2017 is going to be big for SEO with many new trends such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), RankBrain, mobile-first indexing, and the latest developments in Google’s algorithms. Soon all old strategies will be unused and for those who do not use up-to-date strategies will have to go through a big change.
If your SEO skills are starting to decline, you may need to change your strategies. Here are 7 main reasons your performance may be slipping and how to fix it.
Most Common Reasons SEO Campaigns Fail & How to Fix It
1) Your Website is outdated
There are many factors to the success of websites and a few that could cause it to be a poor website are:
Websites that are hard to navigate and require 3 or more clicks to get to the page users are trying to get to cause the success rate to go down. Your website will also most likely not do well if drop down menus have too many links and the website is in general, too complex. If you improve your site structure, you may be awarded sitelinks by Google’s algorithm, which can significantly improve your success in SERPs. Consider website structures such as:
•Links to the main pages in the header on the homepage
•Site structure following a logical and predictable order
•Using breadcrumbs to help navigation
•Optimizing HTML and CSS codes to improve crawlability
An important factor to the ranking of a website is the speed. If you were to increase the loading time for your site, you can increase the success in the ranking. One way to do so is by Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. You can run a test for your domain to see any suggestions for improvement.
Some common improvements are:
•Upgrading your server or investing in better hosting
•Using external hosting (Dropbox or AWS) for large files
•Resizing and compressing images
•Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver images
•Cleaning up your code
Responsiveness (Mobile-First Indexing)
Mobile is becoming more used than desktops, so it makes the responsiveness of your site and its speed a big factor in the success of your website.
The creation of the AMP project in 2015 and the announcement of the mobile-first indexing by Google shows this is true. To stay up-to-date with these trends make sure to follow the speed requirements and to:
•Use responsive design or be a dynamic serving website
•Work with AMP principles
•Be built as a Progressive Web App (PWA)
•Be visually pleasing and feature easy navigation and links
Lastly, if you can benefit from changing your website to HTTP to HTTPS by gaining greater security, that may ultimately boost you in ranking, and you can also transition to HTTP/2 which will soon become a must.
2) You Haven’t Succeeded in On-Page SEO
Common on-page SEO elements and best practices that you may need to learn or update could be the cause of your drowning website. Here are some major ones:
Weak URL structures can be confusing to users and search engines so you want to make them stronger by making them:
•Clear, simple, short, and descriptive
•Follow an order that is like your website structure – make URLs easy to guess
•Include main keywords without being excessive
•Use hyphens instead of underscores to separate words, without overusing them either
Having a strong meta tag that is relevant is important to the appearance of your page in SERPs. The title tag and meta description are the two key components of a meta tag. In order to improve your meta tag:
•Include the primary & secondary keywords in the title tag & brand name
•Keep your title tag under the max of 60 characters
•Use different and unique title tags for every page
•Aim for simplicity and relevance & avoid keyword stuffing
•Make the H1 heading different from the title tag
Good link structure is a big factor in the success of on-page SEO. The more internal links you have that go deep but are relevant is better for users and rankings. Broken links must be taken care of because they hurt the indexing of your page and drive away users. Here are some major points to know about internal links:
•Link between pages and posts on your site and also to “deep” content
•Use relevant links
•Make anchor text comprehensive, natural, and relevant, and try not to over-optimize
•Use follow links
•Do not link excessively
Schema.org and RankBrain
RankBrain, which is machine learning, is now Google’s 3rd most important ranking factor for websites. Your page is more likely to rank if it is easy for the algorithm to interpret your page. In order for your website to meet the needs of RankBrain, you should consider putting a schema markup on your website.
Schema markups is a way of managing the data on your website so it can be universally understood by different search engines. Schema works as a “map” that lets search engines know the information included in each element of your page. This helps search engines pick out the best content that will be the most useful to users depending on their searches.
3) You Aren’t Building Links Right
Building inbound links is crucial for your website besides internal linking. With content being first, this is the second most important ranking factor. Outbound links from your website are also very important and you can use them to offer further value to your users and increase their appreciation of your content and create better relationships with other important websites.
