local SEO website not ranking

Why Your Website Isn’t Ranking – A Guide For Small Business Owners (Actualized for 2018)

“Why is my website not ranking?” is a question we get asked a lot. To answer this question we’ll point out 10 strategies that form the backbone of a well-ranking website, especially those of small businesses whose main market is local. So if your website isn’t ranking, make sure you’re following the tips below.

1. Your website isn’t responsive.

Responsive web design exists so that mobile devices can display content properly. A responsive website adapts to any screen size. Visitors coming from mobile will greatly appreciate that your website scales to their device screen.

Although people use more mobile devices to surf the web than desktop counterparts, there are still so many non-responsive websites. Plus, Google updated their algorithm back in 2015 to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in search rankings.

If your website is not yet responsive, what are you waiting for? If you want more proof that responsive web design is beneficial for your website (brings more sales), check out these statistics and case studies. They show how responsive web design and mobile design optimization increase conversion rates and revenue.

2. You don’t create content (blogs etc.).

Did you know that content sits at the top of SEO factors? High quality content is vital for your business. Content can be text, images, infographics, videos, eBooks, podcasts, etc. All websites have content on them, but it should be updated regularly to reflect the accuracy of the information.

The best way you can produce relevant content on your website is through your blog. The more awesome content you have, the more value you provide to users, which is what Google loves to see.

SEO aside, there are plenty of other reasons to have a business blog. Blogs give you the opportunity to convey your knowledge of the industry, showcase your product or service, establish a brand voice, and to ultimately help users solve a problem.

However, blog articles should be well written (no spelling and grammar mistakes), well organized (through headings, bullets, etc.), appropriately long, and SEO-optimized (with meta information, keywords, etc) to stand out.

3. You don’t have a social media presence.

Social media is a key tool in marketing. Moz also found that social media engagement counts as a Google local SEO factor. The more likes, share, and comments a post has, the better it ranks on Google, especially on local searches.

Every business should have social media accounts (typically on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+) unless they live under a rock. Billions of people are on social media. That’s enough reason to join them with your business and develop your brand image.

Social media is an amazing platform for marketing. Every major platform has a streamlined ad and analytics system to make your branding and marketing efforts more efficient. For more info, check out social media tips for small businesses.

4. Your social profiles aren’t complete (missing hours, descriptions etc.).

If you leave fields in your social media profiles blank, you’ll be missing out on new customers. The more you describe your company, the more transparent and reputable you’ll be for your audience. So take the time to make sure the info is complete.

You can add a ton of information on Facebook and other platforms. Provide at least the company description, address, contact, open hours, and profile image.

Also, don’t forget about your personal profiles! Most prospects will want to check out the company owner or other company employees. Complete your personal profiles too – it helps you show your credentials and personality.

5. You don’t have a Google My Business listing.

If you have a local business, then claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This has a big impact in your local SEO strategy. Listing your local business makes it findable in Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and boosts your organic rank. Plus, it’s totally free!

If you haven’t taken this step yet, get started at https://www.google.com/business. First claim your business then verify it. Include all information about your company such as address, phone number, business hours, and types of payments accepted.

In spite of the big local SEO advantage, many businesses claim their GMB listing and forget about it. But you should keep it as accurate as possible all the time. As soon as something like your business phone number changes, update it in your GMB listing. Don’t forget to write Google Posts in your GMB listing too. These are short temporary posts that can be calls-to-action, tips, links, etc.

6. You’re not listed correctly in local directories.

Attracting new customers as a local business is pretty challenging. Back in the day, people were turning to the Yellow Pages to find trusted business recommendations. The web however is a much better and faster way to find local businesses.

A major way of being found online, besides GMB as described above, is to include your business in local online directories. There are plenty of these on the web and you should be present in all of them to increase your odds of being found.

In addition to Google and major social media platforms (like Facebook and LinkedIn), here are a few others you should join: Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle, YP.com, Whitepages, CitySearch, and more. To fill up forms faster, use an autofill tool like Autofill for Chrome.

