Why don’t I rank in Google?

Why Don’t I Rank?….. is one of the most frequent questions we get asked every day. Hundreds of website owners just can’t work out what they are doing wrong.

In their eyes their site is great, has great content, and lots to offer visitors. Many are more frustrated by the fact that some of the websites that do rank at the top are not as ‘good’ as their’s, and it is driving them mad that no matter what they do, they aren’t making any progress. …see how to tell if Google hates my site for more info.

The reasons why your site doesn’t rank have recently become more complicated. Google, (where the bulk of search traffic originates from) have redesigned their algorithm that measures websites, so that now, rather than just measuring your perceived popularity by way of back-links, they also measure User Engagement with elements such as ‘bounce rate‘ becoming increasingly important.

User Engagement

This is Google’s opinion of how visitors interact with your website, and whether that interaction is better or worse than your direct competitors websites.

They look to see how long people stay on your website for, how many pages they look at, how many ‘bounce‘ straight back to Google from your site, as well as several other indicators of your ‘site quality‘.

If more than 55% of visitors to a page hit the back button straight away, it is a good indicator to Google that your content isn’t very good.

You need to look at this from Google’s point of view. If they send people to you and the majority don’t seem to find what they are looking for, then why would they keep sending visitors to you. It makes more sense for them to try a different website, so yours will be dropped.

This philosophy is the same across many of Google’s criteria, so as a website owner, you need to address the quality elements of your site that will make for a good user experience, rather than just aiming for rankings and hoping that with enough visitors you will make enough sales.

For 2012 think website quality. Design, layout, coding, content, navigation, linking, all elements of your site need to be of a high quality in order to rank well.

Google has also targeted duplicate content, so each page needs to be unique, not just within your site, but across the whole web. Use www.copyscape.com to check each page of your site for duplicate content, and rewrite all pages that exist elsewhere.

Duplication also extends to your page titles, meta tags, alt text etc, all of which will see you penalised in Google SERP’s.

Check your site hasn’t been penalised by Google

First step is to type your URL into Google search. If your website is the first returned result, then your site hasn’t had any ranking penalty imposed on it.

Next, you want to check the basics, are there any errors showing in your Google Webmaster Tools account?

What traffic are you receiving, and where its originating? Use Google Analytics for this.

web traffic rank analytics

Then you will need to check out a few basic metrics such as load speed (the time it takes for a pc to download your webpage). If this is too slow, you will be penalised in search. Use www.webpagetest.org/ to check your speed.

You will also need to validate all your html code using http://validator.w3.org/ to find and fix coding errors.

Checking the quality of your back-links is also very important, once your site has passed all of the content quality criteria above, you still need to have high quality links from reputable websites linking back to yours. The easiest way to check how many backlinks you have is either to look in your Google Webmaster Tools account, or to use www.majesticseo.com/ which for a small fee will analyse your back-links and their quality.

We make websites work, in search, by improving conversion rates to reduce cost per sale, and through design…… ask us for free impartial website advice here

Questions and Answers;

– I have checked everything you have listed above, and all seems OK, but my site still isn’t in Google’s results….. what should I do next?

This is a common issue, and can often be one of a lack of patience. Google moves quite slowly, so it can take time for the changes you implement to have any affect. If you have a varied link profile, and everything else looks right, then you need to have an in depth site analysis carried out… we can do this for you, free of charge, and without obligation…. click here for assistance.

– Should I have a Social Media Presence as part of my SEO campaign?

The short answer is yes you should. All our evidence is that while Social (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc) are not directly helping search engine rankings currently, the search engines are increasingly looking to use social opinion as a significant driver of rankings in the future. The best way in our opinion is to use social to drive traffic to your website blog (which of course you update regularly don’t you?). Don’t have a blog? Don’t know where to start with Social Marketing? …….

Additional Resources:

On-Page SEO

Google Ranking Strategy

SEO Training

What is SEO?