Every online entrepreneur or blogger wants to be on the first page of Google results, or even better: the very first place. A high position in Google does mean not only more visitors but also a lot more sales, right? Unfortunately, you can not just put yourself there, even if you really want to. Ever wondered why you are not showing up yet above your competitors? In this blog post, we share 10 reasons why you may not be ranking as high as you’d want to. And not only that, but we will also tell you what you can do to get higher in Google, at last.
How does Google determine its rankings?
Your position in Google is determined by more than 200 ranking factors. This includes the number of years your domain name exists, the loading speed of the website and how often the website is updated. When it comes to improving your findability in Google, we always keep track of the following key factors:
- Tech specs. For example, loading speed, website structure, SSL certificate, the presence of a sitemap, etc.
- Content optimization. Does the website have unique content and is this written for both visitors and search engines?
- Link building. How many unique IP addresses and domains refer to your site and how strong are these links?
If you want to improve your position and ranking in Google, then we always advise our clients to work on these 3 factors first. As you will see later in this post, these 3 pillars also often the main reason why your website is not at the top of Google’s results. What else can go wrong?
1. The ‘do not index’ function is enabled.
If your website is not displayed in the search engine at all, not even if you search for the name of your domain? Then it is quite possible that the ‘do not index’ function in WordPress is enabled. This prevents your entire website from appearing in Google.
How can you disable this?
- Go to settings > read, in the WordPress dashboard
- Click on the checkbox under ‘search engine visibility’ to remove the check mark
- Do not forget to click on ‘save.’
Once you have done that, sign up your website with the Google Search Console and add your website, so that Google will index your website as soon as possible.
2. Do you rely on old SEO tricks that no longer work?
Search engine optimization is no longer what it used to be. And that’s a good thing. I still remember the era when online entrepreneur used to buy backlinks in bulk, which could have bumped their Google and Search Engine rankings in a few days. Today, not only it’s considered a blackhat technique heavily frowned upon by Google, but also with the ever-improving Artificial Intelligence that Google employs to monitor search behavior, you have to focus on your readers, whether you want it or not. Factors like bounce rate can play a more prominent role than backlinks, in determining the quality of your content.
Websites with good content, which are user-friendly, fast-loading, secure and are often (naturally) linked to, are rewarded and will score higher in Google. With old blackhat tricks alone, you will no longer be able to achieve the desired result.
What can you do now? Forget everything you knew about search engine optimization ten years ago and follow leading SEO blogs to keep yourself up to date with the latest algorithm developments. This blog post can also help you to find out what SEO techniques work in 2019.
3. What if your website is not optimized technically?
When we are talking about the technical optimization of a website for search engines, it often comes up that you have to change the significant parts of your website’s backend, if it was poorly coded or over-customized to the point it throws errors. There are several areas where your website can fall short technically and therefore sabotage your SEO:
Your website is too slow
The loading speed of your website is a powerful ranking factor. Visitors find it annoying to wait, and Google sees loading speed as a basic quality feature. Several things can cause the website to load slow. For example, poor hosting provider or images that are way too heavy, not optimized, and are therefore slower to load. You can always upgrade for a top quality budget hosting service or use CDN for caching images.
Your website has an unclear site structure.
A clear site structure has two advantages – first, Google can easily organize and index the content on your website using a clear structure. Secondly, visitors can also find the information they are looking for quicker.
Your website contains many broken links and 404 pages.
Do you often link to content on other websites or do you sometimes delete pages from your own website? Then check the links regularly. If Google encounters too many broken links during indexing, there is a chance that your website will not be fully indexed. And of course, you want to prevent that.
Your web pages do not contain enough internal links.
Internal links also contribute to the structure of your website. Google follows the internal links on your website to investigate which pages are related to each other. This has a big advantage for your ranking in the search engine. When a page has many internal links, this is a signal for Google that this page could be important. A smart internal link strategy can therefore positively contribute to your position in Google.
Your website has no XML Sitemap.
A sitemap is an overview of all the pages on your website that Google bots use to index your website. If you do not have an XML sitemap, the bots are dependent on your internal link structure, but this is no guarantee that every page is found and indexed. Especially if your website is new, has many pages or has a bad internal link structure, an XML Sitemap is no superfluous luxury, it can be automatically generated, added and regularly updated using the XML sitemap plugin for WordPress.
