Reasons Your Site isn’t Ranking Well

We are going to cover over-optimization, short thin content pages, bad backlink profile, competitive keyword selection, website errors, and not enough local citations.


Over-optimization


This is when you stuff your title tag with keywords or your content, to the point where it reads, "Visit your lawyer in Denver. Your Denver lawyer offers the greatest lawyer services in Denver. Visit your Denver lawyer today."

When you over-optimize, that doesn't read well to your user or Google. These strategies would have worked 15 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago.

These days, keyword stuffing does not help and actually hurts more. You can also over-optimize your URL and I showed you an example of that earlier with the exact match domain and how that can become an issue.

Maybe your alt tags are stuffed full of keywords, so make sure those would sound good on a screen reader. Usually, over-optimization it's pretty easy to spot, so you should stay on the side of less optimized, not over-optimized, because if you get a manual action, it's possible your site could get deindexed.

If you get deindexed, it can sometimes take a while for you to recover, and even when you do recover, it will be more difficult for you to climb the ranks.


Short, thin content pages


You want to shoot for a minimum of 800 words per page. I would advise at least a thousand, and depending on your industry, you may need more than the average 1200 to 1400 words on pages ranking number one on Google.

This also depends on the industry and the competitiveness of the keywords. The more specific your keyword, usually the less content you can have and still be able to rank. A page of only 400 words can rank well if the long tail keyword is, 8 or more words.

But, if you're looking to rank for a more competitive keyword, you will likely have to produce upwards of 1800 to 2000 words, and sometimes more. It needs to be enough to completely cover the topic, that's your goal with content, and it's typically difficult to do with only 400 words.
Bad backlink profile
We've covered this several times, but I want to stress the importance of not having spammy backlinks from low-quality sites, or foreign sites that are created only to scam people, or have pop-ups and ads.

Those are the backlinks you seriously want to avoid. Those are usually just backlinks, that don't work and they're not worth the money. Typically, the cheaper they are, the worse quality site they come from.

Nearly all of them are bad, so don't look to build backlinks that way. Likewise, if you have too many do-follow links, that's not a good diversity of backlinks and that can lead to you not ranking high because you obviously manipulated your links.

We all look to manipulate our backlinks, that's why link building is the hardest part of SEO, but if you look at it more like relationship building, and not link building, you'll be more successful with it.


Competitive keyword selection


If you select a highly competitive keyword, and you have a brand new site, it will be very difficult to rank number one.

You're not likely going to rank number one for, "roof." Just roof is going to be a difficult keyword and it's not going to happen because you'll see the definitions for roof, and Homeadvisor.

That's a lot to overcome for a new site, but you can rank for roofing in your city. That should bring up local results, which you can easily rank.

But, you're not likely going to rank number one for highly competitive, generic keywords because those sites have been around for ages, and have been acquiring backlinks for a long time.

That gives them very high authority websites and backlink profiles. You want to select keywords that have sites ranking high, on the level of your site.

Long tail, user-generated keywords are great because typically, these big companies avoid those keywords, and that gives you a chance to create content.

Acquiring little chunks of traffic at a time build up to a lot of traffic over time. This also gives you a more complete, authoritative website for new users who come to your website and find the answer to every question they could have on that subject.

This same strategy works on products. If you have an e-commerce site selling products, you're going to have a hard time ranking for those product names, but it is possible to rank higher if you write unique product names, with unique product descriptions.

If you just put the same description as everyone else who sells the product, you're not going to rank for that product. Whoever created the product is likely going to rank for it, and then every other person that you just duplicated content from, is going to rank higher than you.

A better strategy would be producing content to answer people's questions who are thinking about buying the product, usually a review, then linking to the product within the article.

If you can answer all the person's questions and sway them into buying the product, they can easily buy from you. Don't lie in your review. Be honest, otherwise you'll lose the trust of your audience.


Website errors


If your website has too many errors, you're likely not going to rank because crawlers can tell that something's wrong with your site. They're going to crawl your site and fall off at things like broken links or taking too long to load.

After these bad experiences, they're not going to want to crawl your site as often, if at all. You will also have a high bounce rate because people will come to your site, experience errors, and that'll make them bounce.

Again, a bad user signal like we talked about earlier. You really don't want any errors on your site. It's okay to have some broken links. Sometimes you have some pages that don't work, or maybe you delete it for whatever reason. You can still rank high with a few of these errors.

But at some point, you want to clean those up because it's going to hurt in the long run when you have too many of these errors.

301 redirect those 404 pages to a similar type of page. If you have mobile issues or your site doesn't look good on mobile, you need to redesign your site completely.

There will be no way for you to survive in 2020 without a mobile website. Also, things like SSL. That's not a question anymore, you need the full SSL certificate.


Not enough local citations 


If you're trying to rank a local business there will be local citations to obvious sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and your local directories. Google can verify you with the Google My Business listing, but they still track the local citations as well.

These are nofollow backlinks that carry more weight, so sites like Yelp, and Yellow Pages are very important. Even more importantly, would be the local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, local news sites local organizations, like recreation centers, libraries, local government sites, etc.

All of these will carry much higher authority for your local rankings. Google doesn't need these to verify that you are actually a business, but they will help you rank higher for your local keyword and will be more important depending on your keyword selection and your market.

Having a ton of citations may not be as important if you're in the middle of nowhere, but will be much more important if you're somewhere competitive like a bigger city.


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