Content is king in SEO, but it’s critical that it’s the right type of content for your target audience and the SERP landscape for each client.
“Content is king” is a common phrase heard in the SEO industry. The statement is true, but it should not be applied to every situation and to every site. In some cases too much poor-quality content hurts local small businesses and SMBs.
Quite often when first starting to work with clients at GrowthLogic, one of the biggest challenges they face is that their website doesn’t rank well on search engines.
“My site isn’t getting enough leads.”
We haven’t seen the results we hoped for from inbound marketing.
“We have done keyword research and developed content, but our efforts have not yielded results.”
“Our blogging efforts aren’t yielding a return.”
Many of them are already using content marketing in some form. Maybe they blog regularly, or maybe they just redesigned their website.
The company may have conducted numerous rounds of keyword research, but it still does not rank on the first page of Google.
Why is that?
This may sound familiar to you, which is why I understand how you might feel frustrated, especially if your efforts seem futile with no clear indication why it isn’t working.
Below, we will investigate a few of the causes for why your site’s content is not ranking, but it can be caused by a few factors.
You may not be ranking for all of the reasons below, but there’s a good chance at least one of them is holding you back. To start, let’s discuss why the factors on this list are so important.
Organic search offers the most cost-effective and efficient way to bring in new leads.
You can be found organically by people who don’t know you exist, but are looking for the solution or service you offer – and you don’t have to spend money on ads to do this! In order for organic search to be effective, you must rank well in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Google ranking well can seriously increase the value of your website. With software, I can see what my clients would have to spend to get the same exposure they get organically for the same keywords. Some clients pay more than $20k per month. It’s not $20k per year, it’s $20,000 per month.
But instead, guess how much they’re paying for that exposure?
Not a thing.
They are only paying whoever is responsible for creating the content on their site, which is much less than $30,000 per month!
(And, listen, there is a place for PPC as part of a comprehensive strategy, which is why GrowthLogic has experts that can help you with it.)
Having learned the importance of ranking, you might be thinking, “I want in!”. So why aren’t I ranking too?”
We’ll explain why you might not be on the first page of Google already – and what you can do to get there.
The top 10 reasons your site doesn’t rank well on Google
1. The speed of your site is too slow
What’s the average load time for mobile sites?
Sites take about 5 to 6 seconds to load on average. But how long will the majority of visitors stick around before they leave?
It’s more like 3 seconds.
People aren’t getting what they need fast enough because of this discrepancy.
A crucial thing to note is that Google looks at your engagement metrics, such as how long people stay on your site versus how many people bounce away, in order to determine whether or not people find your site valuable. It will help your rankings if your site appears valuable, and vice versa.
Users that don’t even wait for your page to load won’t have a chance to see the value you offer, and search engines will negatively affect your rankings accordingly.
2. Your content isn’t building trust
Businesses (regardless of size, industry, B2B or B2C, etc.) are only going to succeed if potential customers trust them enough to purchase their product or service.
It sounds like common sense and something we can all relate to. However, you should always ask, how is my company building that trust?
Well, first, we all know what doesn’t build trust:
We’ve all experienced a situation in which we felt bombarded by sales pitches when we were really just looking for information and some honest advice on a website or over the phone.
As buyers, we want to be heard, understood, and informed so we can find the best solution for us.
Building trust in your content
Your website will need to address your prospects’ biggest concerns, worries, and questions in order to build trust among them.
Take a close look at your blog content.
If you blog regularly but your site isn’t ranking, look at what your content is about and how it’s being presented.
All your blogs have an overarching theme of why your company is the best, why someone should buy from you, or why they need to talk to a salesperson?
It is not enough just to publish content and blogs on your site – you also need to provide useful and trustworthy information. In other words, you need to explain your clients’ concerns, prices, costs, how you compare to other companies, and help them empathize with your problems. Then and only then can you share why you’re the resource that they need to solve their problem.
In addition to writing about these topics, it’s equally important to write about them in a way that would build trust and offer readers unbiased, truthful information – not to convince them to purchase from you.
Be honest with yourself
See what your website pages look like.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, your site should be primarily about your visitors. It is more effective to focus your marketing messages on how your products/services can solve problems for your prospects.
It is our challenge at GrowthLogic to see how many times site pages refer to we, us, or the company name versus the word you.
