Do you think your website is suffering from search engine ranking problems? I often talk to people who claim that they are suffering from poor search engine rankings. No matter what you do, you just cannot find your web site in Google–and sometimes it’s not just the keywords the sites is targeting, the site cannot be found for your company’s name. In any case, the web site is definitely suffering from search engine ranking problems if you do not have enough traffic on your web site or you perform a site:domain.com search at Google like I did below:
In the video below, I show a few common ways of identifying whether your website is suffering from search engine ranking problems or not. If you’re not getting enough sales and people aren’t filling out the contact forms on your website as often as you like, what you really need is a full SEO Audit of your website. As an SEO consultant, I can help with that. But let’s look at some other ways of identifying search engine ranking problems:
One way is to use the site:domain.com search operator at Google to see if your website is being indexed. Watch the video below to see the other way of identifying if your website is suffering from search engine ranking problems:
I have been keeping a list of the most common search engine ranking problems, and have come up with a list of what I would say are the “most common” search engine ranking problems. Many of these issues can easily be fixed, of course it will take time or money (or both).
- Lack of links
- Repetitive Title Tags
- Too many 404 errors
- Too many 301s
- Purchased links
- Unclean URLs
- Bad Links to your Home Page
- Unnecessary Text in Title Tags and Link Text
- Slow web page load time
- Not Enough Patience
Easily, the number 1 issue I see in client websites preventing higher search engine rankings is lack of links. This is likely obvious to most of you, but we still need to include it. Many people out there still don’t understand the importance of continual link building. With enough link building, Google will overlook many other issues. It very important that you get links from quality websites, websites that have traffic and websites that are on-topic to your website.
Link building (getting other websites to link to your website or a page on your website) can be a long, tedious task. It takes time in order for other websites to recognize your website’s content and link to it. There are link building techniques that you can use, such as doing link outreach–asking website owners to link to your website. That can be just as easy as sending an email or filling out a contact form on a website, asking for a link. However, you have to know which links to request.
The other most common issue is the number of repetitive title tags used. This is something Google heavily penalizes for and something that is easily fixed. Make sure every page on your site has a unique title tag.
You can spider your site or check to see if you have error pages in the Google search results. A shortcut is to perform a search on google for site:website.com, and it will list all your pages, which you can then go through and check for errors. No one would want to visit a web page that has some links on it and all (or even some) of the links are outdated and not fresh. So, why would Google want to list a web page in their search results that has a bunch of bad links on it?
301 redirects do not pass through credit like they once did. Newer websites need to be careful not to have too many 301s, because this can cause the site to get ‘sandboxed’. This is especially common when performing site re-designs and initial SEO audits, making it increasingly important to make sure and do the proper SEO and keyword research initially, to avoid having to redo this later.
Lately, Google has been pushing websites to move their website from HTTP to HTTPs. Moving to another URL, even if it’s on your own website, should involve 301 Permanent Redirects, causing the web browser to automatically update the URL to the new location. If someone goes to an HTTP URL on your website, they should be redirected to the same page, but on the HTTPs version of your website. In this case, you have to set up 301 redirects, which is recommended. But, you shouldn’t redirect one page to another then to another and then even to another page, and finally to the HTTPs page. One redirect is okay–but anything more than that there can be a problem.
If you saw your rankings go down overnight, then chances are you paid for a link that google frowns upon. We all know that google frowns upon and technique that attempts to artificially increase rankings, so here it is vitally important when engaging in link building that you continually check analytics to notice traffic declines.
Back a few years ago, the United States FTC issued a mandate that every sponsored ad or link must disclose that it’s an ad. As a result, Google issued requirements that website owners use the ‘nofollow’ link attribute on links, as well as label links as sponsored or paid. Google’s webmaster guidelines state that you cannot pay for links that pass PageRank. I have seen websites get penalized because paid or sponsored links weren’t labeled as such–and I’ve helped a LOT of websites clean up their search engine penalties because of paid links. It was a lot of work. If you purchase links, then that’s quite alright–just make sure they’re labeled as sponsored links and that they’re using the ‘nofollow’ link attribute.
Search engine spiders have to be very efficient, so, they are leery of anything that seems like a risk to them, even though it may not be. Dynamically generated pages present a risk to them because the spiders could get caught up in an infinite loop within the site. So, make sure to clean your URL of special characters such as question marks, equal signs, ampersands, etc. URLs having long, complex query strings will have a harder time getting indexed with everything else being equal, than a shorter url with no special characters.
Generally search engine spiders are forgiving, and they can crawl a lot of URLs, just fine. Especially URLs with multiple parameters. However, some websites use dynamic URLs, whereas the content is the same–but the URL changes. That’s not a good thing–and can cause search engine ranking problems. These issues can be fixed, though, through use of a canonical tag, for example.
All web sites have a home page, www.domain.com and a www.domain.com/index.html. This is diluting the effectiveness of all your seo efforts. Make sure and modify all internal links to go to / instead of going to /index.html. Then make sure you redirect the index.html page to /. It is important that you do both, because merely redirecting all /index.html pages to / will not be as effective.
Multiple copies of your website’s home page can lead to search engine ranking problems. I’ve written about having more than one home page, and that can be an issue.
Are you using phrases such as “click here” in anchor text or phrases such as “We sell” or “Come visit us for” in your title tags. If you do, stop it. Use only the keyword phrases you are targeting. You are diluting their value when using unnecessary text.
Sometimes there can be issues with a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, where the title tag ends up including multiple mentions of your website’s name (or your company name). That can be a mistake, and the website CMS isn’t programmed correctly (or is not set up correctly).
If you noticed a rankings decrease in April of 2010, it could have been due to a slow web page load time. Google is now including site speed in their algorithm.
As you can see, Google has been wanting websites to speed up their websites since 2010. That’s over 7 years ago (as of my updating of this post). If your website has large images that take a long time to load, then that’s totally unacceptable now. There are free WordPress plugins and other free online tools that will optimize your images, and your photos. Take advantage of them.
Perhaps the biggest mental shift needing to take place in clients minds is being patient. Effective SEO takes time to implement. There are techniques that can be used to increase rankings much quicker, the same way crash diets can work for the short term, but in the long term, they can hurt you. You want to make sure you do ample work up front, which unfortunately means spending more time and resources which are usually scarce, but with the proper plan, you can be well on your way to utilizing perhaps the most cost efficient form of marketing that exists.
Whether it a lack of links to your website or another internal issue with your website, you can certainly take steps to correct your search engine ranking problems. If you believe that your website is having search engine ranking problems, then contact me and I’ll be happy to take a look at your website and offer some recommendations.