6 Reasons Your Content Is Not Ranking Well on Google
You have a comprehensive content strategy. You produce amazing articles, infographics and case studies that are shared a lot on social media platforms. Your content drives tons of comments. Yet, when it comes to Google, your content is invisible. It’s ranking is poor to apparently non-existent! Why does that happen?
Sometimes even the most engaging content can find it difficult to climb thes search rankings. You’ll be surprised to know that even marketing experts can face this challenge. In fact, did you know that HubSpot was able to grow its traffic by a staggering 50% by simply optimizing its content the right way?
Google recommends that you produce content for people and not search engines. However, there are some inherent ranking factors that you just can’t ignore, if you want your content to be found online.
Here are 6 reasons why your content might be struggling to rank well on search engines.
You’re Targeting Highly Competitive Keywords
Let’s say you run an online furniture store. Naturally, you’d want people to find your business when they search for phrases like ‘beds for sale’. However, take a look at the search results for your target keyword. What do you see?
First of all, you’ll find that there are over 173 million search results! Although most of them may be irrelevant, it’s very unlikely you’ll rank on the first page for this keyword. That’s simply because there are millions of pages competing for just 10 spots.
Secondly, you’ll find that the top results are dominated by global giants like Walmart, Argos & Overstock. How do you compete with such authoritative sites?
So you should focus on ranking well for a particular segment of your target market, or aim for a more specific keyword. If you go after a smaller market, you’ll have a better chance of ranking well for your target keywords.
For example, you can try targeting a more local audience by ranking for “beds for sale in San Francisco”.
Similarly, you can also target niche market segments such as ‘children’s beds for sale’ or ‘oak double beds for sale’. The more specific your search terms, the better your chances of ranking well. Visitors who arrive after searching such specific products are more likely to convert into paying customers, because they clearly know what they’re looking for.
Such 3-5 keyword search phrases are also known as long-tail keywords. They are very specific to your products & business, and can drive up to 70% of search queries. In fact, did you know that Amazon drives 57% of its sales through such long-tail keywords?
If you’re starting out, you should aim for long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for and have better conversion rates.
You Haven’t Done on-site SEO Properly
It’s not enough to simply include the right keywords in your content. You need to also optimize your web pages the right way.
Today, when it comes to high-quality content, Google is spoilt for choice. There are way too many blogs and websites producing more content than ever. So if you don’t optimize your web pages & blog posts for search engines, they won’t stand apart and rank well.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure that Google easily understands what your content is about, and ranks it for the right search terms. The idea is to focus on one main topic (primary keyword) for each page of your website, and target 3-4 secondary keywords that are related to your main topic.
- Include your primary target keyword (e.g children’s bed for sale) in your title, possibly at the beginning.
- Use static, keyword-rich URLs instead of dynamically generated URLs. For example, use http://example.com/children-bed-for-sale instead of http://example.com/?p=213
- Use one secondary keyword (e.g bunk bed with table) in each sub heading
- Include secondary keywords in your image filenames (e.g teak-wood-single-bed.jpg) and alt tags of images.
- Link out to 1-2 external websites (such as news articles and research data) that are high authority and relevant to your content.
- Add 2-3 internal links to other relevant pages on your site.
- If your content is a blog post or article, then include your main keyword in your first & last paragraphs.
- Include more related keywords naturally, throughout your content.
Also, use SEO Audit Tools like SEMRush to perform a thorough automated SEO audit for your website. They’ll crawl your website looking for Technical SEO issues (e.g broken links, missing page titles, responsiveness, load speed, etc) and provide an in-depth report that you can use to further optimize your website.
You Don’t Have Enough Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are perhaps the most important factor that affect search engine rankings. They’re a great indicator of your website’s trustworthiness and authority. It’s essential to have a good link profile, if you want your content to rank well.
