In the highly competitive world of SEO, it’s hard to know if you’re getting a fair deal, especially when it comes to assessing something that we can’t always clearly see for ourselves.
If you have any doubt about whether your SEO is working (whether you did it yourself or you paid a professional to do it), you can use these 12 common problems and solutions in order to start rectifying any potential mistakes that have been made.
1. You’re Not Spending Enough Money
In the early stages of setting up a website, the temptation can often be to cut corners (and costs) wherever possible.
With the costs of being online mounting up and the shock of the sheer number of jobs you need to complete in order to get online, the journey can look overwhelming from the start.
Due to the fact that SEO is a cost that doesn’t provide immediate ROI, it can sometimes be all too tempting to skimp on this important must have, in order to save a bit of money for other things.
Spend more, where possible. If you haven’t the process yet, investing your money in the best quality solutions will definitely save you money in the long term.
If you have found yourself investing in dribs and drabs over the last few years and you’re not seeing improvements, something definitely needs to change.
Just take a time out, do some research, set aside some cash and do it properly.
2. You’re Using the Wrong Keywords
A common mistake with keywords is what one actually is. It is often thought that a keyword is just that, but there is something more to picking your keywords than just running with “popular” words that you think are important to your business.
However, these words might just be too generic or they could mean something totally different in another industry or to other people.
With keywords, we regularly run into these scenarios:
1. The keywords have been selected simply due to the words being associated with the highest ranking for quantity.
2. The keywords have been selected through “instinct” or the business owner just… “knowing best.”
3. The keywords have been selected based on their difficulty ranking.
For starters, long tail keywords must not be overlooked. These are keyword phrases of about three or four words and they are important due to how specific they can be.
They work best because if a user types in “red rose bouquets” they are highly likely to be looking for exactly that.
Meanwhile, a simple keyword of “flowers” may look like it will reach more people initially BUT if you sell red roses, you might be missing a trick by using one vague keyword instead of the long tail alternative.
Recommended reading: Keyword Research for SEO – The Definitive Guide
3. You’ve Invested in Low Quality SEO
As mentioned above, the cost of your SEO may indicate the quality too. Back street agencies and black hat consultants will give you a cheaper quote, but you’re more likely to be fed excuses than receive results.
If you’re worried that you’ve already made this mistake, it can be a difficult pill to swallow but we advise you cut your losses now rather than continuing with them.
Alternatively, you may have tried to optimise your own website and it hasn’t gone very well so far. The danger here is that the repercussions of bad SEO can be really damning to your website and potentially irreversible.
Poor SEO practice can incur penalties which can be hard even for the most skilled professionals to lift.
As we mention in #1, the solution is doing things right from the start. If it’s too late for you to start from scratch, just make sure you shop around and get a few quotes.
You will soon see which SEO provider stands out from the rest. Not to mention this is your chance to gage a consultant’s behaviour.
If they are swift to respond, happy to answer questions and offering regular reports and metrics, then you know what to expect.
If your current SEO agency avoids communication and doesn’t provide regular, on-time reports this should be a huge red flag!
4. You’ve Got Unrealistic Expectations
It’s common knowledge that in order for your website to perform you need to be ranking on the first page.
Therefore, your expectations need to be high enough in order to help your business succeed, but you must also know how quickly you will get there and for what cost.
You may not be able to rank above the big players, certainly not straight away. If we go back to the florist example, the big companies like FlyingFlowers and Interflora have been around for decades, investing hundreds of thousands of pounds in establishing an online presence and hiring teams of experts to ensure their brand stays ahead of the curve.
Be patient and speak to the agency / consultant that provides your SEO to discuss KPIs, KQIs and targets that you want to achieve.
Setting realistic expectations is important in order for your website to succeed and avoid wasting time with people who can’t help you reach those targets.
5. You’ve Got Poor Quality or PBN Links
Firstly, what are PBN links?
Simply put (if there is such a way), a PBN or Private Blog Network is web of sites that are not linked to each other in any way, except from the fact they all point traffic via a link to your money website.
These private blog networks will look as though they are unrelated yet still send link equity / traffic to your main website.
For a long time, PBN Links were used by black hat consultants as it was an easy way to increase a ranking quickly without much work.
After a time, too many people were trying to do it and it was creating a mess. Since then, search engines have caught on and are now applying penalties whenever they catch somebody trying this outdated technique.
Our advice is to leave poor quality and PBN link building out. If you’ve received a quote from a consultant who has mentioned this, steer well clear else you could end up with a penalty or black mark that will be lethal to the progression of your website.
Google is investing a lot of time and capital to make sure websites are done properly now, no matter how clever your SEO consultant thinks they’re being – they will get caught.
6. People Don’t Like Your Site
If your content is out of date, poorly written or riddled with bugs and errors it will be hard for people to enjoy your site.
The more interactive and enjoyable their customer experience, the more likely they are to hang about on your site and the more likely they are to commit to a purchase.
Terms such as bounce rate, dwell time and average time spent on page are metrics you should look into to see how your website is doing with your customers, and these metrics will all make your ranking go down if they are bad.
