SEO is one of the most popular digital marketing services for a reason. It can bring you significant traffic and customers for months and years to come. But what happens if it feels like your SEO is failing? Or that you’re not getting the results you want from it?

There are a number of reasons why your SEO doesn’t work the way you want it to. And the good news is that most of these errors are fixable. Read our list of why SEO is not working and what you can do to fix it.

Table of Contents

  1. Slow Implementation
  2. Unrealistic Expectations about SEO Timeframes
  3. SEO Budget is Too Small
  4. Missing the Intent of Your Website or Keywords
  5. Forgetting User Intent (Why You Have a Website)
  6. Not Doing the SEO Basics
  7. You’re focused Too Much (or too little) on Your Competitors
  8. Be Intentional About Internal Linking
  9. Your Content Isn’t Long Enough
  10. Duplicate or Repetitive Content
  11. Don’t Forget About Mobile
  12. Website Technical Problems

Why Is My SEO Not Working?

1. Slow Implementation

One of the biggest problems we find in our decade+ of experience in the SEO industry is people who are slow to implement changes or adapt the strategy onto their website. Sometimes you forget to implement a keyword or copy recommendation that your SEO team has suggested. Sometimes it takes months to provide them with the correct logins to your website so they can make the changes for you. We get it, as a business owner, you have a lot going on, and sometimes SEO might not be your top priority. But a slow implementation process of the SEO strategy or just in getting started is one of the number one issues we see when it comes to a struggling SEO campaign.

The main fix for this SEO fail is to be responsive. If your SEO team recommends a strategy or needs something from you, it’s for a reason. So be as responsive and implement the recommended changes as quickly as possible for optimal results.

2. Unrealistic Expectations about SEO Timeframes

The second biggest issue we face is unrealistic or unmet expectations around various aspects of SEO. You can’t expect to see top 10 results in a matter of weeks or a month after starting your campaign. 

Aside from budget, it’s important to know from the beginning that SEO takes time. Any SEO company that promises quick results is either lying to you or deploying black hat tactics that will likely hurt you in the end. SEO takes time. You have to build your foundations first with keywords and onsite optimizations. Then you have to build its authority and reputation through keywords and offsite content. Brand building takes time to maximize its reach, same with SEO and your website. So understand from the beginning how long it will take, depending on your price level, to start ranking in the top 10.

It’s also important not to give up too soon. Because SEO takes time, you may be tempted to give up after a few months if you’re not seeing the results you want. But just because it takes time doesn’t mean you’re failing. Be patient. However, if it’s been over a year with minimal results, then you have reason to be concerned.

3. Your SEO Budget is Too Small 

From the beginning of an SEO campaign, you need to understand you can’t expect to receive an enterprise-level SEO strategy at a small business budget. That’s not to say that small business budgets don’t generate results. That also doesn’t mean enterprise-level SEO is the only way your website can expect to compete. It takes an agency or an SEO specialist to know how to help small businesses rank well with smaller budgets. 

A quality SEO provider can decipher on your website what will have the biggest impact, and what your website needs to compete. Then they can make recommendations depending on your budget. Even if you have a lower budget, there are still strategies and tactics you can implement in order to grow. It might take a little longer to get there. But any amount of SEO work, done correctly, can make a difference. It’s important to utilize your resources as effectively as possible. 

It’s important to understand from the beginning what you are getting from your budget. Ask questions from your provider about what your SEO provider will give you at your current budget? What does that timeline look like? What will you need to provide to them in order to succeed? Understanding these expectations from the beginning will set up your SEO campaign for success and eliminate most of the reasons why SEO campaigns fail.

4. Missing the Intent of your Website or Keywords

Keywords implemented correctly in content is one of the most important aspects of an SEO campaign. If you’re not targeting keywords with the right intent to your business, website, and target audience, your SEO strategy will never generate results for your business. 

One potential SEO failure is that your keywords are either too competitive, or not competitive enough. So if they’re too competitive, you’re going to be competing against a lot of other people wanting to rank for the same thing. So it takes a long time or a lot more money and money in order to get it ranking. People in popular industries like dentistry, or in more populous places, face this problem. Alternatively, keywords might not be competitive enough, meaning that you’ve picked something so niche that no one is really searching for it. You can conduct keyword research through platforms like Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Ads, or on your own to determine the search volume and how difficult it will be to compete for the keywords you want.

It’s also important to implement keywords correctly into your website content and copy. You need to implement your chosen keywords into your content without overusing it. Alternative keywords, or those that relate to your main keywords can also help and will collectively work to improve your rankings in the SERPs. 

Choosing long-tail keywords can also help to improve your conversions. Selectively use full phrase keywords like ‘books on B2C sales training” in your copy. Long-tail keywords have less competition, but are important because they use your main keywords. Together, they can help improve your rankings. 

And if you need help with your keywords, a reliable company like Boostability can help you pick the most relevant, strategic, and budget friendly keywords based on a variety of factors.

5. Forgetting User Intent (Why You Have a Website)

Google has placed heavy emphasis in the last couple years on user intent. They want to make sure that the website provides a good user experience. That the content and navigation is organized in an logical way that is easy for a user to understand. Essentially, Google wants to make sure the purpose of a website is clear to all users. That being said, in order to succeed in SEO, you need to keep that purpose and user intent in mind. Do you want to sell something? Do you want to provide information? Perhaps the goal is to bring people to your physical location. Or to gain new customers signing up for your services like a plumber. No matter the reason, you need to keep that purpose and end goal in mind. Then tailor your website and all the content to fulfilling that goal.