What do I mean by a ‘good link profile’? Your website/blog needs to have inbound links from high-quality websites that are relevant to your niche. For example, if you run a website that sells automobile spare parts, then backlinks from Overdrive or AutoBlog will go a long way in boosting your search rankings. However, inbound links from digital marketing forums like Warrior Forum isn’t going to help much.
Also, when it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity. One link from a relevant website is more effective than 100 links from low-quality websites.
You can use SEO Tools like Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO or Ahrefs to periodically check the number and quality of backlinks to your (and your competitor’s) site.
The easiest way to get good quality backlinks is to create great content and share it on social media platforms as well as with website owners in your niche. If it’s relevant and useful, they’ll surely link back to it.
You Haven’t Optimized Your SERP Snippet
SERP snippet is the information (title & meta description) that is displayed for each search result. Look at the SERP snippet for your content. Is it click worthy? If you can increase your click-through rate by even 3%, it will move up your content by one rank.
Today, search results have evolved from a simple list of links & metadata, to show a variety of information. For example, if you search for ‘logistics’ you’ll find the search result to be filled with an answer box and local results. With top stories, images and related searches further down the page, there are just 6 organic search results that you can work with.
So it has become more important than ever to optimize your SERP snippet and encourage people to click your link.
Here’s how you can optimize your SERP snippet:
- Include keywords at the beginning of your title in a natural way
- Limit your title to 55 characters. Longer titles are typically truncated by Google
- Understand what users are looking for (user intent) when they search your page, and address it in your meta description. Also include a call to action.
- Limit your meta description to 150-160 characters. Longer descriptions are truncated
- Clearly communicate the value of your product or service
Your Content Doesn’t Match User Intent
You may have written a blog post about, say, different types of small business tools, hoping that your content will rank well for ‘small business tools’. But it’s nowhere to be found in the search results. Why does that happen?
It’s not because your content is bad or irrelevant. But it’s just not what users are looking for.
Five years ago, if you had searched for ‘small business tools’ you would have a seen a few wikipedia results explaining what they are, how they help, etc. However, today, if you perform the same search, you’ll see a list of most popular small business tools that you should use.
It’s because user intent has changed over time. 5 years back, people didn’t know much about small business tools, so they were looking for a wikipedia article to learn more about them. Today, they’re looking for a ready made list of tools that will make their job easier.
Periodically revisit your search results for important keywords, to see if your content still matches user intent. If your content has slipped down the search results, or disappeared altogether, then look at the top results and modify your content accordingly. For example, if you find the top results are list-type blog posts then change your ‘complete guide’ to be a listicle too.
Your Site Has Been Penalized
If you notice a sudden drop in rankings, then it’s likely your site has been penalized by Google. Although it’s rare to be hit by a Google penalty, here are 2 most common reasons why it happens:
- Over optimization – If you have crammed your keywords all over the page (title, url, meta description, etc) then it’s unnatural and can attract a google penalty. Instead, use fully-formed statements that are grammatically correct, and you’ll be good.
- Unnatural link-building – Although it’s important to gain links to your website, it’s equally essential to do it the right way. Buying links, swapping links and getting low-quality backlinks can surely get your website penalized. Don’t outsource link-building activities to SEO agencies & freelancers, as they are notorious for employing such ‘Black-Hat’ SEO techniques.
Although there are plenty of reasons why a website doesn’t rank well, these are the most likely culprits. Start by doing an SEO audit of your site to identify & fix any technical SEO issues. Then use a tool like Google Adwords Planner to find high traffic, low competition keywords that you can target in your content. And finally, you can do on-page SEO to improve your content. The key is to understand what your target audience is looking for and optimize your content to match user intent.
Over To You
Do you have any additional hints you’d like to share? I’m sure your fellow readers will be very happy to hear your thoughts also.
Additional Reading: How To Avoid Mistakes While Doing SEO For Yourself
For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Intelligence, Sales & Marketing Strategy. He regularly writes at Fedingo about a wide range of business growth & marketing topics. He’s also the Founder & CEO of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. You can connect with Sreeram on LinkedIn here or on Twitter @qoolean
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