SEO 

10 reasons your website is not producing high rankings

Website ranking questions are constant in any SEO consultants working day.

  • Why is my website not ranking?
  • How quickly will I get to page one?
  • Do I need to do anything ongoing?

The fact is there is no one size fits all answer to any of these questions (other than the last which is YES).

SEO can be quite complicated in its ever-changing nature. It’s easy for brands, blogs and websites to make mistakes or fall behind.

In this blog we have highlighted a number of easily-avoidable mistakes, that will affect your website ranking along with solutions on how to correct them.

1.MOBILE RESPONSIVENESS

Google ranks a website based on its mobile-friendliness first. The mobile-first update was rolled out in 2018 and has been tweaked and refined since its emergence.

This means whatever you build on-site, you have to consider the mobile user first and foremost. This includes the user journey, how the content looks and of course SPEED (covered later).

“Hitwise found an average of 58.5% of searches were mobile”  

Source

TFG advice.

Google search console keeps an eye on key areas of responsiveness. But don’t leave this to chance.

When building pages consider things like:

  • Amount of information on a page for desktop V mobile and the impact on scrolling for the user.
  • How the information stacks when it goes from desktop to mobile – does it even make sense anymore?
  • Mobile users may be on 4/5g (even 3g if you are a global business) so can you remove some of the functions and design to ensure that they have a quick and pleasurable experience of your site?

2. SPEED

Responsiveness and speed go hand in hand.

And while responsiveness focuses on a site’s ability to show up correctly on any device, speed is making sure the site loads for the visitor as quickly as possible.

Previously speed was focusing on desktop – now it is based on mobile page speed first and foremost. This is because mobile internet usage is on the rise and for most websites is either the highest or second-highest source of traffic. The aim is to be as quick as possible, under 3 seconds where you can.

That said in BackLinko analysed 5.2 million pages across the web and this is what they found:

“The average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 1.286 seconds on desktop and 2.594 seconds on mobile. The average time it takes to fully load a webpage is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile”

Source

Speed issues can be down to a number of factors which we have covered previously but these are the most common culprits:

  1. Out of date hosting provision
  2. Images not being resized to web
  3. Out of date website technology
  4. Overloaded website 
  5. No mobile version of the site
  6. Reduce redirects

TFG advice.

  • Use a speed check site to check your average speed.
  • Make sure you simplify the mobile version of the site.
  • Check with your hosting provider to see if they can help or identify where your main issue is.
  • Delete anything you are not using (plugins, images, pages, old blogs) from your site.

For more advice read our Page Speed blog or to give an overview of how your website health request a free report.

3. KEYWORDS

Keywords have always been the step that comes before content and even more crucially, at the planning stage of your website build. It’s all well and good choosing search terms that you ‘believe’ are being searched. But wouldn’t it be better to know if they actually are? This is where keyword research comes into play.

Using tools such as WebCEO you can start to build a list of terms and phrases potential customers are searching online. This list will shape your website content.

But before you start to make a list of these words and phrases,  you need to ask yourself whether the choices you make are too broad or misleading. 

What do we mean by this?

If you build leisure centres, working your butt off to rank for the phrase “leisure centres” is going to be a no-win situation. Why? Well, firstly, it will naturally come up in your content so you don’t need to focus on it. Secondly, the people using this search term 9 times out of 10 are not looking for one to be built, but probably the timetable for swimming lessons. So you may end up, initially with high traffic volumes, but also a really high bounce rate which will negatively impact your rankings.

It’s not about getting lots of visitors to your site, it’s about getting the right type of visitors and converting them. If you get stuck refer back to brief, audience segmentation and some common sense. 

With this said. Once you have keywords you want to be discovered under you no longer have to force them into the content. With Google’s emphasis being on the intent, relevance and readability of the content – this trumps keyword stuffing. Also, BERT means that Google has become sophisticated enough to recognise synonyms of words. 

TFG advice.

Check the keywords you have been trying to rank for to date and see if they are still relevant to your business or need a refresh. Start with your parent pages, then work through the site improving each level as you go.

You can use WebCEO or Google search console for this.

