I thought “SEO is Dead” Though?
Please ignore the click-bait headlines like “SEO is Dead,” or “Keyword Rankings Don’t Matter Anymore.” They couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ask anyone to find a specific product or service. What’s the first thing they do? I’m willing to bet the majority would go to Google for the answer. Now ask any business owner if they want their website to rank on the first page of Google, and they’ll most certainly say yes as well. While it is true that SEO strategies have changed, and keyword rankings have many different variables – there is no doubt rankings still matter. According to Internet Live 67,165 searches occur every second. That’s 67,000 different sets of eyes that could land on your website and give your business exposure.
So, Why Aren’t I Ranking?
Chances are, there is more than one reason your site isn’t ranking. Now to be clear, this is by no means a list of Google’s top six ranking factors. Instead it is a less technical breakdown of mistakes most website owners make when trying to rank highly in search engines. Below are six of the most common issues you will see in low-ranking websites.
1. No Keyword Strategy
When writing content, it’s important to understand exactly what the user (your potential target market) is looking for, and what words they are using. Using only product numbers, overly technical terms, or your own brand specific terms won’t help you drive traffic to your site. For example, if my store is called Bob’s BBQ Grills, it doesn’t make much sense to have the goal of ranking for “Model 394-G4TA Grill” if no one is searching for that term. Instead it would be better for me to formulate a keyword strategy targeting words:
- 1. Users are searching for
- 2. Are relevant to the product/service I offer
- 3. Are a good mix of general, more searched for terms, and specific, less often searched terms towards those products/services
Before anything else, a keyword strategy must come first. Keywords will help you better understand your audience and will set the framework for future content through all avenues of your brand.
2. No Keywords & Keyword Stuffing
Strategically built websites understand how to leverage keywords. All too often, low ranking sites do not have pages dedicated to those phrases. Amazingly, some sites don’t even use the keyword/phrases anywhere in their content.
Caution: this does not mean constantly repeating your keyword through every page of your site is a good idea. For example, having the keyword as “BBQ grill” with content on your page as “BBQ grills are great because I love grilling on grills to BBQ. Remember to buy our BBQ grills at our BBQ grill store.” won’t do much but seem incoherent to the user, and Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing. Google has gotten smarter – you don’t have to keep to one keyword and worry about plugging it in as many times as possible. Creating content (see the next point) that talks about your phrase and uses closely-related phrases in a clear and strategic manner will help the user find whatever they are looking for and will help improve your search ranking.
3. Thin content
Search engines care about providing the person searching with the best possible results, and rank websites based upon how well they match the keyword or phrase searched. Search engines don’t care what website owners want to rank for. For example, if I am interested in ranking for “BBQ grills” (because that’s what my site sells) then having a page with only the following content won’t do much for my ranking.
“My company sells BBQ Grills at low prices! Contact us now to buy your new grill.”
Two sentences telling someone you sell BBQ grills does not tell Google you are a subject matter expert. You’ve not giving Google any reason to rank you on the first page whenever someone searches “BBQ grills.” However, a nicely constructed page (preferably 500+ words) detailing why you are the leader in BBQ grills, key aspects to look for in a BBQ grill, and mistakes to avoid when shopping for a new BBQ grill will tell Google you are a reliable subject matter expert and will give you a much better chance to rank well.
4. On-page Optimization
Once your content is written properly with the right keywords/phrases, the next step is to optimize the meta tags. (Check out our SEO basics blog to learn more about meta tags). By default, most title tags will either have the page name, or the page name along with the brand following. So typically, an unoptimized title tag for home page could look like this:
– “Home – Joe’s BBQ”
This tag doesn’t tell a site visitor or Google much about the page. Instead, take some of the keywords you’ve identified in step #1, Keyword Strategy, and include them in the title:
– “BBQ Grills & Smokers | Gas, Charcoal & Electric | Joe’s BBQ”
This tag does a better job of telling both the user and Google “I sell grill and smokers, and here are the different kinds I sell”
Now focus your attention on the meta description – the description you see in the search results page. Although it is not a direct ranking factor it is important once your pages begin ranking. The meta description is essentially the “advertisement” to get someone to click on your listing over the other results. If you do not create a meta description, Google will typically pull something from the page, which can just be the first sentence or two from the page. Help yourself out by taking control and writing your own descriptions!
4. No Backlinks
While it’s true that content that may be the most important factor affecting search engine results, backlinks aren’t far behind. Content can demonstrate subject matter expertise, but backlinks show your site has high authority, and the content you’ve written is worth sharing.
Backlinks are a major ranking factor and your backlink profile can determine whether you or your competitors are ranking for your focus keywords. Actively seeking backlinks for your site is something that should be done, but because Google has a variety of penalties for poor backlinks, leave this task to the experts. Website owners should focus on writing quality content like a weekly blog. Posting frequent (and well-written) content is a great way for other people to share your information and help create a great backlink profile.
6. Technical Issues: Mobile & Speed
There are multiple technical issues that could affect your rankings as well as overall user experience, however the two most important things are having your site mobile friendly, and having it load quickly.
It’s 2018, and just about everyone has a smart phone and is using it to make buying decisions. Two years ago a study done by Search Engine Land showed that over 60% of all online leads came through a mobile device. 60%! That statistic alone should make you want to become mobile-friendly if you aren’t already. However, Google has also made it very clear that being mobile-friendly is a major ranking factor.
While not quite as high of a ranking factor as being mobile friendly, page speed matters. The importance of page speed (how quickly your page loads) is nothing new. In 2010 Google announced page speed as a ranking factor. There are many factors that contribute to a site’s overall speed, (plugins, coding, images). If you want to rank on Google you need to have a fast loading site.
Does Your Site Have Any of These Issues?
Find out! Fill out the form below with your URL and a keyword (you can be compared to a competitor of your choosing). You will receive a free, custom-generated report detailing how one of your website pages performs for the keyword of your choice.
SEO & Website Analysis
See if your site is optimized for the keywords your want to rank for.