Sites that are primarily focused on their company, no matter how well they are optimized for search engines, rarely build trust between their brand and their customers, and suffer from ranking issues.
Utilizing video content as a means of building trust on your site is another way to achieve this.
If they see, hear, and feel who you are prior to knowing you are there, then they will be interested in your product or service.
3. You aren’t targeting the right keywords in your content
When search engines can’t tell why you’re ranking (and therefore answering questions), you’re not going to rank. It’s essential that your content is clear enough for people to understand what it is you’re offering, not just site pages full of industry jargon that people may not be searching for. Researching keywords for your content is a good way to do this.
Any part of your site could benefit from this strategy, not just blog articles.
Optimizing your site for SEO involves several factors (which we will discuss later) but at its core, you need the content to be clear about what your company/product/service solves for and how users find it.
4. You don’t publish regularly
You can’t just publish blogs every week if they’re of mediocre quality. It is still necessary to publish optimized content regularly to be able to see search rankings rise.
Publishing 2-3 pieces of original content each week is recommended by content consultants for a variety of reasons. For starters, it keeps you in front of your prospects and keeps you top of mind for those who already know you. Your relevance is emphasized when you do this.
Did you ever come across a site that looked outdated? A new blog post lets your prospects know you’re still around, and the content on your site is still valid.
Second, and more importantly, you have a much better chance of ranking well in Google with these strategies. Google can index your content for different keywords the more content you have on your site.
As a result, if Google notices you’re publishing content on a regular basis, it’ll adjust the crawl timelines on your site and visit more frequently.
It’s possible that blogs who don’t regularly publish content have gotten Google accustomed to crawling their site very infrequently, maybe every couple of weeks or so.
Regular publishing, however, makes Google crawl your content more often – daily for those rockstar clients – so that it has a better chance of ranking well.
5. Inability to implement SEO best practices
The topic of SEO is so complex that there are many blogs and guides on the subject.
From an SSL certificate for your site to the headers, titles, and meta descriptions on every page, there are many on-page SEO basics that you should incorporate into your website.
SEM is all about delivering high-quality content to users searching for keywords relevant to your industry and standing out to Google as the best piece of content to show to them.
It’s likely that you’ve conducted a dozen or so Google searches in the last 24 hours. However, let me ask you a question: When was the last time you went to the second or third page of Google? What is your estimate of how frequently that happens?
By delivering the most relevant and helpful content at the top of its search engine results pages, Google’s main objective is to satisfy your inquiry as quickly as possible.
The best way to implement SEO
Following SEO best practices is the best way for you to alert Google that you’re interested in ranking for specific topics, questions, or keywords.
In short, there are too many factors to dive into here, but the very condensed basics are title optimization, keyword optimization, header optimization, structure of articles, meta descriptions, and URL optimization.
A lot of SEO today is focused on creating content that is more user-focused, whether it is the topic and honestly answering prospects’ questions, or how to visually provide the best experience for users as they navigate your site.
6. The navigation of your site is poor
Ranking is also affected by the organization of a site.
A poorly structured site may result in users landing on a page of your site and then “bounce” straight back to the SERP pages to find a better answer to their question.
The bounce rate is a metric that Google does not like when it exceeds a certain threshold. The search engines see this as a signal that your site may not be very good, and you are unlikely to rank very well in comparison to your competition if more people are leaving your site immediately, rather than sticking around and reading more of your content.
Users should have an easy time navigating the site
At the heart of great user experience on a site is usually the navigation menu.
It may be time to take a step back and review your value proposition and site navigation strategy if users cannot get a clear picture of what you do within just a few seconds of coming to your site.
Don’t make it difficult for readers to grasp and understand your navigation menu labels or blogging categories without any additional effort on their part. Stay away from jargon in your writing and menu labels.
7. The market is highly competitive
Obviously, some industries will be easier to rank than others.
Inbound marketing, for example, is going to be challenging for an agency to rank for. (Think about it: We’re a bunch of marketers talking about marketing. We’re all trying to rank for many of the same keywords.)
But how many foundation repair contractors are creating this content on their websites? There are probably fewer or none at all. Marketing is not one of their main focuses; they fix residential foundation problems so people’s investments in their homes are protected.
Could you be one of them?
Therefore, the type of industry and market you’re in matters, but not in a way that excuses you from following the tips listed in this article.
