Guest Author: Nadine Mumford
Sometimes, search engine results will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about marketing. Google ranks some businesses on page 1, and it often feels like there is no rhyme or reason to it. Why are competitors, regardless of business model, showing up higher in SERP (search engine results page) than you?
Well, there are a variety of factors that contribute to a website’s SERP position. Let’s review some of the factors that carry the most weight.
Content and Keyword Density
Analyzing site content is the most important way for search engines to get an understanding of what your site is all about. Google cannot read or understand images, but it can understand written language. Your site’s content is the only way Google, Bing or Yahoo can verify that your site is what you say it is. Words and phrases that you want to be found for need to be used multiple times throughout the site content to prove to search engines that your site is relevant to searches that include those words and phrases.
Now, maybe you did this, and your site uses the words and phrases several times throughout the 300 words of content on your site’s homepage. The sites ranking higher than you may have 600-900 words of content on their homepages, and they could be using your industry-specific keywords even more than your site. Search engines typically rank sites with dense, industry-specific, high-quality content higher than sites that do not provide enough content for Google’s crawlers.
A competing website is different than a competitor’s website. A competitor’s website is the website of one of your business’s competitors. A competing website is a second (or third or fourth) website representing your business. It’s confusing to search engines (as well as searchers!) when there’s more than one website for the same business. So, search engines penalize those of you who have more than one site by ranking them lower.
In short, you get one tank of SEO gas, but if you split that gas between two cars (or that SEO between two websites), your car is not going to go as far as if you put all the gas in one car. Your website will find more success when you focus all of your SEO tactics on one site.
Large Company Competitors
Websites of larger corporations like Hendrick and Home Depot are nationally known. Their sites get tons of traffic from all over the country, which, in turn, strengthens the site’s relevancy and trust in the eyes of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. It’s very difficult for small, local businesses practicing localized SEO tactics to outrank large corporations in your business’s industry.
A backlink is when another website links out to your website as a resource. These are great for SEO because search engines see someone else recognizing you and your website as an expert in your industry. However, not all backlinks are created equal. When a large corporation like Hendrick links to your tire shop as a local resource for long-lasting tires, that backlink carries a lot of weight for SEO because it’s a corporation in your industry that is already recognized as an expert. However, a pharmaceutical studies student starting a new blog linking out to your pediatrics office wouldn’t carry as much weight in the eyes of search engines.
Business reviews can make a huge impact on a local SEO campaign. Take a look at the companies that come up first in a Google search related to your industry. Most of the time, those companies have tons of good reviews. Some companies literally have upwards of 400 5-star reviews. Reviews show users and search engines that your company is the best in the industry, and that’s who search engines want to rank highest. So, encourage your clients to write reviews!
Domain age is often an overlooked aspect of SEO. When your site’s domain is brand new, search engines don’t trust your site right away. They need time to crawl through the site’s content, design, links and internal pages. There are plenty of sites that may not be as SEO-friendly as your site, but are ranked higher than your site because search engines have been crawling them for over 10 years! They will not rank a site that has only been live one week over a site they have been familiar with for a decade.
Did any of these reasons sound like they could be the cause of your website ranking poorly in SERP? If you’re already a client of ours, don’t hesitate to speak to your digital marketing specialist about your suspicions. They’ll work with us on the SEO team to give you the best chance of ranking well in search results. New to digital marketing? The Townsquare Interactive team is ready to help! Schedule a demo to learn how we can help you market your small business.
About the Author | Nadine Mumford
Nadine is a native Vermonter and a UMass Amherst graduate with more than three years of experience in the digital space. She moved to Charlotte and started in her position as an SEO analyst last December and enjoys kickboxing, running and hiking.