When a business owner learns their website is not showing up on Google it becomes an embarrasing (and understandable) source of ire and confusion. They may have even spent precious hours following Google’s advice on certain search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Techniques like changing headline tags, re-writing meta descriptions, adding image alt tags all are good actions – but it may not be enough to get you ranking on Google. Take comfort, though: SEO (search engine optimization), while data-intensive as it can be, is not always an exact science. It’s comforting to know that some professionals dedicate their entire careers to getting SEO right. And while Google makes its requirements (pretty) clear, it’s still a hard thing to get right – consistently.
Take heart though, your website is experiencing fixable issues to one degree or another. Even if your site isn’t attaining the Google search results presense you need to generate more business, there are better places to focus your SEO efforts. Some of these issues are technical; some are a question of marketing technique. Either way, everything is fixable given the informtion, access to the site and time to implement.
Let’s dive into the big reasons your website might not be showing up in Google search results.
#1. You have no content on your site
We’ll never forget the time a client handed us a 30-page SEO report from another SEO company telling us to implement their SEO audit findings. We were excited to dig in to the report and get some solid SEO changes implemented. To our shock and amazement, the website in question had a total of three pages – and the content on those pages was “barely-there.” We had to hand the report back and say, “Do what exactly? There’s nothing to SEO – no real content in place for Google to consume.”
If you have little to no content on your site, then Google won’t reward you with search ranking and ultimately traffic from it’s customers. Plain and simple. If you only have a couple of pages on your website, then you can’t be surprised when you don’t show up in search results.
How to fix it
Start adding content to your website! Start here:
- Write a page for every service that you offer
- Make sure every page is at least 300 words (see #3)
- Have high-quality, professional images throughout your website
- Write a 600-1000 word blog post at least once a month (preferably more)
- Develop a content strategy so you can add more (and varied) content more regularly
#2. You have “copied” or duplicate content
If you’ve taken an existing page of content and copied/pasted it onto another page within your site and switched a few choice words around, then you’re guilty of a huge Google no-no: copied content. According to Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
If your content “is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users” then “such pages should be rated Lowest.”
It’s safe to say that if you copy content from your own site, then Google will penalize you by ranking competitors for that search terms above your search result. It is also worth mentioning that you should NEVER copy content from another website. This isn’t just copying…it’s stealing. Not taking the time to create original content for your website is a huge problem and will never be rewarded with search results. Google will view your page as duplicated and will simply not rank it, or not prefer to rank highly.
How to fix it
Write unique and valuable content for every page. It takes time and effort, but what’s worse? Spending the extra brain power to create something of quality for your business (and your customers) or having your website do nothing for you?
#3. Your content is “thin”
By “thin” we don’t mean “short.” Short content can be useful provided that it gives someone value. In this context, thin content refers to watered down, barely-there content that you cobbled together because you needed to put something on your website. This kind of content leaves much to be desired, like an unnecessary ellipsis at the end of a sentence. Your customers want more. They DESERVE more. Not only does thin content offer virtually nothing for your customers, Google won’t give you the time of day either.
How to fix it
Always write high quality content for your website! Again, short content can be valuable, but vary your content length. Sometimes a 300-word blog post is all you need to say what needs to be said. Other times, the topic requires 1,500 words….and Google will love you for that.
To that end, Kevin Pike of Rank Fuse Interactive sums it up nicely:
Focus on creating quality content more than a specific number of words…quality work will help your rankings more than a 1,200-word article. If you get a keyword-rich, original piece of quality content that is only 400 words, you will still be better off than using duplicate or “filler content.”
#4. Your domain isn’t as old as your competitors
“Domain” is a fancy term we use to describe your web address or URL (e.g. www.yoursite.com). Google gives well-established sites with considerable domain age preference in search rankings over new and newer domains.
For example, let’s say you launched a brand new website within the last six months. You decide to Google the keyword or phrase for your business ( i.e. low voltage electrical contractor Kansas City) only to discover that your competitor is there…but you’re not. What’s going on?
One factor is that that your competitor has been around for a while. Of course, there are many factors as to why you might not be showing up, but if your website is newer, you will have to a) be patient and b) work a little harder to get the rankings you want (see: everything else on this list).
How to fix it
Give it time. Don’t change your domain (unless absolutely necessary). Continually market your site by adding fresh, quality content to it on a regular basis.
#5. You’re Not Adding Links (Or You’re Using Spammy Links)
Linking to content within your site as well as to quality external sites is another indicator to Google that you have a trustworthy, reputable site that intends to provide its users with more value beyond the initial page they land on.
You may have noticed the many links we have embedded in this very post. We have links to other related content on the Unravel blog here in this post because we think you could benefit from learning more about a given topic. We’ve also linked to a few trustworthy external sources for the exact same reasons.
Why is this so important in order for your website to start showing up on Google? In the simplest terms, the more quality links on a page = the more value Google places on it. When Google crawls your pages, it crawl each link on it. If it can see that the link’s content is related to other relevant content on your website, it places value on that page. It then starts to form an expansive web of related, valuable content that proves that your site has a lot to offer someone.
Now, if you’re linking to spammy, untrustworthy websites from within your content, Google will penalize you. Just don’t do it.
How to fix it
- Start going through every page you have, find relevant words, and link to the corresponding content that exists on your site.
- Do the same for your blog posts.
- Aim to add 1-3 relevant links to every new piece of content you publish on your website.
- After publishing a blog post, link to it from an older blog post.
Not sure how to add links? Check out our tutorial for How to Add Links to a WordPress Page. (See? We did it again).
#6. Your site is new and you haven’t been adding content to it
This is the granddaddy of all complaints that we get from small business owners: “I have a brand new website but I’m still not showing up on Google!” Many business owners are under the assumption that once they get a new website, their search results will magically start improving. That’s not how it works – ever, unfortunately.
In our previous post “What to Expect After Your Website Goes Live”, we explained how new websites face a number of post-launch challenges. Namely, you should expect to wait at least 90 days after your new site has launched to see any movement on your search results.
Google is taking this time to make sure your site is trustworthy. It’s combing through every page of content and indexing it (which is Google’s process for sorting through and then listing content in search results). Google is your primary audience during this time, and it’s constantly reading your content.
One of the best ways to gain Google’s trust is to continually add new content to your website. Google sees this as an indicator that your website is authentic, updated regularly, and a general source for high quality content that will benefit someone.
Now, if you’ve NOT been adding content to your new website during that time (service pages, blog articles, case studies, etc.) then you can reasonably expect to NOT show up on Google. Not for a long while, at least.
How to fix it
Be patient. Keep creating and adding content to your website. And don’t stop even after your search rankings improve.
Don’t get frustrated if your website is not showing up on Google. This just means it’s time to reassess and strategize how to make your website better. And if your website is better, then the more likely it will be that it will better serve your customers…and start showing up in search results as a result.
Still having issues with your website showing up on Google (even though you’ve done everything on this list)? Then you might be in need of an SEO analysis or a professional website assessment. Contact Unravel to schedule a website consultation and let’s get to the bottom of your SEO issues together.