Frustrated business owner due to failed SEO campaigns

Your SEO Campaign is Failing? [An In-House & Agency Perspective]

Have you ever felt frustrated because your SEO campaign and strategies didn’t work out as planned? Well, you have landed in the right place. Despite best efforts and plans, businesses that rely heavily on SEO are often stuck and don’t get the desired results they hoped for.

Over the past 5+ years, I’ve worked and consulted across different market verticals, from Local to Therapy, MSPs to SaaS, Dental to Law Firms, E-commerce to Marketplace and much more. Most of the SEO campaigns I have worked on have been successful but some have failed. I’ve noticed some common patterns of why SEO campaigns didn’t succeed and the main reason behind it. 

In this comprehensive post, we’ll explore in depth why understanding these pitfalls is important for anyone looking to improve their long-term SEO game, whether you’re part of an agency managing SEO in-house, a freelancer or even a business owner. 

Disclaimer: There are many more reasons to consider, such as technical aspects like fixing CWVs, sitemaps, robots, etc. Fixing all those things doesn’t feel very strategic; it’s just a tactic, right? That’s why I have tried to cover more from a broader perspective rather than just technical things.  

You excited? Well, let’s get started 😀   

1. High Expectations & Setting Unrealistic Goals

Both clients and agencies sometimes enter an SEO campaign with unrealistic expectations and goals, expecting quick results in highly competitive niches.

I have recently evaluated the competitive landscape for potential law firm clients. He was starting out with a completely brand-new website with no content and links (authority). The issue was with their SEO marketing budget and the expectation of ranking highly for their most prioritized practice areas within a month and wanting leads/cases immediately. While assessing multiple data points I looked at, we just wouldn’t be able to compete within such scope. An ideal competitor in his market has been doing SEO for over 10 years, has 4000+ pages of content indexed on Google, and 2000+ referring domains linking back to their site. With that budget, it would take us years to be competitive in this highly competitive market.

Ultimately, it will lead to the failure of the SEO campaign, breaking the client’s expectations and ruining the company’s reputation for the sake of extra revenue. 

How to tackle such situation?

Most importantly, educate clients or business owners about the realities of SEO, emphasizing that it’s a long-term strategy. Clarify that significant changes in rankings, traffic, and conversions might take several months to years, depending on the competitive landscape. Here are the things you have to be aware of:

  • Set clear, achievable goals.
  • Since a majority of SEO signals are concentrated on content and links, evaluate and prioritize how much effort you have to allocate to content and links monthly.
  • Prioritize metrics that directly affect business goals, such as leads generation and conversion rates over vanity metrics like page views or sessions.

2. Lack of Clear SEO Campaign Goals


Failing to define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals can ruin an SEO campaign before it even begins. A perfect example is a Law Firm that targets a boost in organic traffic without specifying the type of traffic or the desired actions the potential prospects should take, such as filling out a case evaluation form or calling for free consultations.

How to tackle such situation?

SEO campaign goals should be clearly SMART. Whether it’s improving the conversion rate or audience engagement by a certain percentage. Here are two scenarios:

Improve Conversion Rate: Do you want to increase sales or leads? For which business units, products, and services? For instance, if you’re running a Law Firm SEO Campaign that focuses on personal injury practice areas, and car accidents are the main priority, your SEO campaign goals should be something like ranking car accident practice areas in the top 3 and increasing leads/cases by 50% within the course of 6 months.

Increase Audience Engagement: Do you want to get more website traffic? How much traffic? How will you value inbound traffic to one versus other sources? For example, increase organic traffic by 15% over the next year. 

3. Wrong Keyword Selection

“The keyword you choose to prioritize and optimize will make or break your SEO campaign.”

Choosing the wrong keywords can attract the wrong audience, leading to low conversion rates and engagement or even worse, you might struggle to rank higher in SERPs. For example, a law firm specializing in personal injury will waste resources targeting broad terms like “car accident.” This may attract users looking for recent news and updates on car accidents rather than prospects seeking an accident case evaluation/consultation.

How to tackle such situation?

Be specific about keyword selection. Choose keywords that truly speak to your brand offering products or services. If you are a brand new website, avoid general or broad terms.

