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17 Reasons Why Companies Fail At SEO
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Every company wants a high organic ranking in Google, but most do not take the time or put the effort into achieving this goal. This is the timeless conundrum clouding the practice of SEO today, just as it did ten years ago.
Search Engine Optimization: the science of ranking organically in Google Search Results.
Why? So your future customers can find you organically in Google, be compelled by the contact you produce and contact your business to learn more about your services.
How? By creating powerful written, audio or video content that is organically linked to reputable outlets. These links (and a myriad of other factors) makes Google assess your content and algorithmically rank it in search results based on relevance when compared to other available indexed content on the web (i.e., all other search results).
At Digital Authority Partners, we work with clients on SEO initiatives from any industry. Contrary to the popular belief that you need to really know a specific industry to properly perform SEO - we can take on any new client and help them rank organically on the first page of search results.
Take our own example. In 2019, we have decided, as a company, that we want healthcare and finance heads of marketing and digital strategy to come to us to learn about our services. And since October, we have focused our efforts to make sure we are at the top of search results for multiple relevant keywords. Check it out for yourself:
As you can see from the examples above, we know what we’re doing.
Most companies do not see this type of results. The six examples above, for 6 different articles published in the last 6 months are a marketer’s dream.
But for most companies, these results are unattainable.
Here is a list of 17 reasons why most companies fail to get these results.
1. Companies don’t team up with the right agencies
80% of companies outsource their content marketing activities. Unfortunately, they choose partners who either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t understand / correctly implement the 200+ SEO factors Google takes into account.
2. Companies go for cheap vendors
Content marketing is not a commodity, even though it is frequently treated as such. Basically, marketing managers think of marketing in terms of how many backlinks they get, how many articles they post, etc. So the market has adjusted accordingly. The majority of SEO vendors have tailored their services in such a way that they are price competitive over everything else. Done this way, the results suffer. When it comes to SEO - cheap is NEVER the best option. Virtually every client we get has started with low-priced SEO packages with other vendors without getting anything in return. With SEO, if you don’t do it well, you will NOT get any results and are therefore wasting your money. For example, we continue to see a tremendous amount of companies who DON'T have a proper About Us page which is a huge SEO factor tied to establishing a website's authority (more on this, here).
3. Companies work with SEO agencies that secure backlinks from garbage domains
This is closely related to #2 above. As with so many things, you get what you pay for. If you hire cheap vendors, you get bad results. Why? Because there exists an entire underground market for SEO linking exchanges. This results in bad links, or still worse: you get penalized by Google. This happens for a simple reason. Google looks at the domain authority of a URL pointing at your site when determining your SEO position (among other factors). When you get backlinks from garbage domains, not only do you not get a positive ROI for your SEO efforts, you actually risk being manually or algorithmically penalized by Google.
4. Companies focus too much on traffic versus quality of traffic
Doing SEO like a pro is not about getting huge amounts of traffic (unless you’re a magazine). It’s about getting targeted, qualified and relevant traffic. For example, at Digital Authority Partners we often get leads from articles that rank highly in Google search results but get very limited traffic (30-50 a month). The primary KPI for SEO should not be about how much traffic a company’s site gets but about the quality of the traffic, the time readers spend on your page (engagement rates) and what they do while there.
5. Companies (or the agencies they hire) don’t do enough keyword research
This plays off #4 above. The goal is not to get tons of traffic but traffic that will convert. This comes primarily from targeting content which is buy-oriented versus educational content. For example, if I am an agency that provides Artificial Intelligence services, I need to think about exactly what I want to rank for. Sure, ranking for ‘what is artificial intelligence’ would give me a ton of traffic but will it lead to sales? Probably not. However, if I rank for ‘artificial intelligence services,' that is a very different story. You can see the search intent with the second search string. Someone looking for services is trying to see what companies are offering AI software development, while someone searching for ‘what is artificial intelligence’ is simply trying to get familiarized with the concept.
6. Companies expect instant results, then devalue SEO efforts
SEO doesn’t happen overnight. Our results are the best I’ve seen from a timeline perspective. We’re in the top 5% of search results ranking for us and our clients, which translates to topping Google search results in 60 days. Obviously, that doesn’t happen every time. Accordingly, neither can we predict upfront when it will or when it will not rank high. Even Neil Patel will tell you 60 days is nothing short of incredible (he advises readers/ viewers that it takes on average 100 days to rank for a keyword). Most companies give up on SEO too soon. And they never see the right results.
7. Companies don’t fix the underlying website-related issues affecting SEO
SEO is not only about backlinks, shares, or creating amazing content (although these factors also play a HUGE role), it’s also about website performance, technical SEO, A/B testing, analytics, tweaking your content over time and MUCH more. Any of these factors can, on their own, doom your SEO efforts and prevent you from EVER making it to the first page of Google search results.
8. Companies don’t set up marketing personas
SEO only works if the content created is relevant to a specific target audience, in a relevant and timely manner. This can only happen if you create specific personas. In the screenshots above, there are three different articles tied to content marketing in finance. One is geared towards fintech startups (‘fintech startups’ keywords), one towards bank managers (‘financial services marketing’) and one towards enterprises (‘financial product marketing). That shows you we have three completely different marketing personas and we’re creating relevant content for each of them.
9. Companies attempt to rank for impossible keywords
There are thousands of variations for the different search queries on the internet. Many marketers try to rank for impossible keywords that take too long to achieve ranking results. The phrase search ‘online marketing’ requires 150 backlinks for an article to show up in the top 10 of Google search results. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of variations of this keyword for which you can easily rank within 2 months (example, ‘hotel online marketing’ only requires 4 backlinks to be on page 1 of search results).
