Most business owners today realize the importance of SEO, but it’s safe to say most of us are baffled by it. The mass of jargon can send people running for the hills and employing expensive agencies to deal with the problem for them.
Both those who outsource and those who take on the search engines on their own should keep an eagle eye on their progress or risk losing a chilling amount of time and money on an unsuccessful campaign.
But how do you know if your tactics are actually working? Here are 4 signs you can look out for that hint at a failing SEO campaign.
Your Pages Aren’t Converting
It may not be immediately obvious that this is an SEO issue, but a particularly low conversion from visitor to a customer on your site is a red flag. And it indicates you’re targeting the wrong keywords.
Visitors who find your landing page from search engine results should end up purchasing from you at a rate of between 2.35 and 5.31 %. If you’re consistently running a level below this, it suggests they’re coming, seeing and instead of conquering, leaving unimpressed.
This behavior suggests you’re targeting keywords that don’t imply intent. ‘intent’, in keyword optimizations, refers to the linking of an object or service with the reason a person is searching for it. It’s the difference between searching for ‘what is an Xbox’ and ‘where can I buy an Xbox’. An eCommerce website is clearly better off ranking for ‘where can I buy an Xbox’ or ‘Xbox on sale’ than for simply ‘Xbox’ or ‘what is an Xbox’.
Without addressing ‘intent’ in your target keywords, you will be driving a large amount of non-specific traffic to your site. So, next time you audit, check your keyword intent and get rid of those that don’t measure up.
Your Behavioral Metrics Are Off
The behavioral metrics website owners are confronted with are based on the ranking factors of search algorithms. These algorithms try to guess a user’s satisfaction with a search result by analyzing their behavior when using a site.
Metrics you should be watching include your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who look at a page and then leave), pogo-sticking (when a user lands on your site from search results and quickly leaves for an alternative) and total time spent on site.
If you have a high bounce rate, a high level of pogo-sticking and users spend an unusually short amount of time on your site, you definitely need to rethink your SEO strategy.
Users will behave badly if you’ve been found for the wrong reasons. If you have, they’ll find something other than what they were expecting and reward you by leaving your site and pulling your rankings down as they go. If you’re not tracking your metrics, you should be. Some website builders, like these, even include on-platform analytics, so there’s really no excuse.
A Sharp or Steady Drop in Organic Traffic
For the uninitiated, organic traffic is a metric that measures the number of people who reach your site after finding it through a search engine. Because it’s such a direct metric, it’s one of the best ways to analyze the success of your SEO campaign. When done right, your SEO strategy should result in steady growth over time.
Any large or consistent drop in organic traffic is a red flag situation. A sudden nosedive-off-a-cliff kind of reduction could be the result of your site recently having received a penalty from a search engine.
If you or your SEO team have been trying to black-hat their way to the top, this change suggests your dirty hens have come home to roost. You need to change track rapidly! Start thinking of the long-game and ditch the shoddy tactics.
If you’re seeing a more steady reduction over, say, six months, one of these is probably the culprit:
- You’re doing well, but being outstripped by your competitors
- You have multiple indexing errors and Google is having trouble crawling your website
- You’ve missed an update to a search engine’s algorithms and are now targeting the wrong ranking factors
- You’ve ignored some critical trend shifts in your industry
- You’re reaching the wrong audience
A Steady Downturn in Keyword Rankings
In today’s SEO, keywords aren’t everything. However, a steady downturn in any of your keywords is still a sign that something is not right.
It could mean your keyword competitors are outpacing you on content, either because it’s of superior quality or just better optimized. Check out the content on their sites and run some of yours through a tool like SEMRush. This will give you a good idea of whether or not this the above is the case. To climb back to the top, find ways to up your content game.
Final Thoughts: Is Your SEO Campaign Failing?
With search engines updating their strategy every month, it’s no wonder people struggle to get to grips with SEO. In this game of cat and mouse, it pays to be vigilant. Keeping a lookout for these four signs of a failing strategy could mean the difference between ruin and victory.