If you’ve been consistently creating and publishing posts, but can’t seem to rank or worse yet your rankings have dropped, you need to identify the problem.
It could be a lot of things but for the most part there are factors within and out of your control.
Let’s start by addressing the factors within your control.
I’m going to list some these factors below. Consider this list a checklist. It’s possible you were ranking without addressing some of these factors because Google didn’t notice them until started regularly crawling your website.
However, if your rankings have dipped, it means that you need to address one or more of these factors.
This is going to be SEO 101.
Anyway, let’s dive in.
1. Technical Considerations
1. SSL certificate – If you don’t have an SSL certificate, which for reference, is that little lock on next to your URL, Google will go out of its way to not rank you. They will actually put in a little block between you and your website saying your site is unsafe to prevent visitors from clicking through to your site.
2. Redirects to the HTTP version – your “http://www” , “www” , and “https://www” versions should redirect to your “https://” version.
3. Site speed – If your site speed is excruciatingly slow, Google won’t rank it. You can use GTmetrix to find out how to improve your site speed.
4. Mobile-friendliness – If your website design is unusable or frustratingly difficult to use on mobile devices, you won’t rank. Use Google’s mobile friendly tool to assess this. Just type in “mobile friendly tool” on Google and pop your website in.
5. Sitemap – If you haven’t submitted your sitemap, Google can’t crawl your website. To find your sitemap, type in website name /sitemap.xml . If you haven’t even created a sitemap, use yoast or some other plugin to create and submit it.
6. Allowed indexing – Make sure you haven’t manually disallowed indexing your pages by checking your robots.txt file and inspecting your URLs on Google Search Console.
7. No redirect chains – If you have pages that redirect to more than one page before reaching their final destination, Google interprets it as a black hat tactic, where you’re trying to hide something.
8. Page Depth – If your blog posts are more than 2-3 clicks from your homepage, google will be less frequent with how often it crawls your pages and might not even crawl some of your posts at all.
There are more technical issues than these, of course.
But in my experience working with several clients, these are some of the most common technical SEO issues that keep them from ranking.
This could be the single biggest reason your posts are not ranking.
Choosing which topics to write about has to be the single most important consideration when you’re writing blog posts.
In the days of old, you could choose a non-competitive LTK, create a solid piece of content around it, and rank.
However, Google has shifted focus from ranking individual keywords to ranking their underlying search intent.
For example, “Should I sit opposite or beside my date?” will not rank above “How to behave on a restaurant date” or “How to make a great impression on the first date” as the latter two represent the real intent behind the search.
If either of latter two articles comprehensively address the topic of where to sit on a date as part of their post, they will rank for the queries relating to where to sit, not the article that only focuses on where to sit.
Now, to uncover this coveted underlying search intent, you still need to research keywords, but with a twist.
Instead of aiming to create content around LTKs with low competition, you’re going to cluster together all the keywords with similar intent and through these clusters you will discover the major search intents around your topic.
Once again, I’ll describe this through an example.
Let’s say you have a list of 60k raw keywords. In those keywords, you identify an LTK, “should I train abs with back” this has a search volume of 70.
Then you come across another LTK “should I train abs with cardio” this has a search volume of 110. Then you come across a 100 more queries like this.
Collectively, these 100 queries have a search volume of 3200 and their underlying search intent is that the reader wants to know how to integrate abs in his current workout routine.
This collection of 100 similar queries is a cluster.
Now a cluster won’t always directly reveal the underlying search intent. It will simply give you the most frequently searched queries regarding your topic/industry.
Your judgement as a marketer that will help you deduce the query from the cluster.
It helps if you are an industry expert.
To create clusters and uncover search intents en masse, you will need a lot of relevant keywords in your “raw” keyword list, which you can then cluster.
Some sources we use at my agency to find relevant keywords are:
1. SEO suites (SEMrush, Ahrefs, Answerthepublic, etc.)
2. Pre-existing keywords (GSC)
3. Competitor keywords
4. Creating your own little mental list of keywords and get their kw data
5. Google kw planner
6. People also ask, google autocomplete, related searches on the SERPs
7. Wikipedia, reddit, industry forums and blogs
Once you’ve got your list, you need a sound keyword clustering method to identify your clusters. You can research Google for keyword clustering strategies or you can use ours.
Identifying your topics this way heavily tilts the odds in your favor to rank because you’re likely to create content around underlying search intents.
3. What are you actually writing?
Now if your website is technically sound and your blog topics are well-chosen, it could be your content quality that is keeping you from ranking.
An easy way to identify this is if your content is somewhat ranking but not converting.
