In an ideal world, an SEO campaign would see a steady and predictable trajectory of objective, measurable growth. Of course, we don’t exactly live in an ideal world. In our world, metrics are skewed, and often subjective or hard to measure. When we see a fluctuation it could be a result of something we did, a result of several things we did, a result of something someone else did, or just some random fluke. Accordingly, it’s difficult to tell when your campaign has stalled out—just because your traffic seems flat for a month or two doesn’t mean you’ve settled into a plateau.
However, there are subtle signs you can use to tell when you’ve hit an SEO wall:
This is your biggest clue that you’ve hit an SEO plateau, because it encompasses the full scope of your overall campaign. Regardless of where your weakness is, a drop or lack of movement in organic traffic will reflect it. Be careful with this metric, however; it’s entirely normal for campaigns to occasionally face months with little to no growth here. You might even see your numbers slip backward occasionally. Only if your traffic hasn’t moved in several months should you begin to grow concerned.
This sign might strike you strange, since social media followers have little to do with SEO directly. However, a drop or serious stagnation in follower counts can be a symptom of a much bigger problem. Either your content has started to grow stale, or you aren’t as active on social media as you need to be—either way, it will affect your SEO campaign.
Think about what content you’re going to produce and publish next week. What about the week after that? And the week after that? If you copy and paste the same editorial calendar over and over, just plugging in the variables with new versions of old topics or format, you’ve definitely hit a wall—and it’s time for a change.
Think about the last social media platform you added to your repertoire, or the last time you sat down to sketch out a new strategy to drive your company’s online presence forward. If you haven’t done this in the past couple of months, it means you’re behind on SEO best practices, and it’s likely that your results are stagnated as a result.
When was the last time you revised your list of target keywords? Beyond that, when was the last time you noticed any significant movement in your most watched keywords? If you’ve maintained the same position for several months and you haven’t added or made changes to any keywords, it’s a pretty good sign that you’ve encountered a plateau.
When you look at the user behavior on your site, has it all become predictable? Are the same two or three users the ones leaving comments? Are all your articles getting the same amount of shares? Predictable, repetitive user behavior is an indication of a predictable, repetitive SEO strategy—a perfect recipe for hitting an SEO wall.
This doesn’t have any objective measurement associated with it, but it can be one of the strongest and most important signs about your campaign. What’s your gut feeling about the work you’re doing? Are you bored? If so, it means it’s time for a change. There’s no such thing as a bored, successful search marketer.
If one or more of these signs accurately describes your current SEO situation, it’s likely that you’ve hit a dreaded wall. What can you do from here?
If you take one or more of these steps and stick with your plan, you should have little difficulty breaking through your SEO wall. This probably won’t be the last plateau you hit, so always be ready to change things up if necessary to keep your momentum moving forward.