10 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Ranking
(And What You Can Do About Them!)
You know what’s insanely frustrating for a business owner?
Not finding your website anywhere in the first ten pages after doing a Google search for relevant keywords. (Heck, most business owners are frustrated if the site doesn’t appear at the top of Page One!)
And it’s especially irritating when you think you’re already doing everything it takes to rank well.
So this leads to the inevitable question:
“Why isn’t my company’s website ranking on Google?”
Well, if you want to know why customers can’t find your site, you aren’t alone. In fact, this is a pretty common problem, even for medium-sized businesses (and not just startups and small companies).
Fortunately, the issues responsible for keeping you from showing up on Google are easy enough to fix if you know what you’re doing.
Now, it’s important that we’re clear about something here:
The reason why your website isn’t ranking could be different than why someone else’s doesn’t.
There are several potential root causes, which means you’ll need to identify exactly what’s at fault.
Of course, that’s why you’re here, right?
And you just happen to be in the right place – the blog for a digital marketing agency that knows its way around best current SEO practices!
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices Aren’t Being Followed
There’s a simple reason you can find countless blog posts, guides, and webinars on the topic of SEO:
So much can be said about this subject!
In fact, if you think about it, the very core of this post is search engine optimization. After all, if your site isn’t showing up near the top of Google search results, it obviously has room for improvement when it comes to SEO.
(This serves as a great reminder that websites aren’t “set it and forget it” entities and they need to be carefully cultivated and updated over time.)
SEO can be a bit complicated. That should make sense since we’re talking about a practice that has a variety of facets.
But let’s make this a little easier to understand by taking a big-picture view of what’s really happening and why it is.
As we talk about what you can do to make your website and pages be deemed by search engines as content worthy of high ranking, keep this in mind:
Google’s main goal is to help searchers find quality content they consider valuable.
They make a little money—$134-billion+ in 2019 alone—from selling ad space. For that space to be valuable, people need to be finding what they want.
So quality matters.
And you need to keep the end user in mind when designing, updating, and creating new content for your website.
Make sure you’re answering the questions they have and, even better, speaking how they speak.
For example, you might be the most knowledgeable, experienced automotive engineer around, but your site visitors don’t have the same educational background as you. Further, the only thing that really matters to them is why their car is making a funny noise.
(In that case, you’re probably best off avoiding the advanced physics behind how an engine works and, instead, just let them know what they need to tell the mechanic.)
In addition, SEO basics that should be implemented on every page and blog post include things like Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) intent-based headers, compelling meta descriptions, and proper titles containing relevant keywords.
Along with those SEO techniques, your site should have SSL certification which allows prospective visitors to know it’s safe and secure. Google wants those who use its search engine to feel safe, so this is actually a key search ranking factor. In the event you’re unsure whether this applies to your site or not, check to see if there’s an “s” after the “http” in your URL. If it’s there, you’re in good shape.
Utilize schema markup (structured data used to make it easier for Google and other search engines to interpret content).
Again, we want to emphasize the point that user-focused content is a big deal. Focus on improving the complete user experience, and you go a long way toward improving your site’s rank.
2. Blocking Search Engines from Indexing and/or Crawling Pages
Along with missing the mark for on-page SEO practices, another reason your website isn’t ranking could be related to a situation where your website is actively telling Google not to show certain pages in search results.
This can be done with a “noindex” meta tag – a piece of HTML code that prevents a page from being indexed by search engines.
The code is part of a robots.txt file, which provides instructions to search engines for where they can and cannot go on a website.
Google will not be able to crawl a URL if it contains the noindex code, and that code will still perform its intended function even if you create a sitemap including the affected page and submit it in the Google Search Console.
Wait, why on earth would anyone ever use that kind of coding?
Uses of a noindex tag include thank you pages for offers or resources you provide to your potential customers – and even the offers themselves.
So how do you know if this is the issue affecting your SERP ranking?
First, you can take your URL and use a site that can test it for you. (Here is an example of a site you can use to accomplish this.) The results you get from testing will dictate your next step.