4. User Experience (UX)

This is a broad topic and no one nails their UX. Why? Because search behaviours, trends and needs of consumers change over time. So what once was a trend of how to layout a website is not necessarily applicable today.  The only way to keep on the topic of your sites user experience is to track the data.

That said, there are a few fundamentals that users and search engines expect regardless. These are:

  1. Easy navigation & streamlined menus
  2. Well laid out content split out into sections and headings
  3. Speed & responsiveness
  4. Well written content that they expected to see when they hit the link
  5. Non-intrusive pop-ups or ads

TFG advice.

Start simple then develop. 

It is easy to over-complicate a website before you have had a chance to monitor where people are entering, exiting, bouncing off or engaging. 

So before chucking in pop-ups, adding a trendy menu or more functionality that may not be needed, find out what is or isn’t working when it is all stripped back and improve that element first. Then work out what functions would improve the user experience, not annoy them.

5. SECURITY

We all know that SSL certificates are a nod to consumers and search engines. With warnings coming up if you try to go on a site without one, if you haven’t got this sorted, this is one way to put you back in favour with any visitor.

But did you know that mixed content can also be a reason your website is no longer showing up? When SSL’s started to become a ranking factor in 2014 the search engines gave a couple of years grace to get all your content up to scratch. So while you may have your SSL certificate, if your website displays an exclamation mark instead of a lock then you have some work to do.

Beyond the lock, ensuring your backup and updating your website’s technology as the upgrades are pushed out is imperative. The database behind what you see is what the search engines see, so they will naturally showcase those sites that will keep users and their data safe over those that are running out of date software.

TFG advice.

You can use inspect element as a way of finding out if you have mixed content, the browser alerts you to mixed content as errors and warnings in the JavaScript console.

To handle mixed content at scale you can use this plugin ‘SSL Insecure Content Fixer’ This is the fastest method for all beginner users. It automatically fixes the mixed content errors in WordPress for scripts, stylesheets, and WordPress media library images.

We recommend hosting with Nimbus who offer free SSL as part of their hosting package and for WordPress users, we can keep your website up to date with the updates that get pushed out!

To find out where your mix content lies request an SEO report with recommendations.

6. CONTENT

It is no secret that the more often you post quality unique content, the more regularly search engines come back to crawl your site and then re-rank accordingly. This is one way to get you up the rankings, especially if your competitors are not producing content regularly enough or the content is simply not good enough.

If you are not sure what to write about carrying out a regular keyword analysis should be done to see what questions or topics, based on your offering, are being searched. Note down a mixture of short and long-tailed keywords for a great content strategy. Don’t forget to consider ‘voice search’ terms as well to support the growing use of Alexa and Google Assistant in our everyday lives.

60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months and more than 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a combination of only 25 keywords. Google managed to sell more than 8 Million Google Home models in 2019. (*)

Creating quality content is one thing, making sure all of your content is fresh and current is another story. Search engines are highly sophisticated and they are learning all the time. Writing the same blog or web page with something slightly different, in the hope to monopolise keywords is just not going to work. The search engines will know, and you will be penalised. This is an expensive shortcut to try and make as removing a penalisation or getting your site back to being competitive takes time and plenty of investment.

As mentioned before under KEYWORDS  – keyword stuffing is no longer required with BERT in play. Easy reading pieces of content in which your audience would expect to see your site, that leads to an action is the goal.

TFG advice.

The layout of the content and readability is a huge factor in your content being discovered over someone else’s. We will get on to QUALITY in a moment, but a rule of thumb is that there should be an H1 header at the top, then headers (H2 – H5’s) every 150 words or so. The ratio for images to words is 1:300. All of this is to break the content into easy chunks for the reader, allowing them to digest or skim-read down to an area they want to focus on.

INTERNAL LINKS and clear call to actions are also important to encourage people to stay on or engage with your site.

7. QUALITY over quantity

It is no secret that the more often you post quality unique content, the more regularly search engines come back to crawl your site. The regular visit also results in a re-rank each time.

Producing content is one of the best ways to get you up the rankings. Especially if your competitors are not producing quality content regularly enough.

