Your SEO isn’t working, and you aren’t sure why. You’ve done as much as you can on your own. You’ve read countless articles and educated yourself on SEO best practices and you mostly get it. You’ve published tons of blogs on your site packed with keywords. You’ve even paid someone you found on Upwork to optimize the back end of your website for better Google rankings. So why aren’t you seeing results? Why isn’t your site on the first page of search results?
Google and other search engines are constantly evolving their algorithms to better serve consumers. This means your SEO strategy also needs to adapt for your site to climb to the top of search results. If you want to land on page one, here are our top 20 reasons why your SEO strategy could be failing in 2020.
1. Your Website is Slow
Use Google’s Page Insight’s tool to assess the speed of your website. If it’s slow, this could be a major reason why your SEO isn’t working. Why is this an issue? A slow site is frustrating to prospective customers who want to be able to explore your pages quickly to find the information they need. Google also prefers fast websites and ranks them higher in search results.
Some of the main culprits that slow down your website are:
- large images that haven’t been properly compressed
- redundant or conflicting plugins
- an underperforming website theme
- sluggish, cheap hosting
- too many 404 and 401 redirects
- sloppy back-end code from poor website development
2. Your Hosting Sucks
As we mentioned above, sluggish hosting can really slow your website load speed. Cheap hosting is cheap for a reason! If you’re having issues with site speed, it might be time for a hosting upgrade. You can often find affordable enhanced business hosting options, or you could explore self-hosting if you really want to have control over your hosting environment.
3. Your Site Isn’t Responsive
All website themes are not created equal. And it doesn’t matter how awesome your site looks on desktop. If your website isn’t responsive—meaning it doesn’t adjust to look and function appropriately on a smartphone or tablet—then this is probably why your SEO isn’t working. Responsiveness is also referred to as “mobile-friendliness”, and Google downgrades sites that are not friendly for mobile browsing. Most people search Google from their smartphone these days, so it makes sense they wouldn’t send consumers to sites that are broken or have terrible UX on a smaller screen.
To find out if your site is mobile-friendly, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If your website isn’t responsive, we can help with website design services! You’ll simply need to choose a better theme that helps users navigate your site easily using any device.
4. You are Targeting Only “Big” Keywords
If you’re only focusing your SEO efforts on competitive, industry-wide keywords, then you might be severely limiting the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. For example, if you sell CBD. You may think it’s a great idea to use the keyword “hemp” on all of your pages and as the focus keyphrase in each of your blogs. But “hemp” is a highly competitive keyword—thousands of other websites are trying to rank for it and paying for ads that target people who search for it.
Unless you have a huge budget or a highly captive audience, it will be hard to rank for “hemp”. Instead, try incorporating some long-tail, niche keywords into your strategy to complement “hemp”. Try to make them keyword phrases that really zero in on your brand and what you sell. For CBD, this might be “culinary full-spectrum hemp CBD” or “hemp for dogs”. By narrowing down your targeting, you can not only help your SEO but also attract higher-quality leads that are actually interested in buying the products you sell.
5. You’re Targeting the Wrong Keywords
It’s not only important to get traffic to your site. It’s important to get the right kind of traffic that will actually convert. While it’s tempting to do your own SEO research, knowing which keywords are right for your audience is absolutely essential. Stop guessing and get a professional SEO audit so you have the info you need to improve rankings. Or, have your site audited again (by Witty Kitty!) if you aren’t seeing positive results. It’s possible that even if you paid for an audit and SEO services, you still have generic, sloppy keywords.
A prime example that comes to mind? We have a client that sells medicinal mushroom extracts. They came to us because they were frustrated—their Google Analytics revealed that they had a very high bounce rate on their homepage. Turns out, much of their traffic was originating from searches for culinary mushrooms and grocery stores. They were using the wrong keywords on the back end of their site and in their copy. Visitors were very disappointed to find a nutritional supplement company instead of a natural grocer when they clicked on the search result, and would immediately leave the site. If you notice that your pages have a high bounce rate or that visitors are leaving your site without making a purchase, you need to re-evaluate your keywords.
