You launch a new business website and write a few pages of content, publish a handful of blog articles, and share content on Facebook and Twitter. But after a few months, your site is nowhere to be seen in Google search results. What’s the problem?
There are many reasons a new site might fail to rank in Google, but, in my experience, there are a few pitfalls many new site owners fall into.
The most common reason for failing to rank is that your content simply isn’t good enough. Google wants to send its users to high-quality, informative content. If your product or service pages are bare of useful information and your blog isn’t much better, the chances of your site’s pages finding their way onto the first page of the SERPs are low. On today’s web, quality is just as important as keywords.
The Competitions’ Content Is Better
Ranking is relative. Even if your content is reasonably well-written and informative, it won’t make a good showing in the SERPs if Google judges your competitions’ content is more valuable to searchers.
Your aim should be to publish the best content on the web. That might sound like a lot to ask, but the richer and more compelling the content, the higher it will rank.
You’re Targeting Highly Competitive Keywords
A new site is unlikely to rank well if it’s competing against established sites for very popular keywords. There’s no chance a new WooCommerce store that sells shoes is going to rank for “shoes”. You’ll have to get a little more creative with long-tail keywords. Try “red stilettos by Manolo Blahnik” for example.
No Incoming Links
Incoming links are still the single most important search ranking signal. As a new site, your link profile isn’t going to be competitive with established sites in the same niche. Among the most effective link building techniques are publishing great content and sharing it on social media, publishing guest blogs on other sites, and reaching out to bloggers in your niche (but don’t offer to pay them for links).
Too much of a focus on SEO can be counter-productive. I have suggested that you should target long-tail keywords, but if you publish content that’s a thinly veiled excuse to stuff as many keywords as possible onto your site’s pages, you won’t get anywhere.
Be frugal with the use of keywords and embed them in high-quality content only when it appears natural.
Slow sites don’t do well in the SERPs, and they do even worse in mobile search results. To be competitive with other sites in your niche, focus on reducing latency and page weight. One of the best ways to improve the speed of your WordPress site is to use a WordPress hosting company that offers performance-optimized hosting. If you don’t have great hosting, other performance optimization strategies aren’t going to make a lot of difference.
Your WordPress Site Turns Search Engines Away
A simple configuration error can cause your WordPress site to disappear from the SERPs altogether. In the WordPress Dashboard, select the Read menu item under settings and make sure the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option is unchecked.
Your Site Has Been Hacked
If your site has been hacked, Google will remove it from its index. It’s entirely likely that if your site has been hacked, you’ll know nothing about it until Google pulls the plug. Take a look in Google Webmaster Tools to see if Google thinks your site is infected with malware.
Fixing the eight SEO errors we’ve discussed today won’t guarantee you a place in the SERPS, but they will lay a foundation for future optimization and give you fighting chance against the competition.