In a highly competitive field, you just have to work even harder. For example, you might consider adding video to each of your pages, as well as infographics and images that are professionally designed to accompany your content.
The more competitive your niche is, the smaller your room for error is, which means that even if you do everything right, it may take longer to see your content rank higher. You might have to wait a little longer if you’re not yet a Featured Snippet.
Additionally, you might need to revamp your content strategy. How can you approach your industry in a way that hasn’t been done before? How can you talk about it differently? What’s an aspect of your field that’s unrepresented?
To succeed in a competitive market, you will need content around those key areas.
8. Your content doesn’t seem trustworthy
In addition to the previous statement about “all industries not being created equal,” this point is also relevant.
In 2018, Google released an E.A.T. update which meant that the author listed for blogs on sites was going to start being taken into account for rankings.
Particularly impacted are topics related to health, medicine, and legal matters.
In fact, E.A.T. stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
We would like to encourage websites that are authored by an industry expert that will have a lasting impact on people’s lives in ways such as health, medical treatment, and legal guidance.
How eager would you be to hear from a random freelancer about a new medical procedure or health practice? Wouldn’t it be preferable to get information from an experienced, trusted medical professional? I’m sure I would! The search engine giant now does as well.
What can be done?
For articles within these industries, ensure you have an author whose reputation in that field is well known. You shouldn’t just list your company as the author.
Having an author’s bio on the website and linking to their LinkedIn profile will allow the search engines to figure out that this is an expert talking.
9. Your pages have a “no-index” tag
The no-index meta tag is basically a set of instructions that you can embed on your website pages to prevent search engines from crawling (and ranking) them.
What could anyone possibly use that for? Then why wouldn’t you want your page to rank in Google if it was possible?
A lot of websites do this.
It’s likely that you’ll want this no-index setting on your offer thank-you pages, or even on the download page.
It’s also possible that if you have a new site built, the page tags may have originally been added to pages while they were being built and worked on but might not have been removed once you published the website live.
The no-index code should generally only be used for specific pages on your site. You can test your situation by entering a URL to a website like this one if you’re unsure whether it applies to you.
There could be a reason why it doesn’t appear in Google if it does have the tag. Remove the tags for that page from the backend of your content management system.
This can be accomplished in many ways, and platforms can be configured in many ways as well. To update the tag on a single website or landing page in WordPress, for instance, just go to Settings and then remove the coding added for the no-index.
10. Older posts aren’t optimized
The first page of Google is not achievable in one go.
Keeping up with it is a continual challenge, so if you’re not trying your hardest, you’ll probably lose ground in the rankings.
The same applies to old content that hasn’t been ranked yet, even if it was published decades ago.
Some content may be outdated, lacking a critical element that people want to know about, or simply have an outdated structure, and such posts may need to be revised and rewritten.
Content strategy should not just focus on creating new posts, but also on optimizing older content.
It is likely that dozens of articles need to be revisited to boost ranking.
In reality, optimizing all of your articles (depending on how many you’ve produced in the past) is an exhausting endeavor, and it might not be worth it for most people, especially if they’re not sure what they want them optimized for.
The more time you spend on the articles that fall into the most beneficial buckets (or categories) will yield the greatest return.
The articles in this bucket may have bounce rates as high as 50%, may be appearing on the second or third page of Google, or may be receiving lots of impressions on search pages, but not a good number of click throughs.
Ranking can become overwhelming at times. You can start here with these 10 items above.
It is important to realize that there are a variety of reasons why your content or your site may not be ranking, and it can be appealing to try to optimize every little detail.
Progress is more important than perfection, however.
Obviously, this list is not comprehensive of every possibility that could contribute to a non-ranking. Perhaps the technical SEO issue is deeper than you think, or perhaps your keyword cluster strategy isn’t optimal.
Regardless, this list should provide a good sense of your weaknesses and where you can work on them right now. You’ll find that many problems can be resolved by improving the content on your site.
There is no need to feel obligated to do everything on the list above. You can choose what to do and what not to do. If your website isn’t fast, with frequently-updated, useful, and search engine-optimized content, the other details may not help you reach your goals.
In my experience as a content consultant, tackling the issue of trust is usually a good starting point.
Think like your prospects, review your content (or ask someone else to do it) and decide if it is more helpful or promotional.