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There are obviously more than just three reasons as to why you’re not seeing the rankings you want, it could be budget, poor strategy or simply that you are new to the market. However, for this post, let’s presume you are investing heavily, you’re getting high authority links and you’re doing everything to engage and convert new customers. Despite all this you just can’t seem to get those organic rankings you feel you deserve; they won’t budge, and you feel like Google is intentionally pinning you back.

We come across this so often, clients are massively frustrated because they feel they’re spending a ton of cash and just not seeing the results. Here are some of the most common issues we come across that, when fixed, seem to release websites from being held back and allow them to realise the growth they deserve.

Site speed

We know it’s a ranking factor, we know that’s important for usability and conversions, but it might be something you’re neglecting or struggling to get through a dev queue. We have found that if your website is fundamentally slow then fixing it can have a profound impact on your rankings.

The above website was in the worst 10% compared to competitors in the same industry, they took massive action and pretty much fixed it overnight allowing them to see huge growth in the following weeks.

If your website is one of the slowest within your sector, then this is something you need to fix as a priority if you want to see your organic performance improve. If it’s only slightly slower, or just average you tend not see any major improvements, however it should still aid conversions and engagement generally.

Toxic links

Yes, despite Google’s real time algorithm that automatically detects and devalues spammy links, having these in your profile is a problem for lots of reasons.

Firstly, it is a trust signal, and having a link profile dominated with poor quality links is going to make your website untrustworthy and therefore unable to rank organically.

Secondly, if you have spent years investing in poor links then there is a good chance they have been devalued and no longer pass any value at all. This means that your link profile has been wiped out and you’re essentially starting from scratch, so don’t expect fast results.

Thirdly, you may have triggered a manual penalty so keep a close eye on your search console messages and regularly update your disavow file.

There is some debate over whether disavowing links is still necessary, my advice would be to continue. You should be up to date with your link analysis therefore maintaining it is usually a relatively pain free exercise.

As for the lost equity from poor quality links, you could consider buying and redirecting another domain. Some might consider this to be a little ‘grey’, but if done right it can be highly effective. Make sure it is a domain that is relevant and will genuinely be a good match for users that visit the site, it might even mean accommodating the redirect with new content/sections on your own website.

I wrote more about this here and went through an example.

Poor engagement

We come across this so much. Businesses are trying to do the right thing by investing in content production. This usually comes in the form of blog posts or articles that are roughly related to their products and services.

Alternatively, it could be boiler plate content in the form of location pages or slight variations in products and services. If these pages make up a large portion of your website, then the chances are they are causing performance issues and will prevent you from ranking.

Take some time to look through your analytics, are there pages that get decent amounts of traffic but have stupidly low engagement? If so, my advice would be to either gradually reduce them or rewrite them (preferred option) so that they better answer the query of your customer.

I spoke about this at BrightonSEO back in 2013, the same principles and thinking apply.

What else are you doing?

The title doesn’t suggest it but there is a fourth issue we come across, and that is brands investing in SEO only. Part of becoming a trusted brand/business is acting like one too, building your media out on multiple channels and not just relying on SEO. Why would Google trust a website with lots of links but that no one ever searches for? Building your brand search is expensive but one of the best ways to increase trust and therefore build your organic performance.

Of course, there are hundreds of reasons you might not be performing, however these are the main ones we come across and are definitely worth investigating further if you think they apply to you and your business. For more information on our approach head to our SEO page or contact us – we’d love to hear from you.