Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly in Search Engine Results?

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

Have a website? Then you likely want it to be among the first results for a variety of searches. There are very few people who wouldn't want that for their site. That's why it's always surprising to see so many people doing things that make their sites rank worse in search engine results.

Optimizing any site to rank well in search engine results takes time and effort, which is not something anyone really wants to hear. That's why many problems are rooted in totally understandable attempts to take a shortcut or two. Like in this first example:

Keyword Stuffing

Google and the other search engines use your site's content to determine how your site is ranked. It follows, then, that the more you mention a word or phrase that you'd like to be ranked in, the higher your site will show up in the search results for those words. This can be true up to a point, but let's say you have a cooking site and hope to be ranked on the search term "Grandma's Dressing." A bad way to do it would be to write something like this:

This recipe is for Grandma's Dressing. Grandma's Dressing was famous throughout our family as the very best dressing ever made by a grandma. She never told anyone her secret, but last Thanksgiving she wrote the ingredients to Grandma's Dressing down on an index card labeled Grandma's Dressing, and I knew that...

If you continued on like this for the whole page, it'd set off alarm bells at Google and they'd drop your ranking in searches for Grandma's Dressing, just to teach you a lesson. And also because they want to show the best possible, relevant results and keyword stuffing makes you sound like a spammer.

Solution? Create a page about Grandma's Dressing, title it the same, then mention that term every paragraph or so, just like you might do if writing an email to another human. The more natural your text sounds, the more likely it'll help your ranking.

Our next example can be just as bad even though it's nearly the opposite of this first one.

Blank or Incomplete Pages

Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly in Search Engine Results?

​In the rush and excitement of publishing a website, it can be easy to leave parts of that site unfinished. A contact page with a phone number and no other text, a blog with a single post from 2014, an accidentally created page that still has nothing but placeholder text. Any of this can make your site look like it's still under construction, no matter how fantastic the other pages happen to be.

Solution? Look over your site to see if you've inadvertently created any blank pages. If so, delete them. If you start a blog, keep it updated at least every month or two so that the content remains fresh. Otherwise, delete it. If you have a contact page, fill it out with more information than just the individual contact methods. "You can call us at 555-555-5555 from 8am to 8pm and we'll be happy to help. Also, if you'd like to write us..."

Just as bad as littering your site with incomplete pages is also littering it with incomplete Page Description and Keywords fields.

Blank Site and Page Descriptions

Weebly provides a description and keywords section for every single page on your site. The easiest of these to find is under Settings and is filled out by nearly everyone. So far, so good.

However, that SEO setting only sets a description and keywords for your home page. Every single other page on your site can also have its own description and keywords. Leaving these settings blank is an easy way to pass up a boost in search ranking.

Solution? Fill out the Description and Keyword fields for every single page on your site. Give it some time and the boost to your search ranking will make you glad you did.

Your site's content isn't the only thing that can impact your ranking. Even something as simple as your domain's WHOIS record can hold you back a bit.

WHOIS Protection

The WHOIS database lists every single domain name on earth, alongside contact information for the people who own each of those domains. Many site owners, if they even know this database exists, are rightfully confused about its purpose. You may be confused about it right now.

Since domain names are handled through a single public registry (no matter where on earth you buy your domain, it's ultimately handled by a US based non-profit organization called ICANN), it's important that accurate ownership information be noted within that registry. Otherwise it'd be impossible to sort things out when two or more people claim to own a domain.

Is that really necessary though? How often will people get in a stupid fight over a domain name? Well, how often do people break up? Get divorced? Have fights with their business partners? That often. So pretty much all the time.

Since the database lists all domain owners, search engines consider it to be at least mildly suspicious if you choose to hide your registration info. In their eyes, only spammers or other illegitimate registrants would normally take this action. Which means paying for WHOIS Protection to hide your domain registrant contact info will cause them to dock your site's ranking a bit.

Solution? Unless you are deeply worried about your contact info being publicly associated with your domain name, don't pay to have your registry info hidden. Instead, enter a business address, a business email, and a business phone number as all that info is likely public anyway.

There's no one size fits all approach to Search Engine Optimization. No magic bullet that will send your site soaring to the top of the rankings. But if you don't hold yourself back by making the mistakes noted above, you'll find your site in a much better position.

Ready to get started? Lets go.