The 5 Most Common Reasons SEO Campaigns Fail

SEO campaigns fail for all sorts of reasons. In some cases, even if the agency and client do everything right, SEO still fails to produce positive ROI for reasons beyond their control, such as extremely large competitors or insufficient keyword volume. But often, the mistakes agencies and clients make along the way are what cause campaigns to go wrong.

Lack of Customisation

When an agency attempts to reduce SEO to a strict formula that can be applied to any client, every one of its campaigns starts on the wrong track. Why? Because although similarities may exist, no two organisations have identical starting points for an SEO campaign.

Two examples of the problem:

  • Campaign time should be allocated based on client-specific factors such as competition, existing backlink profile and quality of existing website content
  • Some clients need to allocate perhaps 50%-70% of the first few months’ budget for technical website fixes, while other clients require minimal or no website fixes.

Poor Communication and Reporting

Because SEO is technical and complex, and has evolving best practices, clients become confused and frustrated when they do not understand what work the agency is doing to earn its fees, or how to determine whether their SEO investments are delivering a return or producing nothing of value.

When agencies communicate in technical jargon that goes over the client’s head or provide monthly reports that are either too sketchy or too detailed, client frustration and uncertainty grow until, almost inevitably, the client pulls the plug on the campaign

Lack of Patience

Achieving high rankings is a long-term proposition. Because there is a long history of black hat SEO attempts to game the system, Google favours website content from domains that demonstrate a consistent effort to produce high-quality content over time.

Companies accustomed to immediate result s from their other marketing campaigns such as paid search, start-ups in need of immediate traction, and companies with new domains are especially susceptible to giving up too soon. Any organisation investing in SEO must have a realistic timeframe — about 6-18 months on average — before passing judgment on a campaign.

A “Set It and Forget It” Attitude

While outsourcing SEO to a competent agency makes sense given the complexity and labour-intensiveness of a campaign, an entirely hands-off attitude deprives the agency of a client’s valuable industry knowledge and insights.

For instance, a successful campaign requires the creation of valuable content. When agency writers receive insights from clients about issues of importance to their customers and the fine details of the features and benefits of what they offer, the new content will be more useful, engaging, persuasive — and link-worthy.

Inability to Implement Content and Technical Changes

Because SEO is a long-term proposition, staying on schedule is important to prevent long-term from turning into eternity. If the SEO agency asks the client to update its website with content changes or to fix technical issues that stand in the way, the client needs to complete the work quickly. If the client takes weeks or months to implement the changes, progress toward higher rankings slows or comes to a complete halt.

Implementing Significant Website Changes Without Agency Involvement

The client’s website is the focal point of an SEO campaign. If a client changes domains or URLs, adds or removes pages or sections, migrates servers or hosting, changes CMS, etc. without agency involvement from the beginning, the entire SEO campaign will move in reverse, possibly back to square one.