If you listen closely, you can almost hear the lamented cries of business owners across the globe every day as they watch their search engine rankings crash and burn. Too often those who are the most sincere and determined do not see their efforts come to fruition, and this usually transpires in a fit of confusion. If you are one of the many perplexed and frustrated online entrepreneurs trying to understand why your SEO efforts keep falling flat, read on and take an honest look at which of your decisions cause Google to send you to the back of the line.
1) A Website That Can’t Convert
Before you dive into link sharing, keywords and various other external tactics, it’s crucial that you first examine what’s not working with your own website. All the clever SEO tricks in the world won’t move your revenues if your site fails to convert visitors. So before you throw all your efforts into rankings and traffic, first ensure your website is ready to welcome the masses. If your current conversion rate is lackluster, targeted marketing efforts will only expose this all the more. Make sure navigation is intuitive, your homepage is compelling and informative, there are no content dead ends or other bad user experiences, and that your ecommerce experience is fluid and flawless.
This may seem like common sense, but it’s staggering how many business owners don’t realize their problems start at home. If you have a website worth shouting about, only then is it time to call in the marketing hounds.
2) Doing Everything Yourself
It’s tempting to take on SEO (and just about every other role) yourself when you’re stepping into an entrepreneurial position, but think twice if you want professional results. You likely know already that the world of SEO is complex and extremely dynamic. Staying on top of trends and your own site’s current rankings is a huge undertaking. Those who do SEO halfway get results to match, so as soon as it is possible, hire a consultant or staff member that spends at least half their day focused on your SEO and social marketing efforts. You’ve got many other aspects of your business to manage.
3) Using Outdated Strategies
Another sure-fire way to decrease your rankings is to follow archaic strategies. According to a recent report from RivalIQ, over 50% of companies still use meta keyword tags, even though Google has not used them in their algorithms for years. Not only is this a waste of time, but it also publicly reveals your keyword strategies to your competitors. This is further evidence that you shouldn’t own SEO responsibilities yourself, unless you are aces at staying on top of trends.
4) You’re Not Playing Nice with Others
Many business owners are hesitant to link to other sites for fear they are sending traffic to their competitors. While it is essential to choose your link share partners wisely, building content in a silo will not get search engines to notice you. Google and company like businesses that clearly play well with others, so targeted links to and from your site are essential to great SEO. Likewise, as we recently emphasized in a separate article on link sharing, if you’re linking to any site that has shady partners of any kind (spammers, link builders with no content, etc.) you, too, will be punished. So play nice, but choose your partners wisely.
5) Guessing at Your Keywords
Most site owners work hard at predicting which keywords their customers will most likely use to find their site. While a little guesswork is necessary pre-launch, it is far more important to watch and see how traffic finds you once you’re live. Failure to optimize your content and keyword strategy based upon these real-world results will definitely cripple your ranking efforts. Most SEO tools have a “search in reverse” function – make this your best friend once your site is live.
Even better, integrate your tool with your analytics source (like Google Analytics), so you can see how well your site is optimized for the keywords that are driving traffic. Don’t assume you know the best keywords for your content. It’s a game of psychology, ultimately, and your users will tell you how they are attempting to find your content. The key is to listen, and respond accordingly.
Achieving envy-worthy search engine rankings requires the perfect marriage of a great website, stellar content and savvy marketing tactics. Failure to excel in any of these areas will not produce top tier results. Typically, business people who are most frustrated about their lackluster search rankings are focusing too much on one area, and are not embracing the need for balance. Google’s ultimate goal with all their algorithms and best practices is to give their users the best possible experience when they search for anything on the web. So your first step is to make sure your site does just that.
Once you have the confidence that what you have created is top-shelf, then (and only then) is it time to get the attention you deserve. Results-oriented SEO is not about magic tricks and pixie dust – it’s about stellar content and smart, honest marketing and connecting. Without this balance, Google will continue to look right past you.