Let’s paint a quick picture. Let’s say you have decided to invest in SEO for your website. Next, let’s say that you have taken all steps that various online SEO guides have given you, and you have optimized your site to the moon and back. A few weeks later you google some of your more important keywords (in an incognito window – natch) and you see that your competitors still occupy all of the first page placements that you so desperately covet.
Why haven’t your pages begun to rank? Where is your site?! Why is all your hard work not paying off???
Don’t beat yourself up! This scenario is more common than not and there are steps you can take to quickly correct it. This is a complicated job. If you opt to do your own DIY SEO rather than hire a professional SEO agency, ranking your pages is going to take a lot of trying, testing, and reworking. If all your ranking factors are not working in concert then you aren’t going to get the results you want.
Here are 6 reasons why your pages might not be ranking. We will also provide you with some quick fixes to solve each issue.
This is a fairly clear-cut issue. Google’s crawler is finding duplicate content across multiple pages of your site or content that is identical or ‘appreciably similar’ to another site’s content. When Google finds this it then has trouble distinguishing which of the two pages is a better answer to the searcher’s request. This will make the visibility of all the duplicates fall as Google attempts to locate the original and best version of it. Because the overall quantity of content on your site is an important ranking factor all on its own, duplicate content looks very suspicious to Google. The ranking algorithm will likely think that you are trying to increase the amount of content on your site without putting in the work of creating fresh, original content. In 2011, Google rolled out an algorithm update titled Panda which was specifically designed to punish site with too much duplicate content.
Duplicate content can be much more of a hassle for some kinds of sites over others. E-commerce sites that sell particular products for instance may have product information that is listed all over the web at other e-commerce sites. Older SEO efforts may have left your site with several duplicate, variant pages of keyword stuff pages.
If that fits the bill, you need to get cranking on those keys (or hire a copywriter) to rewrite these descriptions and pages and get them up to current SEO standards. Once the dupe content has been handled Google should start indexing the new content and your rankings will reflect that.
Low quality or thin content pages will also reflect poorly in Google’s searches thanks to the Panda update of 2011. These are any page that has a low amount of content, no value pages with ads or other tricks that unscrupulous sorts might use to direct people through the site.
Obviously not all, ‘low content’ pages are bad. A login page won’t have much going on for it other than a login/password box, but it is important that it is the exception. Make sure any page that is on your site is one worth visiting. We mentioned the old keyword stuffing SEO techniques, those are the kind of pages to avoid.
This is something that can happen over time without any sort of cause of our own. Where your site pages on birds of the South West may have once been a top result for search term ‘Birds South West,’ searchers may no be searching for a hot new band making your site no longer relevant.
The fix here is realizing that the phrase you formerly dominated doesn’t mean what you want it to any longer. Pivot the keywords you are targeting to recapture those searches and your page may rank again! It’s important to grow with your audience.
You’re not working to build your digital presence in a vacuum. The whole reason SEO exists is because of all those other sites, businesses, online encyclopedias, and competitors are out there getting placements.
Competitors can represent a number of possibilities for why you’re falling through the rankings. Their link profile/authority may be surpassing you. Their relevance, or ability to answer searcher intent. Their websites UI & UX or their content and keyword targeting. Essentially, they are just doing a better job than you are.
Identify which of those things you are lagging behind and make a specific targeted plan to enhance.
If there are any accessibility problems then it can immediately hinder Google’s ability to crawl your website. If Google can’t crawl your website then, yep you got it, your rankings are going to suffer. Identify if there are any strange link structures or bot protocols that a being fired. Google’s Search Console is a great place to go to identify your site’s potential technical issues. Additionally, you can run a website audit using a 3rd party tool. We recommend Ahrefs!
Engagement issues cover a range of possibilities. If for whatever reason searches are visiting your site only to immediately click out of it, then your rankings will plummet. This could be because of a pop up, or UI/UX decisions that cause the audience to bounce.
Go to your site (again incognito) and see what happens immediately. Are you bombarded by actions, pop-ups, or opt-ins? These are the kinds of thing that spooks customers and website visitors. Time your exit pop or opt-ins to trigger at reasonable points in the website navigation experience. Ranking high gets you users, users sticking around your site and utilizing it gives you higher rankings. You ignore one, you are not going to be getting the other.
Take these action steps and get your hands dirty making repairs. Once finished, make sure Google is indexing your site and see your results!
‘If you build it, they will come!’
If you need any help in getting these things implemented, or running a comprehensive SEO audit on your site CONTACT US.