Let me make you clear using analogy. You are starting a new e-commerce store in the gift boxes market aiming to outrank Amazon for general terms like “gifts, gift boxes, buy gift boxes online” within a few months is setting yourself up for disappointment. Rather than be specific about the gift boxes you might be offering for different occasions. Optimizing for “birthday gift boxes”, “corporate gift boxes” etc. is more specific and less competitive than targeting for general or board keywords like “gift boxes,” which might take years to rank for.

💡Pro Tip: I highly recommend mapping keywords based on search intent and user journey. This makes it easier to optimize prioritized keywords on existing or new pages with the right content types. Keep in mind your keyword research should complement intent research for better prioritization.   

4. Fail To Prioritize Overall SEO Content Marketing Strategy

When an SEO campaign fails, it’s often due to a lack of priority given to the overall SEO content strategy. Let’s explore this further with some certain scenarios:

Scenario 1: E-commerce
In the e-commerce sector, a common mistake is focusing heavily on product-specific keywords while neglecting informational content that guides users along the buyer’s journey.

💡Pro Tip: Maintain a balance between commercial/transactional intent pages like product and product categories vs informational content like blog posts. When in doubt, have more informational content than commercials on your site. This is important in a digital space where consumers are often skeptical of purely transactional websites that can make a site too sales-focused.

Scenario 2: Local SEO for Law Firms

A law firm might focus solely on ranking for “law firm near me” or “car accident lawyer in [City].” However, if they ignore the need for content that addresses common legal questions or concerns, they miss out on a significant amount of organic traffic. By not prioritizing a comprehensive content strategy that includes informative articles, Q&A sections, and guides on navigating legal challenges, they fail to engage potential clients who are in the early stages of seeking legal advice.

Scenario 3: SaaS
A SaaS company might pump resources into targeting high-competition keywords directly related to their product features while neglecting conversational keywords that capture the user intent at different stages of the customer lifecycle. For example, focusing on “best project management software” without content that addresses “how to improve team collaboration efficiently” can lead to missed opportunities in reaching potential users who are not yet aware of the need for project management software.

How to tackle such situation?

SEO Content Calendar

Image: This is how we manage our heck lot of SEO content creation process just in a single Google sheet  

As part of your comprehensive SEO content marketing strategy, prioritize and optimize content across the top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu) stages. This aligns content with the various stages of a customer’s journey. The major advantage of creating content based on the user journey is that it helps build topical authority since we are centralizing the funnel-based content within a website.

5. Relying Heavily on AI-Scaled Content

Example showing affiliate site hit with march google core update due to AI scaled content abuse.

Image: The site above is from the product review (affiliate) and got hardly hit with the March Core & Spam Update. Traffic dropped like a stone. You can clearly see that Core Update focused more on the content’s helpfulness, whereas Spam Update focused on scaled content abuse. These updates mostly relate to content creation and penalizing a site that typically focuses on creating large amounts of unoriginal content to manipulate search rankings and not helping users.

“Scaling AI content is a short-term trade but should not be a long-term content strategy.” Lately, I have seen many case studies regarding how companies scaled AI content and generated millions of organic traffic. But the reality is that later, the site tanked overnight.

Have a great read on this amazing article written by Ryan Law, the Director of Content Marketing at Ahrefs: AI Content Is Short-Term Arbitrage, Not Long-Term Strategy.

Does AI content work in this ever-changing search landscape?

Definitely not. AI content might work well on business domains that don’t need strong E-E-A-T, generic topics, and are low-competition in nature. It means the types of keywords AI content is good at ranking for are typically low in commercial value and unlikely to lead to a sale.

How to tackle such situation?

Be mindful while scaling AI content in the YMYL niche, where E-E-A-T and human intervention are significant. Though AI can help scale content creation, relying on it may result in generic, less engaging articles. It’s no exception that AI seems to be falling giving the content depth and unique insight a human expert would offer, thereby failing to build trust among the audience.

So, what does it mean for content marketers?

  • AI content is mediocre by nature. However, mediocrity should not be the end goal of your content strategy.
  • AI content may generate short-term traffic but is bad at building trust.
  • Don’t scale AI content in sensitive niches. Be cautious and create a standard process for qualifying AI content, such as optimizing fluff and repetitive content, adding expert elements, checking for factual errors, expert approval and more.
Notice a Drop in Your Website Organic Traffic? Let's Get You Back on Top!

