Why Are My SEO Rankings so Low – And How Do I Fix It?
Best SEO practices can suddenly turn into web page death sentences if you’re not careful. But even if you don’t have time to keep your finger on the pulse of the ever-changing search industry, you’re in luck.
“According to a study by Infront Webworks, the first page of Google receives 95 percent of web traffic, with subsequent pages receiving 5 percent or less of total traffic.” In other words, you need to work, work, work to stay in the top 10 search results – AKA page 1 of Google – to stay relevant.
But search rankings are tricky. Your site can be ranking very well one day, sending you reams of highly-qualified traffic. Then, just when you think you’ve cracked the Google code, your rankings plummet – for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
Or maybe, your site has never ranked well in the search engines. Maybe you’ve optimized your site the best you know how, but you’re still not ranking for your desired keywords or any keywords at all.
Here are a few reasons you might be experiencing this:
- You’re not targeting low-volume, long tail keywords
It used to be that targeting short-tail, high-volume keywords were the norm. Webmasters would create content based on these desired words or phrases, build some keyword-rich links back to their website, and watch their site climb the rankings for those keywords. However, over the past few years, this strategy has become ineffective due to a collision of factors.
Google released its Penguin algorithm in April 2012, which specifically targeted and penalized websites with too many keyword-rich inbound links, since they are almost certainly unnaturally acquired, which is a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. Additionally, with so many sites vying for these high-volume short-tail keywords, your chances of ranking anywhere close to the top are practically zero.
Short-tail keywords will drive general traffic, whereas long-tail, more specific keywords will drive more focused, targeted traffic. Ranking for these “long-tail” keyword phrases will not only be easier, it will often result in much higher conversion rates.
- You’ve tailored your content more for bots than humans
Inferior or poor-quality content is described as content that adds little value for readers. It’s generally published by webmasters who have read or heard that publishing content to their website is important, so they publish content for the sake of publishing content without much regard for its quality or value.
Something else to ponder in terms of inferior content is that if your content sucks, that reflects poorly on anyone who does happen across it, which could kill your conversion rates. Google’s Panda algorithm, first released in February 2011, was aimed at enforcing higher quality search results by penalizing Websites that published too much inferior content.
- Your website is still a toddler
Ranking for specific keywords can often taken months. After 2-3 weeks, your site should have been indexed, meaning it is present in Google’s search results, but with no guarantee of ranking very highly within them. To check to see if your site has been indexed, go to Google and type in site:yoursite.com to see all the indexed pages on your domain. If no search results are returned, your site hasn’t yet been indexed. While Google usually finds your site on its own, you can also submit your site manually just to be sure. Generally this is unnecessary, though; Google will find your site as long as it is linked to elsewhere on the Web, such as articles published on external publications, local directories, or even tweets posted on Twitter that include a link to your website.
- You lack links!
Natural links from high-quality, authoritative, relevant sites; a sufficient number of non-linked brand mentions; appropriate relationships between sites via co-citations; and a sufficient number and quality of deep links (links not just to your homepage, but to internal pages) is absolutely essential to get pages to rank.
- You’re not mobile-ready
On April 21, 2015, mobile-usability became a significant ranking factor with the release of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update. If you experienced a drop in rankings around that time, there’s a good chance it’s due to your site not being sufficiently optimized for mobile users.
One of the best ways to make sure your site is properly optimized for mobile is to use responsive design, which will ensure your site performs and is displayed properly on a variety of screen sizes, and that it provides the best user-experience for all your site’s visitors.
- You’re not actually monitoring or focussing your SEO
On-page optimization has always been, and will always be the cornerstone of SEO in general. While the types of keywords you’ll be targeting will be different (long-tail, more specific phrases), the way you’ll use them in your content remains much the same:
- Static, keyword-rich URLs
- Optimized title tags, headings and alt image tags
- Throughout your content, naturally, along with related keywords and phrases
Technical SEO Issues
After examining your SEO “fitness levels”, it’s time to find and fix the problem. A large majority of SEO problems are due to human error.
- Nofollow links: If used in the wrong places it Nofollow links can cause havoc by no passing along link juice to deeper pages.
- Meta Robots: Excludes individual pages from search results.
- txt: A text file created by webmasters to tell search engine robots how to crawl and index your site.
- Page titles: Verify their visibility in search results and in your source code.
- H1 tags: Verify your H1 tags contain relevant keywords to describe your pages.
- Forgetting Image Tags: Ensure every single image on your website is optimized to be searched and indexed by search spiders by including ALT tags on each image.
- Navigation links: Verify that you have not recently changes your site wide navigation. Lack of links to deeper pages can hamper their placement in search results.
- Internal-links: Same concept as above but related to links within the content of a page.
- Meta Descriptions: Used to describe the content of a page to visitors in search results. Verify their visibility in search results and in your source code.
- Https / SSL: Duplicate content issues can arise if you are serving both secured and unsecured sites to search engines.
- Failed plugins: When not consistently maintained, plugins can have a cascading effect on the rest of your website.
- Site Speed: Google uses site speed as an SEO ranking factor—not a huge one, but definitely an important one.
- WordPress reading settings: Visit the reading settings in your WordPress dashboard. Make sure you unclicked the Search Engine Visibility button that says Discourage search engines from indexing this site.
Quick-Fixes for Improving Your SEO
- Get to know the Google ranking algorithm
- Assess your current search ranking
- Track and measure the right metrics
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
- Diagnose and fix your current penalties
- Do keyword research
- Perfect your on-page SEO
- Use your keywords to create great content
- Build links the right way