The Role of SEO in Website Rankings and Other Ranking Factors
Of course, you want that top spot on the search engine results page because that means your company is getting more exposure, you’re seen as an authority in your industry, and you get the ROI that you’re looking for.
So why is your website not showing up at the top?
This is a question that we have ben asked many times, but the answer isn’t so easy because there are many reasons why a website struggles to reach the top. It’s important to consider the possibilities.
It Takes Time
There are SEO tasks that must be performed and they must be done in a specific order. For example, it does no good to build a trillion inbound links if the website isn’t yet in a position to convert traffic. It takes some time to research, create what is necessary, implement a full strategy, and create conversion-worthy content.
Once the SEO strategy is executed, it then takes Google and other search engines a little time to realize that the website has undergone some changes. When the search engine comes back to the website to re-index the site, it determines if new value is being provided.
On average, it takes four months to one year to see the impact of website changes. This might seem like a long time, but the search landscape is always changing and that also influences ranking. That is why SEO is an ongoing effort.
There’s More to Keyword Research
One keyword can mean multiple things. For example, “web design” is a tricky keyword. When you Google it, the top results are guides on how to do it yourself (not recommended without SEO knowledge that can be integrated into the design). To us, the keyword “web design” is relevant to what we do. To others, “web design” is relevant to them because they publish guides in exchange for the ad revenue their websites generate. People want to know how to do it on their own, so the fact that so many guides have first page ranking is understandable.
Even “web designer” delivers very mixed results from guides and actual designers to articles on the purpose of a web designer.
This doesn’t mean that ranking well under a particular keyword is impossible. Look at what type of results Google wants to provide for your keyword and target that where you can. Your blog is a great place to start.
It’s Not All About the Beauty
It’s not all about that base either. You can have the most beautiful website on the internet only to find that it isn’t performing. Yes, people are more likely to stick around on an attractive website, but they will leave if the content doesn’t answer their questions or move them through the sales funnel. A high rate of visitors leaving your website as soon as they get there is going to negatively impact your ranking.
The main things that can hold your website back from doing the job you need it to do are:
- Duplicate content
- Old and stale content
- Insufficient content
- Difficult navigation
- Too many keywords hanging out on one page
- Alt tags, metas, and scheme markup that aren’t complete
- No blog to keep your content fresh
The Web Doesn’t Know You’re There
You have to get your site noticed in as many ways as possible without doing so in a way that makes Google blacklist your website. For instance, you need links to your site but not to the extent that they appear spammy. In other words, you can’t go to a bunch of directories and build links all at once. You can build profiles for your business that link to your site, but you can’t go overboard. It better if the inbound links to your site occur naturally.
You must also utilize your social media. Invite your friends to your page, encourage them to invite theirs, post engaging content, grow your following, and lead them to your website. Look at what your competitors are posting and do it better. Post links to your blog so people will read your posts.
You’re Suffering From a Google Penalty
A Manual Action Penalty can cause your website to be removed from the search engine results completely. You have to look at the Google Manual Actions Report to determine why and correct the issues. Common reasons for a Manual Action include:
- A hacker hiding malicious content on your site
- Too many spam comments in your blog
- Markup that is outside of Google’s guidelines
- Unnatural or artificial links (i.e. buying links)
- Content with no value
- Cloaking and redirects that send users to one place and Google to another
- Cloaked images for the purpose of getting more clicks
- Unnatural links from your website
- Keyword stuffing in the form of hidden text (an old questionable practice that has become purely black hat)
Google is all about the integrity of its results. If there is anything that is causing a website to rank and that website is not up to Google’s quality standards, the site will be removed.
You’re Not Doing Everything You Can to Market Your Site
SEO has many elements. They include content marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and legitimate link building. You also have to pay attention to analytics to see how your website is performing (but a professional can save you a lot of time). The internet is a very competitive place and SEO is a lot of work, so you have to make sure that you, or your SEO professional, is right on top of it.
All in all, your website is a very valuable tool. With a majority of consumers now using the internet to find the products and services they need, you certainly want a piece of that traffic. The only way you’re going to get it is with a solid web presence.