SEO plateaus aren’t anything unusual. During the first few months of your campaign, you should see incrementally increasing results as you gradually fix all the mistakes on your site, optimize all your pages for search engines, and roll out a content strategy to sustain progress over time. Assuming all your efforts remain consistent, eventually you’ll need fewer and fewer on-site tweaks, and your rankings will climb higher as your content continues to circulate and attract shares, inbound links, and buzz.
What most people find after this period, however, is that results tend to stagnate. They either remain more or less consistent, or they continue to grow, but very, very slowly. This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong; instead, think of it as an opportunity. You’ve grown about as much as you possibly can from this set of strategies and tactics, so it’s time to either change things up or accept your current balance of effort to results.
If you’re ready to grow further and get past that annoying plateau, try one or more of these five actions to rejuvenate your campaign:
1. Add a new target market or vertical. When you first started out, you probably targeted one niche market or one particular vertical of your business; this is a low-competition, high-effectiveness strategy that works especially well for emerging brands. However, once you’ve hit a plateau from this strategy, it may be time to add a new vertical into your strategy.
For example, you could simply add a new landing page for users belonging to the new vertical, optimizing for a new set of keywords throughout your site (in addition to your old ones) and adding new content that covers more appropriate topics to those demographics. This will expand the range of keywords your company can dominate and make your site bigger at the same time (as long as your company is ready for the increased, new kinds of buyers).
2. Double your content efforts. First, let me make this clear: quantity isn’t always a good thing in content marketing. Your primary focus should be on quality, first and foremost. Only if your quality is high and consistent should you think about stepping up your content efforts. Still, if you’re able to consistently produce quality pieces with unique topics, a strong brand voice, original research, and lots of detail, work on doubling your publication schedule. If you used to post twice a week, post four times a week. If you usually do two articles and an infographic, do four articles and two infographics. You might also consider expanding the range of topics you cover, or adding new categories to cover more ground horizontally.
3. Publish and syndicate your content in higher circles. When you start publishing your content on external channels, you’re usually limited to low- to mid-authority niche blogs, forums, and blogs associated with personal brands. As you start hitting an SEO plateau, start working on getting published on higher authority sources. Use your current publication credits as a kind of resume to start new relationships with new sources, and strive to meet each publisher’s standards individually. It’s also worth moving up the rungs of the social media world, targeting new audiences and expanding your range to cover more platforms.
4. Aim for less competitive keywords. This might seem counterintuitive; as you grow in authority, it might seem better to target more competitive keywords. However, you can cover much more ground and see results faster if you work on expanding your range of lower-competitive keywords, such as long-tail keywords and keywords that apply to users higher in the buying cycle. It won’t take much to get yourself ranked for these lesser-known industry terms, and if you can repeat the process a few dozen times with your new, better content campaign, you’ll quickly escape the plateau with new territory.
5. Add a new wing to your site. I say “wing” here and not “page” because this new wing might house a number of different pages, or it might even exist as a subdomain. Your goal here is to create a place where new kinds of content can exist, continuously created, for Google to index. Yet this isn’t a blog; instead, it’s more of a resource center.
For example, you could start writing up an intricate and multi-layered FAQ page, subdivided according to different topics and categories and with fully detailed answers (including images and videos with rich snippets if you can). You could even create a forum on your website, inviting your customers in to engage with the community. After a brief period of introduction and babysitting, your community could grow to sustain itself, constantly creating new indexable content and giving you a handy list of your brand’s biggest ambassadors.
Alone, any one of these strategies has the potential to inject your campaign and new life, and together, they’ll give you an even better chance of achieving new heights in growth. Do be aware that none of these approaches is permanent — you can adopt a new set of strategies at a higher scale, but if you’re consistent with it, you might run into another plateau in a few months. Expect to see this regularly; each time you run into a new wall, you’ll have to change up your strategies in new ways to overcome it. Get used to this pattern of improvement and stagnation, and keep your overall trend moving upward as you scale your business.