Search marketers have been enjoying a relatively golden age of organic lead generation on the web. Hell, search marketers weren’t even around 20 years ago because online search didn’t exist (or at least wasn’t popular enough to warrant any attention). As such, we should all be grateful for the opportunities we have. We’re spending a little money and putting forth a little effort, but realistically, we’re organically generating leads and customers in ways our parents would have never imagined to be possible.
Still, as a search marketer, some days just suck. There are some real aggravating problems out there, and they tend to come up out of nowhere to ruin your day. Knowing what these problems are and knowing how to fix them is critical if you want to stay productive—and sane—in your position as a search marketing expert.
You aren’t alone. We’ve all experienced it. One day, you’re ranking around 2 or 3 for a specific keyword phrase and the next day, you’re down on page 9. What could have happened? The main problem here isn’t the drop, necessarily, it’s not knowing what caused the drop, which can send you into a mad scramble to uncover the root of the problem.
Oftentimes, this is due to a Google update or the relatively calmer Google data refresh, which reevaluates certain rankings. Other times, a competitor could have ousted you, or a bad link pointing to your domain caught up with you. Read up on search news first to see if Google has an explanation, then evaluate your link profile and see if anything major changed in your competitive landscape.
You spent a lot of time or money on it, and when you sent it out it seemed perfect—new, original, funny, surprising, and visually engaging. But it didn’t generate the type of response you were hoping for. Instead of getting thousands of shares and tons of new visitors for your site, it fell flat, and there’s no explanation for it.
If this happens, try re-syndicating the piece in other channels, or at other times. If that still doesn’t work, don’t fret—try breaking up your original piece into smaller pieces, or reformat it into a different type of content, like an infographic. The bottom line is to experiment until you find the right place for it.
Search marketers live and die by their metrics. We’re proud to report on consistently positive returns, and we’re always finding answers for consistently negative returns. But when a certain platform, a certain channel, or a certain strategy gives us inconsistent data to work with—it’s maddening, to say the least.
There’s no way to tell whether you should ditch the strategy or keep it because the data is so inconsistent. Instead, find ways to make sense of those fluctuations, and think outside the box—is it about your timing? Seasonal differences? Random blips that come onto the scene?
Websites are fragile things, and even a handful of problems with them can interfere with your domain authority. The problem is, some of these issues go undetected for long periods of time, and when you discover they exist, it can drive you crazy.
404 errors, duplicate content, poor loading times, missing images, and broken links are just a handful of the types of site errors that can come up over time. It isn’t your fault most of the time—it can be a natural result of decay, a faulty post by one of your staff members, or some fluke problem in the code. The key is not to get discouraged by these errors, to accept them as natural, and then fix them quickly and move on.
Big tech companies are always experimenting with new products, new features, and new gizmos to make our lives better. When we’re out and about or relaxing, we truly appreciate this—the new app on our phones can make shopping easier, or the new tablet makes working from home far simpler. But when it’s introduced to our carefully balanced landscape of search marketing, it can tilt everything on its head.
The Google Panda update is a perfect example of this. In 2011, it came out of nowhere to completely disrupt the SEO strategies of more than 11 percent of webmasters out there—which is a bigger number than it seems. All at once, the search game changed and marketers had to scramble if they wanted to stay afloat. Today, the Knowledge Graph is quickly becoming a threat to organic search traffic, and it seems to grow stronger every week. New social platforms emerge like clockwork, and it’s only a matter of time before the next wave of technology arrives and starts uprooting everything we’ve worked for over the past few years.
Still, we can be grateful that some fundamentals—like user experience and quality content—will never disappear. All we can do is return to the basics, pay attention to the news, and adapt our strategies when the inevitable shakeups hit.
Hopefully, the analysis of these problems has helped you put your own search marketing stresses into perspective. You may have found an alternative strategy to deal with them, but even if you haven’t—you can at least rest easy knowing that you aren’t the only person facing these problems. Stay refreshed, stay focused, and don’t forget—regardless of the problems, there is still plenty of fun to be had as you stay on top of your search marketing game.