6. You Haven’t Had an SEO Audit in the Last Year
The number one most likely reason why your SEO isn’t working? You haven’t invested in an annual SEO audit. A professional audit is the most cost-effective, strategic way to get an assessment of your SEO rankings and how you can improve them immediately and long-term. if you need an affordable SEO audit with technical back-end implementation included, Witty Kitty can help! Bonus: our audits are written out in an easy-to-understand format so you can actually learn how to improve your site’s SEO yourself without the confusing industry jargon. Woohoo!
7. Your Blogs are Too Short
If you want your blog posts to rank on Google and bring in traffic, they need to be at least 700 words long. Anything shorter than that is a huge waste of your time and money to produce.
Google’s algorithm is always changing to bring searchers better, more relevant, and more useful content. A popular SEO tactic a few years ago was to publish tons of crappy, keyword-stuffed blog content and website copy to gain favor from Google’s algorithm. And it worked…5 years ago! Now, Google actually downgrades such content because it isn’t helpful to your audience and doesn’t answer their questions.
Longer content with relevant keywords that are used organically and do not distract from the subject of the writing rank well in Google. Here’s our guide to help you find the right balance between SEO and satisfying the needs of your customers in blog posts.
8. Your Blog Posts Aren’t Strategic
You could blog all day every day and see little SEO benefit if you are not being strategic about your posts. Each post should have a focus keyword or keyword phrase, the right keyword density used throughout your writing, and should speak to a current gap in searched content. This means while it is useful to publish basic blogs about topics that have already been widely discussed online, you need to get more niche with your topics if you are going to rank on Google. If you aren’t using strategic keywords and keyword phrases, then this could be why your SEO isn’t working.
Instead of writing “How to Microneedle” you should get more micro with the audience you are speaking to and the topic you’re educating them about. A better topic would be “How to Microneedle for Postpartum Stretch Marks” or “How to Erase Crows Feet with Microneedle and Vitamin C Serum”.
The more specific you are, the better. Do your research and find the niche topics that your target audience is really interested in. then search for the content that is already ranking on the web. Then write your own content that satisfies that need or answers that question BETTER. This is the true recipe for strategic, high-ranking content marketing.
9. You Aren’t Updating Old Content and Blogs
Once you hit publish, you are never really done with a blog post. It’s a living piece of content that needs to be maintained if you want it to keep sending search traffic your way. Did you know that having old, stale content on your blog can actually hurt your SEO? Google actually just released a Core Update to address this issue. If you’ve seen your rankings suffer and your SEO isn’t working, that could be why! Google favors websites that monitor and update their content because it means that you care about your audience and are always looking for ways to add value to their online experience.
How do you update existing content for better search results? Go through old blog posts and resources to make sure the statistics and data used are still current. Add new pictures and make sure the information you are giving readers is still correct and useful. Is there anything you could add to make the article more useful? Could you re-do the formatting to make it easier to read on mobile devices? Look over old content at least once each year to make sure it’s the best it can be!
10. Your Content isn’t Scannable
Does your blog post formatting make it hard to read? Are you breaking up paragraphs and adding subtitles, bullet points, and numbers so readers can scan your content to get the info they need quickly? If your blog posts and resources are just a lump of copy on the page, then it’s not hard to guess why your SEO isn’t working. If a piece of content is hard for your audience to read then it is also hard for Google’s “spiders” to crawl and index in search engine results.
Improve formatting and break up your copy with visuals so it’s easy to scan. Or, better yet, make a video that summarizes your blog post. Video can really boost rankings. Especially if you’re revamping an older post that already ranks well without video assets! Adding video could bump you onto page one.
