You are not alone. This problem is far more common than you think. Could be you have tried everything, or rather seemingly everything, but still you are yet to show up on the front page. It can be disheartening. If you are not top 3 on Google, its like you are not even on Google. This also has severe business implications. Lets say you used to be on page one and now you keep sliding, this means that you are getting less traffic, and potentially less customers.
Fret not, here is a list of things to check.
1. Pages competing for keywords
It may sound like a simple issue but you ideally should seek to rank each page with a unique keyword. Trying to reuse keywords across different pages will just dull your efforts. It causes cannibalization of ranking and Google and other search engines may deem your content as thin content. Surprised? If you have to resort to reusing the same keywords, the search engines simply assume you have nothing else to offer and you are out of ideas. So less is better. Use one key phrase per page. It may seem scary to put all your eggs in one basket, but its the only way. The bright side is that you get to make that page the best page ever.
2. Page experience
This is also a big one. Does your page load quickly? What about layout shift? Layout shift is the “shifting” of elements around as the page loads. In mobile this is noticeable very quickly. To remedy this you could check the waterfall and have a look at the various elements that load when your page is loaded for the first time.
To check the waterfall, you need a tool like GTMETRIX
Simply input your domain name and click test site, then choose the waterfall option on the next page. You will see something like this.
This is an example of our waterfall, you can see the various elements that load with each page load, and the various times. Often times, our websites are filled with unneeded plugins and functionality that add unnecessary elements. Try to remove some elements that you do not need, your website load times will improve.
3. Is the content good?
Now we get to the meat of the matter, is you content any good? This is a tough question to answer because most of us have a bias. We created that content, or paid good money for someone to create it, so it must be good, right?
Not really, sometimes we have misses and that is ok. To understand whether your content is good or not, you have to think backwards and put yourself in the shoes of your customer. If you were the customer, what information would you like to see on the website?
Often times, our marketing and product teams insist on adding content to the website that does not really solve the user intent. For example, if you are a washing machine company, do your customers really care about the fine nitty gritty technical details? Do they really care about the exact model of drive motor your machine uses? Most of the time no. They probably want to know about its benefits, efficiency etc.
Have a look through your content and see whether that is what people are actually searching for and want to see, or better yet, get a few of your customers to give you feedback.
4. Is the content format okay?
The format of your content also plays a role. How do you present your content? Are there good images that illustrate the concepts you are explaining. Do you have videos that you could use? What about the fonts and the font sizes, is your content legible?
Also look into the general attractiveness of your page. Do people get exhausted or bored as they read your content? These things matter. When you get traffic, and people stay on your pages for really short durations, the search engines assume that you have little value hence the quick exit.
5. Is your content filled with fluff?
We have all been here. The search engine’s thirst for content is insatiable. Sometimes, its hard to come up with good content ideas, and so we have to resort to fluff. We all do it. But this can bring down your rankings because, as we do this, we tend to deviate too far from the core topics of the content. This gives your users and the search engines the impression that, your website has thin content.
You can’t really be an authority if you have an article on everything. Let’s say you have content for your washing machine company, then on the website you have political content, it just won’t work. Your content has to be relevant to your core topics and it has to be enough to satisfy the user. If all it takes to satisfy the user is a few words then, put out a few words and leave it at that.
6. Building internal links from contextually relevant content
Internal links help your users browse your website with ease. They also help the crawlers go through your website. It is common for people to have orphaned pages. They spend so much time creating content but don’t spend enough time linking the various pieces of content. And if they do, the content they link is often not relevant to each other.
Avoid this simple mistake, go through your content and segment it according to context. They create a linking strategy that links through the content. Its okay to have specific silos of content, unlinked to others, but within that silo, make sure all the pages are linked up well.
This is a simple fix with amazing results.
7. Have you tried PR? bloggers, media,
Sometimes you just have to hustle and get your word out there. While I am not a fan of backlinks and feel you can survive without them, once in a while, a backlink from a reputable website can do you a world of good.
You may need to engage bloggers and other people in the media to get mentions of your website and ride on their reputation and brand. But don’t break the bank with this. Actually, don’t spend any money on this. Just create good content that is link worthy.
Unique content like studies, surveys, experiments etc give you unique data that is not available anywhere on the internet. Better yet, loads of bloggers will gladly link back to your website if you have something of value to their readers.
Don’t pull your hair out, if you have tried all that and your rankings are still down, you may have to consult an expert. Luckily for you, we are here and ready to help.