If your perfectly optimized post isn’t ranking, what could be the matter? Is the problem that your site is not on Google at all, or is something else going wrong? What is keeping your content from reaching that coveted #1 position? In this post, we’ll discuss several of the possible reasons why your page is not ranking, even though it’s optimized.
We’ve divided the possible issues you might be having into four sections:
Indexing and crawl issues: How to check if your site is on Google, plus reasons why your site/page might not be on Google
Technical issues with your website: Is Google disregarding your site because it’s not set up correctly?
Linking issues: Is your internal linking structure and lack of quality backlinks limiting your success?
Content and keyword issues: Is your content high quality and aligned to the right search intent?
Indexing and Crawl Issues
1. Your site/page is not on Google
If you’re unsure whether your site is on Google or not, you can check using the site: search operator in Google. Type site:yoursite.com and you’ll see a list of pages found on that domain. If you type in the full URL of a specific article, you should see only one search result return. If you see your pages, this means that Google does know about your site and has put — at least some of it — in its index. Once you discover that your page is in the index, but you think it is not performing well, you might want to dig deeper.
2. Your site/page is still too new
If your site or page is new, it might simply be a matter chilling out and checking back in a little while. There are a lot of moving parts in getting your content crawled, indexed and ranked. Sometimes, it takes days or maybe even weeks / months for Google to finish its discovery process.
3. Your content is no-indexed
One of the most common reasons for Google not indexing your site or a specific page is because it has — inadvertently — been no-indexed. Adding no-index meta robots tags to a page tells Google-bot that it can crawl a page, but that the results can’t be added to the index.
How can you check if your page is no-indexed? That’s easy, simply open the page and view the source code. Somewhere in the head of the page, you’ll find the code below. This tells search engine crawlers that the content of the page shouldn’t be added to the index and, thus, keep it from ranking.
4. Your site/page is blocking Google with robots.txt
You might have told Google not to index your content, but it’s also possible you’ve told Google not to crawl your site at all! Blocking crawlers in a so-called robots.txt file is a sure-fire way to never get any traffic. Blocking robots is easier than you might think. For instance, WordPress has a Search Engine Visibility setting that — once set to Discourage search engines from indexing this site — does its utmost best to keep crawlers out. Uncheck this to make your site available again.
Technical issues affecting ranking
5. You’re not ranking because your site has technical issues
Your website needs to meet certain technical benchmarks if you’re going to rank on Google! Loading speed, or how quickly your pages load, is an important factor. Security is important too, and that’s not all.
If your post doesn’t show up in the search engines at all, technical issues could be preventing it from appearing in the search results completely. You could have conflicting plugins causing problems, and we’ve also seen some themes that actually prevent Google from indexing your site.
6. You’re being penalized for breaking SEO rules
If Google catches you using shady SEO techniques that it doesn’t allow — e.g. sneaky tactics like buying links or stuffing keywords into hidden text — your page or site can be penalized. When you’re already putting in the effort to make a good website and quality content, it’s counterproductive to try. Even when everything else on your page is perfect, if you’re doing something that Google doesn’t allow then you’re going to have problems ranking (or even appearing in the Google search results at all).
Most of these things are common sense, so if you’re not trying to trick Google or spam people, you probably don’t need to worry.
Linking issues that affect ranking
7. Your site doesn’t have a proper internal linking structure
Another reason why your content doesn’t show up in the search results: a crucial part of your SEO strategy is not in order. Don’t underestimate the importance of site structure – the internal linking structure – for your SEO strategy. Having a clear site structure leads to better understanding of your site by Google.
8. There are few backlinks to your site
If you just started out with your website, your content won’t instantly rank. Not even if you have optimized everything perfectly. To be able to rank, you’ll need some links from other websites. After all, Google has to know your website exists.
Content and keyword issues affecting ranking
9. Your page is great, but there’s too much competition
In most cases, the reason a page doesn’t rank is that there’s simply too much competition. If you optimize your content for competitive keywords and key-phrases, such as [cat behavior], [robot vacuum cleaner], or [real estate agent], chances are high you won’t rank for that term.
To find out if this is the problem, check the results pages for your keyword. Do high authority sites, such as Wikipedia or Amazon, dominate the first page? Do you see many sites that have already firmly established themselves in this niche? Odds are, your site doesn’t have the authority that these other sites have (yet). So you can optimize all you want, but unfortunately, that’s not enough to rank high in the search results if your niche is too competitive.
10. Low quality content, or wrong type of intent
One final thing that could be the reason your content isn’t ranking: it doesn’t match the intent of people searching for your keyword. Search intent is becoming an increasingly important factor for search engines these days: do people want to buy something, go to a specific website, or are they looking for information? Even if you’re targeting a more long tail key-phrase, if your content doesn’t match the dominant intent of searchers, odds are search engines won’t show it in the results because it won’t be what people are looking for.
Optimized content still not ranking?
There are multiple reasons that could prevent a post from ranking. Have you optimized your post correctly with SEO? Then the most common cause is likely to be that the competition in a niche is just too fierce. Unfortunately, SEO is a long-term strategy. You need to work hard and be patient. In the meantime, there are a lot of other aspects of your SEO (site structure, link building) you can tackle. Try to focus on all aspects of website optimization, try to be that best result.