Most SEO campaigns are destined for failure because expectations are too high, budgets are too low, decisions are made based on assumptions instead of data and customer expectations are misunderstood.
Whether you’re managing a campaign yourself, or you’ve hired an SEO professional, ask these 7 questions to determine if your campaign is on the right track.
1. Have You Set Realistic Goals?
Setting unrealistic goals for your SEO campaign, such as dominating Google and Bing for every product or service you offer right out of the gate, will most always result in failure. Instead, set realistic objectives for your campaign and achieve success incrementally. For example, most businesses offer multiple products or services. If your business falls into this category, it can be daunting to achieve top rankings for everything you offer. With an incremental strategy, you can optimize for one product or service, and after you’ve achieved success, move onto the next product or service and so on.
Also, keep in mind that a successful SEO strategy can be perceived as unsuccessful only because the goals are so completely unrealistic.
2. Do You Have a Realistic Timeframe and Budget?
This is a big one. Most businesses do not have realistic timeframes or budgets for their SEO campaigns. They want results immediately, and at the same time, are only willing to make a minimal investment. Consult with an SEO professional and determine what a realistic timeframe and budget would be for your type of business. The more competitive your industry, the greater timeframe and larger budget you should expect. If you go into an SEO campaign with a short timeframe and unwillingness to make the necessary investment, it will most likely fail because you are not giving your SEO professional the necessary time to test and make adjustments needed for a successful long-term campaign.
3. Have You Chosen the Right Keywords?
Optimizing for the wrong keywords is common and often the cause of an SEO campaign’s failure. Ideally, you’ve hired an agency or professional to manage your campaign and they’ve chosen the right keywords after performing extensive keyword research. However, if you’ve selected your own keywords based on what you “think” your customers are searching, without verifying with real data, it’s highly probable that your campaign is not using the right keywords.
Analyze keyword data using a reputable keyword research tool and see what keywords your (successful) competitors are using, to make sure you’re optimizing for the right keywords.
4. Is Your Campaign Delivering the Right Traffic?
If you have failed to select the right keywords, then you’re either not delivering enough traffic to your site, or not delivering the right traffic or a combination of both. A quick sniff test to determine if your campaign is delivering the right traffic is to look at your site’s bounce rate for organic search traffic. If you see a high bounce rate for organic search visitors, then what they’re searching for is not consistent with what they’re finding on your website. It’s important to distinguish the bounce rate for organic visitors from other visitor types (i.e., direct visits, referral visits, etc.) so you can make informed decisions based on your organic search traffic specifically. If you have a high bounce rate for all visitor types, this means you may have a larger issue to address, such as your website.
5. Do You Have a Professional Website?
A successful SEO campaign starts with a professional website that engages visitors upon arrival. Visitor engagement is crucial to a campaign’s success, because engagement ultimately results in conversions, which is how most businesses measure a campaign’s success. The lack of a professional website discredits your brand and therefore reduces engagement and conversions.
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating your website:
1. Is it outdated?
2. Is it professionally designed?
3. Does it have an intuitive navigation structure?
4. Is it user-friendly across desktop, tablet and smartphone devices?
5. Do you receive positive or negative feedback about it from existing customers?
6. Are You Writing Content That Your Customers Care About?
Lack of visitor engagement and a resulting lack of conversions can also be attributed to providing content that fails to answer prospective customers’ questions. Do not write content simply to appeal to search engines. Have a content strategy in place that answers questions and addresses concerns your customers typically have. Prospective customers will appreciate this and are much more likely to become paying customers as a result.
7. Are You Tracking Data and Making Improvements?
Tracking data and making improvements as needed is crucial to a successful long-term SEO strategy. This can often result in small tweaks that help improve the campaign over time or significant adjustments such as revamping an entire content strategy or even redesigning a website.
It’s a mistake to simply measure the results of an SEO strategy based on one data point, such as rankings or phone calls. You should look at all of the data collectively and understand how the rankings are contributing to traffic and how that traffic is contributing to conversions. If you look at all of the data points as a system working together, it’s easier to find and fix deficiencies. For example, if rankings and traffic are good, but conversions are lacking, this could be due to poor keyword choices, a poorly designed website or some other factor that could change the entire complexion of the campaign if addressed.
Most SEO campaigns are destined for failure, but yours doesn’t have to be. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you now know where your campaign is lacking and where to focus on making changes.
By Jay Taylor