6. Not Staying Up to Date with Latest Algorithm Updates

SEO is evolving faster and failing to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates can negatively impact your SEO efforts. Failing to keep pace with these updates can result in outdated SEO practices that lead to decreased SEO visibility, hindering your site’s ability to achieve its SEO campaign goals. Updates often focus on enhancing the user experience and promoting high-quality content, so understanding and adapting to these changes helps you avoid algorithmic suppression, stay competitive, and capitalize on new opportunities to attract and engage your audience more effectively.

Gary Illyes, a search analyst at Google, just explained that “Google’s core ranking algorithm is made up of millions of “baby algorithms” that work together to spit out a score. That makes complete sense. When you are known to those baby algorithms, it would be easier to evaluate the site when dropped and even frame your SEO strategy based on known evidence that Google rewards.

Scenario 1: When Google released the Spam update, it demoted websites targeting expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse, and site reputation abuse. Websites that scaled content using AI have tanked their organic traffic overnight.

So, what can we learn from it?
We should be mindful while scaling AI content in sensitive niches where human intervention is necessary.

Scenario 2: Likewise, Google’s helpful content update clearly tells removing a relatively high amount of unhelpful content might contribute to other content performing well in search.

Google Helpful Content Update Guidelines

So, what can we learn from it?
We can perform a thorough page-level SEO content audit to evaluate the ratio of good vs. bad content pages. This will give us clear action items like improving, deleting, consolidating, redirecting, or simply noindexing those pages.

7. Lack of Analytics and Goal Tracking

“If You Can Measure It, You Can Improve It”.

Without proper tracking in place, it’s impossible to measure what’s working and what isn’t. Consider an e-commerce site that launches an SEO campaign but fails to set up e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics. They won’t be able to trace which keywords are driving sales, thus missing out on optimizing the profitable aspects of their strategy.

How to tackle such situation?

Ecommerce Revenue Template on Looker Studio

Image: Don’t just show the vanity metrics. Show the client how your SEO effort is helping their business.

Source: GA4 E-commerce Revenue Template

Truth be told, business owners won’t give a damn care about how much organic traffic you have improved; rather, they will ask for sales/revenue or an actual number of leads the site is getting from your SEO work. Here are my recommended toolsets for advanced SEO KPIs tracking:

  • Set Up Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio): Integrate with Google Analytics 4 and other data sources to pull comprehensive data into customizable reports.
  • Use CallRail for Lead Tracking: Implement CallRail to track phone lead generation from SEO efforts. This tool is particularly useful for businesses where phone calls are a primary customer engagement channel.
  • Measuring & Reporting: Schedule analysis and reporting to evaluate overall SEO KPIs and goals monthly or bi-monthly with the team and stakeholders.

💡Pro Tip: Your report should emphasize sales/revenue/leads more than vanity metrics like clicks, impressions, page views, sessions, etc. A client does care about how your SEO efforts are helping to grow their business over time.

8. Lazy Clients: Poor Communication Leads To Roadblocks

“When communication is ineffective, aligning goals, strategies and expectations becomes challenging.”

Poor communication leads to roadblocks, leading to the failure of SEO campaign.

Scenario 1: Inconsistent Communication and Delayed Approvals

Imagine an SEO agency working with a restaurant chain to boost local SEO. The strategy includes regularly updating menu details, promotional events, and customer reviews across various online platforms. The client is unresponsive or slow in providing necessary approvals or content. This delay means negatively impacting local search rankings and customer trust.

Scenario 2: Failure to Implement Technical Recommendations

Consider a law firm that needs to improve its website’s load speed and mobile responsiveness to rank better on search engines. The SEO team outlines a series of technical changes, such as optimizing images, minifying CSS/JS files, and enhancing server response times. However, if the client is reluctant or slow to implement these changes—perhaps due to budget concerns or a lack of understanding of their importance—the site’s performance may suffer, resulting in poor user experience and lower rankings.

Scenario 3: Lack of Content Commitment: Timely Review & Approval

I have worked with sensitive businesses where client review/feedback is mandatory. For instance, law firm content should be accurate and compliant before going live on a site.
However, if the approval process is delayed and the content isn’t published until months later, the firm may potentially miss the opportunity which can negatively impact its SEO visibility.

How to tackle such situation?

SEO Guidelines For Developers

Image: This is how we set priorities and help clients understand the deliverables/impact.  

