Understanding where your business sits on the SEO Success Ladder will help you work out what to do next

I see some of you struggling with your SEO for years.

Your website seems to tread water, getting found for an obscure search here and there but never fulfilling the promise that was sold to you when you had it built.

And no matter what you do, it never seems to improve.

I know how crappy that feels because many years before I taught myself SEO, I was the business owner with a brand new $15, 000 website and no customers.

The worst thing is not being able to get a clear answer on what the problem is.

Either you are dealing with a newbie who doesn't have the experience to advise you properly, or far worse, you're dealing with a bullshitter who's trying to sell you a golden goose.

Knowing what to do next implies you know where you are now. So to help you do this I'm sharing my model of the four stages of SEO.

The Four Stages of the SEO Success ladder

These are:

  1. You are invisible
  2. You are treading water
  3. You are growing
  4. You are dominating

These stages are defined by the number and type of traffic generating keywords you rank for.

Level 1 - You are Invisible

At this point, you rank for nothing. Not even your business name. Put your website into SEMrush.com and it tells you that it has insufficient data on your site.

The path to getting out of this hell hole is to Build.

Focus on fixing your technical issues, optimise your pages and build our your foundation backlinks and before long you will move to level 2.

Level 2 - Treading Water

At level 2, your website traffic is stagnant. The defining characteristic of your traffic is that most of it comes from searches for your business name. That is, brand traffic. You may have a few non-branded rankings but they generate nominal traffic.

If your brand name actually has some monthly search volume, then that's a bonus. It means your business has some visibility in the market place from some of your other marketing activities.

The path to moving from trading water to growth is to Broaden.

Optimise the pages and keyword targeting of your core pages and write relevant content to allow your business to get found for non-branded terms.

Think questions customers ask, thinks of problem & solution searches. Ranking for these will not only grow your traffic but also add value to your audience.

Level 3 - Growing

At level 3 you're doing well with your SEO. Your rankings and traffic from the bottom of funnel keywords are increasing and your top of funnel rankings are traffic is starting to see positive results.

The path to moving from growing to dominating is to Boost.

Implement steps to scale the quality and quantity of your content production and implement steps to boost its visibility using outreach or paid media.

Level 4 - Dominating

At level 4, you are king of the hill. You rank and get traffic for phrases at all levels of the marketing funnel. You rank on Page 1 for many of your bottom of funnel phrases and are receiving large amounts of traffic from high ranking content.

The path to further growth is to Breakthrough.

The opportunity exists now to grow beyond your core market or niche into markets either above or below you in your value chain or alternatively left or right into complementary markets and niches by leveraging the domain authority of your site and brand.

Figure out where your business is, then take the appropriate action to move on up.

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