The Most Common SEO Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Road closure and signs present travelers with a new situation out of their control.
One of the biggest challenges of SEO is that there are a lot of things out of your control. Often, you may be faced with new situations you’ve never seen before. When you hit a problem, you diagnose the issue based on potentially dozens of different factors.

So as you embark on an SEO journey, I recommend memorizing the following mantra and repeat as needed:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Next, I’ll cover several common SEO challenges and how to overcome them.

Google Makes Thousands of Changes to Search Each Year

Google is constantly testing and making changes to the Google Search environment — thousands of changes per year, in fact. In 2020 alone, Google ran more than 600,000 experiments that resulted in 4,500-plus changes to Search, some to how search results are presented and others to the ranking algorithms themselves.

What you can do: You obviously can’t control what Google does. But you can control how you respond to it.

One of the best things you can do is to research potential changes. Each time there is a suspected or known change, the SEO industry will no doubt comment on it.

So stay on top of industry research. One way to do so is to follow notable algorithm changes — but there are many changes that never make that list.

Another thing you can do is to not do anything — not right away, at least. When Google rolls out changes, you may see your traffic and rankings fluctuate over a period of days or weeks.

Before you start tweaking anything on your site, make sure to do the research while you wait and see how things pan out. Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, Google discovers a change did not work as expected, and they revert to it before their update. In such cases, it could be that you need no changes.

Your Competition Is Always Changing

In the search results, your competition is every webpage that shows up on page one for your target keywords. But that is constantly in flux, too. New webpages enter the competition each day, and the existing competition ups their game. So keeping up with the competition takes a lot of work.

What you can do: Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do here. Using SEO tools, you can get an unbiased picture of who is ranking for your keyword and the various elements that could be contributing to those rankings.

The only thing you have to do is be the least imperfect compared to your competition. No one can optimize for every ranking factor in the algorithm. But you can out-optimize the competition.

For more, read:



Testing Is “In the Wild”

You make a change to your website and submit it to Google. Then you wait … and wait. And you hope that your website is stable enough so that you can tell whether what you did impacted your rankings.

This is the way that SEOs have tested websites for years, and it’s likely not going to change. It’s impossible to be completely scientific when so many variables are out of our control (think competitors, search engines, searcher behavior, pandemics, and so on). So testing in the wild is one of those things that we have to accept.

What you can do: Not all testing has to be done in the wild. For example, speed testing can be accomplished with a number of different tools, and the data compared over time.

Also, you can do some controlled testing. In the cases where you can experiment in a controlled environment, go ahead and do it.

For example, a lab environment is key to working on improving your scores when it comes to Core Web Vitals. You will get a greater variance in results, but it provides instant feedback. You can learn more about lab versus field tests here.

SEO Strategies Change per Keyword

Every target keyword is essentially a new SEO project. That’s because every keyword is going to have a different intent behind it — what the searcher is trying to accomplish.

For example, the term “search engine optimization” would be classified as a search with “informational” intent — meaning the searcher is likely wanting to learn what it is and how it works.

That means that your website would need to produce very specific informational pages on the topic of SEO in order to have a chance to compete.

Google aims to understand the searcher’s intent for every query. So every keyword essentially has its own algorithm, and no two search results pages are going to be the same.

But Google also has the problem of dealing with ambiguous searches and often has a hard time serving up the most relevant results. Take the search “hammer” as an example:
Screenshot of search results for the query "hammer."
What you can do: Making sure your webpages are relevant for a search term starts with your keyword research.

During that process, you will map out the intent behind the keywords, the competition that is ranking for those keywords and the type of content that is ranking for those keywords (for example, what SERP features show up?).

This will help you create the exact type of content you need to compete and in a manner that allows you to compete with the top search results.

And to reduce ambiguity and help your page be more relevant for a search, you can use structured data to clarify to the search engine what type of information is on the page. In addition, you can use related keywords.

For more, read:


  • How to do keyword research for SEO
  • What is a whole-SERP SEO strategy?
  • Want customized SEO advice per keyword? There’s a plugin for that!


Final Thoughts

One thing is for certain: There’s never a dull moment in SEO. Yes, a lot of things are out of our control, but there is so much that is in our control.

Doing what we can to ensure our webpages are relevant and our sites are primed for search engines, and users means our websites will do better in the search results.

Yes, you will spend a lot of time faced with new scenarios, but experience and wisdom will teach you how to deal with them.

You also have control over which SEO firm you work with. If you need expert help with your SEO or content, please contact us today for a free quote and consultation.

FAQ: How can I effectively overcome the SEO challenges that come with algorithm changes and evolving competition?

Staying ahead in the realm of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires a comprehensive understanding of the challenges brought forth by algorithm changes and the constant evolution of competition. With search engines like Google continually fine-tuning their algorithms and new players entering the competitive field, successfully navigating these challenges is paramount to maintaining your online presence.