High bounce rates, relatively short duration on the page, no scrolling or minimal scrolling, and other indicators of low engagement are also tell-tale signs that your content is boring. These poor engagement indicators signal to Google that people don’t want to interact with your page, and Google should lower its ranking.
So, here are a few basic steps you can take to make your content more engaging:
1. Understand your audience
The better you know your audience, the easier it will be for you to talk in terms of things they resonate with.
We use a combination of statistics websites and reddit to really understand the audience and create a persona. You can use your own data too, but ensure you have a large enough sample size.
2. Ensure you have industry expertise
If your industry is complicated and you don’t know the technicalities of it, you need an SME (Subject Matter Expert) to help you write at least the first draft.
If you don’t thoroughly know what you’re writing about, your content will come off as amateurish, unoriginal, shallow, and unable to solve your reader’s problem. Which will turn away potential customers forever.
3. YOU and YOUR voice should flow through your text
When you’re writing it shouldn’t sound robotic (I.e. no chatGPT). Your voice, whether that’s timid, arrogant, firm, profane, classy, or whatever should reflect in your content.
You have to put some passion into the pieces you create for your audience. Your voice will introduce some polarity in your text as well through firmer stances and opinions.
Polarity is good because it strongly connects you with people who share your thoughts and views.
I feel like these are things people creating content should know anyway, but someone recently commented on one of my posts saying “most companies just know that they should have content, the quality doesn’t really matter.”
Therefore, I figured it was worthwhile to bring this up.
Regardless, if you know your customer, know your business, and speak authentically, there’s no reason for people to not engage with your page. Especially if you’re helping them.
The resulting positive user behavior gets logged by Google’s EEAT algorithm to help you rank better.
4. On-page Optimization
All right so, on-page optimizations aren’t going to make or break your rankings.
However, they help give you every possible edge to rank.
Here are some basic on-page optimizations you should be doing.
1. Ensure your title tag is not too long
If Google has to truncate your title tag, you won’t find a lot of people clicking on it. Especially if the first few words aren’t super relevant. This lower CTR will push you down the rankings.
2. Find and fix H1 tags
Even with Google’s shifting focus to coverage over keywords, you need to make sure your H1 text clearly articulates what your post is about.
At the very least, it can signal to google what your content is about in case your text is not making it clear. Also, ensure you’re just using one H1 tag for clarity.
3. Use compressed or WebP images
Your images can considerably slow down your page. WebP or compressed images can slice your loading time in half if heavy images are what’s slowing your page down. You can use a plug-in like lazy-load if you’re on WP. Otherwise, just use any free software you find on Google to compress them.
4. Write a compelling meta description
5/10 google won’t even use whatever you’ve written in your meta description. But, if your meta description makes a compelling case to click on your link, the higher CTR will bump you up in the rankings.
5. Research Google for subheadings.
Once you’ve identified the search intent you want to target, hop on to Google, and pop it in to the search bar. Google will reveal some autocomplete suggestions, related searches, and “people also ask” related questions.
Use these to inform the body of your article. These queries, so long as they are directly related to your search intent can seriously boost your rankings.
Google handpicks these queries based on what your readers are looking for. So, you can not only answer the underlying search intent behind these queries, but also address the underlying search intent exactly in terms of what your readers want to know.
The positive behavior signals will help you rank higher.
Not to mention, your page might just get mentioned in the first result as a snippet for one of these queries.
Technical optimization, topic selection, content quality, and on-page optimization help you stack the odds in your favor to rank.
However, sometimes you could be doing everything and still not rank because some variables are out of your control. This could be:
1. Domain Age
If your domain is still relatively new (less than a year old), you haven’t had as much time to establish authority and credibility in the eyes of Google.
Your domain is likely:
1. Lacking backlinks
2. Has limited content, which is limiting your ability to rank for a wide range of queries.
3. Lacking trust and authority. Google tends to favor domains that have a history of producing high-quality content and that is trusted by readers. Positive user engagement signals trust and authority to Google’s EEAT algorithm.
As a new domain you probably haven’t had the time to substantiate a lot of positive user engagement.
2. Algorithm Updates
Google’s always messing around with algorithm.
Sometimes, especially with core updates, your type of content can get de-prioritized for content that provides a better user-experience.
Sometimes, even if your content provides a better experience, you’ll still get pushed down in error.
But don’t worry about this.
If your content is objectively better and you’re not competing against giants standing on the shoulders of millions of backlinks, you’ll bounce back as they continue rolling out the update.
Now, if you’ve noticed a steep dip in your rankings, it could be that you’ve been hit by a penalty.
Your GSC will tell you if you have been hit by a manual action penalty. In case you have been hit by a penalty, you need to get in touch with a specialist who can help you based on the penalty. That is beyond the scope of this post.
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