7. No one local or relevant is linking back to your website (chamber of commerce, business groups, etc.).

Link building is extremely important in SEO. Backlinks are what gives your website trust, credibility and “weight”. Sites with the most backlinks usually rank the highest. But getting backlinks that are of high quality using legal practices is a challenge.

As link building can take a lot of time and effort, it’s recommended to hire an SEO company. They can get your website enough quality links to propel you to the first page of Google as long as your content and other local SEO factors are rock solid.

However, before someone would want to link back to your website, you need to have high-quality content. You should produce content frequently to have more things you can be found for. Make sure your on-page and off-page local SEO is in good shape, too.

Getting links is a matter of sharing and promoting your content. If you want to rank nationally or internationally, contact influencers in your industry and ask them to share your content (you should return the favor as well). Don’t forget to share your content on social media, too. Another strategy is to write original guest posts on major platforms (like Entrepreneur) with links to your website.

If you have a local business, contact your local chamber of commerce, business groups, etc. Get to know them, build a relationship with them, and politely ask them to share your content. As you can imagine, this takes some persistence.

Keep in mind that your organic ranking also depends on your targeted keywords. The less competitive the keyword, the easier you can rank high on Google. So link building will help you rise in SERPs, but be aware that your competitors might be way ahead of you.

8. You don’t optimize your text with keywords properly.

Keyword optimization means researching, analyzing and choosing the best keywords for your content. The goal is to drive relevant traffic from search engines to your website. Small businesses usually target at least several keywords. There are plenty of keyword research tools on the web, such as Google’s Keyword Planner.

Once you know your keywords, you should include them in different areas of your website: title tags, links, blog articles, website copy, images, meta descriptions, URL, and site structure. Keyword research also helps you with your ad campaigns.

As mentioned above, as a small business you should aim for less competitive keywords, such as long tail keywords. Your content will attract a smaller pool of users, but at least it won’t be completely overshadowed by the big players in your business.

9. You’re not actively pursuing reviews (and you don’t reply to reviews).

Online reviews are critical in influencing the purchasing decisions of customers. According to Zendesk, 9 out of 10 consumers base buying decisions on reviews. Moreover, 80% of those buyers will change their purchasing decision based on negative reviews.

Although you can passively wait for people to give you reviews (if you’re lucky), you can take a more active approach. Ask them directly for reviews after they have completed a transaction. You can do this by speaking to them directly, over the phone, email or via the web. People tend to write reviews if they’re asked nicely.

This sounds like a lot of work, but if you use a service like our Get Bright Reviews, it shouldn’t take you more than two minutes per customer (and it costs less than a weekly visit to the local coffee shop).

Moreover, you should be replying to reviews, too. If the reviewer was happy, respond that you’re happy that they’re happy! If the reviewer was discontent, say that you’re sorry for their bad experience and offer to resolve their issue. Never be rude to your customers.

10. You target everyone (you don’t know your audience).

Target market research is key to the branding process. Focusing your value proposition on a specific group of people makes your message clear and compelling. Your audience should feel that you are talking specifically to them.

For example, if your main target are millennials, your message and tone would be different if you targeted seniors. Your whole brand image and marketing efforts should be tailored to your audience persona.

When working on your target market description ask yourself questions such as these:

  • What is the age of my demographic?
  • What is the gender of my audience?
  • What is the income level of my prospects?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Is this something that they’re willing to save money for?
  • What do they like or dislike about the product or service?

Lastly, your website isn’t ranking if you’re not doing all of the above consistently. Creating a business, making a website, investing in marketing, and so on are just the first step. Growing your business further is an ongoing process and a team effort.

And finally – be patient. As long as you’re following a sound marketing and local SEO strategy, you’ll see your website ranking growing. Just know that it might take months before your ranking, traffic, conversions and profit increase.