So, you’re trying DIY SEO, or maybe you’ve hired an SEO company or consultant to do SEO for your business. Three months have passed and your traffic, leads, and sales have not increased. You start to wonder why your SEO isn’t working, maybe SEO isn’t working for your business or you think it has failed.
As frustration mounts, a ton of questions start going through your head: “How long should SEO take?”, “Should I hire someone instead of trying it myself?”, “Did I hire the company wrong SEO?
We as SEOs may not know all the reasons why a website ranks in Google, but through testing, we have found some strong correlations as to why websites don’t rank. This correlation gives us high-level information about how Google Search performs and how Google ranks websites nationally and in its local SEO results.
How Does Google Rank Websites
Below, you’ll find some factors that contribute to how Google Search works, such as how Google indexes and ranks sites and the variables Googlebot Persona analyzes to determine which sites should be ranked lower or removed from its search results.
At a very high level, the reason most sites don’t rank is often due to a lack of authority, trust, or relevance compared to other sites that focus on the same topics.
Keep in mind that since each of these factors does not exist in a vacuum, it is possible for your site to suffer from several of these things.
Before you take drastic measures or implement risky and desperate SEO strategies, read this list of possible reasons why your SEO is not working or may have failed.
Your Website Speed
Does Site Speed Affect Your SEO Ranking? In 2010, Matt Cutts announced that site speed will affect rankings, but will outweigh other key ranking factors like valuable content, relevance, authority links, etc.
With mobile browsing becoming a more important part of how users find and interact with your site, this is no longer accurate. Speed is increasingly becoming an SEO ranking factor.
Does Site Speed Affect Your Conversion Rate? Research has found that 47% of your target audience expects their website to load in less than two seconds.
With the myriad of site speed tools, including Pingdom or Google’s own PageSpeed tool, there’s no excuse for a site speed not to be optimized for SEO and users.
You Created Bad Content
This checklist item is one of the top 3 reasons why your SEO is not working. Google is using machine learning more frequently in its Panda and Core algorithm to identify high-value content and rank it in its organic search results.
If you’ve paid someone to create generic 500-word articles for your site, don’t expect to rank. Be prepared to invest in high-value content: articles, videos, and infographics.
One of the strategies we help clients with is identifying content that is not working and creating a strategy to fix it, commonly known as ROT analysis.
Content is Duplicated
Duplicate content is still a problem faced by most websites. Duplicate content can cause search engines to be confused about which part of the content is the primary version, or it can cause users to link to multiple versions of the same content, causing the value of those links to fragment.
Internal Duplication – This happens when the same piece of the main content is found at multiple URLs on the same site.
External duplication – This can happen when the same content is placed on multiple sites. Main times when this happens:
- The site is scraped
- Website owners try to manipulate Google’s desire to show a diversity of websites in the top 10 results by placing the same content on multiple websites.
- Sites that work with reseller or distribution models put the same product description on all reseller sites, causing Google to filter out many of them in their search results.
You’re Lacking Inbound Links
Is link building dead? Yes and no. Getting high-value links is still an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, but Google has been improving the type of links that will allow you to pass ranking value (link juice) to your site. So link building at its core is not dead, but the way you get links has evolved considerably over the years.
Links are still an important variable in Google’s algorithm. A website that does not have enough high-value links may be considered not valuable enough to rank in Google.
Now, don’t think that you can go out and buy links or do things too fast to earn links. Link building is about creating great website design experiences and content that will naturally generate links. So if you don’t have enough links to help Google see your site as authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant enough to rank, start creating awesome content and market it for the links Google wants to value.
So if your content doesn’t have the kind of links that Google wants to reward, your SEO won’t work.
You Built Bad Links
This checklist item is probably one of the top 3 reasons why your SEO is not working. Link building (link earning) should not be an SEO strategy outsourced to the lowest bidder.
If your link building isn’t focused on creating great content and then marketing that content for links, you’re doing it wrong.
If you hired your link-building company based on price or a set number of links per month, you could be setting yourself up for failure or worse, permanently destroying your rankings and SEO.
This is a hotly debated topic when it comes to the validity of your existence and the ability of a third party to negatively influence your ranking. This involves competitors or those who have a vendetta against your site creating a ton of exact match links on low-quality sites to make it look like you are buying links or trying to be manipulative.
Google recently revised its official wording on negative SEO, from saying “There is almost nothing a competitor can do to hurt your ranking or remove your site from our index” to “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from hurting your ranking or your site removed from our index.”
Some marketing experts think that since Google’s spam team has become more aggressive in controlling link building, they believe it to be spam or manipulative, and it is now easier to execute some types of negative SEO attacks.
Site Was Hacked
There are many ways to find out that your site has been hacked. The most obvious is when the hacker has simply defaced your site.
However, hackers often prefer that you don’t know this because they want to use your site as much as possible to do their dirty work.
Signs that your site has been hacked:
- Your website is defaced.
- Your site redirects to a ‘spam’ site, such as a porn site or a pharmaceutical site.
- You receive a notice from Google or Bing in Google Webmaster Tools notifying you that your site has been compromised.
- Your Firefox or Chrome browser indicates that your site may be compromised.
- You notice strange traffic on your weblogs, such as large unexplained spikes in traffic, especially from other countries.
- You review your Google search query report and discover that you are receiving traffic for off-topic keywords.
If you go to your site, press “control + A” (which highlights all the content on your site, even what you can’t see), and you’ll see links to other sites or hidden content on the page that you can’t see. I don’t usually see.