Studies have shown time and again that the vast majority of Google users tend to click the top-ranking search results more than anything else. If your competitors are coming up before you in the list, this is a real cause for concern.
As a business owner, it may seem mystifying as to why Google doesn’t seem to want to rank your site well in search results. The truth is that without any understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO) you will likely be left floundering around in the dark.
Fortunately, there are several straightforward and sensible reasons why Googlebot generally prefers certain types of websites over others – and we can use those to our advantage to make sure that your page comes up at the top of the list.
Here at Gooey Digital, we’ve helped a lot of clients figure out how to get their site to where they want to see it on Google. In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common reasons that a business site can fail to perform in search results – and what you need to do about them.
Reason 1: You haven’t targeted good search terms
When Google’s search robot crawls your page, it will be trying to work out what the content is most strongly relevant for, both in terms of topics and the kind of information you offer.
It’s important to realise that the search engine generally tries to understand the intent of its users (i.e, what they are really looking for) so that it can match them up with the best pages for their needs.
Your page might be strongly relevant for “shoes”, but is it aimed at people who want to buy shoes? Sell shoes? Learn about shoes? Make shoes? It’s Google’s job to figure that out.
This means that you might have to get pretty specific about who your page is really for – and which search terms they use.
It’s essential that you identify some strong search engine phrases that meet the following criteria:
- They describe your page really well
- People actually use them (eg. they have a decent search volume)
- They aren’t insanely competitive (it doesn’t make much sense to take on a massive competitor with a generic keyword if you can find a more specific, less competitive niche)
Then, you’ll want to rework your page to ensure that it really ticks the boxes to rank for your target phrase(s).
This might be a matter of switching up your page copy to get more keywords in (although don’t overdo it!), optimising your site’s meta-data, or any of a number of other strategies.
This is where it can really help to have a good SEO team to help you out, as they’ll have access to all kinds of tools and tricks to find good opportunities for you and make sure your site is going after them.
Reason 2: Your site isn’t well designed
Now, we’re not saying your site’s layout is definitely the issue here – your design might be awesome! – but this has certainly been known to happen.
For one thing, Google has been ranking pages on a mobile-first basis for a couple of years now. This means that it looks at the mobile version of your site first and foremost when deciding who to rank where.
If your site looks nice on a desktop computer, but the layout doesn’t translate well to a mobile phone screen, this could be a major reason why the search engine isn’t favouring it in its index.
The good news is that Google has provided a free tool called the Mobile Friendly Test to allow website owners to quickly scan their site and see if it’s up to scratch for mobile screens.
Another thing to know is that the search giant keeps tabs on bounce rates – that is, how often people visit your site and then ‘bounce’ straight back out without clicking anything.
If your site’s design is lacking, that can be a factor in users not sticking around. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, the navigation is awkward, or it just doesn’t offer a very good user experience, visitors are liable to simply leave and try a different website – and Google will notice this type of behaviour.
If you think your site needs a fresh lick of paint, it might be worth getting it neatened up. It’s a simple fact that a brilliantly designed, elegant and easy-to-use website is very likely to do better in search results than one that needs a major makeover.
Reason 3: Your page takes too long to load
If your page loads more slowly than those of your competitors, Google is likely to place them above you in their search results.
The reasoning is simple – slow sites are frustrating to use, and half of the time users will simply bail rather than wait for everything to load. This means that site speed is actually a key ranking factor when it comes to doing well on Google.
So, what can you do if you’re stuck with a snail’s-pace webpage?
Well, there are all sorts of reasons why a page might be sluggish to load. Some common causes can include:
- Old or low quality server hardware
- Using too many large or uncompressed images
- Not making good use of optimisation techniques like caching, text compression and lazy loading
If you think your page is taking too long to appear, it’s often worth asking your developer to streamline and update things as necessary to liven things up. Good sites are built on good technology, so there’s often little reason not to upgrade where you can.
Of course, there are many more SEO pitfalls than these – this is just the tip of the iceberg. And it would be beyond the scope of this blog to really burrow into each of these areas and get down to the nitty-gritty.
That’s why we’re here, and if you’re having trouble reaching your Google goals, it really does make sense to call in the professionals! We can help you identify your problem areas – and ultimately get your site tuned up to sit at the top of the search results.