Your website looks great but Google just isn’t ranking it! Here’s why your website isn’t ranking in Google and what you can to do to get back on the radar.
What’s In This Episode?
- Too New or Too Old (2:05)
- User Experience & Quality Content (6:08)
- Technical SEO (17:05)
- Local SEO (20:59)
- Actionable Tips (25:30)
Josh: Your website looks great and has all the information it needs to convert users, but Google just isn’t ranking it. Frustrating! We know. We’ve seen it too many times.
Today we talk about why your website isn’t ranking in Google and what you can do to get it back on the radar.
Welcome to Creative Juices, the show where we help you feel personally confident about your online presence. I’m your host Josh and today I’m joined by Emily.
Emily: Hey Josh!
Josh: How are you doing?
Emily: Good! How are you?
Josh: I’m great. Here’s a common scenario. You build a website, or you get it built and it looks great, and you’ve optimized it to convert visitors but it’s not showing up on Google and your competitors are out-ranking you. You would make money, you would get appointments, you would get signups if they go to your site but they’re just not getting to your site. It’s a common occurrence, isn’t it?
Emily: Yeah so frustrating!
Josh: And the issue is search engines right? You know, let’s just blame them! That’s easier than looking hard at your site! I mean you were asked a question just a few weeks ago weren’t you? Do you remember what that question was about, SEO?
Emily: Oh! Is SEO dead?
Josh: Is SEO dead? So, Emily, is SEO dead?
Emily: Ah definitely not! It’s probably, maybe, a little bit trickier than it used to be and the game’s changed a little bit, but is it dead? Absolutely not!
Josh: Absolutely not, but let’s just blame search engines, right? So, there’s no point in optimizing your site for search engines because it’s not your site’s fault, it’s Google’s.
Emily: Oh look, everything’s Google’s fault!
Josh: I’m joking. It’s just an excuse to outsource the blame. And so today, what we’re going to be talking about is some reasons why your site isn’t ranking on Google and, in spoiler alert, it’s not Google’s fault!
So Em, we’ve written down a few things, we’ve got some things prepared. Number one, some reasons why your site isn’t ranking on Google, number one is it’s either too new or too old.
Emily: Yeah! That’s right. So, SEO is really a long-term game and it takes quite a while for your website to build up its rankings in Google. So, if your site is brand new then you can’t expect instant results really. You might have to wait maybe three to six months to get really a true idea of where your site’s ranking in Google.
Josh: Yes. So, you’re a blogger. You have Dossier Blog.
Josh: Is that how you pronounce it? Dossier?
Emily: Yeah dossier! Yeah, it’s French.
Josh: Makes it fancier!
Emily: Yeah. Right!
Josh: And so, you’re a blogger. Tell us a little bit about your journey with this, because it did take some time to gain traction.
Emily: Yeah. Exactly! So, I didn’t start out wanting to rank in Google. It’s more just something that started happening and then I realized it and I was like wait. What? This is a thing? I can rank in Google? So that kind of started my SEO journey I guess you’d call it. And it really is something that is built over time. So, the blog posts or pages that you have, they can actually increase in traffic over time as your website in general gets more quality and as you work on your SEO. So, you can add more pages and get individual pages to rank but the pages you already have that might be a couple years old, they also increase in traffic if you’re doing the right thing when it comes to SEO.
Josh: Yeah. So, how long have you been blogging for?
Emily: It’s probably been about four years now, but I have probably seen more results with it in terms of SEO in the last couple of years.
Josh: Yeah. So, it’s a long-term game. It takes some time to gain traction.
Josh: So, the number one thing was you might have a new website and you just need to wait. You just need to continue doing what we’re about to talk about and it will take time to rank. Right? What’s the other thing?
Emily: Yeah. So, on the other hand your website might be too old. And not old as in you’ve been doing it for too long, but old is in you haven’t done anything for too long. So, with SEO, you really need to keep your website updated, keep your content current. Those are all great signals to Google that your website is fresh, and being maintained, and they’re more likely to rank you when that happens.
