After spend­ing months (and thou­sands) research­ing and devel­op­ing a new web­site for your busi­ness, you might expect to start gen­er­at­ing leads and sales pret­ty quick­ly.

After all, your all bells, all whis­tles site looks a mil­lion times bet­ter than your competitor’s, but with­out the right search engine opti­miza­tion strat­e­gy, your hard work will prob­a­bly be in vain.

We all know that prop­er­ly opti­miz­ing your web­site for search engines and users is essen­tial, and the tech­niques that you need to fol­low to climb the ranks and increase con­ver­sions.

But what about when things don’t go to plan? Below, we’ve put togeth­er some of the biggest signs that your cur­rent SEO strat­e­gy isn’t work­ing, and offer some tips on putting it right…

Organic traffic is decreasing

The whole point of an SEO cam­paign is to dri­ve more traf­fic to your web­site.

When you first start out, you’ll spend the major­i­ty of your time opti­miz­ing pages, tar­get­ing key­words, cre­at­ing a bank of qual­i­ty con­tent, and build­ing back­links from author­i­ty sites.

Over time, that SEO work encour­ages search engines like Google to lis­ten up and rank your pages accord­ing­ly in their results, dri­ving vis­i­tors to your web­site and your con­tent.

Check your ana­lyt­ics to see your traf­fic over the past year. If it’s going up, you’re on the right track, and if it’s going down, the chances are there’s some­thing wrong with your strat­e­gy.

Iden­ti­fy pos­si­ble rea­sons for the drop (slack­ing on out­reach, com­peti­tor enter­ing your space) and look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to change your strat­e­gy. Pig­gy­back off of com­peti­tors’ key­words and up your bud­get if pos­si­ble so you can claw your way back to the first page of Google.

Keywords are dropping

Make sure you’re using tools like Google Search Con­sole and SEM­Rush to mon­i­tor key­word rank­ings. All key­words fluc­tu­ate, but if yours are con­tin­u­al­ly drop­ping, there’s a prob­lem.

The most like­ly rea­son for key­words drop­ping is that your com­peti­tors are cre­at­ing con­tent that’s bet­ter than yours, opti­mized for the same key­words. Search for your tar­get key­words and see what’s rank­ing ahead – it might be an in-depth resource or attrac­tive land­ing page.

It could also be that their con­tent has been bet­ter opti­mized for the key­word. Make sure your con­tent prop­er­ly inte­grates the right key­words on the right pages; not only in the meta­da­ta but sprin­kled through­out your con­tent nat­u­ral­ly. Use head­er tags and inter­nal links to build up your key­words, and con­duct out­reach to push peo­ple from oth­er web­sites back to yours.

Keywords are dropping

Conversions are low

If you’re man­ag­ing to dri­ve traf­fic to your blog posts and land­ing pages but you’re not gen­er­at­ing new sales or leads on a reg­u­lar basis, your SEO cam­paign could be to blame.

Why? It could be that you’re attract­ing the wrong type of traf­fic from search engines.

Focus on key­words that car­ry intent. There’s no harm in cre­at­ing tonnes of resource-rich blog posts and pages that offer infor­ma­tion to your vis­i­tors, but if they’re not inter­est­ed in buy­ing a prod­uct or ser­vice, then you’re essen­tial­ly giv­ing your knowl­edge away for noth­ing.

Rather than focus­ing on a key­word like “wigs”, where cus­tomers might sim­ply be look­ing for tips on fit­ting a wig or advice on main­tain­ing their hair, tar­get key­words like “buy wigs online” and “dis­count wigs” which car­ry intent – those searchers are more like­ly to buy from you.

Ana­lyze the key­words you’re cur­rent­ly rank­ing for and high­light ones that you should be push­ing. It’s great to be rank­ing for as many as pos­si­ble, but stream­lin­ing and focus­ing on some hard-hit­ters which will con­vert vis­i­tors into cus­tomers will be the key to suc­cess.

User-expe­ri­ence should also be con­sid­ered, too. Make sure there’s a clear call to action on every page and look for ways to push peo­ple through your sales fun­nel at every oppor­tu­ni­ty.

People aren’t sticking around

A high bounce rate is a bad news for your web­site.

The met­ric shows what per­cent­age of vis­i­tors leave your web­site with­out click­ing through to anoth­er page. Most sites have a bounce rate of between 25% and 75%, though the low­er the rate, the bet­ter. If you can’t encour­age peo­ple to stick around, they’re not going to buy.

A web­site with good SEO will dri­ve organ­ic traf­fic through search engines and keep peo­ple online for as long as pos­si­ble. “Sticky” pages like blog posts and land­ing pages should be so engag­ing and use­ful that con­sumers can’t click the back but­ton – they have to keep read­ing.

Focus on improv­ing your user expe­ri­ence, opti­mize your call to action place­ments, improve your site’s speed, A/B test to see which land­ing page is stick­i­er, and con­sid­er adding video con­tent to your web­site to engage your audi­ence. You should also use high-qual­i­ty images, add case stud­ies and tes­ti­mo­ni­als, and tar­get aban­don­ing users with exit intent pop-ups.

Your strategy hasn’t changed

If there’s one thing you can rely on in the world of SEO, it’s that noth­ing stands still for long.

Search engines reg­u­lar­ly update their algo­rithms and search met­rics, and mar­keters come up with new tac­tics to improve ranks and dri­ve traf­fic.

That means tech­niques can go out of date pret­ty quick­ly, so if you’re using a five-year-old SEO hand­book, you prob­a­bly aren’t going to get very far.

Make sure you keep up to date with the lat­est SEO best prac­tices (sites like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Round­table, the SEM­rush Blog and Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute) and update your own strat­e­gy accord­ing­ly as new updates are intro­duced.

Always be ready to learn and adapt, and con­sid­er build­ing a “hob­by web­site” where you can exper­i­ment with new con­cepts and ideas before putting them into prac­tice on your main site.

Alter­na­tive­ly, it depends on a reli­able SEO com­pa­ny that has up-to-the-minute insights into the tac­tics that will and won’t work. It’ll save you time and ensure you rank as high­ly as pos­si­ble.

Your strategy hasn’t changed

You don’t have goals

The biggest tell­tale sign that your SEO cam­paign isn’t work­ing is not hav­ing goals.

There’s no point in cre­at­ing con­tent, opti­miz­ing your pages, and build­ing links if you don’t have a clear plan of action. Throw­ing things at a wall to see what sticks isn’t what SEO is about.

Decide on a goal (whether that’s increased traf­fic, more sales, improved brand aware­ness, build­ing your­self as an author­i­ty, out­rank­ing neg­a­tive press arti­cles) and stick to it. It’ll make it much eas­i­er for you to put your time and effort in the right places and deliv­er those results.

And review often. Set your­self time-spe­cif­ic goals and ana­lyze your strat­e­gy every three or six months; if you’re still no fur­ther for­ward after that time, you’ll need to adopt a new plan.