If you are sure the reason your site doesn’t rank highly is because search engines aren’t able to crawl and/or index pages, you will need to log into the backend of your website.
From here, the specifics will vary based upon which kind of platform you use, but the general idea is that you will need to either remove or update responsible tags for the appropriate pages.
3. Pages Don’t Align with Search Intent
As we just noted, Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant and useful sources for their queries.
With that being the case, high-ranking websites are ones that offer the best user experience (UX). They answer questions and keep people engaged.
To help ensure this is the experience a user receives, Google tracks a variety of analytical data.
These data points are ones deemed most likely to accurately reflect whether a site aligns with search intent or not.
Now, to have a better understanding of what specific search intent is being interpreted for a particular keyword, you can run a very simple test:
Type the keyword into a search engine and see the results. (Make sure to do so through an Incognito Window!)
For example, typing in “pizza” starts by giving you examples of local restaurants. That makes sense because a lot of the time when someone searches for a general type of food, they are seeking options for eating out.
Because that term is vague, after a couple of restaurants, you will find the Wikipedia page – and Wikipedia is a great source for providing general information. This covers a variety of bases for when search intent is unclear to Google (and highlights the importance of choosing specific keywords for your site).
On the other hand, if you type in a more specific dish—like, let’s say, “lemon meringue pie”—you will be presented by results containing recipes. In this case, Google has determined that the typical search intent for that keyword is related to baking a lemon meringue pie.
Search intent is clearly important.
If a website doesn’t align with interpreted intent, it is simply not going to perform well in search engine results pages.
What this means for you and your website is this:
You need to make it clear to search engines as to what you are trying to answer or provide to people. Further, your content needs to help people quickly see what it is you are offering – so their actions send the right signals to Google that say “hey, I found what I was looking for on this site.”
So what can you do if your site doesn’t align with searcher intent?
If this wasn’t already your starting point, make sure you identify the keywords you want to target.
Once you have those in place, you need to spend some time performing keyword research.
There are various tools you might use to assist you with this task. One that we particularly like here at CP Solutions is SEMRush (but there are others as well, such as Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, and SpyFu).
As you saw from the “pizza” and “lemon meringue pie” examples, another option at your disposal is to do your own research and testing. Even better is when you’ve gotten keywords from another source and are now trying them in searches.
Finally, while you’re doing this work, make sure you’re putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Yes, you might know to search for “plantar fasciitis,” but they average person is more likely to search for “heel pain.”
4. Your Page and/or Site Lack Authority
4.Your Page and/or Site Lack Authority
Even if nothing is stopping Google from finding your site, you still need to prove to them that it deserves to rank.
To this point, we need to talk about authority.
Given the choice, are you going to trust “Bob’s Good Guide to Doing Taxes Good” or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service if you have questions about filing your taxes?
(We hope you said, “the IRS.”)
Why would the IRS be the smarter choice here?
Because they are the authority, right?
NOTE: An authority obviously doesn’t need to be well-liked.
In a similar spirit, authority is an important factor for search engines.
Since Google (etc.) wants you to have the best possible information and experience from your internet search, they put greater stock in reliable, trustworthy sources.
So how is authority measured by these companies?
Well, to a certain degree, a site’s URL can come into play. If the web address ends with a “.gov” or “.edu,” search engines know that there is a strong legitimacy at play.
The odds that your site has that kind of URL aren’t too high. Google puts more importance on the belief that reputable websites are typically linked to and cited by other websites – a practice known as backlinking.
As a general rule, the more backlinks to a website, the greater the amount of trust and credibility.
There are hundreds of factors at play in Google’s ranking algorithm, and the number of backlinks from unique websites to a page is a strong one.
An important reminder: Google ranks webpages, not websites.
Depending on your objectives, you might want to rank certain pages for specific keywords. That means you need to consider this on a page-by-page basis.
As you do, you should keep in mind the buyer’s journey and be mindful of where the average page visitor will fall in your sales funnel. (The messaging for a “top of funnel” visitor should not be the same as what you would present to a “bottom of funnel” visitor!)
