Troubleshooting Your SEO

There are many reasons your SEO may not be going quite to plan and if you’re not using an SEO agency it can be difficult to self-diagnose and give exact reasons as to why this may be. However, we’ll give you some takeaways you can try yourself.

I’m stuck on page 2 and I can’t break through to page 1

This could be for many reasons but often it is down to 2 main reasons.

  • Relevancy
  • The Black Sheep Effect

Relevancy

Topical relevancy to your keyword is essential to breaking through to page 1 and ranking highly. This relevancy comes through having unique, quality content relating to your subject matter(s).

Not just in the form of blog content, but also guides and about the products and services you offer.

The content you write needs to be planned, researched, well-written and then it needs to be added to the website it a well thought out way. Meaning you need to think about the architecture of your website. This is something called content siloing, a term initially coined by Bruce Clay. It’s a huge topic so I won’t cover it here, however, head over to Bruce’s website to read his guide. Essentially it talks about theming your website. Your website will likely have a main theme and sub-themes and possibly even sub-sub-themes beyond that.

When you start to break down what you do and the themes to you need for the keywords you’re targeting you’ll start to generate hundreds of content ideas.

The Black Sheep Effect

I’m not aware that this is an official SEO term but I like it. Originally coined by Matt Diggity it refers to fact that your website stands out in some way from the websites on page 1. This could be through:

  • Too many links
  • The wrong kind of links
  • Too much content
  • Too little content

How do you know what it is? You’ll need to research those web pages ranking on page 1. Look at:

  • How much content do they have?
  • How many links do they have?
  • Where are the links coming from?
  • How old are these websites (domain age)?

Read Matt’s article above to give you greater insight and to help you put a plan in place to counteract the effect.

My rankings were increasing, but all of a sudden they’ve have dropped and won’t budge

Rankings fluctuate all the time on Google, so don’t worry about short term drops if you recover shortly after. However, if you’ve dropped for more than about 4-6 weeks then it’s time to start researching.

Start by looking at the results on page 1 for the term(s) you used to rank for. If you’ve dropped then someone else has gained. We need to know why. Analyse their website, their content and their backlinks.

I’ve seen this happen many times after a suspected Google update. They’ll likely not say what they updated, they may call it a quality update, which isn’t particularly helpful as that could cover a myriad of things.

Due to a change in Google’s algorithm, you could have triggered a penalty. Either manual or algorithmic. If it’s a manual penalty you will have a notice in the “manual actions” section of Google Search Console. If it’s algorithmic it can be harder to pinpoint but it will be likely one or both of two issues. Either content quality or backlinks.

Look at those websites which have gained and compare to yours. What content do they have and how much supporting content do they have. It’s possible that by writing more in depth supporting content about your topic you will see your rankings improve. Follow the content silo technique to improve relevancy to your target topic.

Analyse the backlinks of your website. Have you paid for any of these backlinks or do any of them look unnatural? If the answer is yes then you may need to get them removed or use Google’s Disavow Tool, this tells Google not to count those links. A word of warning, however, the disavow tool should not be used lightly, you can disavow the wrong links that were actually helping your website to rank. We suggest that you seek expert help.

Over-optimisation

It’s easier than you think to over-optimise your web pages and can come from a range of different factors. Often it’s usually to do with stuffing too many keywords on your page or building too many backlinks all with the same “exact match anchor text” or even just building all of your backlinks to your home page.

Google can spot it a mile off and it doesn’t like it. It thinks you’re trying too hard and trying to “game the system”.

Don’t focus on how many times you can repeat a certain keyword within your content. Just write the best possible content you can, really in-depth, really insightful content.

Don’t focus too heavily on the technicalities of SEO and forget the bigger picture, which is to create the best website experience for visitors. If you focus on that, your visitors will be happy and so will Google.

I’m on page 1 and I don’t get any enquiries 🙁

Not strictly an SEO issue, this falls under the category of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). A conversion rate problem means that people are visiting your website but are then not performing the action we want, whether that be a purchase an enquiry or a download.

Again there can be multiple reasons for this. From an actual problem with the website’s’ usability stopping users perform the action to the design putting visitors off or the fact the content is not compelling enough for visitors to take action.

You can ask friends and colleagues to perform the action to test any technical issues with your website or whether the design or content is off putting or confusing.

If you find the content is confusing or doesn’t match the expectations or intent of the searcher then think again about the messaging. As we’ve mentioned throughout this guide your content should align to your understanding your customers’ needs. What are their problems? How can you demonstrate that your product or service will solve them?

Your website needs to develop trust, between the visitor and your brand. Demonstrating that you understand their needs and showing how the benefits of your product or service will satisfy that need will begin to unlock those conversions.