From Shifting Rules To Managing Expectations: Common SEO Challenges

Change is the norm in the SEO business. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and any marketing strategy needs flexibility ingrained in its very DNA to remain viable, let alone be successful. From the old days of the early internet when content didn’t matter, and spam was king, SEO has come a long way in the past 10-15 years. But is still faces considerable challenges at all levels, from managing daily operations to managing budgets and the expectations of clients.

Amidst constant change, one thing has remained a near constant: the challenges faced by SEO professionals. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about in-house SEO activities at an organization or SEO as a digital marketing agency service for hire. They all face the same kind of hurdles.

The central issue pertains to search engines, especially Google, and their near constant updates on search engine algorithms. And it is not just the major ones like Panda or Penguin which they roll out every year or so, but those innumerable unnamed updates, major and minor, implemented almost on a daily basis. SEO is one tough game where rules can change overnight, without warning too. Something that was previously considered a legitimate white-hat tactic can turn into spam, literally overnight. Rare are the days when SEO professionals don’t have to spend more than 15 minutes in the morning just to stay abreast of all the changes that happened in that past 24 hours!

And all this constant activity and changes bring out the next big challenge, of resource scarcity. Be it the financial backing or total staff hours required; almost every SEO campaign struggles to cover all the bases. The online marketing process alone can involve multiple platforms, from email to social media and Websites. Combine that with the fact that SEO has to sync with the organization’s other ad and PR initiatives, and you reach a stage where it seems like you are playing whack-a-mole with ever-shifting objectives on multiple fronts!

Talking about being in sync with the organizational activities, budgets, and goals opens up the next big can of worms: managing expectations of your client/boss, and showing tangible ROI for the money and labor expended in a campaign. SEO is different from traditional marketing efforts. It’s the new kid on the block, it is online, and everything online is supposed to be fast. So this creates a lot of misconceptions about what the process involves and how fast results can be achieved. Impatience from senior management and or clients is a real issue for SEO professionals. It can take months of constant effort before any tangible benefits start manifesting in SERPs.

Things have come to a point where even Google has decided take the initiative to caution SEO clients against unrealistic expectations. Calculating ROI in the meantime to keep those holding the purse-strings happy is another major challenge. Benefits, if any, often show up in revenue streams and transactional data. But it is uncommon for SEO teams to have direct access this data. The only viable recourse is to try and gain access to said information from the relevant CRM platform/accounting system of the organization.

In SEO, the challenges are many and constant. An effective SEO strategy should involve regular updates, as well as audits, analytics, and tracking of multiple datasets across the organization. Keeping on top of all these can take a lot of effort and resources, but that is the only way to make life easy in this business. All else are but shortcuts to even more pain and failure!