When it comes to getting your business noticed, nothing compares with being at the top of Google when people search for your products and services.
The search giant now processes over 40,000 search queries every second and every brand wants a piece of that pie. This is why having a search engine optimised website is critical. The benefits of a search engine friendly website are hard to dispute, especially when the traffic starts to pour in.
Sometimes, despite your endeavours, you may find that your website still isn’t ranking on Google. You search and search – but your website still doesn’t appear.
If this problem sounds familiar, don’t worry. The first step is to double check…
Is my website on Google?
The first step is to check if your website is on Google or not.
Search for ‘site:yourdomain.com’ on Google. If your website comes up, then you’re listed on the search engine. Congratulations! If this isn’t the case, start with this checklist and you should be able to find the problem:
1. Have you submitted a sitemap to Google?
You may have optimised your website, but unless it’s been indexed by Google, you’re not going to rank. Essentially, search engines work by sending out ‘crawlers’ in order to establish the relevance of your website’s content.
The best content is stored and organised – or, indexed – by these crawlers, which means that it’s available for ranking in response to specific queries and keywords. If your website isn’t indexable, then it won’t rank.
Submitting a sitemap is an important way for Google to discover URLs on your site. If you haven’t done this yet, head over to Google Search Console, set up an account and submit your sitemap.
2. Have you noindexed or blocked Google?
Your website needs to be available to Google’s crawlers in order to index. However, you may have inadvertently made your site un-crawlable or noindexable.
If you accidentally add noindex meta robot tags to your page, then you’ll be informing Google’s crawlers that the results can’t be indexed, which means they won’t rank. You may have also blocked the crawlers in the first instance with a robots.txt file, or by a variety of other ways, including server errors and errors with your website’s coding.
You can check whether you’ve noindexed your site by opening any page and checking the source code – if ‘noindex’ is listed anywhere, you’ve likely noindexed the page. You’ll also need to edit the robots.txt file if it’s prevented Google from crawling your site – here’s Google’s how-to guide on this issue.
3. Is your website new?
If you’ve only just launched your website, you’ll have to be patient.
Google will get to your site eventually. However, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. While you’re waiting, use this period to add more content to your website. Google loves websites that are growing, with fresh new content added frequently.
4. Has your website been penalised?
Is your content is duplicated, automatically generated or an infringement of copyright? Are you overly using irrelevant keywords, spam or poorly placed affiliate links into your site?
If yes, you may have received a Google penalty. This will reduce your ranking significantly. Use Google’s own support tool to establish whether you’ve been hit with a penalty – and take steps to both undo and avoid this risk.
My website is on Google, but not ranking well
If the ‘site:yourdomain.com’ search on Google worked, that’s great. However, this is just the easy part. The next challenge is for your website to rank well when people search for your services or products.
If this isn’t the case, here are the key reasons why, along with potential fixes…
1. Is your website slow?
When audiences use search engines, they typically want fast results. If your website has technical issues like long loading times, people typically won’t stick around.
Did you know that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load?
As of 2010, Google started to measure and use the speed at which a page loads as a ranking factor. So, if your website is slow, it will be punished.
2. Is your website mobile friendly?
Your website also needs to be optimised for mobiles – in fact, Google operates on the basis of mobile-first indexing, and has been since early 2021. This means that it’s your mobile website that’s used by Google for ranking and indexing. If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s tool.
3. Is your website secure?
Yes, Google prefers secure websites as well – and why wouldn’t it? If Google sent their customers to dodgy websites, they’d be out of business by now.
Make sure your website’s domain has a “https” at the start and not “http”. The “s” stands for secure, and indicates that the site is using an SSL Certificate.
4. Does your site have a good internal link structure?
Just as your website needs consistently high-quality content, it also needs a strong internal linking structure. Internal linking is how the pages on your website link to each other.
The most important pages should have the most internal links. An easy way to achieve this is with a clear, well-planned navigation, that includes links to the main pages on the website.
It’s also important to avoid orphaned content. This refers to content that lacks these internal links, and is therefore harder for Google and searchers to locate. If a webpage can’t be reached by somebody on your website, Google won’t be impressed – this is considered a poor user experience.
5. Are you consistently adding quality, relevant content?
Google wants to suggest useful content to its users. When somebody searches for something online, the most suitable and helpful content will be suggested. The goal is to make sure your content is suggested.
For example, let’s say you provide landscaping services and your target customers regularly search for the question: “How much does landscaping cost?”
If you can add a piece of content that answers this question, then there’s a high chance this potential customer will find you. If you can make sure your content is better than your competitors’, then Google is going to love your site.
Your content has to match the search intent, meaning it needs to respond to what audiences are searching for. If you’re creating content that is mismatched with this, it won’t rank.
In order to rank higher, you need to be creating content that’s consistently high quality and produced regularly. Google will regularly crawl your website – if you are consistently creating new content, they’ll keep coming back.
6. Are you targeting the wrong keywords
Your target customers use search terms on Google to find your services and products. Simply put, the basic activity of SEO is making sure that search term is used on your website.
If people are searching for “local affordable mechanic” in your area – and that’s what you do – then including this phrase on your website is step 1.
However, being savvy with your keywords is a vital step for ranking. If you try to rank for overly-competitive keywords, your website may fall through the search engine’s cracks – particularly if you’re a new business.
As a new business, you may want to rank well when people search for a phrase like “accountant”. With 40,000 searches per month on Google, you’d be crazy not to! However, there are thousands of established accountants that have been trying to do that for the last few decades. You’re a bit too late to the party.
Instead, try to rank for more specific, niche keywords. If you are trying to rank for phrases with 3+ words (which are called long-tail keywords), then you’ll have a better chance of doing well on search engines. For example, instead of “accountant”, you could target the phrase “small business accountants London” which has 170 searches per month in the UK.
This may take some time to deliver results, but by using highly targeted search phrases that respond to specific search queries, you’re building up your website reputation and will rank higher. Over time, you may then be able to use the more competitive keywords.
7. Are you attracting backlinks?
You also need authoritative backlinks. These are links from an external website to your own. Each link acts as a vote of confidence in your website and boosts your site’s credibility. Google wants to suggest websites that it trusts, and the backlink profile is one of the metrics that the platform uses.
However, if these links are from low quality, spammy websites, this can hurt you. When it comes to backlinks, you only want links from relevant, high-quality sites.
Building backlinks is difficult. Buying backlinks is a no-no. Instead, it’s better to earn backlinks. And to do this, you need content that’s link-worthy. For example, people regularly link to how-to videos, free resources and downloadable templates.
Ask yourself – is your website providing helpful content? If not, backlinks will be hard to come by. You can use Google Search Console to review your backlinks and see where you stand.
Improve your website ranking with Rapport Digital
With ten years of experience providing SEO services for accountants and accounting firms across the UK, Rapport Digital can help you optimise your website ranking – whether it’s for a brand new or old site. Contact us today to discover how we can create a customised approach to your business’s SEO – and help your website conquer Google!