5. Site Isn’t Optimized for Mobile Devices
Businesses are finally catching on to the importance of prioritizing a website’s mobile experience, rather than leaving it as an afterthought.
This is especially important since Google is now prioritizing mobile-friendly content in searches.
Mobile-first indexing means Google places greater emphasis than ever on crawling the mobile version of a website (while the traditional practice has always been to crawl the desktop version first).
For that reason, we’ve taken measures to ensure our clients’ websites are mobile optimized and ready for mobile-first indexing.
Resisting this change in practice can be detrimental to a business!
An important consideration about this:
Google’s determined that about 40% of mobile searches are done with local intent, which stands to reason when you consider how often you pull out your phone to look up local businesses.
Given the emphasis on mobile searches, it’s in your best interest to cater to the local market as much as possible.
That might be more difficult for a B2B business than a B2C one, but it is still something to keep in mind when you try to figure out why your site doesn’t perform better online.
6. Site Speed Is Too Low
Here are two related statistics:
- On average, a mobile site takes about 5 or 6 seconds to load.
- Most internet users will wait around 3 seconds for a site to load before they bounce.
Obviously, there are many websites out there disappointing their intended audiences!
This is a key reason the websites we build for clients not only look and perform amazing, but also have fast load times.
In the event your website doesn’t land anywhere near the first page, load speed might be the problem.
To see if that’s the case, you might want to take advantage of free online tools, like perhaps doing a mobile speed test from Google.
After testing, you may see that this is, in fact, an area for improvement with your website. If so, some of the ways you might be able to fix this are:
- Reducing image file sizes or cutting down the number of videos contained on single pages
- Reducing the number of HTTP requests for your site
Not sure how to do those? Our team of SEO experts is here for you!
7. Poor Site Organization & Navigation
Site organization is another important factor in ranking.
If the structure of your site isn’t clear, you may have a high number of users who end up on a page of your site and then “bounce” right off back to the SERP pages in search of a better answer to their inquiry.
This is what’s called a bounce rate, and Google doesn’t like it when it’s too high.
If more people are coming to your site and immediately leaving, it alerts the search engines that your site probably isn’t very good, and it likely won’t rank very well compared to your competition.
One way to really help with this is to give users a clear map – preferably one based on where they currently are in the buyer’s journey.
The heart of great user experience on a website is usually the navigation menu.
If users can’t clearly see what you do – and what their next action should be – after just a few seconds on your site, then it may be time to sit down and review your value proposition and site navigation strategy.
Think about offering some self-configuration tools to give users the feeling that they’re getting a personalized website experience that helps them get to what they’re looking for in the quickest time possible.
Also, make sure your navigation menu labels and even blog categories are easy to grasp and understand quickly, without much additional thought required.
(Remember, you want to speak in their language, so stay away from complicated jargon!)
8. Content Not Building Trust
All companies—whether they know it or not—are in the business of trust.
Businesses (regardless of industry, size, B2B or B2C, etc.) are ultimately only going to be successful if people trust them enough to purchase their product or service.
This probably sounds like common sense and something we can all relate to as buyers, but you should always be asking what your company is doing to build that trust.
Well, first, we all know what doesn’t build trust:
Situations where you end up on a website or speaking with a company and immediately feel like you’re being bombarded with sales pitches. You were just looking for information or maybe some honest help.
As buyers, everyone wants to be heard, understood, and informed so we can find the best solution for us.
So how do you build trust through your content?
To build that trust, you need to address people’s biggest questions, worries, and concerns on your website.
With that said, it’s time to take an honest look at your website content, and we recommend starting with your blog.
If you’re blogging on a regular basis, but your site isn’t ranking, evaluate what your content is about and how the messaging is framed.
Do all your blogs have an undertone about how your company is the best, why someone should buy from you, or why someone needs to talk to a sales member?
See, it’s not enough to just be creating content and blogs for your site; it must be helpful and trustworthy information.
