SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a digital discipline and an ever-evolving practice; forever at the mercy of Google’s daily changing algorithm and user’s shifting appetites and attitudes.
Ranking on Google isn’t a simple task nor is it a static one, and there are many reasons why a website may not appear as prominently on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as businesses may like.
If you find that your SEO efforts are letting you down and not working as well as you’d like, read on. There are many factors that impact website rankings on Google and not all of them are obvious.
While it was for many years considered a vast disadvantage in SEO terms to buy a brand domain name and launch a new website, it is not necessarily the domain age that influences how Google ranks it in its listings; but rather, the authority.
When a new website launches, it will usually contain some relevant content but it is only over time that it accumulates a library of high-quality, appropriate content as well as backlinks from other websites. A website that is well populated with content and referred to (ie. linked to) by other sites is considered to have high authority by the Google algorithm.
This means that the search engine’s automated systems believe it to be a reliable source of information for its users and a trusted online presence. A domain with good authority will find itself with a higher ranking on Google than one without.
How to fix it
Domain authority takes time to build. Webmasters can improve their website’s authority through the continuous publishing of relevant, timely and high-quality content as well as through the build up of backlinks from other appropriate domains. This requires ongoing work as a cycle of improvement.
Unoptimised Site Technicalities
SEO is often misconceived as simply a case of publishing lots of written content with relevant keywords included, but ranking on Google now involves many more factors than just search terms.
On-site SEO is also required for a site to rank well, and this includes a whole host of technical aspects that sit ‘behind the scenes’ of a functional website. On-site SEO allows for the easy ‘crawl’ of the site by Google (that is, its automated programs to scan and compute it) as well as demonstrates how good a user experience the site provides.
On-site SEO includes relevant alt-text for images, working internal links between pages, fast page loading times and responsive display to the device on which it is being viewed. Ranking highly on Google highly is very difficult to achieve if a site hasn’t optimised its technicalities.
How to fix it
A ‘health check’ of a website can be undertaken to ensure that it is readable by Google’s bots and also that it works well for users. Every image should have appropriate alt-text, every page should load quickly, all links should work and every page should be created with responsive design to ensure correct formatting no matter the size of the screen being used. It is always worth consulting with a professional in regards to on-site SEO to ensure all aspects are covered.
Unoptimised Site Content
A primary factor influencing a site’s ranking on Google is its content. In order to decide how and where to list a website on its SERPs, Google must be able to understand the topic of the site and match this up with the search terms used by users to present them with the most relevant results.
If a site publishes content that is not clearly relevant to its business niche, is likely of too short a length to be helpful, or is of poor quality, it will not favour it.
How to fix it
Brands should look to position themselves as thought leaders in their fields with the continued publication of high-quality appropriate content. Thorough keyword research should be carried out to identify how users search for the brand, product/s and/or service/s, and content provided throughout, tailored to match.
Violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines
The Google Webmaster Guidelines are a set of rules that stipulate conditions to be met in order to be ranked on Google SERPs.
Many websites are inadvertently in breach of these guidelines because of the use of Black Hat SEO tactics. Black Hat SEO is the manipulation of search engine algorithms in order to rank higher than would otherwise be the case. This often includes the practice of ‘keyword stuffing’ (inclusion of multiple relevant terms even where the resulting text is nonsensical), paying for backlinks and/or paying for false traffic.
Violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines can result in a website being removed entirely from Google (being ‘no-indexed), being ranked lower down than usual or being blocked from buying paid ads on SERPs.
How to fix it
Once a site has been ‘no-indexed’ or identified as being in breach of Google Webmaster Guidelines, it can be extremely difficult to rectify the situation and prove to Google that it is deserving of new trust. It is always best where mistakes have been made or guidelines breached to consult with a professional in order to strategise how best to work with SEO moving forward.
Woya Digital have a whole team of SEO experts on-hand who can advise and devise plans for recovering from poor SEO performance to rebuild authority, trust and a positive professional reputation. No matter what has been done in the past we are confident that we can help rectify the situation.