I’ve been working in SEO for a little over two years and this might be the subject of over 90% of my conversations about SEO. This conversation ranges in form from, “why isn’t my SEO working?” to “does SEO really work?” These conversations center around two main themes. All of these themes tend to put a black eye on SEO.
- I’m doing SEO but have no idea what to measure or how to know that it is working.
- I’m doing SEO and I have wild expectations.
So, Why isn’t my SEO working?
Let’s take a look at these two themes one by one and get down to it.
I’m Doing SEO and I Have Wild Expectations
I’m doing SEO and I have wild expectations. Let’s start with this one because it actually overlaps the other two. Let’s start with a little story.
I love to bike. I love that I live so close to the office that I can bike to work most days. I love the freedom of biking and I love how fun it is. Sometimes when I get to the office parking lot I skid to a stop (if nobody is watching of course). I’ll be 34 this year and biking reminds me of when I was a kid.
Here’s why I’m telling you this. I started biking again about 4 years ago. I picked up a new TREK bike from Outdoor Motion. After my first couple of rides I went back to Outdoor Motion (because bike shops are fun) and talked to the owner Chad Czmowski. Chad asked me about riding my new bike and I told him it was fun but that I thought it would be a little more “effortless.” I thought I would be able to coast around town and ride for hours like when I was a kid. Chad looked at me and said, “those are some unrealistic expectations.” He was right. The fact was that I hadn’t ridden a bike regularly since I was a kid. I was much more out of shape. Finally, this was a bike, not a combination of a motorcycle and a time machine.
The moral of the story is that if you jump into SEO, even if you are doing everything right you need to understand that this will take time and effort. Here are a few things that lead to unrealistic expectations.
- The company that sold you SEO services didn’t set the expectations correctly.
- The SEO provider didn’t help you set realistic goals at the beginning of the project.
More often than not business owners expect to see large amounts of new traffic instantly because they are doing “SEO.” It’s true SEO used to be a great way to build an audience this is no longer the case. I can’t remember where I heard it but I love this quote.
“Build your audience before you need them”
If you need your audience right now SEO is not for you. If you can afford to wait and build that audience SEO is going to help you strengthen that position.
I’m Doing SEO And Have No Idea What To Measure Or How To Know It Is Working
This is something I have written about in the past. Both here and here. This is a real struggle for many small business owners. Many of us get obsessed with our rank on Google. You’re not satisfied with your rank so you get to work on some SEO. You have expectations that your rank will improve and you test it by “Googling yourself.” There are many reasons why this is not your best measurement.
- Search results are personalized so everyone on earth that uses Google sees something different.
- Googling yourself can impact, both positively and negatively, your very own personalized search results.
- You are missing the big picture if all you care about is rank.
Rank Improvement is a Bi-product of SEO
Remember, you’ve established realistic expectations for your SEO. now you need to decide how you will measure success. Instead of rank here are some important key performance indicators you can look at.
- Organic traffic (traffic that is coming from search engines)
- Leads/Sales from organic traffic
And really… that’s it. If you have hired someone to do SEO those are the only things you should care about. If those numbers are getting better your SEO is working.
OK… this was a long one. Here is what you can do today to identify if your SEO is working.
- Audit your expectations
- Do you have a strong audience?
- Talk to your SEO team, or someone else knowledgeable on the subject about your expectations
- Understand if it is working by looking at 2 key metrics
- Organic traffic
- Leads/Sales from organic traffic