And equally important is how you do it.
Your goal should be to build trust and give the reader honest, unbiased information – not to convince them to buy from you (unless you are 100% sure they are in the “decision” stage and ready to act).
After going through your blog, it’s now time to look at your site pages.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, your site shouldn’t be all about you. Instead, it should focus on what problems your product/service can fix for your prospects.
If your site is entirely “you”-focused, that doesn’t build trust between your brand and the user. The result of that could actually have an adverse effect on your ranking.
When your prospects are able to see, hear, and get a vibe of who you are before you even know they exist, you can bet that they’re more likely to be open to talking to you about your product or service.
So put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. Read through your content line by line (or ask someone else to read it) and honestly determine if it is something users will feel is helpful, or if it’s more salesy. In doing so, ask yourself questions like:
- Is this content trying to convince your reader how great you are?
- Does it try to convince your reader how great your product/service is?
- Are you making blanket statements about how you’re a fit for everyone?
- Does the content try to push them toward one alternative over another, even though it may not be the best choice for them?
If any of these answers is yes, then it’s worth thinking about what the goal of your content is, what it should be, and how close it comes to hitting the mark.
9. Not Optimizing Older Posts
Ranking on the first page of Google is a moving target, and if you’re not consistently doing your best to keep up with it, you will probably fall behind in the rankings.
The same goes for content that you published eons ago that still isn’t ranking.
Content may be out of date, missing a key element that people want to know about, or just have an outdated structure. Those posts may need to be reworked.
A comprehensive content strategy doesn’t just include creating new posts, but also optimizing posts that have been on your site for a while.
If old content is holding you back, what should you do about it?
There are likely dozens of articles that are worth revisiting for an opportunity to improve your ranking.
However, aiming to optimize ALL your articles (depending on how much content you’ve produced in the past) can be very time-intensive. To be honest, it might not be worth tackling them all, especially if you’re not sure what you’re trying to specifically optimize them for.
There are specific “buckets” of articles you can identify that will have the most bang for your buck if you put some more time in them.
These buckets of articles can include those with high bounce rates, those stuck on the second or third page of Google, and those who are getting lots of impressions on search pages but not a reasonable number of clicks associated.
10. Super Competitive Market
Some industries are going to be easier to rank for than others.
If you have a company that provides news about national sporting teams and events, you’re going to have a hard time going up against ESPN. (Not to say that’s impossible; just that it isn’t an easy endeavor to take on!)
Now, no matter how competitive the industry and market you’re in, you still should adhere to the practices we’ve talked about today.
Actually, if you are in a super-competitive arena, you need to bring your A-game even more!
What that could mean is:
Going the extra mile and producing amazing content, rocking your social media marketing (to bring more traffic to your site), and including video content on all pages and blog posts.
When you go up against the big dogs, you have less room for error – but the good news is that consistently doing the right things can help you move up the rankings. It won’t happen overnight, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, either!
Putting It All into Action – With Help from CP Solutions!
At the end of the day, there are plenty of reasons why content or a site may not be ranking, and it can be tempting to try to optimize each and every detail.
However, it’s all about progress, not perfection.
This list is by no means all-inclusive of every potential factor in not ranking. For instance, there might be deeper technical SEO issues, or your keyword cluster strategy may not be effective.
However, this list should give you a good grasp of where your gaps are that can be improved starting even today.
Hopefully, you noticed that many of the issues boil down to the quality of the content on your site!
Some people tend to pick and choose from this list of reasons that hold websites back from ranking well. They may just want to focus on ones they think will be “easier” fixes.
The thing about that is:
There are no magical shortcuts.
If you want to rank well, increase traffic to your website, and generate more leads than ever, it’s going to take some work.
Fortunately, no one said that work must be done by you!
CP Solutions is a digital marketing agency that knows SEO inside and out. Our team is here to help you with everything it takes to improve your performance in the search engine results pages.
Contact us today and let’s start strategizing how to boost your SEO performance and get your website climbing up the ranks!