One of the biggest selling points of SEO is its potential growth curve; it takes a while to get going as you build your website’s authority and visibility, but once you get a good rhythm and a solid course of strategic development, you should be able to make consistent, significant strides toward more visibility and more traffic over time. During your first several months, you’ll likely see incremental upticks in your search rankings and inbound traffic — but one day, you’ll likely hit a roadblock.
Suddenly, all the strategies that have worked wonders up until this point won’t be working as well. You aren’t losing ground, but you aren’t moving forward. How can you move past this SEO plateau? Here are seven ways.
1. Get out of your comfort zone with your content strategy. Content that’s “good enough” simply isn’t good enough. The better your content is, the more authoritative your site will become in the eyes of visitors as well as customers, and the more inbound links you’ll be able to earn — but competition is fierce, and it’s still on the rise. If you want to make a significant impact in your industry, you’ll need to take your efforts to the next level. It’s far better to write one highly detailed, thorough, original research piece than it is to split your efforts between a half dozen fluff posts meant only to fill a quota. Your work needs to truly stand out. For ideas on new kinds of content to try, see 101 Content Ideas For Your Website Or Blog.
2. Try influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is one of the most cost-efficient strategies for increasing visibility of anything online; it’s completely free, and opens the gateway to potentially hundreds or thousands of new followers. The premise is simple; engage with targeted “influencers” in your industry (people will large followings or lots of respect in the community), either through conversation or by offering them something of value, and then work with them to produce and cross-promote new pieces. They’ll generate more visibility for you instantly, connecting you to untapped new markets without the usual efforts required to attain them.
3. Climb the link ladder. Link building is one of the most important ways to increase your site’s visibility over time, but the value of a link depends heavily on the value of its source; the more authoritative your link source is, the more authority it will pass to your site. If you’re relying on low- to mid-level publishers to post content that links to your website, your campaign will inevitably stagnate. The only way to keep moving forward in this area is to seek opportunities on higher and more valuable authorities; it’s not easy, but with patience and iterative development, it’s possible for almost any brand.
4. Target a new niche. Of course, instead of pushing to new heights, you could go back to the basics and build a new segment of your strategy that targets a different audience niche. This doesn’t mean you need to abandon your old niche; in fact, doing so could further hamper your progress. Instead, think of this as a means of expansion; for example, you could target consumers in a different stage of the buying cycle, or you could increase the age range you target. Doing so will expose you to a new audience segment, and could do wonders in improving the reach of your brand.
5. Launch a new content wing. Since content is such a major factor for SEO success, you could redouble your efforts by launching a new “wing” of your content strategy altogether. For example, if you’re used to writing for a conventional blog, you could launch a help and FAQ section of your website. If you’re used to producing only text-based content, you could try starting a Youtube channel and publishing video content. You could even attract user-submitted content by setting up a forum or similar means of user interaction and submission. Whatever it is, it will add more content to your archives, and potentially multiply your campaign’s effectiveness.
6. Step up your content promotion efforts. Creating content is only the first step in successful content marketing; you also have to nurture and promote that content. That means promoting it on social media, working with influencers and other social accounts to popularize it, and eventually syndicating it on a regular rotation to develop more interest for it over time. To break out of your SEO plateau, you could increase the number of platforms you use in your syndication, or syndicate more frequently, or work on better targeting partners, channels, and audiences for that syndication.
7. Increase raw budget and effort. I saved this for last because it’s both the most obvious strategy and the most tempting one. However, I caution you to pursue at least a few of the strategies I mentioned above before pursuing it. The idea is to scale up your efforts in terms of raw volume; by spending more money and more time on your campaign, you’ll be able to produce a greater quantity of higher-quality content, which will earn you more inbound links and social engagements. Of course, if you increase your efforts on the same strategies that led you to stagnation, you could fall into the same traps as before, so be sure to incorporate new tactics too.
There’s usually no single or easy explanation for why your SEO campaign has plateaued; instead, there are probably a number of independent factors working together to stifle your patterns of growth. SEO relies on some complexly interwoven components, so you may find that only one of these approaches is enough to break you out of your plateau, or you may require all of them. The key is to keep moving forward, experimenting with new tactics until you find something that works. The worst thing you can do in the middle of an SEO plateau is nothing.