Good day digital marketing family! Let’s talk about reasons why your site might not be ranking…having duplicate content on your site, not registering with Google My Business, ignoring social signals, and creating content sporadically will all stifle your SEO efforts. We’ll also dive into limiting your ability to rank by only having a desktop version of your website, blocking your website from bots, and having a slow website. If you want to learn how to rank high in Google keep on reading.
Reason #1: Duplicate content
Duplicate content exists on every website. Every website. It doesn’t matter if your site is completely static, free of parameters, or is “too small” to have duplicate content even the best websites have duplicate content.
If you have pages that compete and rank for the same keywords it probably means that you haven’t prioritized your content or that your writing is too similar or thin.
When the search engine sees duplicate content your SEO juice gets split between the original page and an unintended duplicate of that page. This will cause both pages to rank mediocrely instead of having one page rank exceptionally. And when that happens, the search engine will choose which page to rank, which could be the wrong page.
How do you know if you have duplicate content? You can go here and type in your URL, easy.
Or go to Google Search Console and see if Google has found any duplicate page titles or meta descriptions.
Got a WordPress website? Download this great plugin by clicking here.
At the end of the day you have to decide which page to keep OR optimize the duplicate content for another use. Once you have made that difficult choice it is time to canonicalize the page you want to rank. I am over simplifying this part but the search engine will then take all of your SEO juice from the duplicate page and attribute it to the canonical page.
Reason #2: Off-line Content
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and any other search engines have a really hard time in the off-line world. IRL the search engines can’t tell if your physical business is open, closed, or busy. Sure they might be able to scrape some hours of operations from your website and by using geolocation data be able to tell when the most people might be at your store, but it isn’t always accurate.
But what happens when you have a store event, a pop-up, a flash sale, or a killer after hours party? Who do you tell? Of course you tell your best customers, you had out flyers, you do gorilla market with street teams but you know you forgot to invite to the party? The Internet.
If you’re not yet registered with Google My Business, you’re losing out on some serious potential. This free and easy tool can actually help your SEO. Every search engine loves new and fresh content and if you aren’t inviting search engines to the party you are missing out and a massive new audience.
So whether you have 1 or 100 business locations make sure to use GMB and Bing Places to help others find your business in real live.
This is the abbreviated version of local search optimization and is the just the tip of the iceberg. If you want more tips follow me @mattdolge on Twitter.
Reason #3: You are anti-social
Yes, there is a brand called Anti Social Social Club. But, ironically do you know what they do really well? Social.
So how active do you have to be to be good at social media? Do you post once a day, once a week, once a month? I will tell you right now that you are only posting once a month you may be bleeding customers and not acquiring new ones. Think of it this way…do you want customers to visit you daily, weekly, or monthly?
Let’s examine what it means to be social. Does running lots of advertisements on social media count? No. Does copying your competitor’s cadence make you social? No. When was the last time you answered and engaged with a customer online where the conversation was more than a reply? If you are not building relationships online then you aren’t going to be building them off-line either, plan and simple.
So, why does all of that matter, weren’t we talking about how to get my site to rank in Google?
Because, believe it or not, [insert Greatest American Hero theme song] your social media accounts help determine how you rank. Search engines use social signals to help determine which sites are active.
If you want to increase your search efforts, you need to stay active on social media and keep your information updated. Because who knows when that one post, one reply, or that one customer is going to evangelize your brand and help you go viral. Don’t make it harder than it has to be, but don’t half ass it. If you aren’t having fun reading your content or replies why would your audience.
Pro tip: keep in mind who your audience is…for example: if your audience is on TikTok it is definitely going to be different than your audience on LinkedIn. Wait a second, you have an audience on TikTok that is also on LinkedIn?! Fam, you must be killing it in social! Please DM and tell me what your brand is because I want to follow your stories.
Bottom line…if you’re not using social to grow your business then it is time to add it to your mix.
Reason #4: The C word
Call it what you want…Content is King, Content is Queen, but whatever you call it Content takes time and you have to make time to create it. Like your social strategy if you publish a blog post every once in a while you are going to only attract new customers once in a while.
Ask yourself “how do I create top of mind awareness for my brand”? How often do I want my customers to think of me? Being top of mind takes time and it takes a dedicate person to create content that is going to resonate with your audience enough to make them think of you the next time they do ___________ [insert Madlib verb].
The first thing you need to do is create a marketing calendar. Add due dates to your content to help keep you on schedule.
The second thing you need to do is get a speech to text editor. Download Dragon and start dictating on your way to work, in the shower, on at any other down time. I can crank out the subject, a paragraph, or even a full page of content if my stream of consciousness isn’t interrupted. Believe me this is the easiest time saver you have ever come across and once you start you will be asking yourself why wasn’t I doing this ages ago?