Look at #7 & #8 for tips on what to do if your site is not running the way it should be, as this can be a deterrent for your website and consequently effect your ranking.
Alternatively, the solution you need may be less technical and more creative.
If you have poor content that looks outdated or has errors in it, you may find that you’re putting people off or giving an impression that you’re unprofessional or scam.
Look at your competitors for inspiration and try to invest in a current and up-to-date feel, that is on trend and popular.
7. Your Site is Slow
It has been announced that as of July 2018 speed will become an official metric used to rank pages by Google, on both mobile and desktop devices.
Although speed has been used on desktop devices previously, this will be the first time mobiles will be analysed too.
Considering that mobile devices drive over half of traffic to websites this now means a lot more online traffic will be analysed for ranking purposes and could change the game significantly.
If people come away from your site because it is too slow, from what we spoke about in # 6, it is easy to see how your ranking WILL be affected.
Just input your URL and off you go.
8. Your Site Has Other Technical Issues
On top of being slow, your site can have a plethora of other bugs and internal issues that make the user experience one we want to forget, but what are these issues and how can we cure them?
Some websites have been created and then never updated again. This is usually because either the company that built the website didn’t provide ongoing support, or the owner of the website wasn’t willing to pay for the support.
It isn’t just the maintenance and support of websites that we’re talking about either. A perfectly good website without any new content won’t do well either.
The more new content you upload the better your ranking will become – but not just any content.
Your efforts should be focusing on generating high quality, long-form content relevant to your target audience.
Paying a professional to look after your website’s maintenance is highly recommended, too.
Recommended reading: 101 SEO Tips to Improve Your Organic Visibility
9. You’re Being Too Impatient
Previously, we spoke about how you should be seeing results between 3-6 months, but there can be circumstances where it is a longer time before you see any changes.
For example, if your site was in really bad shape it will have incurred penalties. These penalties can take a long time before they are lifted from your site. Even the best SEO won’t fix these problems over night.
What you need to be aware of is interpreting the difference between excuses and the truth.
Seek SEO guidance elsewhere if you are told any of the following:
a. It will get worse before it gets better – Whilst improvements may be gradual, you shouldn’t see more problems occurring!
b. Errors / Inexplicable Changes – if your SEO company are making typing errors or messing your website up, there is no way they are qualified to be doing what you’re paying them to.
c. No Reports – as we said earlier, a good SEO consultant will ensure you are provided with regular reports to show targets reached and the next goal.
d. No Transparency – if you feel like the agency or company you are with try to confuse you with jargon and can’t give you a straight answer, the likelihood is they don’t know what they’re talking about!
Recommended reading: SEO: Agency, In-House or Freelance – Making an Educated Decision
10. Your Hosting is Terrible
Bad hosting can cause a multitude of problems for you. Whilst excellent hosting does not guarantee a good ranking, however your users and Google will reward you if your website runs well.
Bad hosting could result in your website suffering from server downtime frequently and security issues. If you notice your website has gone offline and you can’t access it, make sure you let your host company know. Don’t just assume they know.
The more often your website goes down, the more likely your hosting company isn’t so great. If it goes down regularly, you may also find you spend a lot of time on hold waiting for customer services to answer, rather than being out completing revenue generating activities.
Top notch hosting is really the way forward. If you do want to invest in a cheaper hosting, buy it on a monthly or 3 monthly contract, rather than an annual one.
That way, if you change your mind or you see their standards begin to drop, you can make a swift exit and find somebody better.
11. You’re Not On Social Media
When you search for small businesses in particular you will notice sometimes that their social media comes up before their website does.
Social media plays a huge part of improving your website’s SEO and your business’s online presence.
Whilst there is not a direct connection between a social media account and a website’s ranking, gathering brand awareness and amplifying your company’s voice will complement your SEO nicely, whether it’s sending traffic to your site from a social platform or increasing the company’s general visibility.
The best way to start will be by planning your social media to coincide with your SEO.
Prepare joint key messages and content that both of them can schedule in.
If you want to do your own social media, rather than give it to the experts this is great, but remember to keep your SEO company up to date with messages, campaigns and launches so that they can match your messages.
The more consistent you can be across all of your online platforms, the better for your ranking.
12. Your Site isn’t Mobile Friendly
In the last quarter of 2017 it was reported by Statista that 51.12% of global web traffic originated from mobile devices.
If your website hasn’t been fully mobile optimised or doesn’t work on mobiles at all, you could be losing out on a lot of potential customers.
In the mobile-first indexing era, your rankings will be affected if your website isn’t mobile friendly so make sure you test how your website is running on multiple devices and screen sizes.
This will help you keep ahead of the game. If you spot anything remotely unsightly or any odd behaviour at all, report it to your web developer immediately and put a plan in place to fix it as soon as possible.
A few days of dodgy site in the middle of a campaign could be the difference between failure and success.
We know that if you follow these 12 solutions to the issues mentioned above, you could help get your SEO back on track and headed in the right direction.
Just remember to be patient and request the feedback you deserve as a paying client.
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2019? Get in touch today!