Josh: Yeah. And that comes down to your strategy.
Josh: Your whole strategy might be outdated! Here’s a little statistic that may blow your mind. Google has approximately 600 algorithm changes per year. Most of those are documented, some of them are undocumented yet you see the impact of them. And so, Google wants to show your website to users and provide users with the most relevant information that they’re searching for. And so, you need to keep your website up to date and actually look at refreshing your SEO strategy consistently, because otherwise it will be outdated.
Emily: Yeah! Exactly! Keeping up to date with the major changes, I mean, obviously that means that there’s minor tweaks, multiple times a day that Google does to their algorithm. And you can’t necessarily stay on top of all of those, and they don’t necessarily publish those changes either. But when they do publish big changes, it’s a great idea to stay on top of it and see what you can do to improve your website.
Josh: Yeah, definitely! And we actually mentioned a bit more about that on our last episode. So why don’t you head back to our last episode about caring for your website and maintaining your website? We give you a few tips on how to stay on top of these algorithm changes.
So, number one, the reasons why your site isn’t ranking on Google, it’s either too new or you’ve got an old SEO strategy. Number two, we’ve written down user experience and quality content which kind of goes hand-in-hand. And I’ll take the first bit, because the first bit is a bit more technical, but it works hand-in-hand with user experience.
And so, some of the reasons why your site may not be ranking is that it may not be mobile-friendly, as in you need a website that’s responsive. So, you don’t just design a website for desktop view. You want it to be mobile viewed as well, because the majority of people are looking at your site on mobile and we have come across way too many sites that look great on desktop and terrible on mobile.
Josh: Which also leads to site speed, which you want to aim for under three seconds. Every second on top of that you start to lose users, because they just don’t want to spend time on a site that’s slow. And then the third more technical thing that relates to user experience is to secure your site. If your site isn’t secure, it’s open to malware, it’s open to hacking and it just provides a terrible experience. And so, you can find, you can secure your site through your hosting provider. And so, that’s a few of the technical things but when it comes to user experience and quality content, what are some other things that may result in you not ranking?
Josh: Yeah, definitely! And it’s definitely a major sign that when Google sees users who are getting onto your site and then bouncing off, they’re not going to give that to other users as well. You’re not going to rank in that search for other users because obviously people aren’t getting what they want on your site.
Josh: I actually just downloaded a new app, a new browser called Cake. Have you ever heard of Cake?
Emily: No. I haven’t.
Josh: It’s a mobile browser which allows you to swipe through websites like cards like on Pinterest which is great for the user but terrible for bounce rates. And so, if you’re thinking about me swiping through all these different web sites, instead of scrolling and picking one, I just swipe through until I get the content I want! And so, you want to create a page that actually stops people from swiping, stops people from scrolling and actually dwells on your website. Dwell time is massive! Google wants to see that users dwell! And so, what are some ways that we can reduce a high bounce rate?
Emily: Yeah. So, it’s making that first page that people land on, really relevant. That comes down to maybe the content, maybe having the most important information on the page first. Don’t waffle on and get to your point further down the page, because people aren’t probably going to stick around to read that. They want answers quickly! So, putting important information at the top is a really good thing. Maybe your design. Think about what people are going to see when they land on your site before they even scroll. Is there a giant pop-up that overtakes the page and then they can’t figure out how to click away from that or something like that. You know, these are all things that could maybe increase your bounce rate. But we want to decrease your bounce rate. So, looking at your design, even your page speed. If you’re waiting for a page to load for even longer than three seconds, a lot of the time I’m not going to wait that long. I normally bounce back because I know I can click on another website and get the answer a lot faster.
Josh: Definitely! And so, that also links to our next thing. When you were talking about making sure your information is relevant and easy to answer the questions that the users are looking for and that gets to the next part, which is targeting the wrong keywords.
Josh: A reason why you might not rank is that you’re targeting the wrong keywords!
