In the SEO world, probably one of the most frequently asked questions is “why am I not ranking?” This question comes at various stages of a campaign. Perhaps at the beginning as someone tries to figure out why they’re not getting customers or showing up in search results. Maybe it’s a couple months in as the back end work of an SEO campaign is going on and we’re not yet seeing results. Some of your clients might be wanting to rank for highly competitive keywords and not putting enough time or money into the effort to boost those rankings.

There’s a lot of factors that go into a successful SEO campaign. Things that have to deal with location, competition, the website itself, and offsite factors like the number of trusted links. So it takes time and work to accomplish all those factors. Today’s we’re going to go through some of the most common pitfalls of why a client might not be ranking.


1) Not Enough Budget for Goals

Good SEO agencies price out their packages and campaigns based on individual needs and goals. Every SEO campaign and customer brings its own unique set of requirements and needs. So when a client comes in with really high expectations and a tiny budget, there’s only so much we can do. An SEO agency will do the best they can with limited budget. But if a client wants to rank high in a highly competitive market or large city, then a small budget likely won’t make a big dent in their SEO goals. 

Good SEO agencies will make several recommendations based on goals, needs, ranking factors, keywords, and more. But if a client refuses to move beyond a low budget they set before even exploring their options, they likely won’t rank well once the work actually begins. SEO can be done on small budgets. But we might need to first start with lower profile keywords, and give things more time in order for SEO efforts to actually work.


2) Client Chooses own Keywords

Anyone who’s ever worked in customer service has likely worked with people or clients who want to do things their way. They’re paying you to do the work, but they want to be involved in all the work. Part of the expertise of SEO professionals are those who do keyword research to improve website rankings. At first, these keywords might be small or less prominent to start to build a website’s authority and trust with Google. But as that authority builds, then we can work on more high priority keywords. 

SEO experts know what it takes to get certain keywords ranking. They know that it will take more time, investment, or authority to rank for a certain keyword that a client may be insisting on. And if that happens, there’s not much we can do about it. We’ll do the SEO work required for that keyword, but more than likely, the client won’t get the ranking that they want without other SEO work to actually improve their site or on other keywords that can then build authority.


3) Unresponsive Clients

Opposite of the client picture painted in the previous scenario, SEO agencies also face clients that are seemingly unresponsive and then show up asking about progress. Especially at the start of a campaign, a client needs to be highly involved to make sure that an SEO campaign can get started without a hitch. That means providing website logins, access to Google My Business profile, and other platforms requested by each particular agency. We need clients who respond to emails, phone calls, and provide answers about needs and goals. If a client becomes unresponsive, then work might ultimately come to a halt because an agency can’t do what it actually needs to do in order to help a website rank. 

From the very beginning of a campaign, help clients understand the importance of staying involved to not only help the campaign, but also to find better satisfaction in watching their website grow in the rankings.


4) Competitive Market

An SEO campaign for a business located in Seattle will look a lot different than a campaign for a business in a smaller location like Nebraska, or a suburb with a smaller population. Market size matters. And we see this pitfall all the time when someone lives in a high population area and wants to hit the top of the rankings immediately. 

For example, a coffee shop in the middle of Los Angeles might have a hard time immediately ranking when there’s dozens of other similar shops in the general vicinity. But a coffee shop in a smaller town in rural New Mexico will have a much easier time climbing the rankings with some optimization work. So as a client wants to understand why they’re not ranking yet, it could have a lot to do with where they’re located. More work, copy edits, link building, etc., need to go into competitive markets. And likely these budgets need to be higher as well. 

Of course, it all depends on the business, the location, the goals, etc. So make sure to discuss with your client from the very beginning what it will take to get them ranking for a given location.


5) Not enough time given to complete tasks

There’s no sugar coating it. Good SEO takes time. Those who promise quick results likely deploy black hat tactics that actually end up hurting your website in the long run. We recognize the frustration of impatient clients who wonder why after just a month of work why they aren’t ranking high. SEO can also build on itself. The success seen after six months of work is only  amplified by another six months.  

Ultimately,  you need to understand the goal of why a client wants to do SEO for their website. Is it to beat out the competition? Gain more leads? Is it to just raise awareness of the business? The differing reasons often create different timetables. And if a client demands success after  just a month or two, they likely don’t understand the big picture of SEO  in the first  place. Make sure to set proper expectations from the beginning before any work gets done to ensure everyone remains on the same page throughout the campaign.


There’s more reasons than this as to why a campaign might not be performing as well as a client might like. But these are some of the most common. If you need help to sell  SEO or want to better service it to your clients, give us a call at Boostability and learn about our white label SEO partner program where we support you and your campaign at every step of the way.



Sean brings a vast amount of SEO experience to Boostability having been in the industry for 15 years. Prior to joining Boostability he lead the partner team at OrangeSoda. He got his start in this space with Marchex back in 2005. Sean was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the partnership division here at Boostability. He orchestrated the launch of our first international partner in Australia which eventually lead to the move into the European marketplace. He loves the rewards that come along in working with our new partners.