You have a website, but that website doesn’t rank in Google search results. How could this be!? You publish blogs. Your team uses keywords within your content. You’ve even been featured on a high profile website. So, you start to wonder why your SEO isn’t working.
Well, SEO is a multi-faceted beast. Search engine optimization hinges on research, data science, user experience preferences, and content strategy. Luckily, most of SEO is super formulaic and has black and white best practices to follow. The content strategy and website design standpoint are the more nuanced factors. But, that’s where SEO agencies like Charm School come into play.
So if you’re asking yourself, “why is my SEO not working?”, “why isn’t my website getting organic traffic?”, and/or “why isn’t my website showing up on Google search results?” then the following troubleshooting guide and tips will help!
Common SEO Problems: A SEO Troubleshooting Guide When Your Organic Search Results Suck
You Don’t Know What the Algorithm Wants, and that’s E-A-T
To master SEO, we first need to know what the Google algorithm wants—and what search engine algorithms require in general. So, let’s start at the beginning.
When somebody types words into a search bar, the results that show up aren’t random. On the contrary, search results are handpicked by search engine spiders—or an algorithm that gives users the most useful content based on qualifications.
Those qualifications are known as E-A-T. Google uses this acronym to tell us what top ranking content needs to contain to show up in the first page of search results. Obviously, Google has its own well being in mind when determining the content it ranks. Google only wants to recommend content that users find relevant because in doing so, Google will continue to remain the number one tool for search.
What E-A-T Means
- Expertise. An expert writes the content. This criteria means that it has someone’s name on it. Google also factors in what else that person’s name is associated with.
- Authoritativeness. The content gets backlink references from other high domain authority sites—or sites with credibility.
- Trustworthiness. The content is published on a website that people visit and trust. We’re talking https guarded. No more http without a security certificate.
You can use this acronym to ensure your website stays compliant with SEO best practices. Doing so will increase your chances of ranking highly in search results, so customers find your website and you can make more sales.
Why Your Website’s SEO Isn’t Working—and What To Do About It
Maybe you already understood E-A-T, or you feel like you’ve been following 2022–2023 SEO best practices. However, your site still isn’t ranking in search results. Why isn’t your SEO working? Many factors may come into play here, especially the following culprits.
1. You Haven’t Given Your Organic SEO Enough Time to Take Off
We know you wanted your post to “go viral” overnight—and some do! However, the majority or organic SEO content takes six to 12 months to gain traction online and climb to the top of rankings. Organic SEO is a slow and steady game—and the tortoise will always win. That’s why it’s so important to publish SEO content at least once per month for six to 12 months in order to get results. Consistency is key here, and so is being patient.
2. You Don’t Follow 2022–2023 SEO Best Practices
Algorithms base their code on user patterns and customer preferences. Thus, search algorithms are ever-changing. For example, Google just altered the algorithm this month. You must keep up with the changes and alter your practices and content marketing strategy! Set a Google alert to get notified about algorithm changes, or subscribe to trade publications to stay in the know.
3. You Don’t Write SEO Optimized Blog Posts
If you want Google to rank your website’s content, it has to be able to find it. That means every post needs to be optimized with a focus keyword, keyword rich title tags, meta description, and alt text. You need to include tags on images and videos too, so the algorithm has information to crawl! Writing copy that is scannable and full of images to break up text also helps SEO.
4. You Don’t Write for an Actual Audience
If SEO isn’t working for your site, it could be because people don’t search for what you offer. Do audience research to make sure you have a demand for your supply.
5. Slow Website Speed and Bad Functionality Hurt Your SEO Score
SEO has as much to do with written content as it does with the function of your website. Slow page load speed times, confusing UX, broken links, sketchy backlinks, and lack of mobile-friendly design or responsive design can damage your search efforts.
Google won’t give sites a high search ranking if they load slowly. Here are some common SEO issues that lead to slow load speed.
- Full size, uncompressed images
- Conflicting or outdated plugins. Update your plug-ins monthly!
- An outdated or poorly-performing website design theme
- Bad hosting. Host your site with a legit provider like GoDaddy, Blue Host, etc. Otherwise, hosting speed may ding your SEO
- Too many 404 and 401 redirects—a.k.a. broken links.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to make sure your site loads quickly. To find out if your site is mobile-friendly, use this free SEO tool: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. You can use an online tool like Siteimprove to test your website’s structure and identify any issues that may harm your ranking efforts, too.
6. Poor Content Strategy
If your content isn’t well written, correctly formatted, or if it’s duplicated from another site (published exactly on another URL), it will cause problems with your search ranking. For instance, badly written or content that’s too long or short will get a high bounce rate. This tells Google that your content doesn’t answer the question a search query poses.