10. Companies do not optimize their content
Remember that I said SEO has been commodified? That is happening on both sides of the marketing table: the agency and the company hiring an SEO Agency. In other words, you publish an article and that’s it. But there is a deeper reality to this process. When you do SEO like a true professional, over time, the same content may rank for more than one keyword. Your job would be to track those keywords and add new sections to the articles that speak to the other keywords for which you are beginning to rank. True story: our site is the number 1 Google search result for ‘healthcare marketing.’ But we are now #22 for ‘medical marketing.' So we will add a new section about medical marketing this month. Boom. Two birds, one stone.
11. Companies don’t update their content regularly
This is somewhat related to #10, but it is sufficiently different to warrant a special note: Google hates stale content. When you do a Google search and find an article from 2005, how eager are you to read it? It should be standard practice for your organization to look at your most valuable content every 6 months, update it and refresh it. We are following our own advice and are currently preparing to add two new sections to the article we published about ‘digital transformation in healthcare.’ Much has changed since we published the article last summer. When you update your content you are telling Google your article is STILL relevant and that it should stay at the top of search results.
12. Companies don’t optimize their website user experience
Too many marketers focus solely on SEO and content strategy while neglecting the simple reality that content is part of an overall package - specifically, that means your website. If your website layout is confusing, or if your site doesn’t have enough content to compel a reader to contact you, it doesn’t matter whether you get a ton of traffic. It simply won’t convert. Your SEO-focused content needs to be fully integrated with the rest of the site but it cannot be considered the holy grail of your online marketing strategies. Content strategy brings people to a site and entices readers to know more about your company. That’s it. If you don’t have a stellar user experience on your website, you won’t have a positive ROI for your content marketing activities.
13. Companies don’t cross-link between content and their services
In every article you write, you should link to the relevant services your company provides. As with #12, your content doesn’t reside in a vacuum. In addition, since users will most likely find your site via SEO, you need to push readers down the funnel - to other service pages, contact us forms or other relevant articles. In sum: any time you publish an article, make sure you include at least 2 other internal website sources (landing page links, articles, etc.) in each one of your articles.
14. Companies don’t create relevant landing pages
If you create an article that you hope will make a reader interested in your company’s services - can you direct them to a landing page that is in line with the content you created? An article only establishes a reader’s trust with a company. It shows them: these guys know what they’re talking about. But an SEO-optimized article will not auto-magically turn a reader into a paying customer. That’s why you need to create landing pages that are relevant to the content you create and route users to them. A landing page is a transactional page. A piece of content is an educational page. You need to connect the two in order to see a positive ROI for your SEO efforts.
15. Companies don’t enable retargeting for their content
This is what most marketers fail to understand: converting a user during the first visit to your site is unrealistic. You can HOPE a small percentage will call you/ email you, but you can’t expect that. That’s where retargeting comes into place. For those who don’t know what retargeting is, here’s a simple definition: retargeting or remarketing shows users who have visited your site ads about your website while they surf the internet. The way it is done is via a cookie stored on a visitor’s browser. You can set up retargeting through Google Ads by adding banners to landing pages (Aha!) which are in sync with the content they have visited on your site. For example: at Digital Authority Partners, we set up retargeting for our healthcare marketing article. So after users read this article and go away from our site, they will see banner ads on other sites. If they click on the banner, they are taken to this landing page. We usually see on site conversion rates of 2-3%. Using retargeting we see 10-15% conversion rates.
16. Companies don’t integrate content marketing with social media
I bet you saw this section title and thought: this isn’t about me, I post a link to all my content on social media. That is not true integrated content marketing. If you post your content on social media, that simply reveals the content to your existing user base. To properly and powerfully integrate your SEO content with social media means finding relevant threads online and commenting with a link back to your article (Make sure you don’t spam the internet, but provide value on social media when tagging other users and sharing an article). At Digital Authority Partners we also like to tag all authors with whom we link in our articles on social media. When you write content, you should refer to other authors when appropriate. After an article goes live, we go online and tag those authors on social media. Oftentimes, these authors like, comment on or even share our posts thus amplifying the reach of our content.
17. Companies don’t measure the performance of the content
There are a few simple content measuring metrics most marketers track. The most obvious ones are conversion rates, click-through rates and bounce rates. That is not enough. If you have a blog and you want to see a positive ROI from it, you need to add advanced analytics. For example, for our blog, we use Lucky Orange to see recorded videos of our website visitors (Don’t worry, the software only tracks what happens while a user is on one of our article pages, that’s it.). We also use Google Optimize to A/B test various banners, messaging and pop-up positioning on the blog page. We use Sumo plug-in to see the average percentage of the content read (how much of each article do readers actually read). Lastly, we have Google Analytics installed on all pages for a comprehensive view of what readers do on our site. We wholeheartedly recommend all these tools to any marketer out there who wants to really get a positive ROI on their SEO efforts.
Many marketers view SEO as if it is a commodity. It is not. Good SEO companies provide a comprehensive solution which integrates SEO efforts with the overall conversion rates for a website. They also help connect the missing links between the two. If you work with an SEO agency and you make any of the mistakes highlighted in this article, you’re either not teamed up with the right agency or you’ve chosen an SEO strategy solely based on cost. Without an integrated strategy, you cannot convert online visitors. IN that case, all the money you spent on SEO efforts alone will be in vain.
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