Are you frustrated that your business isn’t being found in Google search? Today, we’re taking you through the top 4 reasons your competitors are outranking you in search engine results and how to beat them.
1. You don’t have enough quality links
Links are – and have been for a long time – considered to be the single most important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. If you have a bigger and better link profile than your competitors, you should stand a good chance of outranking them in Google.
N.B. Your ‘link profile’ is essentially a cross-section of the links directed at your site. The quality of your link profile is determined by the number, quality and diversity of sites linking to your website.
So how do you improve your site’s link profile? Google takes into account a number of factors when examining the range of backlinks pointing to your site:
How many links do you have?
Generally speaking, the more (quality) links you have, the stronger your site will be – and the higher you’ll rank in search engine results.
How many different domains are they coming from?
You may have 100 links, but if they’re all from one referring domain, you’re not going to see the same benefits as you would with a diverse link profile. Multiple links from multiple sources results in a much stronger link profile than multiple links from fewer sources.
What kind of sites are linking to you?
Links from highly relevant, trustworthy and authoritative sites are much more valuable than irrelevant low-quality links. For example, if you sell holiday insurance, a link from Condé Nast Traveller or Thomas Cook is much more valuable than a link from a blog about dog food. The downside is that, generally speaking, these types of high-value links are much more challenging to secure.
As a general guide, when prospecting sites for link building, make sure they have a strong domain authority, high trust score and are somewhat relevant to your product or service.
Are there any spammy sites linking to you?
Just as good quality links can improve your rankings, poor quality links from spammy sites can actually drag you down in search results.
Check your link profile for anything suspicious (i.e. websites selling viagra) and ask your developer to create a disavow file, telling Google to exclude anything spammy from your link profile.
Do your links have a diverse range of anchor texts?
Google will also examine the range of anchor texts in your link profile. Overly optimised anchor texts can look incredibly spammy, and you may get penalised for trying to pull a fast one on Google. A strong link profile should include a mix of brand name anchor texts as well as semantically relevant phrases and their variations.
N.B. ‘Anchor text’ is the clickable text in a hyper link. For example ‘click here to read about our link building services.’ The ‘click here’ is the anchor text in this case.
For example if your brand is Highland Shoes and your website is www.highlandshoes.com, Google would expect to see ‘Highland Shoes’, ‘www.highlandshoes.com’ alongside phrases such as ‘buy shoes online’ or ‘footwear’ in your anchor text profile – indicating natural and relevant links.
Check your site’s backlink profile with Open Site Explorer. This free tool will show you your own site’s domain authority as well as the size and quality of its link profile. You can even enter your competitors’ URLs to compare your metrics against theirs!
2. You don’t have enough quality content
So many web designers today are committing ranking suicide by chopping all of their content in favour of sleek and stylish design. Ideally, design and on-site content should live together harmoniously. Users don’t search the web just to find a painfully over-engineered menu system leading to pages with no copy or information on them!
When considering your website’s content, try to remember the purpose of search engines – to help users find an answer to a query. If you want your page to rank, your page should contain that answer.
When writing content for your website, your copy should be optimised for the reader first and foremost – with keywords and commonly searched phrases relevant to your offering slotted into the copy naturally throughout. Overly optimised and unnaturally keyworded content can come across as a spammy practice and could actually result in your site losing rank.
While word count shouldn’t be a focus, you should try to aim for at least a couple of hundred words per page to ensure each page on your site carries value and can be crawled effectively by Google. Content isn’t limited to written text either, with videos, images and infographics all adding value to the user.
3. You offer a poor user experience
User experience is becoming an increasingly important measure in Google’s algorithm and can significantly impact your site’s ranking positions.
Remember that Google has access to all of your analytics data if you’ve got a Google Analytics tracking code embedded on your website, and it rewards sites that offer a great experience to their users. From metrics such as a bounce rate and time on page, to the number of pages each user visits per session, all of this indicates how much the user is engaging with your website.
It can be difficult to be critical of your own website’s design, so ask a friend or web developer for a second opinion. Clear navigation options, relevant internal links and an attractive design can all improve engagement with your site – encouraging the user to delve further into your website’s content and hopefully convert into a paying customer.
If your website delivers a poor user experience, reflected by poor metrics in Google Analytics, your rankings could suffer.
4. Your website just isn’t good enough
This is number 4 on our list because many of our clients come to us with shiny new websites and don’t understand why they’re not ranking. While an attractive website is important, it’s not enough on its own to rank for valuable keywords. Web development is expensive business, so it makes sense to ensure all of your ducks are in a row before investing in a fancy new website – taking care of links, content and user experience first and foremost.
That being said, there are some quick fixes which could be holding your site back in search engine results.
Websites can be unruly beasts, especially as they grow in size over a number of years – and can develop bugs and speed problems over time. If you don’t keep these in check, you could notice your rankings start to slide.
Site speed and mobile friendliness are major factors in Google’s algorithm and luckily both can be remedied at minimal cost. From compressing images on your website to prioritising ‘above the fold’ content, there a number of things you can do to speed your site up. Try the Google site speed checker to see if yours is up to scratch.
According to Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Data Report, smartphones now account for a third of all devices accessing the internet – which means you could be missing out on a third of your traffic if your site isn’t mobile friendly. Google puts some serious weighting on mobile friendliness, and will actually remove non-mobile friendly sites from mobile search results – resulting in a huge loss in rankings and traffic. See if your site is up to par with the Google mobile friendly test.
There you have it, 4 of the main reasons your site isn’t ranking. Ready to flip that on its head? At GNT Media, ranking websites is what we do! Contact us today on 0191 500 9733 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what we can do for you!