Emily: Yes. So, I mean Google’s competitive. Search rankings are competitive, so you want to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting, you actually have a chance at ranking at. And some keywords are just so competitive that you might not have much of a chance to rank for. So, when you’re looking at targeting certain keywords you probably want to build a strategy around longtail keywords. And a longtail keyword is basically more of a phrase, I guess. It’s not just a word in itself but it might be a question or something someone wants to know that’s maybe three to six words long. For an example, if you want to rank for, maybe one of your services is dry needling, if I just googled dry needling then I’m probably not going to find a website that’s local or something like that. It’s probably going to be a Wikipedia page or something that has a huge page authority. So, what you can do is target longtail keywords. You might be targeting something more specific around dry needling like ‘can dry needling help with carpal tunnels’ or something like that. And you’re going to have a lot better chance at ranking for longtail keywords.
Josh: And this is also good for local services because a longtail keyword would not necessarily be dry needling services, but it may be ‘dry needling services in Sydney’ or actually Sydney’s a bad example. ‘Dry needling in the North Shore of Sydney’ or something like that.
Josh: So, you can get really targeted with longtail. And another one of the good practices is to build a web of similar keywords across your entire site. You don’t want to use the exact same keyword. Correct?
Emily: Yes. So, if you’re using the same keyword on multiple pages, those pages are actually competing against each other which is something you don’t want.
Josh: Yeah! You don’t want that!
Emily: No! You want each page on your website to have a different keyword, so that your website will rank, as a whole, a lot better.
Josh: Yeah. They can be similar,
Josh: Just not the exact same word.
Emily: Yeah. That’s right!
Josh: So, the other thing about content is you don’t have enough quality backlinks, and that can reduce your rank, real ranking in Google. So, what are backlinks?
Emily: So, a backlink is basically when another site links to your website. And Google has said that they’re actually, one of their top three ranking factors that they look at. So, if you’re going to work on your SEO strategy, backlinks are like gold! The more you get, the better you’ll rank! But a reason why they’re such an important ranking factor is because they’re so hard to get.
Emily: Yeah. So, you can’t fake a backlink, and they’re not easy to get. And so that makes them a little bit tricky to get, but really important to focus on getting.
Josh: Yeah. Like I may link Google or Apple, but they’re not going to link me back.
Josh: And so, you kind of want to build up your authority as a website, so that you can eventually get backlinks from bigger companies, from higher quality companies. And the other thing about backlinks is remember that social shares is also counted as a backlink. So, having social share buttons on each of your blogs and stuff is really good for that.
Josh: Which then leads to the next thing, which is, actually just producing quality content! We’ve kind of touched on that but tell us a little bit more about creating quality content.
Emily: Yeah. So, if you want to create quality content you probably need to look at writing at least 300 words per page. Google loves content, and generally, the more words are on a page the more quality that content looks because it’s probably more in-depth on that key phrase or the targeted keyword that they’re using. So, maybe you want to aim for around a thousand words a page or per blog post, if you can.
Josh: Here’s a little stat! The average length for a page one result is actually around 1,900 words.
Emily: Yeah! That’s huge and that’s kind of like writing an essay really, which is something you can work up, to and it’s something that you’ll get better at with practice.
Josh: And remember this is targeting a keyword, not multiple keywords!
Emily: Yes! So, in that sense, quality over quantity. Maybe going really in-depth on a topic rather than staying broad and surfacey is really important.
Josh: Yeah. You also don’t want to just waffle about anything!
Josh: If you find yourself waffling, cut down a little bit and focus on a different topic or a different keyword maybe.
Josh: One that you can write about. Which then comes to the next thing because quality over quantity but without quantity your site will get stale. And we’ve kind of spoken about this earlier on in this podcast and last week. Google loves to keep websites, when websites keep it fresh.
Josh: Google loves it when websites continue to update. So, tell us how often, should we maintain or blog?
