Digital marketing agencies and in-house SEOs often meet the frustration of being stuck on page two of Google after experiencing monthly victories in healthy motion. Confusion and anger can easily set in; months of watching engagement analytics go up, seeing ongoing improvements in ranking for a consistent period of time, and taking pride in reporting on increased organic conversions can put a chip on any SEO’s shoulder. But at the end of the day the goal is to land above the fold on page one while generating leads that convert into buyers, and if you suddenly find yourself cemented in the middle of Google’s second page, you are likely wondering what the hell you did wrong.
The best Google partner SEO agencies specializing in content strategies create unique approaches based on each client, their industry, and their goals. After all, one-size-fits-all SEO strategies will never work in this day and age. Even if the fundamentals are executed well, few organizations with healthy competition will never see the light of day on page one of Google unless they make THEIR customer’s needs the center of their strategy. But there are a number of reasons why even custom strategies fail to bump brands onto the illustrious and coveted page one. Here are three of the biggest ones.
Your Off-Site Content is Guilty of Link Scheming
Most organizations and SEOs have the best intentions when they use links as a way to increase their search optimization. However, if you don’t know what you are doing (you’d be shocked how many SEO agencies are still using decade-old tactics), you can run into a penalty and fall many fathoms down the SERPs, if not vanish completely.
Google defines link scheming as the use of links with the intention to manipulate PageRank or a website’s ranking in the search engine results. Focus is especially placed on outbound link behavior. Back in the day SEO agencies would get backlinks for their clients from the Huffington Post and Forbes, always for a nominal fee. Because these sites had crazy-high domain authorities, it worked well…up until now. For 2018 Google has been very clear in regards to link schemes stating that exchanging money for links or posts that contain links will result in a negative impact, as it will be viewed as an unethical way to pass PageRank. Google also frowns on excessive link exchanges (you link to me, and I’ll link to you), using automated platforms or services that create links to a site, and large-scale blog marketing or guest post campaigns with keyword-rich anchor texts.
So are backlinks still important for SEO success? Absolutely. In fact a study performed last year by Neil Patel revealed that the top ranking content always had more links than lower-ranking content on Google search results. So what is a healthy way to create backlinks that pass along PageRank without violating Google best practices?
You need to have a diverse source of referring domains, relevant in content to the site you are linking to, and that are diverse in domain authority (with the majority having high scores). The content you are linking from must offer high value to readers, and avoid keyword spamming. Guest blogging is a great way of doing this. Just make sure that your backlink portfolio isn’t weighed heavily with the same few referring domains.
Your Blog Content Isn’t Structured for Users or SEO Value
Having an on-site blog is one of the best ways to increase your domain authority, rankings, and conversions. However, if your blog is sloppy or seems to have no direct purpose, readers and even Google will view it with little value.
First, blog categories need to be carefully chosen in a way that makes sense. Make a list of the main product and services the organization offers, as well as the most common buyer pains. For example, if a lawn care company that sells riding mowers, cylinder and rotary mowers, sprinkler systems, sod, artificial turf, grass seeds, and so on could use these subjects as blog categories. In addition, categories can also reflect product-associated buyer needs such as drought-friendly yards, green lawn care and seasonal yard care.
Once categories have been built into the blog, creating specific topics and a unique context will not only provide structured articles that resonate with readers but Google will have an easier time crawling the content and understanding its relevance.
Make sure each blog links to one another taking content and topic into account, while providing a link to the pillar page, or main product page.
Nobody is Giving Your Content Love
When social media users share your content not only are they promoting your brand and its products, they are also sending powerful social signals back to your site letting Google know that its popularity is heightened well beyond the framework of on-site SEO efforts.
Social signals refer to share counts and engagement activities such as likes, votes, retweets, shares and pins; this activity lets search engines know that people are interacting with and endorsing your content.
When you empower your target audience to “socialize” your blogs and content within their groups, a ripple effect takes place. This can boost referral traffic to a site, increase backlink diversity (just be sure to do a monthly audit so you can disavow spam links), optimize for local SEO, reduce bounce rate, and build up your domain authority.
Taking a Number Two on Google, Not Ideal
Being number two is certainly better than having a buried existence on page five, but it can really stink up your efforts to create revenue from organic traffic unless you are taking a page number one positioning. After all, more than 90 percent of clicks occur on the first page of Google. Take some time to really understand how Google’s best practices have evolved over the last decade, and if you lack the internal manpower and skills to switch up your digital marketing strategy, reach out to a reputable agency that offers custom marketing stacks; they will be your best bet for making game-changing alterations.
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