10 reasons why your SEO strategy fails

Did you know that Google uses over 200 factors to rank websites? This creates a maze of possibilities and penalties for startup businesses trying to drive organic search traffic.

With search engine optimisation (SEO) remaining one of the most effective digital marketing strategies available to businesses of all sizes, it pays to be aware of the way Google’s algorithms work.

Many burgeoning marketing teams become aware that their SEO strategy isn’t working as hard as it ought to be. If this is the case, don’t worry! Just put on your Bluetooth headset and call your content team. With some fine-tuning and deeper understanding, you’ll soon be creating algorithm-friendly content that ticks all the boxes.

Read on to discover 10 common issues with companies’ SEO strategies, and how you can fix yours to increase traffic and drive conversions.

1. Unrealistic keywords

It’s tempting to focus on the most competitive keywords to get your word out there - but if you’re targeting only the words and phrases that major competitors are ranking for, chances are you’re not going to make the first page for those searches.

This can be a particular pain for startup companies who simply don’t have the SEO budget to compete with major players. The risk is that by trying, your budget will be wasted.

Being realistic with your keywords doesn’t mean settling for second-best, though. Instead get creative with your SEO, choosing longer-tail keywords with a good number of searches. After all, 69.7% of search queries contain four words or more.

2. Too many keywords

A common complaint amongst content marketers is that they’ve stuffed their content with the suggested keywords multiple times, but they’re still not seeing results. Contrary to their belief, this practice can actually destroy their SEO efforts. 

The Google algorithm is fine-tuned to direct searchers to high-quality content. Therefore content that looks like a list of keywords, uses the same keywords repeatedly, or contains keywords that are contextually off-kilter with the subject of the content, can count against you rather than in your favour.

Focus instead on content that adds value to those who are directed to it. Make sure it gives useful information and answers questions clearly. Ensure that the keywords you include flow naturally with the context of the content, rather than shoe-horning them in.

3. Slow site speed

Loading time is a key factor for Google’s SERP rankings. After all, website conversion rates drop by 4.42% with each second of load time between 1-5 seconds. Consumers expect speed, and Google benefits by giving them what they want without consuming resources when loading slow sites.

Site speed is often the first and most potent stage in building a positive user experience. Visitors are likely to look elsewhere if they have to wait even a few seconds to see the content they clicked on. Avoid this by running a site usability test and paying particular attention to how fast and reliable your site is.

Many times the slow-loading culprits are hidden in plain sight. You can reduce load time by compressing files, reducing image sizes, removing unused plugins and scripts, and validating CSS and HTML codes.

4. Mobile unfriendly pages

In 2020, 55% of global online traffic came from a mobile device. That means if your site isn’t optimised for mobile use, you could be losing over half of your customers. Ever since Google rolled out its mobile-first index, responsive design has been a priority for SEO teams everywhere.

Start by running a mobile friendly test on your site, and work out how the user journey will differ via mobile and desktop. Ensure your web design and UX teams work together to harmonise the experiences as much as possible with responsive sizing, simplified menus and clear CTAs. Think about what mobile users are most likely to scroll to, and ensure it’s at the top of the page.

5. Low-quality content

Content shouldn’t just be a vehicle for keywords and key phrases. It needs to be valuable and meaningful in its own right, adding genuine value to the user experience.

Google agrees with us on this one, penalising ‘thin content’ such as low-quality affiliate pages or blog posts with little content. As Google takes user behaviour into account when ranking pages, it prioritises those with a history of satisfying users’ intents. This makes good SEO practices customer-centric at their core.

Get on board with emotionally intelligent branding and content. This should recognise the target audience’s experiences and pain points, and seek to address them in as helpful a manner as possible. Use this as an example to display your brand’s expertise and character, and work toward positioning your site as a key authority.

6. Lack of internal links

Many companies prioritise external link building in their SEO strategies, but did you know that internal linking is just as important?

Every time you link from one page on your website to another, you tell search engine bots that your content is contextually relevant. If your blogs, articles, and product pages don’t offer contextual links to help readers navigate into broader or deeper subject matter, you’re missing out on SEO benefits.

Consider restructuring your website’s content around topic clusters. These consist of a broad-spectrum ‘pillar page’ that introduces a subject and links to several more specific pieces of content. Each of these in turn should link back to the pillar page, increasing its authority and emphasising the topical relevance between pages on your site.

7. Lack of backlinks

By the same ticket, every time an external site links back to your content, it tells Google’s algorithm that your content is worth a look. Google wants to direct its users to pages that are considered authoritative and trustworthy by other relevant experts. This makes link-building a key component of good SEO practice.

One organic way to gain more backlinks is to scour the web for mentions of your brand or products, and when you see one that doesn’t already have a link, reach out to the creator and ask them to add one. Make sure your content is worth linking, though: longer content receives 77.2% more backlinks than shorter content.

Another common strategy is to reach out to industry publications and bloggers with the offer of a subject-relevant guest post. This both informs their readers of your authority directly and gives a good canvas for some authoritative backlinks.

8. Poor social presence

Social media often gets left off the SEO agenda, as social pages don’t directly affect SEO. However, social platforms are some of the best personalisation websites out there, targeting specific audiences with relevant daily content. By plugging into your social presence, you can influence rankings and drive quality traffic.

For starters, social media can amplify your content marketing successes by making it available to a wider yet targeted audience. Simply share new and evergreen content regularly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and let users discover it for themselves. Their user behaviour will inform Google of your content’s relevance and value.

9. Low-level analytics

If your organisation has an SEO team or specialist, chances are you’re already aware of your site’s performance to some degree. You may receive a monthly report, or bring up the figures when rebooting your strategy. However, real-time monitoring and careful analysis can reveal far more about your relationship with search engines than you may think.

Get acquainted with Google Analytics, and track your SEO progress as you go. This will help you determine how well your current strategies are working, and how to adjust them for a push in the right direction. Check your GA dashboard at least weekly, and keep an eye on what kind of content is driving the best traffic.

Viewing your GA reports in tandem with analytics from your social and sales platforms will also help you create a streamlined relationship between sales, marketing, and product management. This next-level understanding will help you create an SEO-centric and data-driven business strategy.

10. Technical difficulties

While content is central to a strong SEO plan, back-end issues such as coding snags and computer bugs could send your SEO rankings crashing down. If users regularly abandon a page because a video isn’t loading, for example, the algorithm will see your site as unsatisfactory to searchers.

One common technical issue that affects SEO is the lack of SSL integration. This means your site is displayed as ‘not secure’, dissuading visitors and reducing your ranking. Make sure this doesn’t affect you by purchasing the correct certification from your site host.

Another critical issue is incorrect indexing, which means your site simply doesn’t show up on SERPs. If your site doesn’t show up in full when you search ‘site: yourwebsitename.com’, you will need to manually submit your sitemap to Google’s Search Console.

Align your goals with Google's

It’s important to be aware that even the best SEO strategies don’t yield instant results. Likewise, Google’s algorithms are ever-changing, taking new user behaviours into account. 

However, by deepening your understanding of SEO best practices you will be able to build your strategy on solid foundations, ready to adapt to change. 

Be patient and monitor your SEO analytics carefully. Choose keywords within your reach and use them contextually. You may want to run external usability tests or employ an app testing company to check your mobile experience. Most importantly, keep user experience at the core of your strategy, aligning your goals with Google’s.