This is why most internet contents don't rank. Practical tips you don't see others sharing.
You want to write an article that will rank on the top few pages of Google?
Great. Everyone who has an online business wants this.
But how can you do this?
You can actually choose one of the shady SEO agencies that promises “first page ranking in one week!”
I personally think you should not believe that. We need to have an understanding that SEO is not instant and if you have someone who guarantees instant results in SEO such as first-position ranking within very short notice, you should run the other way. Remember that there are no guarantees in the world of SEO. But as long as you invest time and effort into your website contents. You will be rewarded by your efforts done in the right way.
Before we begin. Let me know how many contents do you actually post in a week? I will share with you the number of contents other business posted by the end of this.
'Not a quantity game but a quality game'
Here are SIX reasons why your website is not ranking in the first page of Google.
1. You’re Targeting Highly Competitive Keywords
Let’s say you run a cafe in Penang Malaysia. Naturally, you’d want people to find your business when they search for phrases like ‘cafe in Penang’. However, take a look at the search results for your target keyword. What do you see?
First of all, you’ll find that there are over 34 million search results! Although most of them may be irrelevant, it’s very unlikely you’ll rank on the first page for this keyword. That’s simply because there are millions of pages competing for just 10 spots.
So you should focus on ranking well for a particular segment of your target market, or aim for a more specific keyword. If you go after a smaller market, you’ll have a better chance of ranking well for your target keywords.
For example, you can try targeting a more local audience by ranking for “Halal cafe in Penang”.
Similarly, you can also target niche market segments such as ‘Top Muslim friendly cafe in Georgetown Penang’ or ‘Best Halal Western food in Penang’. The more specific your search terms, the better your chances of ranking well. Visitors who arrive after searching such specific products are more likely to convert into paying customers, because they clearly know what they’re looking for.
Such 3-5 keyword search phrases are also known as long-tail keywords. They are very specific to your products & business, and can drive up to 70% of search queries. In fact, did you know that Amazon drives 57% of its sales through such long-tail keywords?
If you’re starting out, you should aim for long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for and have better conversion rates.
2. You Haven’t Done on-site SEO Properly
It’s not enough to simply include the right keywords in your content. You need to also optimize your web pages the right way.
Today, when it comes to high-quality content, Google is spoilt for choice. There are way too many blogs and websites producing more content than ever. So if you don’t optimize your web pages & blog posts for search engines, they won’t stand apart and rank well.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure that Google easily understands what your content is about, and ranks it for the right search terms.
The idea is to focus on one main topic (primary keyword) for each page of your website, and target 3-4 secondary keywords that are related to your main topic.
- Include your primary target keyword (e.g western food halal cafe, possibly at the beginning.
- Use static, keyword-rich URLs instead of dynamically generated URLs. For example, use http://example.com/western-food-halal-cafe instead of http://example.com/?p=233
- Use one secondary keyword (e.g muslim-cafe-penang) in each sub heading
- Include secondary keywords in your image filenames (e.g muslim-cafe-penang.jpg) and alt tags of images.
- Link out to 1-2 external websites (such as news articles and research data) that are high authority and relevant to your content.
- Add 2-3 internal links to other relevant pages on your site.
- If your content is a blog post or article, then include your main keyword in your first & last paragraphs.
- Include more related keywords naturally, throughout your content.
3. You Don’t Have Enough Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are perhaps the most important factor that affect search engine rankings. They’re a great indicator of your website’s trustworthiness and authority. It’s essential to have a good link profile, if you want your content to rank well.
What do I mean by a ‘good link profile’? Your website/blog needs to have inbound links from high-quality websites that are relevant to your niche. For example, if you run a Hotel website, then backlinks from Expedia.com or Booking.com or TripAdvisor.com will go a long way in boosting your search rankings. However, inbound links from digital marketing forums like Warrior Forum isn’t going to help much.
Also, when it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity. One link from a relevant website is more effective than 100 links from low-quality websites.
The easiest and my recommended method to get good quality backlinks is to create great content and share it on social media platforms as well as with website owners in your niche. If it’s relevant and useful, they’ll surely link back to it.
4. You Haven’t Optimized Your SERP Snippet
SERP snippet is the information (title & meta description) that is displayed for each search result. Look at the SERP snippet for your content. Is it click worthy? If you can increase your click-through rate by even 3%, it will move up your content by one rank.
Today, search results have evolved from a simple list of links & metadata, to show a variety of information. Below is a sample of snippet preview used by me for this blog post content.
So it has become more important than ever to optimize your SERP snippet and encourage people to click your link.
Here’s how you can optimize your SERP snippet:
- Include keywords at the beginning of your title in a natural way
- Limit your title to 55 characters. Longer titles are typically truncated by Google
- Understand what users are looking for (user intent) when they search your page, and address it in your meta description. Also include a call to action.
- Limit your meta description to 150-160 characters. Longer descriptions are truncated
- Clearly communicate the value of your product or service
5. Your Content Doesn’t Match User Intent
You may have written a blog post about, say, different types of online business tools, hoping that your content will rank well for ‘online business tools’. But your blog nowhere to be found in the search results. Why does that happen?
It’s not because your content is bad or irrelevant. But it’s just not what users are looking for.
7-8 years ago, if you had searched for ‘online business tools’ you would have a seen a few wikipedia results explaining what they are, how they help, etc. However, today, if you perform the same search, you’ll see a list of most popular online business tools that you should use.
It’s because user intent has changed over time. 7-8 years back, people didn’t know much about online business tools, so they were looking for a wikipedia article to learn more about them. Today, they’re looking for a ready made list of tools that will make their job easier.
Periodically revisit your search results for important keywords, to see if your content still matches user intent. If your content has slipped down the search results, or disappeared altogether, then look at the top results and modify your content accordingly.
6. Your website Has Been Penalized
If you notice a sudden drop in rankings, then it’s likely your site has been penalized by Google. Although it’s rare to be hit by a Google penalty, here are 2 most common reasons why it happens:
- Over optimization or Keyword-Stuffing – If you have crammed your keywords all over the page (title, url, meta description, etc) then it’s unnatural and can attract a google penalty. Instead, use fully-formed statements that are grammatically correct, and you’ll be good.
- Unnatural link-building – Although it’s important to gain links to your website, it’s equally essential to do it the right way. Buying links, swapping links and getting low-quality backlinks can surely get your website penalized. Don’t outsource link-building activities to SEO agencies & freelancers, as they are notorious for employing such ‘Black-Hat’ SEO techniques.
Those mentioned on top are some of the many reasons why a website doesn’t rank well. Start by doing an SEO audit of your site to identify & fix any technical SEO issues. (Let me know if you need help, I will help you for the first time)
Then use a tool like Google Adwords Planner to find high traffic, low competition keywords that you can target in your content. And finally, you can do on-page SEO to improve your content.
The key is to understand what your target audience is looking for and optimize your content to match user intent.
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