Why Your Blog Content Still Isn’t Ranking Well

Published by
Kenny Novak
on October 29, 2014
Posted in Resources

There are seven billion people on the planet.  Imagine, for a moment, if every one of them had an Internet connection and dedicated two hours of their time each day to looking at websites.  That’s two hours of attention every day for each person; 14 billion hours worth of attention.  How hard would you have to fight to get a share of that attention?

Consider this: there are over one billion websites alive and active today.  That’s a huge number.  Just imagine how to visualize them, or don’t; just click this link.  That’s also just the number of websites that are alive, unique and active.  According to some Google statistics, there are over 30 trillion unique web pages in their index alone, and there are plenty of sites that Google doesn’t index.

Your website is one of millions competing for a finite amount of user attention.  Worse, you’re competing for a small subset of that attention; users who will be interested and will convert.

Why bring this up?  It’s not just to convince you of the ultimate futility of existence in a world where content is being created faster than it can be consumed.  The point is, it’s possible to attract that attention.  All you need to do is, well, do everything exactly right.  So, why isn’t your blog gaining its share of those haphazardly calculated 14 billion hours?

You Have Duplicate Content Issues

Duplicate-Content

It’s entirely possible to have lingering duplicate content, even if you’re not intentionally posting the same content on multiple pages.  If your site generates URLs dynamically or appends session data to URLs, the different URLs for each session, loading the same page, will read as duplicate content.  Canonicalization can fix this issue.

Your Content is Poorly Written

It’s good to fill your site with content, but that content needs to be decent.  You could have 10,000 pages, but if they all read as though you pulled the subject lines out of your email spam folder, you’re not going to see much benefit.

You Have No Keyword Focus

Here’s one question to ask; if you want to rank for a given query, are the words of that query in your content?  It’s surprisingly common for a site to want to rank for a niche, but fail to use niche-related keywords in their content.  You might be ranking perfectly fine, for whatever your content includes – just not the subjects you want to rank.

You Have Too Much Keyword Focus

Your-Posts-Lack-Focus

Having too much of a keyword focus is just as bad as too little focus.  It’s called keyword stuffing, and it happens when you’re paranoid about not using a keyword often enough to rank.  Suffice it to say that 1-2 uses of a given keyword is enough for Google to pick it out.

You Don’t Optimize Meta Data

You can rank without optimized meta data, but you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Customized meta data tells Google that you care, and it gives users a better incentive to click through.  This mostly means a keyword-inclusive title and a robust meta description.

You Comments are Riddled with Spam

Yes, comments aren’t content you directly control.  You have to trust a spam filter or manually approve or moderate every comment posted on your site.  For a larger, active site, this can be an incredible burden.  Still, if you let your comments end up filled with spam, you’re going to suffer for it.

You Have No Backlinks

No-BacklinksAccording to Google, links are votes.  You only rank when you have enough votes to appear above your competitors.  At least, in this extremely simplified view of PageRank, that’s true.  If your site doesn’t have any incoming votes, or has too few, you’re not going to find a decent place in the rankings.

You Have Too Many Spam Backlinks

The above description of PageRank is, as mentioned, simplified.  Google also counts the quality of the website casting the vote.  If your votes are all coming from known liars, cheats and sneaks, you’re not going to rank.  One good vote from an upstanding citizen is worth more than all the rest.

Your Incoming Links are Overly Optimized

There are other aspects to these votes that matter as well, including the anchor text used to cast them.  Okay, so the metaphor isn’t perfect.  The point is, Google – specifically, Penguin – hates it when all of your incoming links use the same anchor text.  It’s a sign of spam techniques, and can earn you a penalty.

You Have Hidden Links on Pages

Hidden links and hidden content may seem like a good idea, when you don’t think it through.  Many newbie webmasters know just enough about SEO to be dangerous.  They think that if links – or keywords – are good, but their users don’t want to see them, why not hide them?  The thought process ends there, because they don’t think forward to realize that Google already thought of that and knows to look for it.

You Built Links Too Quickly

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  If they could have built it overnight, they certainly would have, but that’s not the point.  Websites don’t grow to top ranking powerhouses overnight either.  In fact, if you’re showing signs of meteoric growth, Google is going to look into why.  If you’ve built links too quickly, it looks like you paid for them, and that’s a bad thing.

You Aren’t Linking Out

Linking-Out

The web is collaborative.  Remember how links are considered votes from one site to another?  If you’re being selfish and accumulating votes without voting in return, you’ll be looked on with suspicion.  Hoarding isn’t good in any context.

You’re Using Deprecated HTML/CSS

If you first learned to code HTML in the glory days of the 80s or 90s, you’re probably used to using tags and code that, well, isn’t quite up to code these days.  There are a lot of tags no longer in use.  Rather, they work, but Google prefers more descriptive and useful tags instead.  You can see a large list of deprecated tags here.

Your Code Blocks Google User Agents

The NoIndex tag is a meta tag specifically designed to blog Google from indexing your page.  If you’re blocking Google, you can’t show up in the index, no matter how good your SEO is.  Check your robots.txt file for signs of NoIndex, and check the meta head section of your pages.

Your Site Loads Too Slowly

Long load times – times over five or so seconds – typically make browsers time out.  If your site is taking this long to load, you’re turning away traffic. More importantly, because you’re turning away traffic, Google doesn’t want to promote your site as the best option.

Your Site Goes Down

If your site has downtime, it’s worse than being slow to load.  If Google can’t tell that you’re going to be available whenever a user might want to visit your page, they won’t put you up in the rankings.  There are no business hours on the web.

Written by Kenny Novak

Kenny Novak

Kenny is an SEM and SEO professional. He uses blogging and content marketing as a launchpad for small businesses looking to grow their online presence.

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