UX, Web & Brand design by Stuart Gamblen

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Why Doesn’t My Website Rank High on Google (or other search engines)?

Why isn’t my website showing up on the first page of Google?

This can be a common question for website owners, particularly ones with a brand new website, so I thought I’d address it with a quick article.

As a business owner getting your website to rank high on Google and other search results is important, simply because higher rankings means greater website visibility and traffic, which in turn equals more leads and sales.

But I’ve just spent hard earned cash on my new website design? Doesn’t this mean I should instantly be ranking high?

Unfortunately the answer is no, it’s simply not that straight forward.

So what’s the answer?

Search Engine Optimisation

In a nutshell, getting your website to rank higher in the search engines “natural” search results comes down to something called search engine optimisation, or SEO for short.

SEO stands for “search engine optimisation.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

Search Engine Journal

Heres a handy video from well known SEO industry website, Search Engine Journal, if you need further clarification…

YouTube video

But Isn’t SEO the Responsibility of my Web Designer?

Yes and no…

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s solely the responsibility of your web designer, many people do. But your websites entire search engine optimisation is not necessary 100% the responsibility of your web designer.

Let me clarify:

It might be the case that your chosen web designer is an expert in SEO or can at least help with some of the aspects of SEO. If this is the case you can agree on an action plan for them to carry out both the SEO and web design work.

But it also could be the case that they’e a rock star designer (or not!) and are absolutely clueless when it comes to SEO!

I’d ague that a good web designer should understand some fundamental SEO at least. Particularly technical and on-site SEO. After all, if they’re going to build a website for you it needs built on a solid, technically sound and search engine friendly foundation.

But designing, coding and building your website in a technically correct and user-friendly way does not guarantee you’ll instantly rank high in Google or other search engines.

SEO is a complex and time consuming beast with many moving parts. And it’s a marketing activity that needs to be invested in on an ongoing basis in order to see lasting results and remain competitive.

Building your website in a technically correct and user-friendly way does not instantly guarantee you’ll rank high in Google

As I mentioned, while there is a certain amount of cross over between web design and SEO. SEO is an entire discipline, industry and area of expertise in itself. One that requires ongoing and often specialist work outside of good web design.

People build entire careers around SEO. And finding someone who is a true expert in both SEO and web design, and the many elements that go into each, is either extremely expensive or rare and what’s known as a unicorn.

As the saying goes, jack of all trades, master of none.

Why Can’t I Rank High on Google Quickly?

It’s rarely simple and possible to rank highly in the search engines over night and I would stay away from anyone that tells you it is, or guarantees that they can get you first page rankings.

You might get lucky if you’re in a particularly low completion business or niche, but as the search results become more and more saturated, this is becoming harder and harder.

SEO is a long term game and in Google has over 200 different ranking factors. It can take a lot of ongoing work and time and unfortunately most businesses when starting out online will already have competitors who have a head start in terms of SEO.

If you want your new website to rank highly in the search engines then you will almost certainly need to have separate SEO work carried out, either by your web designer (if they’re capable) or an SEO specialist, if you haven’t already done so.

How much SEO work you’ll need to rank your website depends on how competitive the keywords you’re targeting are.

How much SEO work you’ll need to rank your website depends on how competitive the keywords you’re targeting are.

I don’t openly advertise, but as a freelance web designer I occasionally provide on-site SEO as an add-on to websites I build for clients.

Design is my passion, but after years of building website for clients and myself, I’ve become knowledgeable and confident when it comes to keyword research and technical SEO.

If you are interested in content creation or off-site SEO such as link building, then you will need to employ a freelance SEO specialist or company. Sorry, but I don’t enjoy these elements of SEO as much and prefer to keep my services and skills focused.

Alternatively, if you have the time and desire to do some of your own on-site SEO, you can follow my guide on how to do on-page SEO in WordPress.

However, it’s paramount that you learn how to do proper keyword research first. There are many tutorials for this online. This one from MOZ is an excellent place to start.

Improving Your SEO through Content Creation

One of the absolute best things you can do though to improve your websites search engine rankings and organic traffic is to regularly publish articles and content to your website or blog, and base these articles around the keyword phrases you wish to be found for in the search engines.

Then after you’ve done this, with the help of the tutorials mentioned above, syndicate them around the web to social media or sites such as Slideshare and Scribd (as PDF’s) or Youtube (as videos).

This is also known as content marketing and has a three way, positive affect on your website and business…

  1. You will improve your websites search engine rankings when you write high-quality content (and completing good on-site SEO). More high-quality website content equals a more authoritative website and more page and keywords to get found…
  2. You will generate backlinks to your website when you share your content online, and from other website owners if your content is good. You can also do email outreach to build relationships and backlinks from other sites in related industries. This will further enhance your SEO and rankings. Be sure to provide a clear call to action and link back to your site with anything that you syndicate around the web.
  3. Lastly, if you include a clear call-to-action and link when sharing your articles, you will generate referral traffic back to your website from external websites. And with a good website design you’ll convert visitors into leads and sales.

Tip: When linking back to your website it can be good to do so to a purpose built landing page that allows people to download what’s known as a lead magnet.

A lead magnet is simply something that’s of great value to your idea customer, that you give away for free in exchange for their contact details, usually their email address. Ideally a very specific and easily digestible piece of information such as a report, checklist or template.

By getting visitors to sign up to your email list you’re able to nurture your relationship with automated and broadcast emails and turn a higher percentage of visitors into sales!

Basically, content marketing, the creation and syndication of useful, SEO friendly content, becomes a triple win for your website and online presence.

Yes, it takes either your time or your money, but unlike print, banner or pay per click advertising it becomes an asset that you own, one that you can utilise and reap the benefits from long term.

Final note

Understandably it can be frustrating if you’ve spent money to design your new website expecting it to instantly rank high on Google and other search engines. But SEO is a long term game and process, and one that is separate in certain ways to the design of your website.

When I first launched this website as a freelance web designer it took around 8 months before I appeared on the first page of Google for my key targeted phrases.

The time it takes you to rank on the first page will vary massively depending on your industry, niche and targeted phrases though. It could potentially take weeks if you’re targeting a local, low completion keyword, or multiple months or even years if you’re going after extremely high competition keywords.

But, the sooner you start, the sooner your website and business will start seeing results and profit.

Is SEO a strategy you want to try for your business? What keywords would you like to rank in Google for? Leave you’re questions and thoughts in the comments section below.