One of the most common questions we get when we re-design a website is "how do I get to the top of Google?" and it's little wonder, with the huge commercial opportunity that comes from search. The trouble is that it isn't as easy as just launching a website and hoping it ranks well in the search engines, it takes time and a considered strategy to get there.
There are several 'checkpoints' that are worth looking at if your SEO campaign isn't working that we've seen in our years of experience in the industry.
Now you get to drive into the data and find out why you're not ranking! So let's take a look at some of the reasons why your SEO campaign might not be firing on all cylinders.
With the rise of websites such as Wordpress, Weebly, Wix and even GoDaddy, it has become incredibly easy for people to design and build their own websites from the comfort of their own home! When I was first starting to learn about the ins and outs of website design, I built myself a few websites on these builders. Needless to say that as I was just starting my web design and marketing journey, they did not do well in Google! There are a few factors that Google take into account when ranking websites that are based purely on the design and development of your website. Let's take a look at some of these.
The experience that your users are having on your website is one of the main things Google look at when deciding which websites should rank above the rest. Proof of this comes as a talk Matthew Howells-Barby completed in 2016 which you can find here. If you don't have time to watch the entire video, Matthew talks about an experiment he conducted where he took 300 HubSpot employees and asked them to take one of their search results, which was ranking on Page 2 of the search results, simulate a good user experience and then leave the website (but not going back to Google). The result of this experiment was that within 1 hour of completing the tests, that search result was ranking at the top of Google!
Now this talk was completed in 2016, however, the results of this particular experiment are still relevant. If your users are not having a good experience on your website and are continually going back to Google, Google is going to see this as a sign that your website is not fulfilling the needs of the users and rank you lower than the results that are.
All of this means that you need to take time and really think about the experience your users are going to have when on your website. Whether this means you choose to handle the responsibility of building your website yourself or hand this off to a web design company is completely up to you.
We know that people today have very short attention spans. And I really do mean very short. Surveys completed by Akamai and Gomez.com found that nearly half of all internet users expect a website to load in under 2 seconds. 2 seconds. This means that if your website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, not only are you losing half of your website visitors (and leads), but you will also be losing your rankings! Google will be seeing all these bounces and will, like if your website does not have a great user experience, rank you a lot lower than your competitors that have a much quicker page load speed.
Don't worry, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your website is loading as quickly as possible. Even Google has a tool that will give you results, in great detail, showing what is affecting your site speed. You can then take these results and either hand them to your web developer or tackle them yourself. Here's a search we ran on Google's page speed for their UK site so you can see what factors Google take into account when you run your website through this tool.
One of the key takeaways here is that you need to spend time improving the speed at which your site loads. Doing so will both increase the number of visitors your website sees, as well as where your website ranks in Google.
If you search on Google something along the lines of 'How Do I Rank Higher In Google', there is an extremely high chance that on most of the articles you read, they will mention the fact that you need a lot of inbound links to your site. However, it isn't quite as simple as that. Many people add their website to as many directories they can get their hands on and hope for the best, but that doesn't cut it today. Google also looks at the authority of the websites that are linking to you and use this as a ranking factor. A website that has 2,000 links from low authority directory websites will not do as well in Google as a website with 200 high authority, relevant backlinks (if you're only taking this into account).
If you are serious about wanting your website to rank as high as possible in Google, you will need a good link building strategy. This is something that reputable digital marketing companies and SEO consultants will work with you to complete. Once your website starts getting high authority backlinks on a regular basis, Google will start treating your website as a high authority website and start ranking you higher for your keywords in Google. A great way to get your site up there is to dive into the world of digital PR. Making sure you have something to say about a relevant topic means your comments are newsworthy. A good example would be when Oyster Retail Packaging spoke about how Brexit would affect them, take a look here.
I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing better than creating an SEO strategy, implementing it for your client and watching their rankings increase month on month as the strategy starts to take shape! But tracking your backlinks, Google rankings and traffic is important too. Making sure that you have the right tool for the job is imperative so, have a look around at a few industry favourites for links like Ahrefs or Moz.
When you read anything about improving your SEO, content will always pop up. But oftentimes it is preached that you need to be putting out a lot of content to build your site's authority. This really isn't the case, but people follow this advice anyway. In 2016, around 2,500,000 blog posts were published every day! And that was just Wordpress websites... There is a lot of useless information that is published online every day of the week. It is hard to separate what advice you should be taking and what advice you should be staying away from.
However, what I can tell you with absolute certainty is that you do need a content strategy for your website. But you should not be focussed on putting out as many blog posts as possible, all this will do is label your website as a site that constantly produces mediocre content. Instead, you should be focussed on creating longer form content which gives you really useful information for your readers. Think of content and SEO as yin and yang, you really cannot have one without the other. Without fantastic content on your website that readers enjoy reading, your SEO campaign will likely fail. Likewise, without a well thought out SEO strategy, your content will fail. This really is a case of you need to have it both ways.
If you take a look at our blog, for example, most of the posts we publish are longer form, informative blog posts that appeal to our target audience.
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One of the main things we will tell everyone that enquires about our SEO services is that SEO is not a short term fix. To really see great results with your SEO strategy requires a lot of time and effort in both creating and executing your strategy. Whilst you can see some very quick with results with... Questionable... SEO strategies, we always advise against this. Google engineers are very smart, and they have created an algorithm that will see through this in time, and your website could be hit with a very severe Google penalty.
We have always found that when you take time with creating and executing, an SEO strategy, the results you will see will always be a lot better than a rushed SEO strategy that has not been thought out well. When you take your time to conduct the right research, find the right keywords you need to target, and research what tactics and strategies work best with your target audience, the results you will see will be far greater than the results of a generic SEO campaign.
SEO is not something that you can take lightly, it is also not something that you can succeed with by using any generic SEO campaign taken from your favourite marketing influencer. SEO is unique to every single website, and the success you will see with your campaigns will always depend on factors such as your website UX, design, the content you are pushing out as well as how often you are publishing content. Likewise, you need a well thought out link building strategy to enable you to build your site's authority and build high-quality backlinks to your site. Without all of these things working in perfect harmony, your SEO strategy will likely not yield the results you are looking for.