Excellent, organic SEO content that’s worthy of a top three ranking is…
- Grammatically correct and without spelling errors
- Easy to scan because it’s organized with H2s, H3s, and bullets
- Original—you can’t find it anywhere else online in the exact wording. Never write duplicate content.
- Complemented by helpful internal and external links. Always include internal and external links in your blogs.
- 800–1,200 words. This gives you enough word count to answer the user’s question.
- Optimized without keyword stuffing. Don’t write like a robot. Balance your UX and SEO here to include keywords in H1, H2, meta data and tags, and naturally throughout your content.
- Fresh: updated annually with new data and links including an editor’s note.
7. You Only Target Competitive Keywords
Your site may not rank because you have too much competition for the keywords you choose. Focusing solely on big, industry-wide keywords that will bring tons of traffic to your site is a mistake. Why? Because everyone else is after those same keywords! That means you have a ton of competition, including from more well-established sites that Google already recognizes as fulfilling the E-A-T criteria.
Savvy SEO strategy needs to include a mix of short and long tail keywords. Try ranking for keywords with healthy search volumes but less competition. Consider adding niche and long-tail keywords (or phrases) to your strategy. Think about what your potential customers are searching for. What are their pain points? Do you know what problems they go to Google to solve? What do they enter into the search bar? Go for the low-hanging fruit that will guarantee you some targeted traffic and quality leads.
8. You Don’t Cross Promote on Social Media and Email
If you focus on organic traffic from search, you’re missing out on referral traffic! Direct traffic comes from search results, and referral traffic comes from your social media channels, email campaigns, and other marketing channels. You should always cross promote your content on your other marketing mediums in order to maximize your website traffic. More website traffic tells search engines that people seek out your content and it should put more of it in front of users. This is a great thing!
Plus, having social media profiles helps your SEO because often your social profiles will outrank your website. So, if you don’t have a social media marketing team, it’s time to start one.
9. You Don’t Have a Google Business Profile
Google Business is a free, easy way to get Google to notice your business. You just fill out the profile step-by-step on the site. It includes photos of your business, address, telephone number, website, map, and reviews. Basically, everything someone needs to know to become a customer is right there! And since GMB is a Google function, it automatically ranks your Google Business Profile and uses it to help establish your business’s authority in other posts. It’s a win-win, for sure. This will help you with local pack search—people who look for “XYZ near me.” Using GMB is a great way to jump to the front of the line in search results.
10. Your Site Needs a Redesign
On a technical standpoint, how your website functions impacts your SEO. However, the user experience side of that matters too! Of course, the aesthetic appeal and function of your site fall under UX for SEO.
Website design is important for Google ranking and visitors, who are likely to leave your site quickly if it’s not visually appealing or doesn’t function well. You can find out if you have website design issues based on bounce rate. If you get a lot of website traffic but people bail the second they get there, you need to fix something on the UX and design side of things.
11. You Don’t Use Free SEO Tools
Search Console, Google Analytics, and other top SEO tools are available to help you improve your website’s SEO! Search console is free and sends you monthly reports on your best performing content, traffic, bounce rates, and other metrics. Likewise, it will also send you alerts if your website falls out of compliance with Google SEO best practices, so you can fix them right away. Google Analytics will also help you track traffic and data about your website. Make sure your website developer and SEO strategist hook up these tools for you so you have information to make better SEO decisions.
12. You Hired a Link Builder Who Built Sketchy Links
Link building will always be a super effective way to improve your search rank results. But, one bad apple really will spoil the bunch. If you hired a link building agency to build “hundreds of links for your business for cheap,” then there’s a good chance you have spammy backlinks hurting your Google ranking. The only way to determine this is through Search Console or another paid SEO tool like Moz or Screaming Frog. You’ll see all of your referring domains to let you know if you need to formally disavow the links to Google. It’s pretty much telling Google, “I have nothing to do with that site.”
13. You Need an SEO Audit
The easiest way to determine why your SEO isn’t working is through an SEO audit. Charm School is a woman-owned SEO agency that can help you assess and improve your SEO ranking. With an audit, you’ll learn
- SEO functionality issues
- Page load speed problems
- Bad backlinks and if you need to disavow links
- Indexing and if any of your pages aren’t set up to rank on Google in the first place. We’ll make sure they are!
- Google penalties that may prevent your site from ranking
- Long and short tail keywords
- Content strategy
- Competitive analysis
- What keywords your website currently ranks for, and which keywords your competitors rank for
Hands down, an SEO audit is the easiest, most cost-effective and time saving way to determine why your SEO efforts aren’t working and Google doesn’t rank your website. We can clear this up in less than two weeks! Get in touch to learn more.
Once you’ve finished troubleshooting your SEO issues, it’s time to fix them. Our SEO experts, content writers, and website designers and developers at Charm School would love to help. Send us an email to get started.