Your web pages have a bad document structure.
In addition to the site structure, a poor document structure can also negatively affect your ranking. By using HTML tags in the right way, you provide additional information to Google about the layout of a page. For example which information is most important, which information is for navigation, and so on. This, in term, helps Google to index the page even better.
4. No solution for the duplicate content problem.
Every website suffers from it: duplicate content. This means that the same content is displayed on multiple pages (and URLs). If you do not solve this, Google will not know which version to index, which will have a negative influence on your ranking in the search engine.
What can you do? The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin offers a large number of options to improve the SEO system of your website.
5. Your content has not been optimized, yet.
A large part of the content created by companies remains undetected. Yet there are different ways to bring some deserved attention to your content. For example, by promoting your content on social media or advertising in Google. If you want to appear organically higher up in Google, without paying for it, then you will have to optimize the content for search engines using all the possible SEO tips and tricks you can find.
Content optimization does not mean, however, that you’ll write the articles only for the search engine (so keywords-rich that looks like spam). Cluttering the page with the desired keywords can annoy the visitor, and you will lose the possible conversion. In our blog, we often post about content optimization, so browse further, and you will learn how to do it!
What can you do? Have you read our blog post that addresses this issue? Optimize your old content first before you start writing new blog posts.
6. Lack of strong backlinks to your website.
Is your website technically well optimized and you have already created a lot of good content, but are you still not highering up in Google? Then it may well be that too little websites refer to your domain. The popularity of your site is also very decisive for your findability in Google.
Although we already mentioned, that SEO algorithms changed and backlinks aren’t what they used to be, they still play a role. How many websites refer to your website? Google sees this as a signal that your website must be relevant. This has a positive effect on the authority of your domain if done wisely. Pay attention! The quality of the links is more important than the number of links.
What can you do? How to get more links? There are several things that you can do. You can start creating content that is so good that people have to share it. For example, we are talking about long articles that the visitor can not find anywhere else on the web. Guest Blogging is another way to get more links. Make a list of websites for which you could blog and pitch your idea.
7. No right keywords or no keywords at all
Keywords. Are these still important? Hell yes! Because if you do not know which terms your website should be found for, how should Google know this?
On many of our old websites, we have also made this mistake, of writing blog posts without choosing the right keyword. The fact remains that these articles are not found in Google compared to articles for which the right keyword has been chosen.
What can you do? First, run keyword research (by yourself or outsource an SEO agency) and determine, which keywords you want to brainstorm and rank for. Then work your way up around those keywords.
Now you may wonder: “what if I can not find a suitable keyword for the page”? You may want to write a blog post around a subject that people are not looking for at that much. Use related keywords.
8. Too much competition
I can feel your pain. LoreleiWeb.com is in the most competitive niche on the internet (marketing, SEO, blogging), so we have to work ten times harder to beat the competition. Would you like to be found in Google with a relatively new website? Do not focus on the so-called ‘short tail keywords.’ Short tail keywords are keyword combinations that often consist of only 1 or 2 words, such as ‘dog school’ or ‘puppy training.’ It is often difficult to score on such terms because the competition is too intense. If your website has not built a lot of authority yet, it will be difficult to score on these popular terms.
To make it easier on yourself, opt for the ‘long tail keywords.’ These are keyword combinations that are longer and often have less competition, such as ‘the cost of puppy training in New York’ or ‘Labrador puppy training tips.’ The probability that you come higher in Google for these combinations is not only higher; you will also notice that the number of conversions is improving. The more focused is the search term, the greater chance that someone will contact you, place a purchase or sign up for your newsletter.
What can you do? Find a niche where you can stand out. What your competitors have not yet written about? Do a competitive analysis and then get started with the unique content creation. This brings us to the next possible problem, what if…
9. Your content is not unique
Creating good content takes time. More time than you might have expected in the beginning. Copying content from your competitor and using it on your own is so much faster and so tempting… But as you may have noticed, the results are also worse than expected.
Google will not reward you for using duplicate content. It is even likely that copying content from other websites will damage your position and result in blacklisting. If your site contains material that you have previously copied from competitors in your niche, it is time to remove this text.