But, is it easy to stick to a calendar? No, it’s hard and you aren’t going to see immediate results. You have to stick to it and the rankings will come along with traffic and followers.
The third thing you need to do if you haven’t figured it out already is start a blog. Here are two pro tips on how to start a blog:
- Put it on your main website in a sub-directory.
- While tempting don’t double expose it by placing it on another domain. Trust me on this one. DM me if you want the full “Why” behind this one.
After a while when you are creating content consistently things will begin to click and will look back and say that was easy.
Reason #5: Your site is not mobile-friendly
Did you know that over 60% of Google search queries are performed on a mobile device? Fam, this is so important. I can’t stress this enough. You have to be mobile-friendly. This is no longer an option. Not just your home page or an important piece of content but every single page has to be optimized for mobile users.
Your content has to be fast, user friendly and available to users on a mobile device because you know at some point they are going to visit your website on a mobile device.
Want to see if your website is mobile-friendly? Go here to find out. This mobile friendly test will tell you all the changes you need to make to your website to make it mobile-friendly.
Making your website mobile is easier than you think. And like upgrading your kitchen in your home it will be the most profitable update that you can make to your website.
If your site is a WordPress site then all you need to do is select a mobile friendly theme. If your website is on a commercial platform like Magento then move to a new framework like Foundation that will make your website responsive. And if for some reason you can’t do it yourself choose a out of the box solution like Mooveweb.
And voila, like that you will be ranking better for mobile search queries.
Ok, okay still not convinced? Then head into your CFO’s office and tell them your mobile capital expenditure is going to return a 10X. For real, by making your site mobile friendly you are going to make it rain.
Reason #6: Search engines can’t spider your site
What do you spiders eat? Bugs.
You are probably thinking…”Matt, what do bugs and spiders have anything to do with my rankings?”
The first thing I do in any site audit is to evaluate how the site is being crawled. Are the most important pages indexable? Where is the crawl budget focused? Are the spiders being hampered by bugs, 404 pages, site errors, dead ends, etc.
If you do a site operator search in Google with your brand name in the manner below:
site:www.yourwebsite.com “page.html” “keyword”
…and you don’t see your website on the first page you have a problem. It is most likely that Google has not crawled that page or site. Why is this happening? Why aren’t you showing up anywhere in search? Let’s dig in.
In addition to site errors and bugs there are a myriad of other reasons why your site may not be found in search including but not limited to:
- You have a robots.txt blocking the bots.
- You have NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW on your pages.
- You have built your site on JS framework.
- Maybe you haven’t don’t have a sitemap.
The best thing to do is request Google to crawl your website using the Fetch tool in Google Search Console. Type in your website and then make sure that Google doesn’t show any crawl errors.
Then, click the “Fetch” button and wait a moment. And then, you’ll be able to click “Request Indexing.” And then, you’ll see this page come up where you can finalize your request. And then, no more “And thens”, that’s it! Google will crawl the page and connected pages typically within 24 hours.
Remember, if your site can’t be spidered then you have absolutely no chance of ranking.
Reason #7: Your website is too slow
It’s 2018. Dial-up doesn’t exist for the most of the world, 3G will soon be replaced with 4G, fiber optics are the new cable. Your site should be lightening fast. If I have to wait more than 3 seconds I let out an audible ugh, this site is so slow and give it another second before I hit the back button. Guess what? The majority of users feel the same way I do and won’t wait for your site to load no matter how good those high resolution images look.
For this reason, search engines put emphasis on ranking website speed. [Insert Daft Punk: Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger song].
There are usually only two reasons your website is slow to load. I call this the front of the house and the back of the house; like in the restaurant business.
Let’s talk about the front of the house first. Your pretty graphics, CSS, and other plugins that you think are so great may be causing slow page loads. You can check your website speed for free by going here. Best practice is that if you have any image over 100KB ask yourself can this be sliced down or optimized?
Next let’s talk about the back of the house aka web development. This refers to all the code that makes your site go including all the requests needed to load the DOM. We aren’t going into the complexities of solving these issues but you can get a pretty waterfall of what may be slowing your site down at Pingdom that you then can take to your dev team to fix. If you don’t got a dev team hit me up. I always love to talk tech.
Ultimately, the faster your website loads, the higher your rankings.
TLDR Executive Summary
If you’re anything like me time is precious and you know that search is important to your business. That’s why this summary is short and sweet…
Don’t give up on any these recommendations just because it doesn’t happen it overnight.
Following these tips will result in improved search rankings, but if your site isn’t growing traffic year over year after you have done all of these recommendations there may be larger systemic issues.