Google searching is the primary way that people find businesses on the Internet. In order to be found, your company’s website needs to show up on the first page of Google. 90% of all Google clicks never go beyond the first page.
It’s frustrating when your site hasn’t ranked on page one yet, or isn’t ranking at all. So how do you bridge this gap so that your site appears where it should? If you aren’t seeing the results you want from your website, one or more of these six explanations are probably why. Let’s dive into the details and learn how you can remedy the situation.
1. Your Sitemap and Webpages Aren’t Indexed
If your website isn’t showing up in Google, for one reason or another your sitemap probably hasn’t been crawled yet. Sitemaps are typically XML files that show Google’s web crawler (Googlebot) the structure and location of each URL on a website.
The three most common reasons for a poorly indexed site are a brand new website, a new domain, or a lack of new content. Over the years of Google algorithm updates, Google prefers websites that have already been indexed and can take anywhere from two to four months to notice brand new URLs.
Here’s how to fix it:
- Check if your sitemap has been indexed in Google Search Console (GSC). Google can’t display any of your URLs in search engine results pages (SERPs) if it doesn’t know your website exists. GSC is free to use and allows you to manually submit your sitemap for indexation whenever you want.
- Utilize proper internal linking. Another reason your site isn’t appearing in search results is because your content isn’t thoroughly linked together. Well-linked content provides an informative user experience, which Google is all about. Regularly update your content with links to and from existing blog posts.
- Publish content regularly. There are few things Google likes more than a frequently updated website. Google sees fresh content as more authoritative as it’s more likely to be based on the most recent information available. Strive to publish at least once per month but ideally once per week or more.
2. Your Website Has Thin Content
The second reason your website isn’t showing up in Google search results is because it has thin content. Thin content lacks meaningful information, or is substantive, but low in word count. Such content isn’t helpful to users and therefore won’t get prioritized by Google.
300 to 500 words per page used to be enough to rank well and keep visitors engaged. These days, readers have more complex needs and typically want answers to multiple questions. The golden standard is 2,000 words per blog post, but you can be creative with your approach to content length.
Here are the top ways to address thin content:
- Aim to write at least 1,000 words per post. SEO is more prevalent than ever before, meaning you can’t afford to have low quality content. 1,000 words per blog post is enough to demonstrate topical authority without overwhelming yourself. If that word count still seems like a lot, consider hiring an agency or a freelancer to produce content on a regular basis. If you haven’t experienced it already, outsourcing your content development is one of the ways to survive and thrive at SEO as a small business owner.
- Update old content regularly. If you’ve been business blogging for years already, chances are you have several posts that need an update. Conduct an SEO content audit to see how old posts can be revitalized. In most cases you can flesh out existing paragraphs or add a “frequently asked questions” section at the bottom of the post.
3. Your Website Loads Slowly
The third factor preventing your site from appearing in Google is website speed. Google gives preference to faster-loading websites, and a very slow-loading website may not rank as well.
How do you tell if your site loads too slowly? If your site takes more than four to five seconds to load, it’s considered quite slow. If it takes longer than one second, it’s still suboptimal. Google prefers mobile-friendly websites that load in three seconds or less, so the faster your pages load, the better.
Here are two simple ways to optimize your page load speed:
- Optimize your website images. You can do this with any free or paid image compression software. Many content management systems (CMSs) offer free plugins that automatically serve your images in web-friendly formats.
4. You’re Using Outdated SEO Practices
A fourth reason your website isn’t showing up in Google search is because you’re using outdated SEO practices. In the early days of the Internet, adding keywords to your H1 and body copy were enough to rank well. Many SEOs did this to astonishing success and even utilized what’s called “keyword stuffing.” This is a long-standing SEO myth where people add a lot of keywords to one page expecting the URL will rank higher for one or more terms.
The SEO landscape has changed and now requires SEOs and business owners to understand best practices. If you’re still using outdated practices like keyword stuffing or relying solely on backlinks, then you will start to see a decline in your rankings and have difficulty getting your site ranked higher.
