Why Won’t My Website Rank on Page 1 of Google?

When prospects initially contact us regarding our SEO services it is not uncommon for us to hear them say something like “the last company we worked with actually made our site drop in the rankings,” or “the last company we worked with did not get our site to rank any better.”  While there are many reasons that either of these things may have happened the bottom line is you did not see any increase in revenue, leads, prospects, etc. as a result of the efforts, or worse you may have seen a decrease in those numbers. This article is going to explain why that may have happened and what you can do to get back on track.

There are many reasons why a site may not increase in rankings, or worse decrease in rankings when search engine optimization is being implemented.   Those reasons could be a bad SEO strategy, a change in Google’s algorithm, or it could be as simple as the product or service you offer is not one that Google wants to be seen at the top of page 1. At the time of this article, this is very common in what is referred to as “your money, your life” niche. If your product or service has to do with money or health and you are not a very well-established well-known brand in your market you will have a very difficult if not impossible time getting your site to rank in the top of the Google search engine.

Since there is not much you can do if Google does not want your product or service to rank at the top of their page based on the industry you are in, we are going to tackle the other two reasons you may be having an issue with your site rankings. We’re going to start by discussing Google’s algorithm because this is very closely related to “bad SEO.”

However, before I get started, you may want to run a complete website audit to have handy and reference throughout this article and during your research.

If you follow SEO at all or have been trying to implement it on a website that you own you have probably seen, heard, or read about many of the Google updates. The fact is Google is constantly updating their algorithms on a regular basis, and you only hear about the ones that have made a significant impact on many sites.  So if you had a site that was once ranking well but suddenly took a significant dive in the search engine results, there is a high probability that you got tripped up in one of Google’s algorithmic filters. This could be a new algorithmic filter Google has put in place or a change to a current algorithmic filter.

Google is constantly updating their algorithms in an attempt to give users the best experience possible. For example, Google cannot have a user come to their search engine and search for bananas and have results for apples come up.  Also when results for bananas display Google wants to make sure it is the best results for bananas that are possible based on the user’s intent. For this to happen, Google must put algorithms in place to try and prevent manipulation of the search results. This is where your skill as an SEO or the skill of the SEO that you hire comes into play.

It’s important for you to understand that search engine optimization of any kind is nothing more than manipulation of search engine results and that in any fashion is a violation of Google’s terms of service. The methods you use, how you implement those methods, and the degree to which you do it,  is what separates skilled SEOs from novices. It’s the difference between getting your site to rank at the top of page 1 or having it stuck where it’s at or even drop in the results.  Worse yet an awful SEO strategy can get your website deindexed from Google’s search results meaning that your site is no longer even eligible to show up in Google anywhere.  It’s the difference between making a lot of money and struggling or going out of business.

If you feel you are the victim of a bad SEO strategy or have been tripped up in one of Google’s algorithmic filters, there are some steps you can take to try and get back on track. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your site has not been deindexed in Google. This is very simple. All you need to do is go to the Google search bar and type in the following:  Site: HTTP(s):yourwebsite.com.   After typing this in the search bar hit enter. Your website should show up as the number one result in the search results. If you do not see it there or within the top three there is a very high likelihood that your site has been deindexed.   This is the highest penalty that Google serves, and you have to contact them through Google webmaster tools to have your site reconsidered for indexation.

Assuming that your site is not deindexed the next thing you should do is go into your Google search console and see if you have any messages regarding actions that Google took against your site.   If your site is not connected to Google search console, you need to do that first. If you find messages in there or what is referred to as manual actions this will tell you any actions that Google took against your site and what you can do to try and fix the problem. The most common manual action that is seen inside the Google search console is the “unnatural links penalty.” This means that Google has detected what they believe to be unnatural linking (i.e SEO) to your site. If this is the case, you need to start by disavowing some of the incoming links. Once you do that, submit your site for reconsideration. If Google does not accept it, they will usually give you a “hint” on what links to disavow next.

Now just because you do not see any manual actions inside your Google search console does not mean that actions have not been taken against your site. It simply means that a human did not manually look at your site, but it is still very possible that actions have been taken based on an algorithmic filter. Algorithmic filter penalties are more difficult to figure out. To figure out what algorithmic penalty your site has been hit with it often requires you changing and testing one component at a time.  The most common components to test are site content (too much or too little) and links (too many, wrong anchor text, wrong type of sites).

Now you have checked for manual actions and know that you either had none or that you addressed them. You have tested for algorithmic penalties and either addressed those or excluded them from being an issue affecting the ranking of your site. You now need to consider a bad SEO strategy from the standpoint of either not enough is being done to create movement in your site, or the wrong strategies are being implemented.

You should think of SEO as a car race. To win a car race, you need two things. A properly built car and the fuel to make it run.  In SEO your website is your car.  You need to make sure that your car is built properly because if it is not, it doesn’t matter what kind or how much fuel you put in it is not going to run correctly. Things that you need to make your car (website) run properly are referred to as on-page factors.   The fuel that you need to put in your car to make it run after it’s built properly is referred to as off-page factors.  One factor without the other will simply leave you stuck at the start line. Here is a good post explaining on page and off page SEO factors in more detail.

Once you have made sure that your site has no penalties whether manual or algorithmic, and you have optimized your website with all on-page factors and have begun implementing off-page factors, unfortunately, all you can do is wait and monitor the results.  SEO requires patience. While many variables are involved that affect the time it takes to see any results, generally speaking, any changes you make related to on page factors should be recognized within about two weeks on average. Off-page factors such as linking might take anywhere between four and six weeks to be recognized and as much as 90 days to feel it’s complete impact.

Proper SEO requires a high degree of skill and experience.  If you have any doubts whatsoever regarding your ability in this area, and you rely on your website and online traffic to generate revenue I recommend you consult a professional. When you work with the right partner, the results will speak for themselves, and you will wish you had done it sooner.  If you are interested in working with us, you can see if you qualify and request a free video analysis.