Any SEO specialist will tell you there are a finite number of reasons your website isn’t on the first page of search results and identifying the cause could mean making thousands of more dollars periodically. A systematic approach to isolating the problem and applying the correct solution will improve the traffic your website receives and increase the number of leads it generates.
- Your competition is more developed
- A penalty has been given to your site
- You’re operating on a desktop version
- It takes too long to load your website
- Low-quality content
- Poor onsite metrics
- Lack of keyword research
- You’re not optimized
- Zero local presence
- Irrelevant backlinks
#1-Your competition is more developed
Often the most obvious answer is the most accurate. If the competing websites are more developed you will be outranked every time. Websites that have been around a long time have an edge in the search results because time builds trust with Google. It also leads to more backlinks naturally occurring which will strengthen the development of a website if the backlinks are related to the industry.
The SEO industry exists for the very reason of developing websites to rank faster than they would rank naturally. In order to win the race to the top of the searches, your site needs to catch up and pass the competition in the areas it is lacking development.
#2-A penalty has been given to your website
The two types of penalties a website can encounter are related to content and backlinks. Panda and Penguin are Google updates that have continually been updated to detect issues that may indicate a website is engaging in anything less than best practices.
The Panda update was an algorithm fix to detect issues such as duplicate content, thin content, and keyword stuffing. The Penguin update was rolled out to detect linking schemes and practices that would artificially add authority to websites.
If your site has been hit with a penalty it will be pushed further down the rankings or even worse, taken off of Google’s index. Manual actions are cited for more severe penalties, in which Google will notify the owner through Search Console. If the penalty is algorithmic then a systematic approach in troubleshooting the possible reasons for the penalty is the best approach to solving the problem.
#3-Your site only has a desktop version
If your website doesn’t reformat for different screen sizes, your ranking will suffer. Although outdated sites are becoming more scarce, there are still many businesses that haven’t adopted a mobile version made for all screen sizes. Most searches are now being done from mobile devices so, in order to provide enjoyable user experience, your site should present content in a way that is easy to read and navigate. Mobile friendly sites are a necessity for all businesses and the clock is ticking before all desktop versions will be removed from the search results completely.
#4-Your pages take too long to load
If your website doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds you are losing 40% of your visitors. This decreases your click-through rate, reduces the credibility of your website and increases your bounce rate. There’s a lot of bad things bundled into one issue that results in a reduced ranking. The good news is you can instantly speed up your website by running the URL through Google’s PageSpeed Insights test. Most of the answers to how you can make your site faster can be identified to get your site to a speed that will compete with the best performers.
It’s becoming increasingly important to produce high-quality content in order to make the first-page appearance. The content on your site should answer and satisfy the expectations of a user typing specific keyword searches. The top-performing pages produce quality articles that cover a topic in its entirety which helps cover a wide range of potential solutions that are expected from a related search. Low word count, repetitive content and unrelated posts are characteristics of low-quality content which lead to poor onsite metrics.
#6-Poor onsite metrics
User experience is closely tied in with how your content matches up with a specific search term and Google will reward websites that provide the best match to satisfy search intent. If your content can capture the attention of the person searching the proof will be in the amount of time they spend on your site(dwell time), how many pages they click on (click-through rate), and whether they decide your website has the right answers to their search. The bounce rate is a measure of how many visitors will immediately hit the back button without clicking on anything else on your site. Performance in these areas are rewarded, and lack of performance results in reduced search visibility.
#7-Lack of keyword research
Keyword research includes identifying meaningful, high impact issues and closely related keywords to include on a single page. Grouping multiple variations of your keyword is part of a strategic process that contributes to optimization but also opens the door to related issues which can give your content more depth and detail. Search results are based on the intent of the query, meaning pages that perform will cover multiple aspects of the topic in which your keyword belongs. At the foundation of high-quality content is effective keyword research.
#8-You’re not optimized
Your onsite optimization is critical for a search engine to extract a clear message about what your website offers. The organizational structure of your pages and posts play a role in demonstrating the hierarchy of topics. The emphasis should be placed on your primary keywords by linking your posts to the most important pages that cover the main topic of your site. The titles of your posts are also a large indication of the optimization of your website. When your site is not optimized for a specific search phrase then it may show up for random search terms that aren’t even related to your business.
#9-Zero local presence
Local clients are a targeted group of candidates that are specifically looking for local businesses. Your website should be tagged with its location in order to be picked up and displayed in searches for local businesses. Local search reduces the competition to companies in your locality creating a larger opportunity to appear in a local search. Creating a local presence should be one of the first areas of optimization in order to take advantage of local search traffic.
Backlinks contribute to the organic ranking of your website. The most important characteristic of a quality backlink is whether the site linking to you has backlinks related to your business. A backlink provides credibility and builds on the authority of your site. A backlink that is not related to the content of your site or your niche has a lower value than a link from a site in your niche or with related content. Trust is gained through a strong backlink profile which will provide the authority needed to outrank competing sites.