Algorithm Changes and SEO Resilience

Algorithm changes are an inevitable part of the SEO landscape. Google’s frequent updates can lead to shifts in search rankings and, consequently, impact your website’s traffic. To effectively address this, one must adopt a resilient approach. Stay well-informed about industry trends, closely monitor algorithm shifts, and study their implications. Industry forums, SEO blogs, and reputable digital marketing resources are valuable sources to stay updated on these changes. Embrace agility in adapting to these shifts, using each algorithm update as an opportunity to optimize your content, enhance user experience, and strengthen your website’s credibility.

The Power of Competitive Analysis

As online competition intensifies, keeping an eye on your competitors becomes indispensable. The regular competitive analysis unveils insights into their strategies, keyword targeting, and content focus. Leverage advanced SEO tools to identify keywords your competitors are ranking for and to evaluate their backlink profiles. Learn from their successes and gaps to devise strategies that differentiate your website and offer enhanced value to your audience. By understanding your competitors’ approaches, you can make informed decisions on optimizing your content and outperforming them in search rankings.

Data-Driven Testing for Success

Testing is a cornerstone of an effective SEO strategy. To address testing challenges in a constantly evolving environment, adopt a data-driven approach. Utilize tools for A/B testing, assess the performance of different elements of your website, and measure their impact on user engagement and conversion rates. Additionally, leverage tools that offer insights into Core Web Vitals, enabling you to refine the user experience and meet Google’s page experience criteria. By analyzing data and drawing actionable conclusions, you can make informed decisions that improve your website’s performance amidst changing circumstances.

Keyword-Centric Strategy and User Intent

As competition shifts, adapting your keyword strategy becomes essential. Each keyword represents a unique challenge and requires a tailored approach. Understand user intent behind keywords and create content that directly addresses their needs. Optimize your website’s structure, utilize structured data to enhance search engine understanding, and incorporate related keywords to expand your content’s relevance. By aligning your content with user intent, you not only address evolving competition but also position yourself as a valuable resource in the eyes of search engines and users.

Transitioning seamlessly between these strategies, you can craft a resilient SEO approach that thrives amidst algorithm changes and competition shifts. Embrace data, insights, and ongoing education to navigate these challenges confidently. As an expert in the field, I encourage you to view these challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Overcoming SEO Challenges Amidst Algorithm Changes and Evolving Competition

  1. Stay Informed: Regularly monitor industry forums, SEO blogs, and authoritative resources to stay updated on algorithm changes.
  2. Analyze Impacts: Study the implications of algorithm updates on your website’s traffic and rankings.
  3. Enhance Agility: Develop a flexible strategy to adapt quickly to algorithm shifts and optimize your content accordingly.
  4. Competitive Analysis: Utilize SEO tools to conduct competitive analysis and gain insights into competitors’ strategies.
  5. Keyword Research: Research keywords focusing on user intent and tailor your content to address their needs.
  6. Optimize Content: Structure your website’s content and incorporate structured data to enhance search engine understanding.
  7. User Experience Optimization: Utilize tools to assess Core Web Vitals and enhance user experience.
  8. A/B Testing: Implement A/B testing to measure the impact of different elements on user engagement and conversion rates.
  9. Data-Driven Decisions: Analyze testing data to make informed decisions on optimizing website elements.
  10. Keyword Evolution: Adapt your keyword strategy based on evolving competition and changing user intent.
  11. User-Centric Content: Create content that directly addresses users’ needs and offers valuable insights.
  12. Structured Data Implementation: Use structured data to clarify content to search engines and enhance visibility.
  13. Refined Backlink Strategy: Evaluate competitors’ backlink profiles and enhance your backlink strategy.
  14. Content Differentiation: Identify gaps in competitors’ content and create unique, value-driven content.
  15. Continuous Learning: Stay updated on the latest trends and developments in the SEO field.
  16. Resilient Mindset: Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.
  17. User-Centric Approach: Prioritize user experience and provide valuable content that addresses user intent.
  18. Data Analysis: Continuously analyze data to refine strategies and optimize performance.
  19. Adapt and Iterate: Embrace an iterative approach that evolves with changing algorithms and competition.
  20. Stay Resilient: Approach SEO challenges with adaptability, resilience, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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7 Replies to “The Most Common SEO Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)”

Apart from good content creation and dissemination on the web, Core Web Vitals have emerged as the biggest SEO challenge.

Wonderful tone of explaining the audience about SEO challenges. Keep it up.

I have been following you for a long time, everything is going well after following the advice in your articles. Keep it up. Thanks

I don’t think so these are the SEO challenges. According to me Page Loading which is now core web vitals is the most common SEO challenge for the all SEO person.

No need to change your strategy as per single keyword, All depend upon how you do SEO.
No changing competitors is not the SEO challenges Its none if your business.

I completely disagree with this article.

Great blog helped me a lot…everyday I overcome these SEO Problem

Sure enough Bruce, this has to be one of the best articles of what search engine optimization is. In the beginning I think there was one variable to basically rank, today there are hundreds of variables driven by AI, Google engineers and user feedback. A hot mess to keep up with and involves much time do to well on any scale.

beautifully explained i faced these problems everyday and they are very complex to solve as you have also mentioned you don’t have much control over Seo.


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