Without doubt, getting your website to the top of the search engine rankings can serve several purposes. First of all, it can bring you a lot of visitors, therefore generate a great return on investment. Secondly, it can establish you as a leading authority within your industry or sector, and thirdly, it can develop your company through improved brand exposure.
All very nice thank you, but why is your website lurking around the lower echelons of the results pages? I’m sure the majority of companies that have a website have had that thought at one stage or another.
Regrettably, there isn’t a magic silver bullet that can bring about immediate results. Rather, there are of number of small actionable steps that can bring about success.
There are a multitude of reasons why your website is not at the top of the rankings. It can be very frustrating not knowing why or how to bring about a positive outcome, especially if you have been waiting a long time to see results.
If this is happening to you, you may want to consider these possibilities :-
You Haven’t Given It Long Enough
There’s nothing you can do about this because SEO (search engine optimisation) is not a rapid course of action.
It is important that things are done in the correct order. For instance, if your website hasn’t been optimised properly to convert visitors to sales, it will be a waste of time building backlinks in order to get to the top of the search engines.
Time and effort must be put in to create and instigate a strategy.
After that, it takes more time for the search engines to recognise that changes have taken place and then to decide if your website is delivering value to those that visit it.
It can take a few months up to a year to start seeing positive results from any changes that you have made. For new websites it usually takes longer due to the Google sandbox filter.
There is nothing that can be done to speed up the process. SEO is a long term project but well worth the effort in the end.
Your Keyword May Mean Something Different To Google
It’s all about search intent; what the searcher is really looking for.
Let’s look at the search term “SEO”.
If you have a look at the first page of Google, you will see that most of the results that appear are for people searching for information on what SEO is and how to perform it and not looking for an agency that carries out the SEO for them.
The problem is that you may think that you have set up your page to mean one thing but Google sees your page as something else.
They do this firstly by looking at other words on the page and if these words are related to your main keyword, you have a greater chance of ranking for it. These words are called LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing). They use these to work out the meaning of the page.
Secondly, Google uses page metrics like “Dwell Time” (time on a page) and “Bounce Rate” (visitors that only visit the one page and leave by the same page) to ascertain the intent of the search term.
The point is, even if you have great content on a page and you have built up a good page authority through quality backlinks, you still might not rank for the keyword that your page is optimised for because Google sees it differently to you.
Your Website May Look Impressive But Why Isn’t It Ranking?
You think that the hard work is done; you have a great looking website and paid out a lot of money for its design and feel. You are probably checking it out all the time, admiring its beauty.
The only problem is, why isn’t Google seeing it the same way as you? What is wrong?
Well, unfortunately, although great at website design, not all web designers are great at SEO and they haven’t done their optimising of your website effectively.
There might be several things that they haven’t performed to satisfy Google’s algorithm.
These things could include :-
- Not enough content
- Duplicate content
- Inadequate navigation
- Ineffective titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, headings and structured data markup
- No outbound links
- Slow loading speed
- Too many uncompressed images
- Focus keyword over too many pages
Not Enough Love From Other Websites
Backlinks to your website from other sites act as a recommendation in Google’s eyes, a vote of confidence if you will. Search engines have used them for many years and they will probably always use them as a ranking factor.
There are so many different methods to acquire them. However, all backlinks are not created equally. Some may be good and some may be bad.
Ideally, you need a wide variety of “follow” and “no follow “backlinks from many types of websites and sources.
Good links are typically gained organically from websites that really think your website is worth connecting to. It may contain some great information, an infographic or video, or just has some noteworthy data and stats on it.
The point is, the content is so good, people just have to link to it.
Bad links are ones that you get from a link farm or you pay for them. Google doesn’t like any links that you have created for yourself as it is against their terms and conditions.
Too Much Hostility From Other Individuals
For some reason, some individuals may want to harm your website by using dishonest methods.
There are some website owners that don’t like your website being above them in the search rankings; so much so that they will go to any lengths to discredit your website using devious and dishonest tactics.
