It happens all the time – you spend hours creating what you think is amazing content. You post it, then weeks or months later it’s still unclassified. If your content isn’t ranking, your audience won’t see it, and you may feel like your efforts have been wasted.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the primary goal of content creation. You want your content to rank organically and ideally as high as possible on the first page.
Even well-written content doesn’t always rank, so why is that?
Below, we explore some of the potential reasons why a piece of content may not perform well organically after posting it.
Understand the ranking potential of content
In general, the more high-quality content you post on your site, the more likely you are to rank for keywords site-wide. Google likes to see a lot of content because the algorithms that feed the search engine have more context and are better able to understand what your site is about.
Every time you post new content, Google gets more keywords, which means a better understanding of your brand.
That’s why it’s essential to optimize all of your content with semantically relevant keywords in your headings, descriptions, and titles.
This does not mean that you favor quantity over quality. Not only can Google actually ignore your content if it’s not of high quality, but you could also be penalized.
With the words you use in your content create ranking opportunities, you can also optimize your images. How you optimize images is going to be a major ranking factor that drives traffic.
So what if you’re in a situation where you know you’re creating great content that you think is properly optimized, and you’re still not ranking?
We will discuss these situations below.
Your keywords are too competitive
Probably one of the biggest reasons your content isn’t ranking is that you’re targeting keywords that are too competitive. Yes, they have a lot of volume, and that can make them a hot target, but it will be nearly impossible to rank for extremely competitive keywords for new content.
First, stop with the targeted one or two word keywords. Look instead long tail and less competitive keywords.
You should do keyword research on anything you plan to use for your content. Below a search box, if you type your targeted keyword, you’ll see gray text that lets you know how many results it shows. You can also use keyword tools to determine the competitiveness of a given word or phrase.
You can create content that you think your ideal audience wants to see, but you could be wrong here.
You need to think carefully about why you’re creating each piece of content before you put the time and effort into it. You also want to ask yourself if you are going to be able to really add value to the lives of your readers with what you produce.
If you don’t think carefully about creating value, you’re going to have weak, superficial content that won’t drive much engagement.
Content is out of date
If you already have a lot of content on your site and you think it’s not ranking as highly as it should, you need to ask yourself if it’s outdated. You need to update your old content regularly, which can help you improve its ranking.
If you’re overwhelmed and have a lot of content, start with an audit. Review your current content by performance, then from there look at your oldest and worst performing pieces of content to see if you can make any changes that would help them be more relevant or up-to-date.
Your site has technical problems
If your site as a whole has technical issues, it will prevent certain pieces of content from ranking.
Common technical SEO issues include missing XML sitemaps, broken links, coding errors, privacy issues, or your site not being indexed by Google.
You may need to work with a developer if you think your problem is with your technical SEO.
Similar to some of the technical issues already mentioned, you also need to make sure your site is fast and mobile-friendly. Google has bluntly stated that its priority in indexing content and sites is mobile-first. You can check using Google’s mobile compatibility test, and if your site isn’t responsive, you need to work on redesigning it.
Similarly, site speed is also a critical ranking factor. If your site is too slow, you may need to invest in upgrades such as getting a better hosting service or compressing your media files.
Short and light content
Just as Google wants to see updated and highly relevant content tailored to the needs of your audience, you also want to make sure your content is long enough. There’s a reason this is important.
First, when you have longer content, it gives Google more content to crawl.
Additionally, long-form content tends to provide a very in-depth view of a topic, and is more likely to be of great value to a reader compared to short or light-weight content.
That doesn’t mean you stuff your content with meaningless fluff to try and increase the word count, though. Don’t overdo it by trying to make the article so long that you don’t add more value.
When you have in-depth, relevant, and valuable content, it can help lower your bounce rate because people will spend more time browsing your site. This in itself can be a ranking factor for Google.
You don’t have enough links
Finally, the Google algorithm analyzes your site relevance and domain authority when determining your site’s ranking for particular keywords and phrases. The term domain authority was originally coined by Moz, and it’s a prediction of your site’s search engine ranking, with a score ranging from 1 to 100.
The number of links pointing to your site is one of them. If you don’t have a lot of backlinks to your site as a whole and also to individual pieces of content, it will be harder for you to rank.
You need to use link building strategies by building relationships and creating quality content. You should also submit guest blogging and content proposals to sites and publications or outsource the work to a professional link building company.