Blog | Organic Search

5 Reasons Your Search Ranking Is Not Where It Should Be

December 2, 2019
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After months of website adjustments, content creation, and social media postings, it can be discouraging to see no improvements to your SERP ranking. If it seems that your marketing efforts have not boosted your visibility, perhaps some other factors are to blame.

Let’s start with the good news. All your efforts sofar have laid the foundation to get you ranking where you want to be. Now, you just need to take the next step. In our experience, this step includes one or more of the following 5 reasons your search ranking isn’t where it should be.

1. Your Website Is Not Fully SEO Optimized.

Search engines, led by Google (who’s still #1), stress the importance of user experience. In fact, that’s why we live in a mobile-first (indexing) world. Most people who engage online do so – at least for some part of their user journey – via their mobile devices.

This, however, does not mean SEO revolves solely around great content, quality links, and keywords. User experience does require those elements, but it also requires solid technical SEO.

At first, the term technical may conjure an image of those website elements search engine crawlers and bots need to index your site. This idea of technical SEO is accurate. But technical SEO is also needed for great user experience.

For example, page speed has been proven vital for both a high page ranking and user experience. Users don’t wait for slow-loading pages. Search engine algorithms know this and penalize sites with slow loading pages.

Page speed isn’t the only technical element needed for a fully optimized website. You also need:

A Logical Website Structure

Your website should deliver a natural flow for the user. Search engine algorithms follow user behavior to learn and understand what this looks like, for each unique audience – including yours.

Title Tags and Descriptions

These “meta” tags tell the search engines what the page is about, but they also offer a sneak-peak of your site to your audience, boosting your likelihood of generating traffic.

Rich Media Embedded in Your Content

Video, graphics, images, and other media enhance your content, especially when properly optimized with alt-tags target keywords.

Up-to-date Links

Broken links that lead to 404 errors are bad for your ranking in two ways. Your site visitors will be frustrated, and the search engine will punish you for them.

Rich snippets

Rich snippets are fixed data (like recipe ingredients, addresses, definitions, and the like) that you add to the code of your site. This data helps search bots identify the value of your site and give you a big boost in rankings, plus, a great rich snippet can earn you the highly coveted zero-position – the “answer” to the user search at the top of the search engine results page.

Other Key Elements of Technical SEO for an Optimized Website

In addition to what you need on your web pages, you also need to eliminate certain common issues that can develop on a constantly growing, evolving, and changing website. These include:

  • Canonical errors
  • Duplicate content
  • Duplicate HTTP and HTTPS
  • Excess, or old, code

In short, your website should have a logical structure, clean code, and quick load times on mobile and desktop devices.

2. You Are Not Voice Search Optimized.

Siri. Alexa. Google Home. It is predicted that 50% of search will be voice search by 2020. Voice search differs from typed search for a number of reasons. We type shorthand, in condensed phrases, but speak conversationally. You need to adapt to this change and start adding conversational keywords and phrases, sometimes called long-tail keywords, to your content.

For example, while we might type, “best SEO practices 2020,” we’d ask Siri, “What are the best SEO practices next year?”

While you need to do a little work to find out what these long keyword phrases are, the benefits of using them are big. Beyond your search ranking:

–          Your content will feature the language of your audience, which helps build familiarity and credibility.

–          You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of your audience, learning how they speak.

–          Your content writers will also have an easier job as they won’t be trying to fit condensed keyword phrases that are missing conjunctions, prepositions, and verbs into your copy, meaning better, more flowing content.

3. Over-valuing Last Click Attribution.

Last click attribution gives full credit for the conversion to the source last-clicked. Maybe your Facebook Ad was the last click a customer made before converting. Last click attribution would give full value to this source, ignoring the numerous other “gates” your user passed before conversion.

For example, your user may have first seen and clicked your PPC ad in a Google search. Next, they saw your display ad via your remarketing (programmatic) campaign. In a subsequent search, they found you via SEO and when they visited your Facebook page, they see your ad.

If you do TV, radio, or print ads, last click attribution results in potential serious under-valuing of these user contacts.

At BFO, we recommend using several web analytics models, including last click, to understand the value of your many different touchpoints. There is nothing worse than believing your data is telling you a campaign isn’t working, only to find once terminated that your successful Facebook ad campaign dries up.

 4. You’re Too Invested in Google.

Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t you say Google is #1?”

Yes, this is true. But it’s important to acknowledge that the search landscape is changing.

Google may be the #1 search engine, but it isn’t the only one. Amazon’s search engine continues to grow and contribute significantly to search results. If you are a retailer, Amazon deserves a lot of attention. In fact, Bloomberg reports that 50% of shoppers begin their product searches with Amazon.

YouTube also deserves a lot of attention for businesses of all kinds, consumer and B2B. Although it might be owned by Google, YouTube is the #2 search engine.

Today, where you invest your effort to drive ranking depends on what type of content you produce. If you are selling, Amazon’s search demands attention. If you produce video content, you need to invest in YouTube’s search.

5. Monitoring the Competitive Landscape.

You aren’t the only business investing in tools and strategies to boost your search ranking. Your competition is as well. This means you could have an awesomely optimized website and still not see the rise in search rankings as your competition’s efforts offset yours, or maybe they’re doing it better.

If you find yourself in this situation, you need to monitor your competition. Observe their social media efforts, analyze how they build their links and review their content and the keywords they are targeting. There are tools available like Wayback Machine that you can use to see changes they have made.

Once you have identified what they have done differently, then you need to do it better.

Bonus Reason You May Not Be Ranking Where You Want (Local)

If you’re a local business, you should be optimizing for your business’s location. When someone Google’s your business name or searches for the products or services you provide, you should appear in maps.

For this to happen, you need:

  • A Google My Business listing.
  • Updated listing information, especially phone, address, and website.
  • Consistency in all information from one directory to another, including Google My Business. (You can get violations and penalties if you don’t, such as being removed from local search results.)
  • To manage review sites like Yelp, to monitor what people – and the search engines – see about your business.

Now’s the Time to Raise Your Search Ranking and Be Seen

You’d be surprised how fast you a few little changes can impact your results. Technical SEO, business listings, and emphasizing other search engines may sound like a lot of work. In reality, once you get it done, it will start paying dividends.

Still having trouble with your ranking? As always, we’re here to chat.