11. You Have No Video Strategy
Speaking of video…you need it! If you’re serious about improving your website’s SEO, then here are some easy ways to get started with a video strategy now. It can seem very intimidating, but with a few affordable tools and some time, you can easily incorporate this SEO tactic. We suggest at least investing in a solid homepage video to greet customers and clients. If you need one, we can help!
12. You Aren’t Posting Content Regularly
We suggest posting a blog post or resource to your website at least once a week. If you only post once every few months, this is definitely why your SEO isn’t working. Content is King! Whether it’s a video you created, a blog post you wrote, or an infographic you designed, you need to be constantly showing Google that you are a source of high-quality, useful content.
This also means that posting four blog posts on the same day each month will not do as much for your SEO as scheduling your four blogs to post every Monday. By spacing them out, you can actually get more traction and better SEO results. You can also create anticipation with loyal readers and viewers by predictably posting on the same day and time each week. Do some experimenting and figure out when you see the most traffic on your website, then post blogs, videos, and other content on your site at that time.
13. You Aren’t Using the Right SEO Tools
There are plenty of free or cheap SEO tools out there if your SEO isn’t working. We love many of these amazing tools for surface-level information and light keyword research! In fact, we wrote an article about some of our favorite SEO tools that are useful for any business owner. But if you want to get really in-depth, you’ll have to pay. And these tools can be very expensive, and they can have a steep learning curve. That’s why it’s usually cheaper (and WAY easier) to hire an affordable marketing agency like Witty Kitty to monitor your keywords for you regularly and make sure the back end of your site is performing as it should.
14. Your Website Copy Isn’t Optimized
You know you need to optimize blog posts with SEO keywords. But, did you know you must constantly optimize your website copy for better performance in search results? At least once every six months, we suggest doing a copy refresh to incorporate the best keywords into your most important page copy—like your homepage, landing pages, and product descriptions.
Sometimes you might need to change nothing! But make sure you are always keeping tabs on your Google Analytics and other performance data tracking tools. If you start to see traffic to certain pages plummet, it could mean you need to refresh your keyword strategy or that Google has released an update that might be affecting your rankings negatively.
15. You Arent Posting Regularly on Social Media
When you Google your business, you may notice that your social channels pop up before your actual website. This is because social media is one of the top ways that consumers want to interact with your brand. Social media can be your top Google result, so make sure you are leveraging social accounts—posting at least 3 times a week to keep followers engaged.
Respond to comments—especially customer service inquiries—promptly. Make sure your contact information is consistent on each of your social media profiles, and make it super easy for customers to contact you if they have a question, comment, or concern.
16. Your Images Don’t Have Alt Tags
Just like you have to optimize copy, you also need to optimize images. Each image that lives on your site should have an alt tag that helps Google know what your images are and how they should be indexed for image searches. Your blog posts, product pages, and resources can also be found through an image search, so your alt tags should always help searchers understand why the image is relevant to their query.
Also, take into consideration the needs of the visually impaired audience that might be using your website. Alt tags can help those who cannot see your image clearly have more context when using text-to-speech tools.
17. You Don’t Maintain Online Business Listings
When’s the last time you updated and optimized your Google Business Listing? What about your Yahoo listing, Yelp listing, or Bing listing? Your business likely has a business listing that gives your contact information on many different platforms. Make sure that you are using consistent contact info (phone, address, email) on each listing and that it is typed out exactly the same everywhere it appears. Being consistent lets Google and other search engines know that you maintain your listings and that you are giving consumers the correct info so they can contact you quickly and easily.
You can also optimize the actual text or description of your business in listings for better search results. Or do a campaign to earn more local reviews, as these can greatly improve local searches for your business. If your SEO isn’t working, don’t forget about listings on specialized industry or professional websites to bring traffic to your site. If you’re a doctor, you’ll want to maintain your listing on HealthGrades.com. If you’re a car dealer, you’d need to pay attention to your listing and reviews on CarGurus.com. If you own a restaurant or local business, Yelp is your best friend.