Links need to be good quality and come from authority domains. You cannot just use any random inbound link strategy. Try using any of the following to improve your link building strategies:
•Vary anchor text when publishing guest posts
•Do not participate in link networks
•Disavow any low-quality links pointing to your site
•Focus on generating content on your website that is valuable & can be used as a resource by others so that they will want to link back to it
•Discover your competitor’s backlinks and learn about their techniques and sources
•Build a relationship, ask for links, and suggest that mentions are turned into links
4) Your Content is Not Performing
Content is the most important factor in the success of your website. Even if you had everything other factor prefect, your SEO will still be impaired. Common reasons your content in not performing and ranking are:
Thin, Short, or Duplicate Content
Make sure your content is something that uses strong and relevant keywords that readers will enjoy. The Panda update of Google’s algorithm primarily targets websites with poor content and has little value to users.
Try not to use duplicate content, although by now, Google can easily tell when duplicate content is intended to manipulate and when it is for better visibility.
Not only does your content need to be longer and stronger, but it needs to be relevant to user intent. Through Hummingbird, RankBrain, and other algorithm updates, Google is gaining experience at understanding user intent and is getting increasingly better at taking it into consideration.
Try to consider the users intent behind keywords when deciding which ones to optimize. User intent could be for navigation , information, or transactions and your content should match that intent.
5) Your Content is Not Converting
If your website is successful and ranking, but your content is not converting, then it is still considered a failure.
To create content that converts to all users, you must keep the following in mind:
Marketing Personas and The Buyer’s Journey
Lack of buyer personas in your content marketing strategy will only make it harder to have content that articulates to different groups of people that would be interested in your website.
Some improvements are:
•Creating detailed buyer persona profiles
•Making a model of your buyer personas’ journey down the funnel
•Offer loads of content that speaks to each persona and is customized to the particular stage of their journey
Mirage content has a shortage of depth, expertise, precision, and specifics. If you do not know or understand your customers well or even if your writers do not have enough experience, you are at danger of making mirage content.
Mirage content works in the short run but always ends up failing because it does not always have concrete problems and their solutions.
In order to bypass mirage content, hire or work with writers who have: expertise in your specific field, good analytical skills, and write in a fascinating way.
6) Your Keyword Strategy Needs Fixing
Thoughtful, carefully created keyword strategies are needed in order to match user intent best. Keyword strategies that are not all about keywords with high search volume, have a higher success rate. That is because it is harder to rank for and have a lower conversion rate compared to long-tail ones. Long-tail ones are also closer to user intent.
Some basic keyword strategy mistakes that appear are:
•Targeting keywords that are too competitive
•Shortage of search volume for target keywords
•Not using long-tail keywords
•Overuse of keywords
•Not using analytics to make informed decisions
A helpful tip is adding a hub and spoke keyword strategy, which is based on the idea of a hub (short-tail keyword focused content) being in the middle and numerous spokes (closely related long-tail keyword focused content). The Hub piece has all the information about the main topic and is ultimately the index that connects the sub-topics that go into further detail and explanation of concepts, aka the spokes.
If done right, this strategy works well because it:
•Offers comprehensive information on a topic
•Provides structured content with much internal linking, which allows search engines to understand which piece is the hub and which is the spokes
•Improves visitor retention – users can easily move from hub to spoke and back
•Improves rank in short-tail keyword from increasing click-through signals to Google that this content is good quality
7) You Have Been Penalized by Google
Overall, your SEO campaign may be failing from being penalized by Google because of a number of reasons. The most common are:
•A penalty from Panda from low-quality content
•A penalty from Penguin from bad backlinks
•A penalty from Mobilegeddon from websites that are not mobile-friendly
•A penalty from Top-heavy from websites that have too many ads above the fold
How To Find Out If You’ve Been Penalized:
Your page has most likely been penalized if you have had a sudden decrease in rankings, your PageRank has fallen for no reason, or your entire page has been deleted from Google’s results.
If you have been penalized, try to figure out the cause, and work to get the penalty lifted. Depending on the severity of the penalty, you may need to pause other SEO activities and work on this one solely.
This year SEO is updating and changing in search behaviors, developments in search algorithms and AI, and the enhancement in content. In order to satisfy more users, it is becoming more connected to marketing aspects. To stay up-to-date, keep up with all the latest trends and keep working to improve your strategies so you do not fall behind.