Athletes who train using the same program and training techniques over a prolonged period often hit a "training plateau." A common response is to train harder and more often. Unfortunately, this is more likely to end in injury than any noticeable improvement in performance.
This is a useful analogy for most SEO campaigns. If you follow best practices using standard SEO techniques, you're likely to see steady improvements – up to a point. After anything from a few months to a few years, most SEO initiatives will hit a plateau.
So, what are you going to do? Unfortunately, most marketers will take the same approach as the athlete in my opening analogy. They will use the same techniques; train harder and more often, but use the same techniques.
This is unlikely to make significant leaps in results and could be even harm things.
If your SEO efforts have reached a natural plateau, you need to change the game.
Here are three ideas to help you break through your plateau and help you steadily increase your search visibility.
1. Release Your Content
We all know that great content is the key to increasing online visibility, whether its through SEO or social. Despite this, most companies protect their best content behind "gates."
Sure, it's important to have gated content that helps your lead generation efforts, but you should try to get the best of both worlds. Whitepapers, videos, or case studies that are gated behind a lead form won't get you any SEO value. These are major content assets that you should be utilizing for SEO.
Why not repurpose some of the ideas in your whitepaper into blog posts that can be indexed and read by anyone visiting your site? Or perhaps you could quote some of the key stats from your case study in a blog post promoting your services? Your gated content will still be there, but by repurposing the content you will increase your search visibility, social referrals and, inevitably, the number of leads your website generates.
Another way to utilize your gated content for SEO is to offer it in multiple places. Why not make it available to visitors as 'gated' content, but also offer it un-gated? Anyone who reached your lead form won't know that they could get the content without providing their details and filling out a form. This gives you the best of both worlds, the content will be indexed, it will generate more traffic and your lead generation won't be harmed.
Though this may seem like you're misleading your visitors, you're not doing anything wrong. You're offering the same content; you're just facilitating the lead generation process as well. This is a very common technique.
2. Focus on the Long Tail
During the first few phases of an SEO campaign the focus is usually on the major keywords and phrases. These will be linked to the most important pages on the website. It's usually the rankings of these key pages that plateau first.
When this happens, the best approach is to cast your net wider. This means focusing your efforts on the long tail.
Long-tail search rankings can often be just, if not more, valuable than your major keywords and phrases. They have lower competition, are more specific and, if chosen well, can be extremely action oriented.
If you focus your SEO efforts on identifying and exploiting any opportunities you uncover, you could very quickly increase your search referrals and conversion rates.
3. Go Offline
This is definitely the most commonly overlooked SEO tactic of them all. Just because the "nuts and bolts" of SEO are all digital, it doesn't mean that it's an entirely digital discipline.
One of the most effective SEO strategies out there is the building and cultivation of human relationships. Yep, that means getting out of the office and talking to people.
Some of the most valuable links, PR opportunities, and ideas I've ever come across have come from real world human relationships with people I've met in a face-to-face setting. Go and find out what's working for other people.
Network with key influencers and peers. If you do this regularly, I guarantee you will uncover opportunities and insights that will help you avoid any plateau in performance.
It's a principle that doesn't exclusively apply to SEO. You should employ it in every aspect of your online marketing: If you reach a plateau, do something different – change the game.
These are just three examples of how you can re-think your SEO approach to uncover new opportunities and maintain constant improvement.
Don't make the mistake of thinking 'more is better'. In most cases, it's not. Diversify your efforts and you will continue to see consistent improvements, irrespective of the length of your initiative.