You can also post updates about your business, share articles from your blog, or tell customers more about your business and products through Google My Business posts. But, just because you rank well locally via Google Maps and Google local search doesn’t mean you don’t need a broader SEO strategy!
18. Your Web Design Needs Improvement
How your website looks and functions is important for SEO. Even if you’re using all the right keywords on the back end and in your content…if your website design sucks, this could be why your SEO isn’t working! Your website needs a revamp if you’re guilty of any of the following.
- You haven’t refreshed your website design in 5 years or more
- Customers are predictably bouncing after visiting specific pages of your site
- Your site’s load speed is slow
- You’ve never done heat mapping to test user experience
- Your site is not responsive on mobile devices
- The branding on your website, social, and other marketing elements isn’t consistent
- You have page errors and broken links on your website
- You get phone calls or emails often about issues your customers are having with your website
19. You Have No Backlinks
Do other reputable websites link to your site on their blog or in other website content? Does a guide or article you wrote get referenced with a link on other websites because it answers important questions for the public? Do happy customers often share a link to your business on community forums to recommend your services? Have you earned media coverage on news or industry websites?
These are all great ways to earn backlinks—which are extremely important for your SEO because they signal to Google that other websites trust your site enough to send traffic to it. And that you are producing content that is actually helping answer popular questions on the web.
If you don’t have a web of healthy backlinks pointing to your site, then this could be why your SEO isn’t working. You can find your backlinks in Google Analytics or with a backlink checker. Here is our guide on building more backlinks to your website if you find yours are too sparse!
20. You Have Too Many Spam Backlinks
If you hired an SEO firm in the past to build backlinks for you cheaply, you may find that your SEO isn’t working because your site has a high spam score or is in SEO penalty status with Google. If you are in penalty you may have received a message from Google informing you. Or your website traffic and Google rankings may have suddenly plummeted.
Many SEO firms build backlinks to low domain authority or spammy websites that Google doesn’t trust. If your site is associated with spam sites through backlinks, Google may also penalize your site for what is called “Black Hat” SEO—getting links in a dishonest way that doesn’t actually help consumers. If an SEO professional approaches you claiming they can build hundreds of backlinks for your site in a day, beware. Once your site is in SEO penalty it can take months or even years to disavow all of the links and get back in Google’s good graces. It’s always better to build links slowly and organically for better SEO.
When to Hire an SEO Expert
We are all about DIY search engine optimization, and we encourage our clients to learn as much as they can about search engine optimization. But there comes a time when you need to hire a professional.
To set yourself up for success, hire an SEO expert to do an audit once per year to make sure your SEO is solid. Otherwise, you could be wasting money on an ineffective content marketing and SEO strategy!
How to Find the Right SEO Professional
It’s also very important to hire the right SEO professional. If you read the article above, you know that hiring the wrong person to execute your strategy can actually do more harm than good! The following are a few things to keep in mind when hiring an SEO firm.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! SEO is an investment—if it’s super cheap then it likely isn’t effective or can actually harm your SEO (i.e. spammy backlinks and sloppy blog posts).
- Are they willing to explain their tactics and do you understand their strategy? If not, they might be selling smoke and mirrors. Or simply not know enough about SEO to help you.
- Do they promise that they can get you results overnight? If so, they probably aren’t being genuine. SEO takes time and patience. If it was fast and easy, every website would have great SEO.
- Do they have good online reviews? If other clients of theirs are willing to give a testimonial about their work, then you can rest assured they’ll do good work for you as well.
Witty Kitty SEO audits include implementation. That means we actually input your keywords on the back end of your site and perform the technical maintenance you need to improve your ranking. We also suggest actionable ways you can improve SEO right now and help you execute your strategy for the fastest results. Plus, our audits are easy to understand—we won’t drown you in confusing industry jargon.
And not to toot our own horn, but our clients aren’t shy about how much they LOVE us! If you need help because your SEO isn’t working, send us a message. We offer a free 30-minute consultation so we can get to know you, your business, and your SEO and content marketing needs.