They do this by creating lots and lots of spam backlinks from bad websites to get your website relegated in the search rankings. This is called a negative SEO attack.
Google is not bad at recognising a negative SEO attack, however, you must be wary of this kind of assault because of the serious penalties that Google can impose.
There are ways to overcome this but it will take a long time to recover from.
Another way they might harm your website is to just insert some virus into your site for various purposes. Some do it purely for devilment.
Some just steal your content and use your content on many websites. Sometimes your website can become the one with duplicate content on and you can be penalised.
You May Have A Penalty Imposed On You From Google
If you have had a manual penalty imposed on your website from Google, they might de-index your website totally from their search engine.
If you have noticed a significant drop in your search traffic and your rankings have dropped considerably or you don’t appear at all, it is quite possible that a penalty has been applied.
You will have to check your manual actions section in your Google search console to see if you have had a penalty. If you have, this means a real person has examined your website and found that it is in breach of Google’s guidelines.
There are a few reasons why a Google reviewer may deem you site as violating their terms.
Some of these are :-
- Your site has been hacked – Somebody has inserted some malicious code or content on your site.
- Spam web 2.0 sites – Using free web 2.0 services to submit weak and spammy content for backlinks.
- Structured markup spam – Page structured data that is outside the guidelines.
- Unnatural backlinks – Lots of self-created, phoney, devious backlinks to your site such as bought links and link schemes.
- Unnatural outward links – Similar to above coming from your site.
- Weak valueless content – Your website has to offer something of value or benefit to the visitor.
- Spam commenting – Leaving irrelevant spam blog and forum comments.
- Deceitful redirects or cloaking – Displaying different pages to visitors and Google.
- Image cloaking – Image misapplication to acquire additional clicks.
- Keyword stuffing and hidden text – Repeating keywords too many times and changing the colour of, and hiding text behind images.
Your Website Does Not Live in A Void
SEO is alive and well and working along with other digital marketing activities such as search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC), content marketing, video, email marketing, affiliate marketing, podcasts and social media.
Digital online marketing is a much more comprehensive activity than it was a few years ago.
Google is updating its algorithm constantly and you simply have to keep up or you will be left in the dust. Your rankings are dependent on dwell time (time on your site), clickthrough rate ( % of clicks to your site from website impressions), site speed, social media activity, backlinks from other sites and website mentions (citations), to name but a few.
Not all of them have the same impact on your ranking in search engines but they all do contribute to the all-round performance of your website.
There are many different types of signals that Google is searching for in relation to your site. For instance, Facebook engagement can have an indirect effect on your website position. Google won’t use the links to rank your site but if more people are visiting your site from Facebook and reading your content, leaving comments and engaging with it generally, Google will see this engagement as a ranking signal.
You Are Not Doing As Much As Your Competition Are Doing
SEO is known to everyone.
No longer is it a covert method that only a few practitioners of it knew what they were doing. Everyone now has heard of SEO because it is such an important, fundamental part of present day digital marketing.
If you are not creating content, you can bet your competition is.
If you are not building quality backlinks, your opposition definitely will be.
Even if you are creating content and building links, you can’t rest on your laurels and think you have the job done because you can guarantee that your competition will not be. They will be continuing the process to ensure they get the results that they deserve.
Don’t think that SEO is a game that you are competing against Google, you are competing against all of the other website owners in your niche or sector. There is only a limited amount of space within your sector so you are going to have to out-perform your competition to get to where you want to go.
Small Alterations Can Help You
If you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that need to be undertaken, you won’t be alone, but don’t let it worry you.
It’s a great motivation to make some small and minor changes for yourself as soon as you can. You can always ask for help from an SEO agency at a later date, or even get someone to do it in-house.
It is possible that you need to just wait a while longer to see if you start to rank.
Your website might need a major revamp to it.
Whatever you decide, you are going to have to think about what you need to do and assess your situation. Start with small changes and see where you go from there.
You never know, those small changes could make a difference to your rankings.