06 Oct Why Are My Keywords Not Ranking?
The #1 question in the SEO world is this one: Why are my keywords not ranking? There are a number of reasons that may be dependent on your specific case, but most likely the problem comes down to these three points:
- Your keywords are too competitive
- Your pages aren’t optimized properly
- Your website doesn’t carry enough authority on a given topic
Let’s take some time here to dive into what each of these common problems mean:
In any industry, there are millions of websites who want the prized spot of Google’s first page of search results. All of these different brands are directly competing with one another to rank for specific keyword phrases.
Generally speaking, the less specific a keyword is, the more often it will be searched and the more competitive it will be. To determine competition, Google Adwords assigns every keyword a rating from 0 to 1, and Logical Media Group takes this a step further by developing a proprietary formula that determines which keyword are already being targeted by other SEO agencies. For example: “Painters” is searched 12,000 times per month and is highly competitive, compared to “Chicago Painters,” searched 390 times a month and less competitive. The more specific you can make your keywords to what your brand specifically does, the greater your chances of drawing the right kind of traffic to your website.
From an SEO perspective, a good keyword opportunity is one that is both:
- Not highly competitive (other brands have not thought to use it yet)
- Still has high search volume
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the methods for optimizing a page from an SEO perspective. Basically, what it boils down to is this: Google needs to be able to understand what the topic of your page is in a short keyword phrase. Make it as clear as possible as to what this page is about and try and limit information on the page that may be interpreted as off-topic.
One thing you should not do, however, is just use the keyword as many times as possible. For on-page text, only use the keyword in places where it would be natural for a reader. Google will penalize websites that stuff their pages with keywords in an unnatural way.
Here are a few basic methods for reinforcing your keyword that every SEO should already be using:
- Title tags, meta description
- Page title, header
- URL of the page itself
- Internal links pointing to this page
- Body copy
As Google has grown more sophisticated, it has become less important that the keyword itself is used verbatim, and more important that the topic of that page is reinforced. So if your full keyword is “2 Bedroom Student Apartments in Chicago,” you do not need to use the entire phrase every time you use the keyword.
If your fully optimized page is still not ranking, it is possible that Google is confused about the page’s topic. Be sure that there isn’t a lot of information on your page that may send conflicting signals to Google as to what the page is about. In other words, keep the information on your page limited to your keyword phrase topic.
Google does not want to send users to a spammy site, or a low quality one. This is common sense and one of the reasons for Google’s success. The way Google determines which pages are higher quality than others is by evaluating how much authority a brand has on a specific topic.
Google determines this authority in a number of ways, most principally through the number of quality links pointing to your website. Good links from quality websites send trust signals to Google. If your website is being shared across the internet, if people are visiting it and recommending it to their friends, then this is an extremely good sign that the website is reputable. The quality of this link profile is one of the most important ranking factors for your website.
The process of earning links is called link building. This involves creating useful content and reaching out to people via email to promote your content, or by offering to write guest blogs. Link building is so important to an SEO campaign that we don’t have the space to fully explore it here. Check out our link building guide for more detailed information.
Still Not Ranking?
Covered all your bases and still having trouble? Here are a few more common reasons why your keywords may not be ranking:
- Duplicate Content: If you have multiple pages with the exact same topic/keyword/content, Google is not going to know which one to serve to users and may not rank you as a result.
- Penalty: If your brand has a history of bad links or manipulative content (keyword stuffing) you may be penalized by Google. Note: if your site has incurred a manual penalty, it will indicate this to you in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Norank, Nofollow: These are manual HTML codes that can be put on a page to specifically prevent Google from showing this page in search results. If your web developer finds one of these codes on a page (and it wasn’t placed their strategically), then you’re going to want to remove it right away.
While this guide is a helpful for a high-level understanding of a topic, we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the various of ways Google will evaluate the quality of your website. We have not mentioned site architecture, URL structure, social signals, spam factors, site reputation, backlink profiles, mobile optimization, and countless other ranking factors.
If you liked this article and found it helpful, we encourage you to read further by following our links in the sidebar. And if you’d like to learn more about SEO and help elevate your keyword ranks closer to the front page of Google, sign up for a free consultation with Logical Media Group.