It happens all the time—you spend hours creating what you think is an amazing piece of content. You post it, and then weeks or months later, it’s still not ranking. If your content doesn’t rank, your audience doesn’t see it, and you can feel like your efforts were wasted.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the main goal of content creation. You want your content to rank organically and ideally as high as possible on the first page.
Even well-written content doesn’t always rank, though, so why is that?
Below we explore some of the potential reasons a piece of content may not perform well organically after you post it.
Understanding Content’s Ranking Potential
In general, the more content you publish that’s high-quality on your site, the more likely you are to rank for keywords across the entire site. Google likes to see a lot of content because then the algorithms that fuel the search engine have more context, and they’re better able to understand what your site is about.
Each time you publish a new piece of content, Google is getting more keywords, and that means more understanding of your brand.
That’s why optimizing all of your content with semantically relevant keywords in your headers, descriptions, and titles is essential.
That doesn’t mean you go for quantity over quality, however. Google can actually end up not only ignoring your content if it’s not high-quality—you could also be penalized.
Along with the words you use in your content creating ranking opportunities, you’re also able to optimize your images. The way you optimize images is going to be a major ranking factor that drives traffic.
So what if you’re in a situation where you know you’re creating great content that you feel is properly optimized, and you still aren’t ranking?
We’ll cover these situations below.
Your Keywords Are Too Competitive
Probably one of the biggest reasons your content isn’t ranking is that you’re targeting keywords that are too competitive. Yes, they have a lot of volumes, and that can make them a shiny target, but to rank for keywords that are extremely competitive is going to be almost impossible for a new piece of content.
First of all, stop with the one and two-word targeted keywords. Instead, look for long-tail, less competitive keywords.
You should do a keyword search on everything you’re thinking about using for your content. Under a search box, if you type your targeted keyword in, you’ll see gray text that lets you know how many results it brings up. You can also use keyword tools to figure out the competitiveness of any given word or phrase.
You might create content that you think your ideal audience wants to see, but you might be wrong here.
You have to think carefully about why you’re creating every piece of content before you spend time and effort on it. You also want to consider if you’re going to be able to truly add value to the lives of your readers with what you’re producing.
If you’re not thinking carefully about creating value, you’re going to have weak, shallow content that doesn’t get much engagement.
The Content Is Outdated
If you have a lot of content on your site already and you don’t think it’s ranking as well as it should be, you need to consider whether it’s outdated. You need to update your old content on a regular basis, and that can help you boost its ranking.
If you’re overwhelmed and have a lot of content, start with an audit. Go over your current content by performance, and then from there, look at your oldest and underperforming pieces of content to figure out if you could make changes that would help them be more relevant or updated.
Your Site Has Technical Problems
If your site as a whole has technical issues, it’s going to prevent individual pieces of content from ranking.
Common technical SEO problems include not having an XML sitemap, broken links, coding errors, privacy concerns, or Google not indexing your site.
You may need to work with a developer if you think your problem stems from your technical SEO.
Similar to some of the technical issues already mentioned, you also need to ensure your site is fast and mobile-friendly. Google has outright said that its priority in indexing content and sites is mobile-first. You can check using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, and if your site isn’t responsive, you need to work on redesigning it.
Similarly, site speed is also a critical ranking factor. If your site is too slow, you may need to invest in updates such as getting better hosting service or compressing your media files.
Short, Thin Content
Just like Google wants to see updated and highly relevant content that’s tailored to the needs of your audience, you also want to make sure that your content is long enough. There’s a reason this matters.
First, when you have longer content, it gives Google more content to crawl.
Also, long-form content tends to provide a very in-depth view of a topic, and that’s more likely to be high in value for a reader compared to short or thin content.
This doesn’t mean you fill your content with meaningless fluff to try and up the word count, though. Don’t go overboard trying to have a longer article to the point that you’re no longer adding value.
When you have in-depth content that’s relevant and valuable, this can help reduce your bounce rate because people are going to spend additional time browsing your site. That can in and of itself be a ranking factor for Google.
You Don’t Have Enough Links
Finally, Google’s algorithm analyzes your site’s relevancy and domain authority when determining how to rank your site for particular keywords and phrases. The term domain authority was initially created by Moz, and it’s a prediction of how well your site will rank on search engines, with a score that ranges from 1-to 100.
The number of links pointing to your site is part of this. If you don’t have a lot of backlinks to your site as a whole and also to individual pieces of content, it’s going to be tougher for you to rank.
You need to use link-building strategies through relationship building and creating quality content. You should also send guest blog and content pitches to sites and publications or outsource the work to a professional link-building company.