SEO 101: Why your content isn’t ranking in Google

Client’s ask us “When I Google _______ our site is way back on page 4” or “How come our site isn’t #1 in Google?” There are a variety of technical factors that could cause a site to have ranking issues. Indexing, server speed, hosting, etc. all contribute to a site’s ranking potential. Assuming that the technical side of a site checks out, there are two very basic, somewhat primitive principles that Google heavily relies on when ranking content.

Here’s some insight into why your content isn’t ranking in Google.

1. Your content isn’t relevant to what’s being searched

If you want to rank for “XYZ,” the term “XYZ” needs to be found on your website and content. This “relevancy” factor is the first element that Google looks for when determining how well a page ranks. Google is essentially looking for a match between the term that is typed into the search engine (keyword) and what’s on the website. If that keyword doesn’t exist on the site or content, you will have difficulty ranking for that term. Google will favor a site that contains the queried keyword or a close variation as this is a relevancy signal to the search. Google’s ultimate goal is to ensure that its results are relevant and accurate to what searchers are looking for. A site that is relevant to the search query will have better ranking potential.

2. Your content isn’t popular

Content popularity is the second “big” factor that influences search results. A search engine judges popularity by links. Content with a lot of links back to it from other websites will be viewed as “popular.” After Google deems your content “relevant,” it then factors in popularity when rendering results. The basics of this popularity signal means that Google will favor a website that has multiple sites referencing its content over a site that has no content networked.

Google’s Penguin Update targeted low quality and spammy backlinks, but the quality and quantity of sites linking to your content has a big influence on rankings. Links from more authoritative sites will carry more weight and networking content in the online world, and is a must for strong rankings. Serious organizations looking to have stellar SEO should pursue a content marketing model as links to content should be built through paid, earned, owned and shared channels.

Relevancy and popularity are the core concepts of search engine optimization. To rank, a website needs to be successful in both of these areas. A page that’s relevant to a search term and properly networked will produce positive results.

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