Why Isn't My Website Ranking?
So you’ve created a website. Everything is looking snazzy and is to your liking. The site does what it’s supposed to do.
But as much as you and your team might be happy with it, Google and other search giants just don’t seem to be quite as pleased.
We hear this story from clients all the time. Just about everyone who gets in touch with a SEO agency has the same question: why isn’t my website ranking?
In many cases, this is a question which has no simple answer.
However, it is a question with an answer, and providing that answer (and creating a strategy around it) is the most valuable ability of any SEO agency worth their salt.
So let’s dive in. Let’s figure out the most common reasons why our client’s websites aren’t ranking in the first place.
Understanding Why Your Site Doesn’t Rank Well
Not getting the search placements you were hoping for is a frustrating experience.
It can leave you wringing your hands in despair without any idea of how to correct course. It’s an experience that has driven many inexperienced efforts away from SEO entirely.
But before you go beating yourself up about doing something wrong, consider this. You might be doing everything right and still not ranking.
How could that be?
Well, let’s dissect our language a little bit.
You can tick all the boxes on your SEO checklist. You can make sure your site is optimized down to a T. You can create great content, source decent backlinks, create a useful website, and still not rank.
In this situation, you and your website aren’t doing anything “wrong” per-se.
Instead of a series of errors you need to correct, your problem could simply be that you’re not competing hard enough.
To get placements for the most lucrative search terms, you need a comprehensive SEO strategy which never rests long enough to let the competition get a leg up.
So what does competing harder look like?
It might mean doing more in-depth competitive analysis to see what best practices search engines seem to be preferring in your niche.
It might mean simply increasing the volume of your efforts: more content, more keywords, more backlinks until you can stack up to the competition.
But hang on, let’s back up.
Nobody is perfect — and no SEO campaign is perfect.
So what if you have done something wrong in optimizing your site? What if you’re in a space with minimal competition and still not getting the placements you’re targeting?
Well, then you might have a deeper issue. But don’t despair. With the right SEO, almost everything can be salvaged.
Fixing the SEO Errors of the Past
If competition isn’t the problem, we can typically look at three primary areas when assessing why a website isn’t ranking:
- Technical Errors: Technical errors concern the website’s optimization on the front end and back end. Severe technical errors can completely exclude pages from search results and/or prevent web crawlers from indexing the website at all.
- Content Issues: If search engine crawlers identify issues with the content of your website, it can make it extremely difficult to rank. Content issues might include duplicate content, plagiarized content, thin content, “spammy” web pages, and low quality content.
- Reputation Issues: Your website’s backlink profile and on-site external links are signals search engines use to establish your website’s digital reputation. An abundance of “spammy” backlinks, associations with known spam or questionable websites, and other signals can create a black mark on your site’s reputation with a negative impact on your site’s search health.
In some cases these problems are the result of the site having never been optimized for search at all, or being improperly configured in general.
However, quite frequently, we find these errors are the result of a fly by night SEO operation that didn’t go the distance — or didn’t know what they were doing — leaving a client with subpar work before they can discover what is going on.
In other cases, the blame falls more on the site or business owner than the SEO agency.
As a website or business owner, it’s important to understand that SEO is not a static thing.
Quite the contrary, search engines are constantly updating their methodologies for indexing and ranking websites.
And as new web technologies make their way into the mainstream, what websites look like and what users expect from websites also changes.
To keep pace with all of this change, SEO tactics need to be continually refined and improved upon.
The most dramatic example of this comes in the form of a Google Algorithm Update.
Google is constantly tweaking how their search engine works. Most of these changes are implemented silently in the background and are only noticed by the most diligent and devoted SEO experts.
However, occasionally Google releases a major revision of its search algorithm.
These updates are given names, announced publicly, and always usher in major changes to the SEO space.
Google Algorithm Updates have been known to wipe pages with outdated or questionable SEO practices from the search engine entirely.
Staying Two Steps Ahead
Stop thinking about getting a search ranking.
Getting there is hardly half the battle.
Maintaining a search ranking is the philosophy you want to base your SEO strategy on.
Unfortunately, even with all of our modern technology, SEO experts can’t quite predict the future.
But it is the job of a great SEO to keep a close eye on the changes being implemented by search engines and attempt to predict where they are headed next.
For all the complexity that goes into making a search engine like Google work, it is built on a simple principle: connect users with the content they need.
As SEO experts, website owners, business people, and content creators, this should be our philosophy as well.
Think of the search engine you are hoping to rank you as an extension of your users.
While search engines prefer to have things formatted a little differently than your human readers, they are both looking for the same thing.
High quality content.