Have you found it difficult to get a targeted search engine optimisation strategy in place that works in tandem with your content marketing to improve the visibility of your pages? The question and answer format below will hopefully clear up some of the most common issues and challenges that you may have run into in recent months.
How do new sites perform in Google rankings?
There is no hard and fast rule for how quickly a website can achieve rankings for competitive search queries. Around 10 years ago, it may have been possible to launch a website and run through some of the more basic SEO tactics with the expectation of rankings in a month or so, but this is now very unlikely.
Google analyst John Mueller actually weighed in on this very question recently, revealing that it could take 12 months for the search giant to really get to grips with a new site, the value it offers, and where it should rank.
New sites can perform well in Google, but it is very much dependent on how much time and resources you invest into your content marketing and SEO strategies. The industry you are in and the level of competition you are up against also factor in. For example, a tech company could initially struggle to rank for ‘cloud computing’, while a niche local enterprise could see better results for a location-based query.
Is content the most important ranking factor?
Yes, content is one of the three most important ranking factors alongside links and the machine-learning-based algorithm RankBrain. Big businesses focus on publishing content for good reason as Google has consistently stated that excellent blogs, articles and web copy are key to search success.
This is because Google will rank what it deems to be the best content for a search query at the top of SERPs. Detailed and relevant content usually wins out as it will more closely align with search intent. Other websites will also want to link to this content in their own blogs, which boosts its authoritativeness and trustworthiness yet further.
Are there any reasons why a site wouldn’t rank on Google?
It can be disheartening if you have followed best practices for content and SEO and still don’t make a breakthrough in Google rankings. There are a few reasons why this would be the case. On the content side, your site may be lacking pages that provide the quality and in-depth information that Google and searchers expect.
However, there may also be technical issues holding you back. Running a quick site:search of your primary URL will tell you whether your pages are actually listed. If they are not, this is a major problem as Google will not be indexing your pages.
The most common reason for the absence of listings is the presence of noindex tags or directives, which tell Google not to index content. Webmasters may have also errantly instructed web robots not to crawl your pages in the robots.txt file. Both of these issues sound complex but are something that webmasters should be able to clear up quickly.
Why does organic traffic sometimes decline suddenly?
Traffic levels are always in flux, but you need to be aware of major changes, especially declines if they happen overnight. A sudden slump could be attributed to the use of noindex tags or a manual action penalty administered by Google, though both of these are quite unlikely.
Webmasters have noticed sharp dips in traffic after Google core algorithm updates in the past, so you should first check whether any changes have recently rolled out. Google advises not to worry about these declines. It notes: “Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
Take a look at what your competitors are doing as they may be reaping the rewards of a more aggressive and optimised SEO strategy. It is possible to gain ground at a later date without making wholesale changes, but do always aim to improve the quality of your content campaigns.
How does technical and on-page SEO differ?
Technical SEO and on-page SEO are terms that can be used interchangeably when talking about the optimisation of webpages for search, but they are actually two different things.
The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to remember that on-page SEO affects elements that can be seen by users, such as the content on the page, titles, images and meta tags. In contrast, technical SEO covers things that are ‘under the hood’, such as site speed, sitemaps and structured data. The latter is an important part of Google’s crawling and indexing process.
Finally, off-page SEO is any tactics or formats that are deployed away from your website. This includes general content marketing as well as social media accounts.
Can social media help with SEO?
While social media will not have a direct impact on search rankings, the process of sharing content on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can boost SEO in a roundabout way. This is because posting content will increase its reach and drive your brand exposure and awareness.
When someone likes your content and then shares it with others, this creates something called a social signal. Google will take note that your posts are providing value to your target audience. Basically, social sites can indirectly impact SEO, so it is always worth considering how these platforms can tie into your wider strategies.
What is PPC, and do I need it?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a form of advertising where you have to pay every time someone clicks on one of your ads. PPC is often positioned as something that is not compatible with SEO, but this is not always the case. Marketers should aim to build a balanced channel setup that is capable of driving traffic and conversions.
The resources you have at your disposal should inform whether you use both SEO and PPC. For the majority of companies, cost-effective and organic SEO is preferable, though small, targeted PPC campaigns can be particularly useful when used correctly.
This is true for SEO as a whole. It can take time to get the results you want, but by deploying best practices and implementing careful optimisation, you can succeed in the long term.