Why do so many companies stop practicing SEO?


When you enter the realm of digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) immediately becomes attractive. SEO is cheap, relatively easy to learn, and promises amazing long-term results with one of the highest ROIs of any online marketing strategy. That’s one reason the SEO world is full of optimistic newcomers, all hoping to dominate search engine results pages (SERPs).

But, almost inevitably, many companies that enter the SEO game eventually drop out. Sometimes they quit after a few months. Other times, they drop it after a few years. Sometimes they stop paying their own people to do SEO to divert those assets to other campaigns. Other times, they terminate your SEO agency contract.

Whatever the case, these companies back away from an attractive and promising strategy, so why do they do it?

There are many possible reasons.

The modern SEO landscape

Before delving into the factors potentially responsible for these premature endings of SEO campaigns, let’s examine the landscape of modern SEO.

In case you’re unfamiliar, SEO is all about increasing the ranking of your website pages in the SERPs. Through a combination of technical on-site optimization, on-site content writing, off-site content writing, and link building, you can increase your site’s reputation, improve your alignment with relevant keywords, and ultimately get a higher ranking for the terms your customers search for.

SEO is constantly changing. Google is continually refining its algorithm and new competitors are constantly entering the game. These days, the online world is crammed with entrepreneurs, marketers, and individuals trying to get to the top of the SERPs, making it difficult for people to enter, let alone find success.

With this in mind, why are so many companies ending their strategies early?

Opportunity and impatience

To begin with, many people leave simply out of impatience. After a month of investment and effort, they don’t see the results they hoped for, so they retire, instead of continuing to waste money on what they see as a failed experiment.

The reality is that limited initial results are typical and expected in the SEO world, and it takes time to update Google’s index. Additionally, you are likely dealing with entrenched competitors and it is common for companies to wait several months, or even years, before seeing the results they want.

You can wait at least three months of effort before you start to see progress and at least six months before you start to get a significant return on your investment.

Scams and deceptive agencies

SEO participants also abandon their strategies due to scams or deceptive SEO agencies. While there are many qualified, trusted, and expert SEO agencies to choose from, there are also many questionable and low-quality providers on the market.

Some agencies rely on “black hat” practices, in other words, tactics that are unethical or that violate Google’s terms of service, to artificially boost short-term results, while preparing clients for long-term failures. Agencies that promise suspiciously fast results often fall into this category. Instead, they write poor quality content, spam links, and have little regard for the distant future.

Some agencies try to lock you into a long-term contract or force you to adopt a specific SEO plan, regardless of whether it is right for you. These companies are overly rigid and tend to give you a poor customer experience.

If you have a bad experience with your agency, it is natural that you are bitter about SEO in general.

The learning curve

Make no mistake, despite SEO’s reputation for being relatively beginner-friendly, Link building and other SEO tactics are difficult. There are numerous ways your strategy can fail and hundreds of little things to learn.

Broadly speaking, the goals and best practices of SEO are clear. You have to write good content, optimize relevant keywords for your audience, and link to your domain. That sounds simple, right?

But as you dig into this topic, you’ll learn the importance of technically polishing your backend code, building natural-looking links, scaling your efforts appropriately, and writing high enough quality content to beat your competitors. With over 200 ranking factors to consider and hundreds of SEO nuances to learn, most beginners are quickly intimidated.

After practicing some early SEO tactics, when people discover that they are still over their heads, or fall even deeper into these pits, they feel like their only real option is to walk away.

Poor targeting

Your high-level strategy will dictate your SEO destiny. One of your most important considerations will be the choice of target keywords. If you manage to select high-volume, low-competition keywords, you can deftly avoid competitors while capitalizing on the most significant potential flow of organic visitors.

On the other hand, if you pick bad targets or don’t address your keywords in the right way, your entire strategy can fall apart. Once search marketers start to see poor results, they blame SEO itself, rather than properly identifying this root cause.

The competition

Competition is a common problem in many online marketing strategies; it is not limited to SEO. But in the world of SEO, it is especially prevalent and obvious. If you are trying to compete with a multi-million dollar company that has been investing in SEO for 15 years, you will not have much luck to beat them. Once marketers realize that it is almost impossible to compete directly with some of these brands, they abandon their efforts altogether.

However, this is a mistake. While direct competition can be financially and logistically draining, it is not always impossible, and it is never the only option. In the world of SEO, you can find success by competing indirectly; For example, you can choose to target a different set of keywords, a different demographic, or even a completely different area of ​​the country.

Sanctions and other setbacks

SEO can bring setbacks. And they are never fun to deal with. If you’ve spent months or years spending money and time on SEO, the last thing you want to see is a manual penalty that excludes you from search results entirely. There are ways to overcome these challenges, but some marketers are too discouraged or intimidated to try to find the reasons, and strategy is needed to overcome the penalties.

Unwillingness to adapt

You can’t be successful at SEO unless you’re willing to adapt, changing your tactics as you learn more about your competition and as you investigate new changes to Google’s algorithm. Unfortunately, some companies are simply unwilling to learn these new parameters, so they abandon the SEO game entirely.

Other favorable strategies

In some cases, companies extract money or resources from SEO strategies to invest the money or resources in other strategies that seem more favorable to them.

For example, if a business gets a 400 percent return on investment from its social media marketing strategy, but its SEO strategy delivers a negligible 120 percent return, it can divert its SEO spending to social media. However, these companies generally do not understand that SEO is also driving social media.

The synergistic power of SEO

This is often logical and intuitive on the surface, but the marketers who do this often neglect the synergistic power of SEO. While SEO may have a lower direct return on investment than some of your other online marketing strategies, SEO has a powerful indirect effect on your other tactics; Higher search engine visibility and more organic traffic can support your online branding strategy in countless ways.

SEO is not the best strategy for every business or every competitive context.

Because of this, some companies are fully justified in ending their campaigns, and some should never have started SEO to begin with. But if you’ve done your research and know that SEO is a worthwhile and reasonable strategy for your business, be careful not to withdraw too early or for the wrong reasons.

On the other hand, if you stand your ground and are willing to adapt, it could pay off over time.

Image credit: George Morina; Pexels; Thanks!

Timothy carter

Revenue Director

Timothy Carter is the chief revenue officer for the Seattle digital marketing agency. SEO.co, DEV.co AND PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, developing and expanding sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive the growth of websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach, preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter


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