Dealing with Lazy Clients can indeed be a major challenge. These clients may be slow to implement recommendations or fail to prioritize SEO initiatives, leading to delays in getting desired results. Here’s how you can tackle such situations effectively:

  • Educate the Client: Often, clients may not act because they do not understand SEO’s importance, technicalities, or complexity. Educate them on how SEO works, why it’s important, and how it impacts their business and revenue.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate the importance of timely implementation of SEO strategies and the impact of delays on the results.
  • Simplify Processes: Make it easy for clients to approve and implement changes. For instance, provide complete observation and recommendation guides, checklists, etc. for changes that need to be made.
  • Prioritize Actions: Help clients focus on actions that will first have the most
    significant impact. Breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable parts can make the process less daunting and more achievable.
Notice a Drop in Your Website Organic Traffic? Let's Get You Back on Top!

9. Poor Communication Among The Team

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”. Communicate more often. Over-communication never hurts. 

Poor communication among team members can negatively impact the success of SEO campaigns and addressing these issues is important to maintaining campaign efficacy. Without clear communication, different team members may have different understandings of what the campaign is trying to achieve. Likewise, SEO involves various aspects—on-page, content, technical SEO, link building, analytics and more. Poor communication can lead to workflow inefficiencies, where critical tasks are overlooked.

How to tackle such situation?

  • Timely Meetings: Schedule meetings with the entire SEO team. Use these meetings to review progress, discuss challenges and update strategies.
  • Use Project Management Tools: Utilize collaboration and project management tools like ClickUp, Asana or Trello. These tools can help streamline workflow and allow teams to organize and prioritize projects more efficiently.
  • Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define each team member’s roles and responsibilities. Knowing who is responsible for what helps reduce confusion and ensure accountability.
  • Feedback Loops: Implement feedback loops where team members can regularly provide and receive feedback on their work.

10. Inefficient SEO Project Management

Inefficient project management can hinder the success of an SEO campaign by creating unclear objectives, poor resource allocation, delays, and poor communication within the team.

How to tackle such situation?

SEO Project Management Using ClickUp

  • Define Clear Objectives: Start by clearly defining the goals and objectives of the SEO campaign.
  • Comprehensive Planning: Develop a detailed project plan that outlines key milestones, timelines, responsibilities and deliverables. This plan should be accessible to all team members and stakeholders to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Allocate Resources Wisely: Assess and allocate resources based on the project’s needs. This includes assigning the right people to the right tasks at the right time and ensuring adequate resources are available to meet the campaign objectives.
  • Utilize Project Management Tools: Implement software like ClickUp Asana, Trello, or These tools help track tasks, deadlines, and progress and facilitate better communication and collaboration among team members.
  • Provide Ongoing Training and Feedback: Train team members on the latest SEO practices and project management skills. An informed and skilled team is more likely to manage SEO projects efficiently.

11. Not Prioritizing Link Campaign

Backlinks are one of the strongest Google ranking signals and help build authority. Neglecting link building can result in lower search rankings, making it difficult to compete, especially in highly competitive niches. Likewise, I have experienced many cases of ranking volatility for certain high-value keywords. Acquiring several high-quality links helps stabilize the ranking afterward.

How to tackle such a situation?

Perform a domain-level link gap/opportunity analysis and evaluate what type of referring domains the competing site is getting from. Estimate the overall budget and plan accordingly how much you have to acquire links every month. Then, initiate a link campaign to fill those gaps.

Wrapping Up

In the evolving world of the web and search engines, success isn’t just about implementing the right strategies—it’s about understanding and adapting to the everchanging SEO landscape. From the insights shared, it’s clear that knowledge, adaptability, and implementation are crucial in avoiding the common pitfalls that lead to the failure of SEO campaigns. Whether you’re part of an in-house team or an agency, taking these lessons to heart can shape the way you are doing SEO.

As Thomas A. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Remember, every failed SEO campaign is an opportunity to learn and refine your strategy. Embracing these challenges, you’ll find that SEO campaign success is not just possible but achievable.

If you have further queries, let me know in the comment section below.
Happy Reading 🙂

2 thoughts on “Your SEO Campaign is Failing? [An In-House & Agency Perspective]”

    1. It’s too relatable when you are serving Nepali based client and they want ranking within a month. When asked about the budget? 10000 per month won’t be enough😀

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