Have you ever experienced this? After hours of writing, rewriting and refining, you’ve finally completed your marketing masterpiece—the blog post that will generate a viral storm whose force will propel your brand to the forefront of the market. You hit “Post” and wait for the clicks to come raining in…
A couple of days later, you’re clicking through Google search results for the umpteenth time, wondering why your post still isn’t showing; or, if it is, why it’s buried in oblivion on page 27. Your frustration is understandable…after all, you didn’t write it solely for your own gratification. Fortunately, there may yet be hope for your post—you just might need to do a little investigating. Consider these five questions for why your post isn’t performing.
1. Has enough time passed?
In order for a page to show up in Google search results, it has to be “found”—i.e., crawled and indexed by Googlebot (the engine’s search bot software). Google also weighs other factors when ranking content, such as the publishing website’s age and domain authority. Because of this, it can take weeks or even months for a page’s rank to be determined. So, if you just published your post two days ago, relax and be patient.
Actually, there are ways to speed up the process. One is to submit your post (or, if your website is relatively new, your sitemap) to Google via Google Search Console. Using the “Fetch as Google” tool, you can personally invite Google to crawl and index your content. Another proactive step is sharing your post via social media—by generating your own traffic, you’ll signal to Google that you have something worthy of notice.
2. Is your post optimized for search?
Each piece of your content should be optimized to maximize its visibility to Google. Step one: Find your keywords. Consider using resources like Google Trends and Moz’s Keyword Explorer to pinpoint the most relevant, unique and competitive keyword(s) for your purposes.
Why unique and competitive? There are several parties vying for the top spot in SERPs, so unless you’re a major brand or publication, you won’t have much luck ranking for general or popular terms (e.g. “women’s shoes,” “electric guitar,” “San Francisco Giants”). That’s where the value of a keyword tool lies. For example, Moz’s Keyword Explorer measures aspects like popularity, difficulty and organic clickability to help you find the keywords that will give your posts a competitive edge.
Another important piece of the SEO puzzle is the meta description: a 160-character-limit summary of your post. This bite-sized synopsis makes it easy for both Google and human users to learn what a page is about, which can influence ranking and clickability. To maximize the impact of your meta description, make sure it contains relevant, compelling copy that incorporates your targeted keyword(s), industry and (if applicable) geolocation.
3. Is Google able to index your post?
4. Has your site been penalized by Google?
Another possible reason your content isn’t showing up is if an aspect of your site or content is in violation of Google’s quality guidelines. For example, hidden text, cloaking (showing different content to search engines and human users) and links to disreputable websites can each get you on Google’s naughty list. Additionally, if you haven’t yet upgraded your site to HTTPS security protocol, it’s likely being flagged by Google as a security risk, which won’t exactly encourage user clicks.
In many cases, website owners aren’t aware when their sites have been penalized, which is why it’s a good idea to check on this periodically. Better yet, get set up with Google Search Console, which automatically sends alerts if your site has transgressed Google’s standards.
5. Is your content worthy?
This might be a painful question to ask, but it’s significant. When ranking pages, Google prioritizes those with quality content that satisfies users’ needs. One way it assesses this is by how much time users spend on a page. If users tend to stay on a page for several minutes, it’s likely there’s some content worth sticking around for. In contrast, if the average user bounces within 10 seconds of arriving, this indicates the page isn’t providing the quality or quantity of information they’re looking for.
You can use Google Analytics to keep track of bounce rates, time on page and other performance indicators for your business website. If your bounce rates seem very high (and your “time on page” very low), your content might not be satisfying users’ needs. Perhaps it’s poorly organized or hard to read. Maybe it’s too self-promotional or lacks sufficient depth or detail. If you’re unsure what’s causing users to bounce, consider getting a second pair of eyes on your content and asking for feedback.
There are many potential reasons your posts aren’t showing up or ranking highly in Google search, but by asking the right questions and following up with investigation, you’ll be able to spot flaws and weaknesses and make adjustments to improve performance.
To learn more about Google, SEO and digital marketing, read our other blog posts.
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