Emily: I find once a week blogging, or putting out a new blog once a week, is really achievable. And it’s a really good goal as well. So, like you said, Google loves fresh content. And if you don’t have a new idea each week, that’s still okay, but maybe you can look at an old blog post and refresh that post and maybe add some new SEO strategies that you’ve found out about, or if there’s any new updates to that information, add that in. So, writing a new post every week is great, but if you get stuck you can always go back and update an old one and that keeps it fresh in Google’s eyes too!
Josh: Yeah, that’s a big one which most people miss! So, if you’ve written a blog that’s like best netball shoes for the 2019 season, maybe next year refresh that blog with 2020 or something like that.
Emily: Yeah! Absolutely!
Josh: And we’ve also talked about the importance of maintaining your site. It’s not just about blogging this is also about updating. You don’t want to keep your site stale. You want to keep it refreshed and up to date. And so, user experience and quality content’s a big one that may be a reason why your website isn’t ranking in Google.
The third one is Technical SEO. Technical SEO. What’s one thing in Technical SEO Em?
Emily: Technical SEO is really important and it’s something that you can’t ignore. So, even if you’re logging every week and going after those keywords, don’t neglect your Technical SEO! So, a few things in terms of Technical SEO is structured data.
Josh: Structured data?
Emily: Yeah. Sounds technical and basically it’s like the language that search engines speak. It can be a little tricky to implement but you can test if there’s any structured data on your website already via Google’s testing tool. If you just google their testing tool that should come up. And we’re also going to go a lot more in-depth on structured data in our SEO course which is actually, coming out in February.
Emily: We’re super excited about that! So, structured data, if you’re not really sure what that means, don’t worry too much about that, because we’ve got more information coming!
Josh: Yeah. It’s also called schema, so you may have heard of schema. Every page has it, every page’s marked up with it but what’s the stat? How many websites actually have it?
Emily: About a third I think we found of websites only, have structured data. But if your website does have structured data, I think it says you’re about four times more likely to rank in Google’s. So, it is so important!
Josh: That’s a massive opportunity and there’s a lot to it. So, stay tuned for our SEO course that’s releasing in February 2020.
The next thing is you might not have a robots.txt file and this sounds a little bit confusing and again, yes, it’s Technical SEO. And a robots.txt file is something that actually allows Google to crawl your site. So, Google has these little spiders, these little BOTS. They crawl the web consistently. And that actually determines whether your site will rank, because you want Google to actually see your site. And without a robots.txt file Google can’t see your site. And so, robots.txt is a massive thing that you need to implement into your site. There are a few tools that make it easier, like Yost. Yost just has a section in their plugin for WordPress that you can put in your robots.txt and same with SEO Press. And so, Yost and SEO Press are our recommended ones, which we will link in the show notes. But you want this .text file so that Google can actually crawl your site, so that their BOTS can crawl your site. And there are bad BOTS, but this is a good BOT. Last episode, we spoke about bad BOTS and the importance of protecting against those. Robots.txt allows the good BOTS to crawl your site.
And then, that also leads to the next one, where you should submit a sitemap through the Google Search Console.
So, Google Search Console is a totally different Google product. It’s kind of like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and then there’s Google Search Console, where you can see what terms people are searching for. But it’s also a place where you can submit your website’s sitemap and that tells Google the structure, the hierarchy of the site, like what pages are nested in other pages. And so, robots.txt allows Google to crawl it, submitting your sitemap tells Google the structure in the hierarchy of your site.
So, those are some Technical SEO things that that we have found people are missing which results in bad rankings. And then the fourth thing is Local SEO.
Emily: Yeah! So, if you’re a local business or you’re serving people in a specific geographic area, then you’re really going to want to look at ranking for local keywords, because it doesn’t really matter if someone finds your website across the other side of the world because your business can’t really do anything for them. You’re really looking to rank and get in front of your audience which is in your geographical area. So, one way you can do that is by looking to rank for local keywords.