Here are three SEO best practices to use instead:
- Organize your on-page content efficiently. Writing content is more than putting words on a page; it’s taking your reader on a journey. Your headline, subheaders, paragraphs, conclusion, and call to action (CTA) should all flow logically. This helps Google notice which parts of your page are relevant to certain queries too.
- Use relevant anchor text for internal links. Internal linking is one of the cornerstones of SEO, but that doesn’t mean you should link however you want to. When possible, use a blog post’s H1 as your anchor text on the new blog post. Google has an easier time understanding the relationship between the posts when the anchor text is relevant.
- Optimize your blog post headlines. Headline writing is one of the more difficult aspects of writing, yet arguably the most important. Three in four readers will click on your content for the headline alone. Quantifying your headlines is a fast and simple way to accomplish this, i.e. “5 Steps to Fixing a Leaky Faucet.”
5. Your Website Has Poor Organizational Structure
The fifth reason your site may not be ranking is its organizational structure. Site structure includes everything from how your blog posts are categorized to your URL structure and average URL length.
It’s just as important to optimize your site for Google as it is for humans, and site structure is where they overlap. When readers are searching for content, they’re scanning the SERPs for links that make sense. If your URL can’t be read at a glance or is confusing, users will ditch it for a simpler search result.
Here are a few ways to maintain strong website structure:
- Uphold a “flat” site structure. A flat website structure is an SEO-friendly website structure. Flat means your content is organized broadly into multiple categories rather than into specific ones. Flat structuring is opposed to deep structuring, which requires more clicks per page to reach specific URLs. Look at your content and ask yourself how each blog post can fit into a general category.
- Keep URLs as short as possible. The shorter your URLs are, the faster they’re understood by Google and humans. Shorter URLs also make for simpler social media sharing.
6. You Aren’t Blogging Frequently
Reason number six that your site isn’t ranking well is because you aren’t blogging frequently. If you aren’t blogging at least once per month, Google is less inclined to index your site. It sees your website as an unreliable (or at least unpredictable) source of information and won’t take it seriously.
Google wants to show users recently published content that’s both relevant and high quality. It’s simple to give Google what it wants if you have a content marketing plan and remain consistent with it over time.
Here are a few recommendations on how to blog more often:
- Create and maintain a content calendar. The reason most business owners blog infrequently is because they guess what to post every time. Instead of making it up as you go along, set aside time to create at least one month’s worth of posts. The next time you sit down to create content, you won’t be taking shots in the dark.
- Focus on quality over quantity. While it’s tempting to start publishing lots of content to make up for lost time, this may not work. Resist the urge to publish 15 low quality blog posts and instead write three or four impressive ones. A measured publishing schedule is much easier to sustain for several months into the future.
The Bottom Line
Getting your website or blog posts to rank on page one of Google is an accomplishment to be proud of. Once you’ve identified the main things holding you back, it’s much easier to move forward. Let’s review what we covered so it’s easy to remember:
- Ensure your sitemap is indexed. Manually submit your sitemap in GSC if you haven’t already. This is the fastest way to boost your rankings and traffic if you haven’t generated them yet.
- Write at least 1,000 words of content per page. SEO is more competitive than ever so you need to demonstrate topical expertise right away. Work with freelancers if you don’t have the time or interest in writing.
- Maintain an optimal site speed. Fast websites are those that load in less than three seconds, and ideally one. Install a speed optimization plugin for your website or speak with your developer to resolve what’s lacking.
- Use modern SEO practices. Lazy techniques like keyword stuffing and mass backlinks no longer work. Craft blog posts that are deeply organized, relevant, and informative to garner significant traffic.
- Keep a clean site structure. Make sure your URLs are as short as possible and make sense within your site hierarchy. Organize your content with broad categories, rather than specific ones, and let your site search bar handle the rest.
- Blog at least once per month. Google serves up websites that are topically relevant and updated frequently. If you don’t have a content calendar, set one up and stay consistent so Google knows your website can be trusted.