEO agency that is committed to helping you set and achieve realistic goals that will drive traffic, generate business and positively impact your bottom line. A savvy SEO agency will perform a competitive review when they begin working with you, showing you how your site ranks against your top competitors and mapping out a plan of attack. They’ll also explain why generic search terms like “tennis shoes” aren’t worth the money and effort to rank for, and will develop keyword targets that are more likely to lead to leads and sales. Remember, you’re investing in SEO to generate business, not just to say you’re ranked number 1 in Google for a particular keyword.

2. You aren’t willing to spend enough.

As business owners, we’re always looking for ways to spend less and maximize the return on our investment —

and I don’t blame you for wanting to save money! But this is one of those situations where you have to spend money to make money in the form of greater web traffic, more leads and more sales. When it’s done well, search engine optimization can be a time-consuming effort that requires regular tweaking and maintenance as search engine algorithms change.

Instead, you should...choose

an SEO company based on the quality of their work and their previous results rather than shopping on price alone. Sure, you may be able to find an SEO company who will do things on the cheap, but you will truly get what you pay for. No legitimate SEO agency can generate meaningful results for a budget of $250 a month, and the work they perform may actually end up hurting your business. Think of SEO as a mixture of IT and marketing services and plan on paying professional-level fees for the services you receive.

3. Your SEO company is growing in leaps and bounds.

If your SEO results have started slipping right around the time that your SEO company experienced a growth spurt,

it’s probably not a coincidence. The reality is that, if your SEO agency is in high-growth mode, there’s a good chance that they’re concentrating more on approving their new logo or getting new recruits in the door to help with their expanding workload, and may be spending less time or energy actively managing your campaign. The people who are most familiar with your account may be pushed into handling other new business projects, leaving your ongoing work in the hands of the least experienced folks in the organization.

Instead, you should...find

an SEO company that is at a stable point in its business cycle. And if you notice changes going on in your current firm, pay closer attention to the level of service you’re receiving. Don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel to get all of the value you’re paying for—and don’t be afraid to shop around for another firm that may be a better fit.

4. You’re buying SEO services through a reseller.

Certainly, it’s tempting to go through your advertising or marketing agency for all of the services you need—

so if your agency resells SEO services from a partner, you may look at it as a no-brainer. However, unless your agency has keen insights into the inner workings of their partner’s SEO business, you’re simply inviting a middleman in to increase your costs and decrease your leverage. In a situation like this, you may be receiving lower-quality SEO services than if you worked directly with the SEO firm itself. And you’re almost definitely paying a higher cost, as your agency will likely add their fees on top of the SEO firm’s fees for “managing” the relationship.

Instead, you should...gather

SEO recommendations from your agency and other colleagues, and then interview SEO firms directly. There’s nothing wrong with your agency providing you with a good lead for SEO services, but don’t let them act as an intermediary between you and your SEO team. Work hand-in-hand with your chosen SEO firm to help reach your business goals.

5. Your SEO agency is using outdated strategies.

The old adage “The only thing constant is change” holds true, and it’s especially true when it comes to search engine optimization.

The strategies and tactics that were considered best practices year ago—things like achieving a certain keyword density on a page or doing a ton of guest blog posts—are no longer effective, and can actually harm your search rankings. But unless you’re knee-deep in the world of SEO, you don’t know these things, putting you at the mercy of your SEO provider to guide your site in the right direction using legitimate, up-to-date SEO strategies.

Instead, you should...only work with SEO firms that are 1.

Willing to explain to you which strategies and tactics they’ll be employing on your behalf and are 2. Able to show you tangible evidence of their previous recent work and results. Avoid SEO firms that tell you “not to worry about” the details, or that are secretive or cagey when you ask them for samples of their most recent client successes, as their work could have long-term negative repercussions for your web traffic.

6. You’re ignoring your website.

When was the last time you took a look at your website from a purely SEO-focused perspective?

If it’s been a while—or it has never happened—there’s a good chance that there is room for improvement. Just as off-site search engine optimization tactics have changed over the years, so have on-site optimization tactics

Instead, you should...realize

that your website’s optimization level can have a huge impact not only on your search results, but also on your conversions. On-site updates can make or break your short- and long-term search rankings, so ensure that your website is getting the attention it deserves! Work with an SEO firm that can provide examples of previous site audits and optimization efforts, as well as post-optimization results. Avoid SEO companies that only suggest or provide off-site services like link building or who can’t show you a track record of on-site optimization success.

7. You’re being impatient.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pay your SEO invoice and instantly see results?

Unfortunately, search engine optimization doesn’t work that way. SEO is a fierce competition, and if you’re in a competitive industry (and who isn’t?) there are probably a lot of other people who have been paying for SEO activities for longer than you have. Don’t make the mistake of pulling the plug too early!

Instead, you should...invest

the time and energy in finding an SEO agency that has proven results. Why? Because during those months when you’re paying your invoice but aren’t seeing the return you’d like, you will be able to remain calm and patient, knowing that the process takes time, rather than worrying that you’re wasting money. Work with an SEO agency that understands your competitive landscape, communicates well, helps you set realistic goals and is completely transparent about the work they’re performing. Doing this will help you to survive the “down time” inherent in search engine optimization with a minimum of stress, allowing your SEO partner the opportunity to provide meaningful results.

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