11 Reasons Why SEO Doesn’t Work

Is your SEO campaign not delivering results?

You have read all the SEO blogs, watched the videos and signed up to countless webinars, but your website is still struggling to climb Google.

Here are 11 reasons why SEO does not work and why your website is struggling to climb Google.

Let’s get into it!

1. Not Doing In-Depth Keyword Research

Your whole SEO campaign is based on “best guess” keywords. But how do you know your customers are actually searching for these keywords and there aren’t any better keywords to be discovered?

Every SEO campaign should start with a list of “best guess” keywords you think your customers are using. Once you have this list, you can start real keyword research.

There are several ways to do keyword research for free using the following tools.

Google Auto Suggest

If you Google one of your “best guess” keywords you can use the auto suggest feature gives you more keyword ideas.

Simply click in the search bar and a drop down will appear with common search phrases. Alternatively, scroll to the bottom of the page and there will be a list of keyword phrases ripe for the picking.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is a supercharged version of Google’s auto suggest and great for discovering new keywords. Using Google and Bing’s auto suggest data, Answer The Public gives you an aggregated view of what people are searching for.

This tool excels by splitting the data into the following categories, giving you a complete overview of which keywords people are using and a huge list of long tail keywords (more on these next).

  • Questions
  • Prepositions
  • Comparisons
  • Alphabeticals
  • Related


Ubersuggest is another great free tool for generating keyword ideas and has had a recent overhaul. The data is based on Google auto suggest and Google Keyword Planner, but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the search volume data as it’s based on AdWords and not organic results.

Moz Keyword Explorer

The three tools above should have expanded your list giving you a better idea of what your customers are searching for. The next piece of the puzzle is to find how often these keywords are used.

For accurate keyword research, I use Moz’s Keyword Explorer. All the search volume data is based on organic search results and the data is 95% or more accurate.

Moz Keyword Explorer can be used in two ways. Either enter the keywords you have gathered using the free tools above or enter your “best guess” keywords and use its powerful keyword suggestions tool to generate more keywords.

Moz will give you the monthly search volume, how difficult it is to rank and the organic click-through rate (CTR). This is brought together with an overall priority score making it easy to identify the best ones.

Client A saved £67,000 by pursuing an SEO campaign instead of using AdWords.

2. Not Using Long Tail Keywords

Your SEO campaign only focuses on short tail keywords and does not include any long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords account for 70% of Google searches and you could be missing out on valuable website traffic by not using them.

Short Tail Keyword Example

Let’s say your website is at the bottom of Google page 1 for “mugs” and “mugs” has a search volume of 9,000 per month. This will result in 135 visits and 3 sales per month (approx 1.5% CTR, 2% conversion rate).

Long Tail Keywords Example

The beauty of long tail keywords is they are more specific, are less competitive and higher buyer intent.

For example, your website is ranking at the top of Google for “large red coffee mugs”, “Game of Thrones coffee mug”, “Coffee mug with a unicorn horn”. Let’s say each of these have a search volume of 500 per month (total 1,500), resulting in 510 visits and 30 sales per month (approx 34% CTR, 6% conversion rate).

You can see that long tail keywords are the winner. Although there is less search volume per month, there is a higher conversion rate, and higher CTR due to less competition.

3. Not Tracking Your Results

How do you know if your SEO campaign is a success if you’re not tracking it properly?

Googling your keywords on a Monday morning to see where your site is positioned is not enough to track your website properly. If you have done in-depth keyword research and are now using a mixture of short tail and long tail keywords, you will have too many keywords to track manually.

With Google algorithms updating all the time you need to know where your website stands on a weekly basis. If you notice a keyword sliding down the ranks then you know you need to take action. Alternatively, you might have several keywords on page 2 that could do with some attention and promoted to page 1.

There are several SEO tracking tools available but the most popular ones are Moz and SEMrush.

4. Not Giving Your SEO Campaign Long Enough

SEO isn’t instant.

These days people are used to seeing fast results and unfortunately, SEO is the complete opposite.

Depending on your competition you can see improvements within a week. But for highly competitive keywords it is going to take time and patience. Along the way, you might think of giving up, but perseverance is key with SEO.

Long-Term Play

If you have the mindset that SEO is a long-term play and an investment you’ll be giving yourself a head start.

When the campaign first starts you will be getting little return on investment due to low keyword positions and website visitors. As the campaign progresses you will start to see an increase in enquiries and sales, paying off your initial investment. At the 6 to 12 months stage you will start seeing a compounding return on investment.

During this period many people will drop SEO in favour of AdWords. Don’t do it! (See the table below). AdWords is great for promoting specific offers or new seasonal products, but do not stop your SEO campaign.

Traffic Value: AdWords vs Organic

Using AdWords will get your website seen but will cost you each time someone clicks on your advert. These costs vary depending on the competition and you need to set realistic budgets to ensure your advert is shown throughout the day.

If your AdWords spend becomes too expensive and you stop, your adverts will instantly disappear and so will your traffic, enquiries and sales. This is a different story compared to organic traffic. If you stop your SEO campaign your website will remain ranked in Google. Over time your website will slide down the ranks due to your competitors pushing their own SEO but it won’t be an instant drop like AdWords.

Using the AdWords Keyword Planner tool it is possible to calculate the traffic value and amount of traffic from your chosen keywords. In the table below I have calculated the value of our clients’ organic traffic compared to how much they have spent on SEO.

