When you invest money in a flashy website only to find it doesn’t show up in Google rankings, it can be impossible to figure out where you went wrong. No matter how much money and effort you put into your website, if your site design and structure miss out on specific SEO best practices, all your efforts could be for not.
Little details like your domain name, site structure, and poorly executed keyword usage can all contribute to what feels like an epic fail. If you’ve asked yourself why your website isn’t ranking on Google, we’ve got several answers here that might surprise you.
Google really only has one job: to provide the most relevant information for its users. It’s simple, yet to do so, Google needs tools in place to search billions of pages of content quickly and effectively. This is called “crawling.” Google uses algorithms and a long list of criteria to find ideal matches based on the keywords and terms used in each user query. Search engines give top ranking to the most original, informative, and relevant content they find. And it isn’t easy to hit that sweet spot because every one of your competitors near and far is trying to accomplish the same thing. So relevancy counts, ensuring the keywords you rank for match the content a user will find.
Keyword Faux Pas
First, the keywords you use should have reasonably high search volumes, with words and phrases most likely searched by your audience. Next, there is a common misconception among rookie SEOers that all you have to do is cram your pages with industry-specific keywords to make it to the top of the rankings. But this is far from the truth. In fact, this is exactly the kind of thing that can keep you from ranking at all. Keyword stuffing, as it’s known in the biz, is detrimental to any SEO strategy. Yes, Google depends on keywords to search for content. But proper keyword placement and density are a must.
Keywords and phrases should be included in your title tag, within the first paragraph of the page, and used naturally and sparingly throughout the content. Also, a common oversight is not including a relevant keyword in your domain. Ideally, this keyword should be the first word in your domain. If this isn’t possible, include a keyword in each subdomain. For example, keywords should look like this: www.company.service.com instead of this: www.company.com/service.
Not Optimizing Images
While web crawlers are great at reading keywords, they can’t view images. Therefore, each image on your site should be optimized using keywords in your image file name, alt text and title tags. Use a brief description with unique text for each image to help optimize your images.
Stale, Unloved Content
Unfortunately, your website is not a set-it-and-forget marketing tool. Google prefers new content over old content, and the fresher and more unique it is, the more likely it is to show up in the SERPs. It begins with posting new blogs often but should also include larger-scale changes and overall website updates. Varied content also helps, so be sure to include videos, infographics, interactive tools, longer-form content like ebooks and white papers, and throw in an interactive or usable tool like templates.
Disconnect Between Keywords and Content
Poor keyword placement and usage is a Google turnoff that can also frustrate visitors. Your content should relate directly to the keywords used on your page and provide detailed, unique, high-quality content visitors will be hungry to digest. The more relevant the content, the longer visitors spend on your page, and the better your credibility becomes with Google. Consider your keywords and beef up content that fails to meet the expectations of user intent.
Google applies penalties to websites using what is known as “black hat” tactics some less honest websites use to try to improve their rankings. These underhanded SEO practices are detected by special Google algorithms. When something seems questionable, it draws the attention of Google’s human team, who will determine if your actions call for penalties. This creates a domain history that is less than flattering, eventually dropping your ranking into never never land, never to be seen again. Some examples of black hat tactics include:
- Keyword stuffing
- Cloaking content using irrelevant keywords to attract search engines
- Redirecting clicks to spammy pages or pages different from the ones Google intended to send users
- Poorly written, unoriginal content
- Plagiarized content
- Fake customer reviews
- Underhanded backlink schemes like farming and private blog networks
The list goes on and on. Using a reputable website design and SEO company is a must to avoid inadvertently angering the search engine gods.
If your website isn’t set up right, it can also impact rankings. This includes:
- Slow-loading pages
- Pages not optimized for mobile devices
- Unindexed pages because you did not submit a site index to Google
- Poor navigation
- Outdated website technology
- Too many broken links
- Google penalties
These are just a few examples of technical factors that could impact your rankings.
A Few More Possibilities
There are a few more things that impact rankings:
- Short-term domain registration that makes you seem less authoritative
- Questionable backlinks leading to spammy sites
- A lack of authoritative links to back up your stats
- Not enough internal links to other informative pages and services within your own site
- Not enough citations on directories, or inconsistencies in your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) across different directories and channels
How to Get Things Right
The scary truth is there are over 200 factors that can impact your Google ranking. That makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly where you went wrong. The simplest way to ensure you get things right is to follow the basics of SEO best practices:
- Use mobile-friendly, responsive design to appeal to all devices
- Ensure your pages are fast loading
- Use diverse content, including blog posts, videos, infographics, long-tail content, etc.
- Keep your site updated with fresh content on a regular basis
- Choose keywords with the most relevance to your business, and don’t overdo it
- Send visitors to the pages they expect to see – in other words, ensure your content doesn’t disappoint
- Avoid all spammy, black-hat tactics
Search Engine Optimization is definitely an ever-evolving skill. With the right marketing partner, your SEO strategy can help you get discovered better than ever before! If you need a little help with this, we’re happy to chat!