Ranking your pages on Google is one of the hardest things to do, yet it is the most important. Because of this, many people decide to do all sorts of things to get their web pages to rank, including black hat search engine optimization.
Apart from black hat SEO, there are some negative search ranking factors that can cripple your website’s organic performance on Google, which I will be discussing today.
- Poor Keyword Use
- Poor Quality Content
- Poor Site Performance
- Poor Dwell Time
- Poor Linking Strategy
Each of these covers a lot of areas. By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to correct several mistakes you have made on your website and then improve your page rankings.
1. Poor Keyword Use
Here are some tips:
- Selection – you have to do your keyword research with tools. Though most of the keyword research tools are costly, there are many that are free like LSI Graph and Answer the Public. Only use keywords that have a high search volume.
- Placement – your keywords must be used in places where they matter. These placements are in the title, the H1, H2, the start of the text, the body, and the meta description. The right keyword placement tells Google that your article is about what a user is searching for.
- LSI Keywords – LSI is not a new concept in search engine optimization. The acronym stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. It refers to supporting keywords that have something to do with your main topic or keyword. For example, if you are writing about Shopify, you can use other keywords in the body such as e-commerce, how to build an online store, etc.
As you can see, keywords are critical to ranking. However, bloating your page with keywords is called keyword stuffing, and Google does not like this, too. Balance your keyword usage and limit their use to the ones I mentioned above.
2. Poor Quality Content
There was a time when bloggers got away with writing 300-word articles. Today, that is not going to work anymore.
As Google advanced, so did its algorithm. Now, Google can tell if your content offers value, and if it is high-quality or not.
Here are some tips:
- Quality – the quality of the article is determined by how in-depth it is. As you can see, you can no longer rank in Google if you only provide basic information about your topic. In-depth articles refer to those that offer value—the reader must have learned something after reading your post.
- Length – there is no standard length of articles that you have to write. However, studies show that the blog posts that rank on the first page of Google SERP average 2,000 words.
- Images – people today love to see images like charts, graphs, and screenshots of what you are discussing. The Google algorithm also loves this—use lots of images that have ALT text in them.
As you can see, you need to invest in the quality of the blog posts you write. This is a little tough as you need time. What you can do is invest in an affordable high-quality freelance writer to do it for you. This way, you can spend more time marketing and less time writing.
3. Poor Site Performance
This is often one of the things that people overlook—how the website performs. If your website is slow, people will leave, and Google will not trust you.
Here are two things you need to fix:
- Page speed – this refers to how fast your page loads if a request was made. There are so many things that can affect your page speed.
- Hosting – if you chose a bad web host service provider, your website is going to load slowly no matter what you do. Test your website speed regularly, and if you are not happy, move to another provider.
- Images – you need to compress images on your site. Big files take more time to travel over the internet.
- CSS and plug-ins – too many codes on your website can affect page speed. Remove all plug-ins that you do not need.
- Crawlability – your website has to be crawlable, which means that you need a robots.txt. This is a little technical, so you need to use tools like Yoast and Rank Math to make sure this works properly.
Google will not recommend a slow website to its users because slow websites give a bad experience. Make sure you do a regular test to see if your website is at its optimum performance.
4. Poor Dwell Time
Dwell time refers to the number of time users spend on your website. Google measures several factors in this regard.
- Bounce rate – if a person lands on one of your pages and exits from there, it is considered a bounce. Ideally, your readers would explore more pages, as this is an indication that you are providing value.
- Pages per session – refers to the number of pages your site visitor opened within 30 minutes. The more pages they read, the more Google would think that you are adding value.
- Average Session duration – the average length of time users spent on your site; the longer it is, the more Google will think that your blog posts are in-depth.
You need to have a Google Analytics account to be able to see these search ranking factors. It is free, and all you need to do is to add your website URL as a property. Google will take care of the rest. From then on, you need to check your stats all the time and make adjustments as you deem fit.
Another tool you can use is Hotjar. With this tool, you can record what site visitors are doing on your website, and you will understand why there are exiting.
5. Poor Linking Strategy
Linking out, linking in, and having backlinks to your website are all important. Too many times, bloggers and website providers fail on this. It is either they link too much, or they link too little.
There is no magic number regarding links.
The thing is that you need to strike balance on these three things:
- Outbound – whenever you post an article, you need to link out to another website. Google likes it when you use other websites as a source.
- Internal linking – make it a point to link out to your other posts; this will persuade your site visitors to read more pages.
- Backlinks – websites must link out to you. This is a difficult thing to do. You can reach out to website owners and offer guest posts, but many will not approve your application, especially so if you are a new blog.
These are the five most important search ranking factors that you can control. If your website does not meet several of the standards I mentioned, or if you made a mistake, you have to correct them now.
Once you are done with correcting, you can resubmit your sitemap file to Google Search Console. The other thing you can do is to manually re-submit each page of re-indexing.
It can take a while for Google to recognize the changes and make adjustments—do not be frustrated. Keep on doing on the right thing and you will see your ranking go up soon.
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