If you’ve set up your WordPress site and read a lot of “How To” articles about search engine optimization, you may feel pretty good about where your website stands. However, if you find that your WordPress website isn’t ranking in Google, there could be a number of reasons why. Here are some of the most common issues and how to fix them.
1. Weak Content
For Google, content and links are the two most important ranking factors. If you don’t have good content, your WordPress site doesn’t have much of a chance to rank. To make your content the best it can be, use the following as a checklist:
– Informative: Your content should leave the reader with the sense that they learned something and that their time was not wasted.
– Grammatically correct: Adhere to proper English by staying mindful of issues like typos, fragment sentences, punctuation, and more.
– Lengthy: Content should be a minimum of 400 words, but most well-performing written content is 1,000 words or more.
– Freshness: How old is your content? Do you frequently update your blog with new content? Never updating your site with new content is an issue that can ding your rankings. Strive to update something at least once a month, and preferably weekly.
By providing fresh, quality content on a weekly basis, you won’t have to worry about not ranking for one of Google’s most important factors.
2. Changed Permalinks
Permalink refers to the permanent link to a page on your website or blog. You want these to be descriptive and, as often as possible, include the keyword that page or post is targeting. If your permalinks have extra bits like “?p=3282949” or if they’re too long or contain stop words (e.g. “and,” “by,” or “do”), they need to be changed to be more human and machine-readable. However, if you do it the wrong way, then Google will lose track of those pages and you’ll lose rank. If at some point you need to change your permalinks, here’s how you can change your permalinks without sacrificing your ranking.
3. Not Mobile Responsive
A little over half of website traffic is generated through mobile phones. Web designers have the challenge of making one website to please multiple browsers on different devices—which is why many make websites “responsive.” A “responsive” website will adapt to a format that is user-friendly for a particular device. A website that is not user-friendly will get dinged by Google during mobile-based searched queries. Google is all about promoting websites with a great user experience. To check your website, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool. It will tell you if your website is mobile-friendly and alert you to any issues (such as pages partially loading) so you know what to fix. And if you find out that your current WordPress design is not optimal for your mobile readers, consider switching to one of the best business WordPress themes – all of which are fully responsive on most devices.
4. Not Visible to Search Engines
If your WordPress website isn’t ranking in Google and you are just starting out with WordPress, you may be unfamiliar with many of the options to customize your website settings. So it is possible you changed something without realizing how it would affect your search engine optimization. Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Settings > Reading Settings and scroll down to Site Visibility. The option “Allow search engines to index this site” should be selected. If it is not selected, select it, and then allow some time for Google to index your site and see if your page ranking improves. If it is selected, you may just need to wait a bit longer or you could be encountering another issue.
5. Incorrect Keyword Usage
Keywords are important to optimizing for the search engine and helping your page rank, but if used incorrectly, they can actually do more harm than good. Here are three best practices of which to be mindful:
– Don’t stuff keywords: Keyword stuffing involves filling paragraphs with the keyword(s) you are trying to target. Keyword-stuffed content reads poorly and unnaturally. You want to use keywords but in a way that is natural to read and elevates your thoughts and points throughout the piece.
– Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are three or four (maybe even more) words long and are more specific to what a buyer wants. These keywords are easier to rank for. Plus, customers who use these keywords are likely to be further along in the buying cycle because they know exactly what they want.
– Don’t try to rank for too competitive of keywords with a weak site: If you are only trying to rank for keywords with a high competition rate, you are likely losing out to other websites. That’s why it’s best to start out targeting keywords with low or medium competitiveness. As you begin to rank for these, you can look into keywords with more competition. Just be sure to do your research first!
And if you want a bit of help with your keyword usage, consider using a plugin. A great option is Yoast SEO, which includes a “focus keyword” option. Once you’ve set the keyword you want to focus on, you’ll be able to analyze the keyword density, usage in headings, if the keyword is in your URL, etc. Plus, if you upgrade to Yoast SEO Premium, you can target up to five keywords on a page, making for even easier optimization.
In conclusion, use this information to perform an audit on your website and see if you have been unknowingly sabotaging your website’s ranking. Some may be “easier” or “quicker” fixes than others, but all will help. Remember that for any of them, you will need to give Google some time (think a few weeks) to adjust the rankings. If you have tips to add or a question about one of the reasons we covered as to why your WordPress website isn’t ranking in Google, leave a note in the comments section and get the conversation started.