3 reasons SEO is not working for you (and what to do)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the Holy Grail of Internet marketing. But most new website owners will at one point or another get the overwhelming feeling that SEO is not working for their website. It should, but it doesn’t.

This article will focus on 3 areas of your website that need to work for you to be successful.

In short, these three areas create a foundation for you to build on and I will present an easy to follow 3-step process on how you can evaluate your website. 

Before concluding that SEO is not working for you, you need to take a step back. Try to look at your website from an outside-in perspective as if you were considering purchasing your website as it stands right now.

Would you buy your website if it was for sale?

In business, as in life in general, there are factors you can control and there are things that just happen – good as well as not so good.

In this article we will focus on the factors you can control to make sure your website is built to succeed.

1. Check your websites loading time

Head over to PageSpeed Insight and run your website through their speed test.

And do remember to check the score for both desktop and mobile platforms. 

When you run the test you are checking that particular URL or web address. Please note taht gameplanfi.com is not the same URL or web address as gameplanfi.com/seo-not-working

Any score below 90 is simply not good enough.

PageSpeed Insights score to offer foundation for good SEO

Next you should head over to GTMetrix and run their scan for the same URLs or web addresses.

Here you are looking for a GTMetrix Grade of A and all green numbers on the Web Vitals panel.

The advantage with GTMetric is that they spell out any room for improvement.

GTMetrix Grade A indicates good performance

Having a fast loading website is key and is getting more important with every day that passes. The search engines have clearly communicated that loading speed is an important factor and it will carry even more weight going forward.

Read this article for a plain language explanation of Google Core Web Vitals and why speed and user experience are keys to your success.

Conclusion: Work to improve website speed to a score of above 90 and a GTMetrix Grade A. Think user experience. And if you have doubts, know that Google has told you that it matters.

2. Work with the search engines (not against them)

If you feel that SEO is not working for your website you need to look at yourself and your website from the perspective of the search engine.

The good news is that Google and all the other search engines would love to rank you as number one for all your keywords. 

And amazingly they do not want you to pay anything to be listed in their organic search results.

All they ask is pretty much that you:

  1. Communicate the value you offer
  2. Offer the best content and
  3. Follow the rules

1. Communicate the value you offer

How can you let the search engines know what you have to offer? 

This is where SEO comes into play. SEO helps you communicate what your website is all about. 

You create content for human beings and optimize to help search engines categorize your content correctly.

Google has access to so much data and continuously analyses that data to send visitors to the best possible result.

Using sound SEO practices you use on-page factors to signal what your website is all about. Google will use these on-page factors together with many other factors to help rank your website correctly.

The external factors such as links from authoritative websites in your niche have to be earned over time. You should of course work on outreach to acquire relevant links to your website via for example HARO. But generally speaking are the external factors outside of your control.

2. Offer the best content and be patient

You must always strive to offer the best possible content. Period.

But epic content will not be enough in itself. At least not when you are first starting out.

Unless you have discovered a brand new niche there will be competitors who were there before you. These competitors may have been publishing content for years.

Is it realistic to expect your brand new website to outrank them from day 1?

Of course not. And this is a tough lesson when we first start out. 

Excellence is not enough. There is also the factor of time. And being successful with a website takes patience. 

Search for your most important keyword and look at the top 3 results being returned.

Do you deserve to rank above them?

If you have a website that is less than 1 year old the answer is most likely “no”.

But do not despair, there are ways to compete if you work smart.

3. Follow the rules

Search engines will index and rank your web pages for free.

And they have listed some quite easy to follow rules and guidelines that you need to follow to be considered.

The rules are common sense and basically they do not want you to try to deceive them. The search engines ask you to play fair and allow them to index and rank your website.

This means being a part of the “virtual organic organism” that Google and the other search engines have created.

An example: Search engines are said to read links from other websites to be “votes” or signals that your website is worth reading and linking to. Makes sense, right?

Playing fair means that you should not try to buy links from other websites. This is not permitted as it is an attempt to game the system.

Trust Google and the other search engines to be smarter than you. If you try to fool them they will find out. And when they do they will ban or at least penalise your website.

If you are reading this article you most likely arrived from a search engine. And you are most likely interested in building a website for long-term passive income

Being long term means that you are patient. Good. It also means that you will play by the rules. Even better.

Stay in the game and do not look for shortcuts. Or simply put, follow and honor the rules.

3. Inventory of keywords targeted (and how to improve)

The keywords you have chosen to target will make or break you. SEO will not work for you if you target the wrong keywords.

You need to look at this from two different angles

  1. Can you compete?
  2. Are you relevant?

1. Can you compete?

Start by selecting 10-20 posts or articles and list the primary keywords you targeted when you wrote your article.

Now you have two ways to assess the keywords you have chosen. One is free and the other has a free trial but will cost you about $17 or so per month after the trial expires.

To check for free you download the free Mozbar. The article Find Your Best Niche For Blogging (Step 4) gives step by step instructions on how to evaluate if you can compete for the keywords you have targeted. 

You can also use the service provided by KeySearch (free trial). Detailed instructions on how to use Keysearch in the article Competitor SWOT Analysis (For New Websites)

2. Are you relevant?

All keywords are not the same. People have a specific intent when they search.

Do you match the user intent for the keywords you target?

Not sure? Well, if your SEO is not working you need to find out. And the good news is that is is easy to find out. Because Google will tell you.

Search for the keywords you target and look at the type of websites that are listed in the top 10 on the search engine result page (SERP). 

Example: If you have a blog and Google lists ecommerce websites you will never rank for that keyword. 

Google has concluded that the search intent or the person searching is to buy. It does not matter that you have a great article reviewing all kinds of options. It is not what the searcher wants.

Only target keywords where Google lists your type of websites.

And how does Google know? They analyse data and can see where customers are happy with the result they clicked on and where they simply went back to the search results and chose another result.

Google has access to an enormous amount of data and benefits from what is called the network effect. It basically means that the more we use Google the better they get at knowing the intent of the searcher.

Network effect and why you need to understand user intent
The Network effect making Google a better and smarter service

Conclusion: The statement SEO is not working for my website is often linked to poorly selected keywords. Make sure you match search intent and follow the advice in the article 5 Action Points When Low Competition Keywords Are Taken when selecting keywords to target.

Summary and conclusion

If you ensure that your website meets all the above criteria you will have created a good and solid foundation for successful SEO.

It may seem basic.

But still most people fail to meet these basic conditions.

SEO takes time and you will have to wait for at least 6 months to see results.

First, it goes without saying that you need to play by the rules. Enough said.

Next, test your website’s loading time. You should strive for a score of 90 and a Grade A with GTMetrix.

Finally, take a good and hard look at the keywords you have chosen for your posts. Is it realistic that you will rank in the top 10 in the search engines? If not, consider a re-write choosing more realistic target keyword phrases.

And make sure you select your keywords with great care going forward.

Follow these steps and you will find that SEO works for your website as well.

Meet the author: Mattias (Matt) is a serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years of experience in business and web development. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs, loves to garden, and believes everyone needs a game plan for financial independence.