Over the last 20 years, search engines have evolved into complex databases indexing trillions or pages and queries and provides users with instant access to this database for free, something most of us have gotten used to and often take it for granted.
But don’t let that simple text field and search button fool you. There’s a ton of pretty complex algorithms working in the background trying to sort out this mess we call the internet and present you with 10 results in a matter of seconds.
As an SEO we spend hours analysing data and optimising sites for Google, it’s our purpose and improving rankings comes with a great deal of pride. Improving organic traffic is like trying to hit a moving target while you’re trying to dodge potholes in the road and aiming with your left hand, it’s not easy.
Now having said all that, if there is one question that drives us loopy, the one that frustrates us the most, the one that is pretty painful to explain, the one you simply cannot avoid then its this.
Why doesn’t my site rank for product / service query or product + location query
- “Cheap sneakers Cape Town”
- “Personal trainers”
Search engine marketing is essentially a popularity contest and if you don’t do things Google wants, they’re simply not going to like you. Well, that’s the simple explanation. If you would like a more detailed explanation for non-SEO’s to understand why their sites don’t display for the search terms they’re using, here are my top 10 reasons why.
1. Too much competition
This one is heavily dependant on your industry. If you’re the only one offering Kombucha DIY classes then your chances are pretty high of ranking since there are not many businesses offering this service.
However, if you’re a small-time car rental company, well forget about it, you’re not going to even make it to page 2 without some serious SEO work done, that could take years.
2. Low domain authority
Did you know your site as a reputation with Google? It’s called a domain authority (DA). A sites DA is ranked from 1 -100 and the higher your DA the better your chances are of ranking for competitive keywords.
This is more of an industry metric that SEO’s use to compare websites but it really comes in handy when you’re looking for reasons why your site sucks. Especially once you start to compare it with your competitors, that way you have a yardstick and know what you need to aim for in order to improve your rankings.
3. Improper keyword targetting
I know you might think EVERYONE interested in your service Google’s the way you do. They’ll hit Google and type in “Cheese and wine events Stellenbosch”. Allow me to break the news to you now, they don’t! Everyone uses different variations on the keywords they use and for all you know you’re missing out on traffic because of this internal bias.
This is why keyword research is so important when building relevant content for organic search listings.
For more on keyword research check out the following post:
4. Poor link diversity
Remember I mentioned your domain authority earlier? Well, your online reputation is heavily influenced by the amount, relevancy and variation of the links pointing back to your site. If you have no links, poor links, spammy links, little or no deep links, then your chances of ranking become dramatically slimmer.
5. Thin Content
If you’re landing page has 2 lines of content or even none, Don’t expect to rank, seriously don’t! Google wants to answer users queries as quickly and as thoroughly as possible so the more in-depth your content is the higher your chances are of ranking.
For tips on how to improve your content I recommend checking out these posts:
As we use Google it starts to collect massive amounts of user data on our search behaviour, sites we visit, sites we don’t visit, sites we bounce from immediately, how long we spend on sites, how many variations of queries we use and more.
They then use this to uniquely manipulate your results to serve you a more personalised experience based on your profile. Think of everyone’s Google search results page like a snowflake, it will be unique to that user.
Google has a real interest in returning more localised results especially when it comes to product and service related queries. If you’re allowing Google to access your location data, it factors this into your search results to try and return options closest to the user. So even if you service the entire city, a store that is physically located closer to the user performing the search will come out tops.
8. Site speed
If your site is or even specifically that page takes too long to load, then DON’T expect to rank. A three-second load time is already pretty lethargic, so trim down that page fat.
For more on site speed I recommend you check out these posts:
9. Duplicate content
If your content is taken verbatim from another source or is far too similar to a competing piece of content then don’t expect to rank.
10. Domain age
Age may just be a number but it’s an important number none the less. Google looks at the longevity of a site and unfortunately, new kids on the block will have a tough time outranking the old stalwarts.
Domain age is by no means a death sentence, it’s not impossible to move up above older sites but it can take time and you will need to provide a superior experience in many regards.
Not so simple is it?
These are only the top 10 reasons why sites don’t rank from my personal experience on sites I’ve worked on but these aren’t the only reasons. This is only the tip of the iceberg and if you really want to get to the real reason why your site sites so low down on SERP’s you’ll have to enlist the services of an SEO, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
If you want to know more about Search Engine Marketing for your site don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us