In 1900, the magazine Ladies Home Journal published an article by John Elfreth Watkins Jr. called, “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.” Among his predictions for the year 2000: photographs transported across long distances; electronic connection of people around the world; automatic home delivery of packages and goods; worldwide wireless telephony. Many of these prophecies seem to be astonishingly prescient predictions of the Internet and the information age. But many of the more mundane details of modern life, Watkins’ predictions have fallen flat.
For instance: How could he have foreseen Google and the importance of search engines to our day to day life?
Search engines like Google and Bing are how most modern Americans find information, shop for consumer goods, find local businesses, and more. If you’re in business and you aren’t ranking in Google, you won’t be in business for long. That’s what makes search engine placement so important.
Are you having trouble ranking in Google and other search engines? If so, there are a number of things that could be holding you back. Here at Keyword Performance, we’ve been offering search engine placement services for over 13, and in the time we’ve gotten intimate knowledge of some of the most common reasons why sites fail to rank. Take a look at some of the most common ones, and how you can address them.
How Search Engines Work
First, let’s briefly explore how search engines actually work. In a nutshell, search engines work by combing through all the web pages they have in their index and returning those pages they find most relevant to users’ searches, in descending order of significance and quality.
“Significance” and “quality” are the two operative words here. How does Google determine these factors for (just about) every single page on the web? It does it with content, structure, and links. If you’re not enjoying great search engine placement, a lack of one or all three on your site is to blame.
Reasons Why Sites Have Poor Search Engine Placement
Too little content, or content that’s just not any good.
Look: Google likes to read. One of the most important things for any site is having enough content (that means text and images) on every page. But not just any content will do. You need to have original, high-quality, informative, engaging, well-written content that’s highly relevant to users’ queries and is visible to search engines. That means no text embedded in images, in rich media like Adobe Flash, or otherwise hidden.
We’ve seen a lot of people struggling to rank in search because they don’t have any content on their site, or because the content they do have is irrelevant or poorly written. We’ve even seen that’s that had all their content not properly coded with HTML, but embedded in images impossible for search engines to read!
Poor site structure.
But Google and other search engines don’t just look at individual pages; they look at sites as a whole. Depending on how your site is structured, relevance and authority may or may not be properly passed from page to page. Categories, URL structures, internal navigation and linking are all crucial.
Part of any comprehensive search engine optimization campaign is organizing and optimizing these factors.
Read More: SEO Site Audits
Not enough links (or too many bad ones).
When one website links to another, search engines like Google consider this to be something like a “vouch.” Part of how sites develop authority and quality of a site as a whole is to tally the number of vouches it’s got. But more links isn’t always better. You need links from sites with high authority of their own, relevant to your site’s niche.
In fact, too many links from poor-authority sites could get your site penalized, nuking any chances for placing anywhere near the top of search results. Here are a few quick rules of thumb for links:
- Links need to be natural, that is webmasters must look at the content of your site, decide that it is relevant to their audience, and set up the link themselves.
- One link from a relevant, high-authority site is worth more than a hundred bad links.
- Links should never be bought or paid for. This is considered manipulation of a site’s search rankings (not optimization) and will result in a penalty.
The process of link-building is two-fold: Creating relevant, high-quality content, and promoting it so that others find it and link to it naturally; reaching out to people in the right fields to manually create relationships that lead to links. Search engine optimization and placement services should include both these strategies!
Even if a site has great content and a lot of awesome links, bad code and other technical issues may keep it from enjoying high search engine placement. For instance, the best web page in the world won’t appear in Google at all, anywhere, ever if it contains this small snippet of HTML code:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
Why? This little code expressly tells search engines not to index a page. It can be useful (when a site is still under development for example), but if left lingering it can be a disaster.
Similarly, most sites have what’s called a robots.txt file, which tells search engines what they should or shouldn’t access. Just recently we saw a site whose robots.txt file indicated that search engine crawlers should abandon it altogether. With a small tweak to this file, 2 minutes of work tops, this site could see its traffic go through the roof!
What Search Engine Placement Services Can Do For You
All of this is just the very tip of the iceberg. When you hire an SEO company for search engine placement services, what you’re getting is an expert team that can take these factors and more into account, correcting what’s wrong, doubling down on what’s right, and giving your site the best chance possible to rank for the right keywords. (Note: No SEO company and guarantee traffic or rankings. SEO is about optimizing, not making promises. If a company does, be very suspicious.)
If you’re interested in learning more or getting SEO services for your own site, contact Keyword Performance today.