User experience involves everything from internal linking, to thorough and complete content, to having a good website design, and everything in between. SEO is all about improving your website to improve it in the eyes of Google. That means improving the user experience as well with on site optimizations. Even if your SEO works and you gain more traffic, having a good user experience means that traffic will convert.

6. Not doing the SEO Basics

In SEO, it’s important to realize that the Google algorithm doesn’t have a broad checklist and only ranks the websites that hit every single item on the list. Google has several thousand ranking factors that impact rankings. And SEO helps your website to improve in  those ranking factors.

The basics of SEO don’t change. You will always need good content filled with relevant keywords. You always need to improve its relevancy and trust with link building. You need to do the basics like improving your alt and meta tags and descriptions. It’s important to provide a sitemap so Google knows what to crawl. You need to optimize your title tags. There’s a list of SEO basics that you need to apply to your website that you cannot neglect. Ignoring any of these items can make it so your SEO campaign doesn’t work. 

Google is changing up its algorithm right now with extreme volatility in the search landscape. They’ve released dozens of confirmed and unconfirmed algorithm updates in 2021 that really emphasize the importance of the SEO basics. The algorithm updates don’t change the basics of SEO, but they do make it harder to rank, so you want to make sure you have your basis covered.

7. You’re Focusing Too Much (or too little) on Your Competitors

Did you know one of the best ways to improve your own website is to analyze your competitors and see what they’re doing well. SEO campaigns often fail when people over or underestimate their competition. If you’re not ranking, and a direct competitor is ranking and bringing in more traffic and customers, it likely means their SEO and campaigns are outperforming your own. That means you need to speak with your SEO agency about either improving your keywords, or perhaps you need to spend a little more money to change up your SEO strategy.

If you’re focusing too much on your competition, that could also be a problem. Too much focus on what they’re doing could also make you lose sight of what makes your business special and unique. You don’t want your website to be too similar to your competition. That could also impact your SEO campaign for the negative. 

8. Be Intentional About Internal Linking

Setting up your site for success with internal linking is a big part of a solid SEO strategy. Internal links are the links in the footer, navigation, sidebar, and any in-content links that help people navigate through your website. 

Internal links help people to stay on your website longer. Use links within your content to send users to other relevant and key pages. This is often accomplished with content clustering where you help users to go through a conversion funnel that helps them learn more about your subject or ultimately convert to your services. There’s no penalty for having too many internal links. But also keep in mind the user experience. You don’t want to have every single word as an internal link. 

Internal linking also helps Google and other search engines to understand your site structure and crawl it like a user. Without internal links, it’s very hard for a search engine to navigate your site. Lack of internal links means that your SEO is more likely to fail. 

9. Your Content Isn’t Long Enough

Content plays a major role in your overall SEO strategy. We could make an entire list about different content strategies that could better help your SEO not to fail. But for now, we’ll focus on length of content. Content that’s too short doesn’t have enough keywords in it to get you ranking. SEO doesn’t work when you don’t dedicate enough time and energy into making good content. 

Though there’s no magic number or formula to how long your content or blogs needs to be. Many SEO experts agree that it should be longer than 1200 words. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. Content of 1200 words or more usually gives you a chance to create a comprehensive article or piece of work that includes keywords and actionable information that people can use.

Remember that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Quality content can be 800 words at times. Short, well-written pieces are just as good. Most parts of content on your home, product, or about us pages on your website are meant to be short-form content. But if you’re consistently posting blogs that are less than 800 words, it’s not likely that your content is robust enough to start ranking. 

10. Duplicate or Repetitive Content

Did you know that posting too many articles about the same subject (even if it’s your specialty), can actually hurt your website? For example, if you’re a bicycle repair shop, you don’t want to post multiple articles that talks about how to fix a bicycle chain. Of course, you should focus on it, but multiple pieces of content, all giving similar advice, with similar keywords can hurt your site. Essentially the keywords start to compete with one another and cannibalize one another. So avoiding repetitive content is key to SEO success.

It’s also crucial to avoid duplicate content. If Google finds that you’ve written the exact same thing on multiple pages, it will penalize your site for that. No pages will rank. It will also penalize you if it finds duplicate content on your site that it already has indexed on another site. Your SEO efforts won’t work if you have too much repetitive content or duplicate content. 

11. Don’t Forget About Mobile

In 2018, Google created the mobile first index. Meaning it indexes mobile versions of websites before it crawls the desktop versions of websites. More than 50% of web traffic today comes from a mobile device. If you’re doing all the things listed above and find yourself asking why your SEO isn’t working, it might be because your mobile site isn’t optimized. Your website developer can help with this.

12. Website Technical Problems

After all this, SEO efforts can also fall short if you have technical issues with your website. Things like it loads too slowly due to large image sizes. Maybe it has security issues and GDPR compliance. When there’s functionality issues, SEO doesn’t work. Make sure you have your website developer on board with what you want to accomplish with your SEO efforts and that they can help with any technical or functionality issues that come up. 


So Why Does My SEO Not Work?

SEO is a complex series of tasks that go into making a website appear higher in the SERPs. If done correctly, SEO can benefit literally any website. But any of the factors above could cause your SEO efforts not to perform the way you want them to. 

If you need help to accomplish these SEO tasks and make sure all efforts are performing the way they should, contact us here at Boostability. We offer SEO services for small businesses. Small business SEO is our main focus, and we know what it takes to get your site ranking no matter the budget. Get in contact with us today!



Kristine is the Director of Marketing at Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.