For site owners, there is little more frustrating than feeling like you are doing everything with your SEO and search marketing right and finding that the competition is still two steps ahead of you. Even worse is when it looks like the competition is using black hat SEO to dominate the SERPs. You might think to yourself, “What’s the point of my SEO anymore? It’s not working!” Before you throw your hands up in the air and walk away from SEO forever, remember these 3 things:

Your competition earned it
Your top competitors (providing they used white hate link building techniques) have earned the right to be ranking well in the search engines. They may have been at SEO for a year before they really started seeing any value from their efforts, but they never stopped trying. They produce a great blog, are active in social networks, have carefully selected the right keywords based on months of data, fine tuned the usability of their site and much more. Their SEO success didn’t happen overnight and neither will yours. Don’t get mad at your competition for outperforming your site—they’ve earned it! You can earn it too.

SEO is incredibly competitive

There is only one #1 spot in Bing and Google and hundreds of thousands of sites are vying for that prestigious placement. Big brands have the budget and manpower to fight for broad and highly competitive keywords (shoes, furniture, software, etc) which means smaller brands and websites have to target long tail and niche keywords in order to build their online presence. Everyone knows just enough SEO to make their site a viable competitor for the keywords you are targeting, making it that much harder to reach #1.

Innovation will always lead somewhere
The world of SEM is full of copycats. One site launches a successful SEM campaign and a dozen sites soon follow with a strikingly similar campaign. That is no way to win the SEM race. Before you declare your SEM a failure, take an honest look at your campaign. What have you done to differentiate yourself from the pack? Did you target keywords you actually had a chance of dominating or did you put yourself against the “big boys” in your industry that aren’t going to be moved for anything? Are you finding new ways to connect with your target audience or just going everywhere the competition is? What kind of content have you been creating? You should strive to be better with your SEM, not just a copy of the competition. That is the only way you are going to get ahead.

Above all, remember that SEO and SEM are incredibly long term. It’s easy to lose hope after 3 months, but you haven’t given your campaign enough time to really get rolling. Stick with it and sooner or later you’ll start to see the improvement and results you’re looking for.