What To Do When Your SEO Campaign Fails

There are many reasons why SEO campaigns fail, but when they do, it's important to know what to do to recover and try again. Here are some tips.

It can be very disappointing when your SEO campaign fails. You spend time researching your area, your topic, drafted your content and then wrote this incredible piece. You even worked outreach, with emails being sent to the right people, pitches sent, tweets, all of it. And then, nothing happened. You didn’t get any shares, no links came back to you. Nothing.

Unfortunately, a sad truth in our industry is that plenty of SEO campaigns will fail eventually, for various reasons. It is just a fact that all marketers have to deal with. Not every campaign that you launch is going to be an enormous success. But just because your campaign wasn’t massively successful doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a failure.

To quote Len Schlesinger, “Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience.” If your SEO campaign does indeed fail, then it’s time to get over your disappointment and work out what went wrong in order to do better the next time. Learn from the experience so that all of your time and effort doesn’t go to waste and so that you can get your campaign back on track.

Why SEO Campaigns Fail

There are tons of various reasons that SEO campaigns fail, but the top two are:


While you don’t have to spend a ton on your SEO campaigns, your budget is very important and if not handled correctly can cause you to fail. Most companies go into their SEO efforts and their campaigns with unrealistic timelines and budgets. They think they are going to be able to see incredible results overnight while only investing a little into the work.


Similar to the budget, a lot of companies will have unrealistic goals going into their SEO campaigns. If you want your campaign to be successful, then you have to be realistic with your objectives. You are not going to be able to rank #1 for every single one of your keywords overnight. You probably won’t rank #1 for every single one of your keywords in three months. If it was that easy, everyone would be #1 for whatever they wanted.

Going into your campaign, you need to think objectively. So many people go in thinking that they are going to rank for 15 different keywords immediately. Instead, you should start out with one keyword or product to optimize for. Once you see success with that, then you can build on that. By building on your success, you are more likely to reach your goals and see real progress.           

Your goals also need to be realistic, time-wise. SEO does not happen overnight. There is very little instant gratification in this industry. You have to give it time. It will probably take about a month or so for you to start seeing a boost in your SEO, and 6 months to see your link in the top of the search results. If it doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d like, keep working on it. Make sure you are constantly improving your content and your keywords.

What to Do After Your SEO Campaign Fails

Re-Evaluate the Campaign

After your campaign fails, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. But after you put in all that time and effort, you don’t want to throw it away. Go over the campaign and the results and see what exactly went wrong.

First, take a look at the content itself. Is it actually as awesome as you originally thought? You need your content to be as high-quality and relevant as possible. Try having someone else read over it or make any changes you find in the piece.

Next, look at your outreach. This is where a lot of people fail. You probably aren’t going to have great success by just sending out unsolicited emails shoving a piece of content down someone’s throat. Part of outreach is identifying the people you want to reach and building relationships with them prior to sending out your content.

After you identify those you want to send your content to, you can’t just start talking to them like you are best friends. You need to start communicating with them to build that relationship. Comment on their Facebook posts or tweet out to them. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just start engagement so they know who you are and understand what you do. You also want to make sure you pick the right platform when doing so, though. Sometimes, people don’t check their Twitter as much as other platforms, or their mentions are so overcrowded they won’t see your tweet.

Once you do some relationship building, and you decide to send out your content, then you need to track your outreach. You can use tools to help you see if your email was opened, like SideKick or Rapportive. This can help you to see if people just aren’t opening your emails or if they are opening them and forgetting to respond. If so, reach back out to them.

Retry the Campaign

After you have gone through the campaign and looked at what worked and what didn’t, you should consider trying again. Maybe you got some results back, they just weren’t what you were looking for. Sometimes, any feedback is better than none. If you did get some results back, then think about doing it again now that you’ve gotten more information on the campaign and how you should be handling your outreach.

Now, this isn’t for every campaign. Some aren’t going to give you results. But if you honestly think that this is a good piece of content that audiences will enjoy, keep trying. Honestly, you are going to hear no a lot, or not even hear anything back from your outreach. But if your content is good enough, then eventually it will work.

Change It Up

Finally, if you go over your campaign and you don’t see very good results, but you think it has potential, then consider changing up your content. You’ve spent all this time and effort into it, you don’t want to just throw it away. Maybe you turn it into a blog for your own website, or take the content and make a video to put on social media instead.

There is always something that you can do with it so it doesn’t just get filed away and forgotten about. As long as you are getting some results and your performance is increasing, then you are on the right track and eventually will get to the bigger campaigns that will bring you the links you want


Having your SEO campaign fall is never fun. But as it is with most marketing (and life) projects, not everything is going to a huge success. Go over what worked, what didn’t and decide how to move forward objectively. There is success to be found, you just have to work on it and not give up.

Search Fail Photo via Shutterstock 5 Comments ▼

Ronald Dod Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. Ronald holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.

5 Reactions
  1. I usually re-evaluate the strategy to check where the discrepancies are and after rectifying them by doing a test run for the backend of the website (usually the problem starts with on-page optimization). Further on, I make use of Google Search Console to check for bad back-links and disavow them. Also, I make use of the Google Keyword Planner tool found in Google AdWords to research and analyze competitive keywords and their bidding values for the adwords campaigns. This is my fail-strategy for any seo campaign although I tweak it according to the category of the campaign.

  2. I think it is important to realise as Colin Powell said ‘success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistance.’ Through my work at boxChilli it is in fact incremental failures which result in ultimate success for out clients. Generally there will always be new targets to achieve.

  3. Johnathan Strong

    3/4 times when I hear that someone’s campaign failed for either themselves or a client USUALLY it’s not because of any errors or penalties on their end, but a lack of patience within their linking campaign. Google has drastically slowed down rankings and sometimes you’ll have to wait 2-3 months before you start to see any increases from previous links. The best tip nowadays is to stay patient, continue to diversify your anchor text profile, and stay up with the social interaction.

  4. As Johnathan mentioned, with the slow down of Google’s indexing we are finding customers preferring the instant impact that Google Ads (AdWords) offers.

  5. Great article, Ronald!

    Re-evaluating why your SEO campaign failed is a necessary step in order to correct your mistakes. By looking at why you failed, you will see where you went wrong or what aspect needs more work and you can correct these for your next campaign.

    One aspect where a lot of SEO campaigns fail is link building. This is the reason why some companies chose to hire external firms to do the link building for them. Some of the external firms can build high quality yet affordable backlinks for you with SEO Autopilot.