To help get started carrying out a regular keyword analysis should be done. This will throw up questions and topics that have been searched for online. Note down a mixture of short and long-tailed keywords for a great content strategy. Don’t forget to consider ‘voice search’ terms.

60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months and more than 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a combination of only 25 keywords. Google managed to sell more than 8 Million Google Home models in 2019. (*)

Creating quality content is one thing, making sure all of your content is fresh and current is another story.

Search engines are highly sophisticated and they are learning all the time. Writing the same blog or web page with something slightly different, in the hope to monopolise page one is not going to work. The search engines will know, and you will be penalised. This is an expensive shortcut to try and make as removing a penalisation or getting your site back to being competitive takes time and plenty of investment.

As mentioned before (under KEYWORDS) keyword stuffing is no longer required with BERT in play. Easy reading pieces of content in that your target audience would expect to see your site is the way forward.

TFG advice.

If you have been producing content over a long period of time (regularly or not) you may need to review or even remove what has been done. 

Click here to read why and how.

8. IMAGES

People often add or change images to their website without optimising them. If you have a website that showcases your work in imagery, then this could be why you are losing rankings. Make sure you are:

  1. Changing the file name to depict what it is in the image and what page/service/piece of content/product it relates to.
  2. Add an alt tag to every image. Why? Search engines do not see pictures, only words. So this is a great way to get more optimised information in front of the search engine. It also acts as a description when content is saved to Pinterest and to explain to the visually impaired what is on the screen. Always add a CTA.
  3. Keep images as small as possible without losing quality. There is no need for an image to be bigger than 1 MB. 

TFG advice.

Beyond the tips already given if you have a pre-existing website with images, for WordPress users we recommend SMUSH pro to compress the images you have one site.

For everyone else, and WP users going forward, a simple image resizing tool is tinypng.

9. ON-SITE LINKS

A link from one website page to another internal page tells search engines that all these pages are important to this topic. Not only that a good internal linking strategy helps with the user’s journey and enhances their on-site experience.

The first link on any page is considered the most important when it comes to a search engine crawling so make this a consideration.

You should aim to have 2-10 links per page. And these should be a mixture of internal and external links, depending on the amount of content you have, and your pages layout. 

TFG advice.

On your blog/news page having related products or posts throughout can increase the chances of a website user staying and browsing as well as search engines.

Examples:

  • If you are mentioning a technical term, or something that has been written about in more detail before, then link to it. 
  • Have a category tag so that all content about a certain topic can be easily found in one place. 
  • Calls to actions count as links.

If your first link is an external one (to another website) we recommend adding a no-follow code to that link, to ensure that search engines stay a bit longer on your page.

10. BACKLINKS

Backlinks are a hot topic.

Even with link farms now being a thing of the past people are still cautious when looking to connect with other sites. And rightly so. 

However, inbound links are a sure fire way to boost your ranking if done correctly. If you are looking to have a site link back to you, you must check whether the site you’re linking from is:

  • Relevant to your industry, offering or expertise,  
  • Up to date (e.g. recent activity, shares, comments.) 
  • Has a good Domain Authority

TFG advice.

Even if you are not building your inbound links, you need to keep an eye on who is linking to you to prevent your site being penalised or outranked by your peers. Using Search Console can help you keep an eye on this.

Take a look at our blog on Quality Backlinks for SEO and How to Remove Those That Negatively Impact Your Site

This blog has shown that a website is not something you can create and then later forget about. 

You need to check for updates and keep track of these on a regular basis to prevent issues on your site. A regular SEO audit can look after everything, from unresponsive pages to that missing alt tag. 

You can’t get everything right all the time, so by carrying these the above actions plus a quarterly SEO review can mean that anything that changed or missed is picked up and rectified before it affects your website further.

So there you have it. We have only covered a few reasons why your website ranking is not as high as you had hoped. There are a whole host of others which you can find out by requesting a FREE SEO report.

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CONTACT US…

Need help with your content writing and SEO, get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can help!

TFG

The Typeface Group

hello@thetypefacegroup.co.uk

01256 614 921