7 Reasons Your Search Ranking is Low (and How to Fix It)
Google has made many changes in a relatively short period of time. There is now a lot of emphasis on user experience and content value. This means Google will penalize your site for the same general reasons users will leave your site:
· Weak content
· Confusing design and navigation
· Unwanted ads
But even if your site excels in all of those areas, you can still run into problems. Here are seven common reasons why your traffic might be low:
1. Your Site is Insufficiently Optimized for Keyword Search
Inserting keywords requires a delicate touch. Too many and Google will now penalize you. Too few and Google will ignore you.
Check your graphics. If your headers and other key text are part of your graphics, then search engines are unable to crawl the text. Instead, your target keywords should appear in the:
· Page title
· H1 header tags
· H2 header tags
· Main content
· Meta description
The good news is you don’t need to obsess over individual keywords nearly as much as you used to. Google now places emphasis on meaning. For instance, “dog grooming services,” “pet spa” and “pet grooming” would all help Google categorize your business.
2. Your Site Isn’t Spider-Friendly
Google spiders gather data which is then used to rank your site. You can’t just create your site and wait for the spider to crawl across it. Instead, you’ll need to optimize your site in order to increase the frequency of crawling.
Here’s how to do that:
· Use reliable servers. This will increase the load times of your pages. Slow load times impede frequent crawling.
· Update often. Regular updates draw spiders. One of the most effective (and common) ways to update your site is with regular blog postings. Just make sure the blogs are directly under your site (SITENAME.COM/BLOG)
· Watch your sitemap. Spiders are drawn to sites which have updated, error-free sitemaps.
3. Your Content is Too Thin
Thin content is anything which provides no value to the user. This includes repetitive content, artificially created content (especially content created by a program), low quality guest posts, articles with a lot of fluff and similar. Not only do users and Google algorithms not like thin content, Google staff doesn’t like it either. Thin content is one of the reasons your site can be penalized manually by Google employees.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to tell if you’ve been penalized. Simply go to the Google Search Console and look under Search Traffic for Manual Actions. You’ll see a notification if your site has been penalized. A site-wide match means the entire website has been flagged. A partial match means only a few pages are affected.
The solution here is to “fatten” your content. Add information, guides, and anything else which creates value to your content. If you’re not sure how to do this, you might want to hire a professional copywriter.
The good news here is this is a manual penalty. So when the content is improved, your site can immediately reap the benefits.
4. You’ve Got Panda Problems
Panda updates can seriously disrupt organic traffic. Panda – the Google update, not the actual animal – doesn’t like content which is:
· Lacking useful information
· Duplicated from another site
· Poorly written (grammatical errors, etc.)
The solution is simple to say and difficult to implement. You have to make your content better. This means content which is well written, informative and original. The good news here is quality content will attract more users and overall improve your brand online.
5. You’ve Got Penguin Problems
The Penguin algorithm searches for, and penalizes, unnatural link profiles. These include:
· “Spammy” links
· Too many links from the same source (blog anchor text is a common culprit)
· Unnatural links
· Dead links
Penguin penalizes specific pages. So if you notice a drastic drop on a certain page, Penguin is usually responsible.
The solution here is to clean up any suspect links. Ideally, you want to make your content as easy to link to as possible. Avoid artificial link building as this will only make the problem worse.
6. Your Site Isn’t Optimized for Mobile
Users want mobile-friendly sites. Google responds to what users want. So your site needs to be optimized for mobile. Not only will this increase your search ranking, it will also make your site more appealing to potential customers.
You’ll want to place mobile at the forefront of your site design. This is especially true for landing pages. If your site is older and wasn’t designed with mobile in mind, you might have to do a complete redesign. While this can be a hassle involving both time and money, mobile is here to stay. So in the end you’ll be doing your business a favor.
7. Your Site is Too Top Heavy
Top Heavy is another Google algorithm and, no, we don’t know why it’s not named after an animal. Top Heavy is an important part of Google’s efforts to improve user experience. This algorithm flags sites which contain:
· “Spammy” content (such as content with excessive fluff, duplication or other obvious problems)
· Unnatural, dead or dishonest links
· Any black hat SEO practices
· Excessive banners and ads
You know these types of sites as soon as you see them. They’ve covered in, well, junk. There’s very little useful content. What content is available is often obscured by ads and other annoyances.
Let’s be honest here: If you’re the type of person who reads blogs about internet marketing, you’re probably not very likely to use the types of practices which will get flagged by Top Heavy. But if you do notice a significant drop in traffic following a Top Heavy rollout, you might need to make some changes to your site.
The solution here is to simply enhance the user experience. This includes improving the content and removing any obtrusive ads. And, of course, don’t engage in any black hat techniques (but we’re pretty sure you already know that.)
It’s a Jungle Out There
Spiders, penguins, pandas and more. SEO can be a real wild kingdom. When your entire site – or even just a few pages – start to underperform, you’ll need to do a little exploring. These seven potential pitfalls usually have pretty simple fixes. The trick is knowing where to look to discover the source of the problem. With the right diagnosis, you’ll be able to increase your traffic and make your site the king of the jungle.