What can you do? Consider how you can create even better content than your competitors. In certain niches, the same information is, and no one bothers to write any quality content. Make use of that opportunity to stand out. For example, consider which questions your competitors leave unanswered or what particular distinctive character your organization has. Need help? Then you can always hire a copywriter.
Tip! If you want to know what the effect has the changes produced on your ranking, use the handy tool Serp Watcher (there is a free account as well). Add the keywords you have chosen for the pages a few days before you change the text on your website. Using the tool, you can keep track of whether your work actually leads to a higher position in Google or not.
10. Google does not see you as an expert
The goal of Google is to show the most relevant search results on the first page. Does Google see your website as a skilled authority compared to similar websites? It is more likely that your website will be shown at the top of Google resutls if it will be recognized as a source of expert knowledge (think of Wikipedia, as a good example).
Websites that are shown on the first page, are generally:
- Regularly updated
- Have already written several pages or blog posts on the subject
- Contain high-quality content of 1000+ words per page.
Of course, there are exceptions, but if your website does not meet these 3 criteria, it will come as no surprise, that your website is not ranking high.
What can you do? One page about a certain topic is often not enough. Write multiple blog posts on that specific topic and make use of related keywords that you have not used before. Interlink between the articles to emphasize the relationship between the pages.
11. Your website has been given a penalty in the past.
That’s a hard one. Did you fail to follow Google’s guidelines? Your website can get a penalty before you know it. This has negative consequences for the ranking of your website. The Google webspam team can give penalties, but also as a result of an update of Google’s algorithm (in yet another attempt to filter websites that employ blackhat SEO methods).
Both aim to remove websites of lower quality from search results. This may include websites with harmful content or duplicate content, websites that hide keywords, websites with an unnatural link profile, websites that buy links or websites that can simply be classified as spam. These kinds of cases can all lead to a penalty and thus a significant drop in your ranking.
How do you know if your website has received a penalty? An unexpected decrease in traffic may indicate that. Have you also registered your website with Google Search Console? Then you will receive messages from Google if one or more problems have been detected.
What can you do? Prevention is better than cure. Once you have received a penalty, it is hard work to get back in Google high spot again. Each penalty case is individual, and you will have to sweat a little to solve your particular issue. Often it will be about creating more valuable and high-quality content and dealing away with the “clever” backhat methods that you have used before. Once you have done this, you can submit a request to Google Search Console to reconsider the ranking of your website. The manual review takes forever, so be patient.
Getting a higher Google ranking position, and then what?
A higher position in the search engine always leads to more visitors and sales. Isn’t it? People click faster on the first or the second search result, but that does not necessarily mean that a visit will lead to a conversion. That is why we close this blog post with some tips to get the most out of your high ranking in Google.
Make sure that your page matches the search intent of the visitor. The visitor comes with a certain expectation from your page. If this expectation is not met, then the visitor will leave your website as quickly as he arrived. So make sure that the content on your page matches the expectation of the visitor, based on his search term. For example, if he clicked on “tips for training a puppy” and he will not find any tips on your page, but only an option to purchase a professional training course, he will leave. However, if your article will address all his question, you will build a trustworthy relationship with the reader, and he is much more likely to convert and use your premium or professional services.
Create a mega strong page title and meta description. All that effort to get higher in Google and yet.. visitors do not click on your search result? Why should they, if you do not differ from competitors in any way? Therefore, always spend some time writing a good page title and meta description to stand out in Google. If you use WordPress, there are various SEO plugins for that.
Make sure you create a clear structure on the page and tell the reader he has to do next. Subscribe? Click on? Read on? If the information he is looking for is not easy to find or if you do not guide him through the website telling him exactly what’s the next step, he will leave the website and leave you with a 100% bounce rate. Do not wait for the visitor to figure out for himself what he has to do next. And after all these changes…
Does your website rank better in Google?
In practice, every website’s ranking can be improved. The first step is always to resolve the common mistakes that have been discussed in this blog post if you are guilty of neglecting them. It is essential that you understand that your findability in Google does not improve automatically, nor overnight. A long-term strategy is needed to score high on various keywords.
Do you need help in improving your findability? Download our e-book “Nu Age Search Engine Optimization” – absolutely free! (link coming soon)