Troubleshooting why your website is not ranking in Google can be frustrating. Maybe you rely on your website as a vital part of your business. If so, when you put in a lot of effort to get your site ranking in search engines with no result, it can be heartbreaking!
SEO is competitive and the rules are often changing. There’s also more to search engine optimisation than simply adding in a few keywords!
Big companies know this, which is why there’s entire businesses dedicated to helping others show up in search results. However, it’s still possible to rank in Google without the help of a professional. To make sure you’re not working off outdated information, here’s 13 possible reasons why your website is not ranking in Google.
You Haven’t Considered your Website’s Technical SEO
Algorithms are getting smarter. Google wants to give the top positions to websites that not only have the right information, but also provide the user with a good user experience. A lot of user experience comes down to the technical elements of your website.
This includes things like being mobile friendly, have a good site speed (under 3 seconds loading time is ideal) and having a secure website. In the past, only websites that were selling or collecting people’s personal data needed to be HTTPS secure. These days, it’s necessary to make sure your website is safe for visitors.
Your Website is New
SEO is a long-term game, and it can often take three to six months before you notice any results from your optimising efforts. If everything has been set up properly and you’ve got great content, it can just be a matter of time before the traffic starts to roll in.
No Schema Markup
Schema helps search engines identify relevant, well-structured data and content on your website. While there is some schema included in the Yoast SEO plugin, a well-developed website theme should also include it.
To find out if your website has schema, go to your home page. Right-click and select ‘view page source’ and a whole page of code will show up. Near the top right, use the search function to search for ‘schema’. If there’s no results, your website is lacking schema markup.
You Haven’t Submitted a Sitemap through Google Search Console
In Google Search Console, you can check if your website has a sitemap submitted. After you publish your website, or if your website has changed, you should submit a new sitemap. This adds to your SEO power and is essential so that search engines and bots can crawl your website and allow pages to show in search results.
No Robots.txt in Place
Robots.txt is a piece of code that goes on your website, that signals to Google your website is ready to crawl. This is usually done by your developer after your website is built. If you use Yoast, this element is within the ‘tools’ section. If you’re using WordPress, ensure that the ‘discourage search engines from indexing’ option is deselected.
A website without any robots.txt most likely hasn’t been indexed by Google – aka Google doesn’t even know you exist!
High Bounce Rate
Having a high bounce rate is a major signal to Google that people aren’t finding your site relevant to their search. While bounce rate is a direct ranking factor, there’s a bunch of indirect factors that could be the reason behind why users are leaving your site.
A high bounce rate can often be put down to design and user experience. Slow page-load time, irrelevant on-page information, very small text and not being mobile friendly can all contribute to a high bounce rate. Make sure you address these factors and even get feedback from others on your website to pinpoint the issues.
Local Businesses: You don’t have Google My Business Optimised
Google My Business is at the centre of Local SEO. Having an account makes it possible for your business to show up in rich local search results, such as the map pack and local finder. Once you’ve set up your Google My Business account, you’ll want to fill out as many details about your business as you can, and make sure you regularly update and maintain your account to stay competitive.
Up to 50% of mobile search queries are local search results, according to Search Engine Land. This is huge for local businesses! You’ll want to make sure you do everything you can to stay near the top of local search results with GMB.
Using Old SEO Strategies
Times are a changin’! The days of keyword stuffing are long gone. While keywords are still a major part of your SEO strategy, in 2019 the Google algorithm is aiming more and more to reflect a human experience.
This means that the algorithm is designed to show websites that have the best overall user experience, not just a tonne of appropriate keywords. Take a look at your website’s user experience as part of your SEO strategy.
Targeting the Wrong Keywords
If the keywords you are trying to rank for are very competitive, its unlikely you’ll be able to get into the top 10 results. Generally you’ll need to build your website’s authority first by ranking for less competitive, long-tail keywords. Once you’ve built domain authority by getting click-throughs and traffic, you’ll be able to target broader, more difficult keywords.
Another issue with keywords could be that you’re only targeting one or two. Think of your website as a ‘web’ of connected content. Each page should target a unique keyword. When you build up the content on your site with a wide range of pages that relate to similar (but not the exact same) keywords, search engines will be able to see how relevant your website is to a specific topic. Read a guide to keyword strategy here.
Not Enough / Low Quality Backlinks
Recently, Google revealed that the number of backlinks a page has is a top three ranking factor! (source). Similarly, backlinks from low quality websites can be detrimental to your SEO efforts. And backlinks from high-authority domains that receive lots of traffic are the best type to get (easier said than done)!
Is your website not ranking in Google? Working on your backlink strategy is a surefire way to help you get there – quickly.
Remember that social media shares and Pinterest pins count as backlinks, so that can be a good place to start building up your links. Producing quality content that people would be happy to link to is also vital.
Not Enough Content
Google loves content! Aim to have at least 300 words on each page. However it is known that longer-form content can often take the top positions, such as pages with over 1000 words. A good way to see if your page is comparable is to see how long the pages are on the search results of your targeted keyword. Longer form content is also typically quality content, which you’ll want to be aiming for.
The average length for a page 1 result is around 1,900 words (source). If this seems daunting, aim to go ‘deep’ or into detail in your content rather than taking a broad approach. Quality still trumps quantity. So if you find yourself waffling on, shorter may be better.
Your Site is Stale
When was the last time you updated your content, or published a blog post? Google loves to keep it fresh and a site that isn’t being updated or added to regularly (once a week is great) could be considered out-of-date. A blog is a great way to add regular updates to your site without having to change the main content.
Your Competitors have a Better SEO Strategy
At the end of the day, SEO is all about rankings, aka who is doing it better than who. If you’re not ranking in Google due to strong competition, remember it will take a long-term strategy to build up your website’s online visibility. There is no magic number of optimisations to attain to, and your site can probably never be ‘100% optimised’. This is why a long-term SEO strategy works best compound your site’s authority, prominence and trustworthiness over time.
No number one ranking is set in stone. This means if you continue to work at your strategy long term, one day you could appear to take the number one spot, ‘overnight’!
If you’re having trouble with your website not ranking in Google, use the above points as a checklist. Make sure you’re able to address each point thoroughly to be on your way to a well-optimised website!