Client Organic Traffic Generated Total Traffic Value SEO Spend Saving Compared to AdWords
A 75,000 £84,000 £17,000 £67,000
B 18,000 £7,000 £3,000 £4,000
C 1,500 £1,500 £500 £1,000

Client A saved £67,000 by pursuing an SEO campaign instead of using AdWords. Client B’s traffic value was double their SEO spend and client C’s traffic value was triple their SEO spend.

Please note that this is not the number of sales generated but how much they would have to spend to get the same amount of website visitors if they chose to use AdWords instead of SEO.

5. Not Blogging

The last time you updated your website content was in 2014 and you’re not actively blogging.

Google loves a fresh and informative website constantly being updated.

Including a blog, news or commentary section on your website can do wonders for your SEO campaign. Here are some benefits…

  • Demonstrate your industry knowledge
  • Become an authority on your topic
  • Great opportunity to target long tail keywords

Generating traffic from a good blog article can benefit the whole website. In the eyes of Google, your website will be seen as a popular informative resource and you will be rewarded with higher rankings.

6. Not Building Links

You’re not building enough high-quality links back to your website and therefore not building trust with Google.

Building backlinks to your website is a very time-consuming process but worthwhile in the end as it increases your domain authority and ability to rank higher.

If you’re a physical shop wanting to increase your local presence and footfall, building links to boost your Local SEO is a smart move.

Brian Dean from Backlinko has some of the best link building techniques at the moment. Here are some of his techniques…

  • Improve current content (Skyscraper technique)
  • Become a resource for reporters and bloggers
  • Build links from outdated sources
  • Use content formats guaranteed to generate links and shares
  • Create ultimate guides
  • Create resource pages

Other backlinking techniques include contacting bloggers in your industry with a view to publishing an article on their website, asking suppliers to add a link to their website and promoting your articles on social media to a targeting influencers.

Client B’s traffic value was 2x their SEO spend and client C’s traffic value was 3x their SEO spend.

7. Over Optimised Back Link Profile

A huge mistake when building backlinks is to focus on just having the anchor text an exact match to your target keyword. For example, if you’re selling cars, every link you build is “cars” or “buying cars”. If these links make up over 5% of your total links then it will be over optimised.

Building high-quality links are one thing, but having a neutral backlink profile is the key to ranking in Google. Until Google trusts you, your website will not rank.

Google loves big brands and that is why they rank so well in all their searches. But what does their backlink profile look like?


92% of the links pointing to Amazon’s home page mentions the brand name or website URL.

  • Amazon.com – 30%
  • Amazon – 28%
  • www.amazon.com – 16%
  • https://www.amazon.com – 12%
  • natural anchors – 6%

(data from SEOjet)

For a neutral backlink profile, you need to use a mixture of anchor texts, using the following ratios.

Home page

  • 80% – 90% – Brand, natural, URL anchors
  • Under 10% – Keyphrases mixed into anchors
  • Under 5% – Exact match keywords as anchors

Internal pages

  • 35% – 45% – Brand, natural, URL anchors
  • 40% – 50% – Keyphrases mixed into anchors
  • 10% – 20% – Exact match keywords as anchors

To keep an eye on your backlink profile you can use SEOJet used with Majestic, Ahrefs or Moz to keep it neutral and looking trustworthy.

8. Spammy Back Links

If the majority of your website backlinks consist of highly spammy websites, it can be damaging all your SEO work.

For example, in a bid to build some quick links you have turned to someone that can provide 5,000 links for £5. This is not a good idea!

In 2012 Google launched the Penguin update targeting low-quality links and demoting the websites involved. Don’t worry though as there is a solution to this. In Google Search Console there is a Disavow Links tool. Simply identify all the bad links and upload them to the tool and Google will try their best to ignore them when crawling your website.

9. Not Spending Enough Time On Your SEO

You’re a busy business owner and can only spare 15 to 30 minutes per month optimising your website.

It is just not going to cut it!

Depending on the size of your website and the complexity of your campaign, an effective SEO strategy will take several hours per month to generate the results you’re craving.

You can’t expect to monitor results, build backlinks, track your backlink profile, create blogs, improve on-site optimisation all in 30 minutes. For an effective SEO campaign, you need to fully commit to spending several hours per month to get the most return on investment.

10. Website Has Broken Pages

Are you changing blog or product URLs on a whim and not doing anything else?

Changing the URL of a web page can create broken pages if external websites or internal page are linking to it. Having broken links (404 pages) on your website is like having a bucket full of holes with your traffic leaking out.

Similarly, if you have built links to a specific page but it results in a 404 error you will be losing all the benefits of that backlink.

The solution is to track your broken links using tools such as Screaming Frog and create 301 redirects so your customers and backlinks can land on the correct page.

11. Not Mobile-Friendly

If your website is not optimised for mobile users then you need to stop any SEO activity immediately and get a new website asap!

Mobile users visiting a non-mobile website will simply leave your website and go elsewhere. Not only will this damage your bounce rate, but it will also lower the time spent on your website, reducing enquiries and sales.

Over 50% of internet traffic now comes from mobile users and with Google moving to a mobile-first index, a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.

What Next?

SEO can be a huge challenge, especially if you’re trying to learn it on the go, apply it in as little time as possible and also run your business.

If you want to save time, start to appear in Google for relevant searches and most importantly start to see an increase in enquiries and sales, get in touch and we will create an effective SEO strategy for your business.

Leave a comment and let us know what your biggest SEO worries and hurdles are?

Short on time? Why not try these 5 actionable SEO techniques or call Mechanised on 0161 791 0100, email hello@mechanised.co.uk or click on the message box in the corner for a no-obligation chat.