Josh: Yeah! This is a big one!
Josh: And we’ve seen so many people who don’t do this. They just go, hey here’s some advice on this certain topic. But how does that advice relate to local people?
Josh: And so, local keywords are massive!
Emily: Exactly! So, one way you can do that is by writing local content. Find things in your area that you could write about that maybe relate to your business. So, if you’re in the health industry maybe you want to write about the features of the top five gyms in your area or something along those lines. You want it to be something that’s going to be interesting to the people in your local area, while still being relevant to your industry or what your business actually does.
Josh: Yeah! And so, the gym one’s a great idea because people are looking for gyms. If you’re a health clinic writing, if people are looking for a gym, they will most likely be looking for a Physio as well, or at least there’s more chance of them looking for a Physio!
Josh: So if a Physio writes about local gyms, great! So, the other thing about local SEO is to optimize your Google My Business account.
Emily: Yes! And this is huge, because often it’s actually the first thing that comes up in Google search results in terms of when people are looking for a local business or a local service specifically. The organic rankings which is your website will be further down the page, but a lot of the time in local search, there’ll be a map pack at the top or a listing of local businesses and this relies on your Google My Business account. So, it’s really important to optimize it and keep it updated, so that you have the best chance of showing up in the top three or so listings.
So, some things you can do to optimize your account would be to fill out as many fields as you can in your account, so don’t leave information out. You want to make sure you can fill out as much as you can so that there’s an as much information in there for your potential customers to see and find you. You want to have unique photos too. So, there’s an option that you can upload photos into your account. And think about the type of photos people might want to see. Maybe they want to see where you’re located on the street. So, an external image could be a really great one to upload so people can see whereabouts your storefront is, photos of your staff members, or of the inside of your business. You want to make it welcoming and give people as much information as you can, really, so that they choose your business over the others.
Josh: Yeah! And that’s as easy as just whipping out your iPhone, taking a few photos around, editing it a little bit and then uploading it!
Emily: Yeah. It’s not hard!
Josh: Not hard at all! And the other thing about Google My Business is that on mobile phones it shows up massive! It pretty much fills up the entire screen when someone’s searching for a local business. And that’s big, because up to 50% of mobile search queries are local search results! And so, you need to make sure that you’re ranking high in that map pack.
Emily: Yeah, it’s a huge opportunity!
Josh: So, the four areas why your site may not be ranking on Google is, it either too new or too old, it may be related to your user experience or quality content. Number three was Technical SEO and number four was Local SEO which we actually speak about in one of our previous episodes. And so, if you just re-listen to this, and listen to each little section that we’ve said, implement it, recognize the issues, and then look for solutions. You can look through our blogs, look through our podcasts, and you’ll find some answers there.
Another actionable tip for this episode is that we do have a 7-day SEO Challenge which deals with a lot of this.
Emily: Yes! So, that’s something that you can sign up for on our website. And it’s basically seven days of actionable emails with tips that you can use to implement into your website. They’re really simple changes so you’re not going to have to be a technical master to do them and we’ll talk you through each one, why it’s important and how you can implement it on your website.
Josh: And so, we will link to that in the show notes below. And then, the other thing to keep in mind is that in February 2020 we’re releasing a SEO course which goes into the depths of SEO. Imagine us, we are like the torch light of your online presence. You walk in and we illuminate the way forward for SEO.
Emily: That’s a great way to put it Josh!
Josh: And so, make sure you keep an eye out for our SEO course releasing in February 2020.
Thank you so much audience for listening to this. Remember that we also have a ‘test your site’ on our website which is newcastlecreativeco.com.au and you can test your site for free. We actually give you a report, an audit on your website, which actually deals with a lot of what we are talking about in this episode.
Now on the next episode, in Episode 7 next week, we are staying on the same theme as this episode, but we’re going to give you an actionable list of free and organic ways that you can increase traffic to your site! So, stay tuned for that one as well.
Thank you Em!
Emily: Thanks Josh!