It is an age-old question that has been pondered by many a digital marketer since Al Gore “created” the Internet:
Why isn’t my website popping up on the 1st page of Google’s results?
I know it can be pretty frustrating when you think you’ve got your SEO game down pat, or when you’ve directed traffic to your website from social media, but sometimes it may just take a little finesse.
When you’re a digital marketing consultant, you begin to see all of the little intricacies that can either make or break your site’s visibility, and you pass on that knowledge on to others that need to get their product or service noticed.
So grab a notepad, take a seat, and let’s get started.
1. Your site is brand new.
You can’t really expect quick results when you are establishing a website. It takes time for Google to index a website; it’s generally a two to three-week process before your website makes it into Google’s search results. On top of that, you won’t be ranked very high right off the back.
Let’s not forget that your SEO has to be sound.
2. Your on-page SEO needs work.
Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with the changes that SEO undergoes because of changes to Google’s algorithm. But the truth is that in order to survive in the digital marketing world, you need to be able to thrive in SEO.
When it comes to on-page SEO, crafting content will generally always stay the same. While keywords and phrases may change in ranking, you’ll still use them in roughly the same way as well.
That means that you will want to:
- Have static, keyword-rich URLs – Google ranks static URLs in a fairer manner within the search results page because they are indexed quicker than dynamic URLs. Also, you can’t plant your URL full of keywords when using dynamic URLs, thus making static URLs more SEO friendly.
- Optimize title tags, alt image tags, and headings – Alt tags and title tags amplify your content and its keywords to search engine spiders, which in turn grants you better visibility in the results page.
- Plant them throughout your content – The old tried and true method of placing strong keywords in a way that sounds natural within your content, along with related long tail keywords and phrases, is another surefire way of properly using your on-page SEO to its fullest potential.
Don’t focus solely on one or two keywords, though, and don’t think of writing content around what your keywords are. Instead, craft content under a general theme or topic.
This encourages your content to sound informative in a casual manner, implementing strong keywords and their related keywords in a much more natural fashion. Doing this will not only increase your ranking on each word, it will read better, improve user experience and attract more inbound links since your polished content will provide more comprehensive, expert-like information on a subject.
3. Your content isn’t up to par.
Crafting content can be a difficult process. Too little information provided within a post and your viewers will disregard it quickly. Too much can overwhelm and confuse them.
That’s why Google answered to the mountains of bad content by implementing its Panda algorithm. The algorithm enforced higher quality search results by punishing websites that produced too much “thin” content.
What is thin content? Well, it is considered in two different types:
- Insubstantial, low-value content – This type of content usually garners a manual action—Google’s way of demoting or removing your website as a whole—against your site if it is deemed to offer little information of value or spam.
- Zero-value content – This simply means your website offers no value to viewers and website visitors. Usually, there won’t be any manual action taken in this type of thin content, but it will be likely that your website will not be receiving much traffic, shares, mentions, or inbound links from other authors.
One thing to reflect upon, however, is that if your content is bad, it will ultimately set a poor impression on website visitors, meaning you can kiss those conversion rates goodbye.
4. You were hit with a manual action or an algorithmic penalty.
If you were hit with a manual action or algorithmic penalty, believe me, you’ll know it. There would be a severe, sudden drop in your rankings, which in turn would affect your organic search traffic.
That, and you’d receive a manual action notification from Google. As discussed above, this mostly happens when you produce and present thin content.
But an algorithmic penalty is different. It is usually more difficult to identify, and Google is known for updating their algorithm frequently, even up to twice a day. One thing you could do to verify this is to check the date when you suffered a drop in rank and match it to known updates. The easiest way to find that information is here.
After finding out which update caused the penalty, all you would have to do next is fix the specific problem.
5. Your website is lacking inbound links and mentions.
When you want to get your site ranked high in search engine results, you want to have a strong inbound link profile.
A strong inbound link profile consists of:
- Links from authoritative, high-quality sites that are relevant to your topic.
- A good number of non-linked brand mentions.
- A decent number of quality deep links, not just to your homepage, but to internal links as well.
- Strong relationships between sites via co-citations.
You just can’t have a high-ranking website without them.
6. Your website isn’t mobile-friendly.
If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you are missing out on a huge piece of that delicious traffic and high-rank pie.
Fifty-seven percent of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices like cell phones and tablets. That’s why on April 21, 2015, mobile-usability became a priority in terms of ranking factors in Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update.
And it may soon switch over to a “mobile-first index,” meaning that Google will prioritize sending search engine spiders, or crawling, mobile sites over desktop sites.
7. You accidentally blocked Google from being able to access your website.
There are plenty of ways that Google can be unintentionally blocked from being able to crawl or index your site. Usually, the error can be found in your robots.txt file.
This happens to the best of us. Some of the main occasions where this can happen are when you are launching a new site or when you are migrating your site from one domain to another.
In order to make sure that Google has full access to your site, you’re going to want to open your robots.txt file and look inside until you see something like this:
- User-agent: *
- Disallow: /
If you see that, that means you’ve blocked Google from your whole website. You could, however, remove this code from the file to fix it, but I would recommend recruiting an expert to do that just in case.