One of the questions I get asked most often from new and prospective clients is, “How do I get my website back to ranking well again in Google?” I tell them, “Lets do a full website audit first, then check to see what needs fixed over time. After we assess your situation, we can dig deeper into why your site is performing poorly.” Sometimes this is enough to get the conversation steered more toward potential website issues and away from rankings, sometimes not.
Usually if a business owner is seeking a new search marketing firm or consultant, they have already seen some of their page 1 keyword listings drop down to page 2, 3 or out of the first 100 listings. Perhaps they only rank well for brand keywords. What ever the case may be, they know there is a problem that is only getting worse with time.
“What am I Doing Wrong Here?”
As a small business owner, your first thought would be, “what am I doing or what is my SEO doing that is causing my website to fall out of favor in Google?” In many cases, websites will drift down the list of results because of a variety of factors. Here are just a few examples:
1. Old Website and/or Not Mobile Friendly
“We launched a website in 2005 that has been doing well for several years. Why is this site not ranking well anymore?”
Times change, technology changes and what worked well in 2006 doesn’t work in 2014. If search engines like Google see the same code from 2005, why would they rank your site over a site with a new/mobile friendly layout from 2012? We now live in a multi-device world with product research performed on a variety of devices*. (*Google Study)
The video below from Matt Cutts helps explain why older sites tend not to perform well in search engines:
2. Outdated SEO Practices
“We hired a link building firm to promote our website last year. We were doing great for a few months, now our website has fallen off Google completely. How do we recover from this?”
Having a link building company perform digital marketing is not a good practice. That link building company is going to build links, period. They have no other task than to build more links. They don’t care if you’re selling products or if your website disappears a few months later. They are not in the strategy business since they don’t have any insight into your advertising campaigns, products or business goals. Links are only 1 part of a larger strategy with several other factors.
Before you hire someone to just do one marketing task, consider hiring a consultant or small agency that can provide you with strategic guidance. Strategy is much more valuable to your company than a few links or pages of optimized web copy.
I would argue that the days of specialized SEO firms are gone. You can no longer perform SEO in a vacuum (only focused on keywords). The goals of a company are much larger than a group of keywords. A good digital marketing agency will be able to handle all the paid search and social channels, as well as your organic strategy.
3. Technical Problems
“We relaunched our website several weeks ago, now our site is nowhere on Google. What happened to our rankings?”
This is a very common problem. A company hires a web design shop to redesign their site with a one page scrolling layout (called Parallax, see SEO problems here) that seems to be “all the rage” with designers. When the company launches the website, almost overnight their old listings are gone. What happened here?
Many times a web design shop isn’t hired to perform search engine marketing and doesn’t bid a web project with SEO included for budget reasons (or just to win the work by outbidding competitors). This is not a good practice and the company suffers by losing organic visitors. The web shop may be great at designing websites, but lacks the in-house expertise to deliver on search engine optimization. If you are going to spend $30,000+ on a new website, make sure you have a professional SEO take a look at the web design or have a quick pre-launch audit.
Often, things like “page not found” errors and site structure issues can be prevented early if the right search marketing people are involved in your project in the beginning.
Always Hire Professionals
I hope what you read here can be helpful for a business owner considering a website redesign or looking into why their current site is performing poorly. As always, make sure the people you hire to do this type of work have experience in search marketing and can deliver on technical side as well. Technical SEO and a well built website is the foundation for online marketing performance growth.