You’ve heard all about SEO and know it has something to do with optimizing your site to get it ranking in the SERPs—or search engine results pages. So, you’ve taken everyone’s advice, and optimized your site as well as you could. But for some reason your site isn’t ranking. And you have no idea why.
It’s understandable. You’re a florist, after all. You look after plants and flowers and make people’s lives better by offering them beauty, so you shouldn’t be expected to know every aspect of SEO. The rules seem to change every other day anyway, and there’s so much conflicting advice online that it’s hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
While we might not be able to pinpoint the exact problems with your site without actually studying it, the fact is that many sites don’t rank because they make one or more of these mistakes.
Poor Keyword Research
Quite a few people know that they need to optimize their sites for certain keywords for the search engines to rank them well. A keyword simply refers to a term or phrase people use to search for specific things. For example, if someone is looking for a florist that does floral arrangements for weddings in Markham, they might search with a term like “floral wedding arrangements Markham.”
Search engines match content with search queries using a wide range of variables—most of which are secret—including whether the content is relevant. This is usually determined based on the keywords that appear in the content. So, if you’re a florist in Markham and you specialize in floral arrangements for weddings, then you’d probably want your site to show up on the first page for the aforementioned keyword phrade, or any other relevant keyword terms.
To find these keywords, most people use Google Keyword Planner, which is free. They look at how many searches that particular keyword gets per month and that’s where they stop. The problem is that they don’t look at the competition for that keyword. If there’s a lot of competition, or it’s tough, you’re going to spend a ridiculous amount of time and money trying to rank for it.
Ideally, once you’ve found a keyword that has a decent number of searches, you also need to look at the top ten sites that are already ranking for that term. The stronger the site, the harder it will be to beat it. So, you want to target keywords with medium to low competition, at least at first, as they will be easier to rank for.
Over-Optimizing Your Pages or Posts for a Specific Keyword
One term you’ll come across quite often is keyword density. This simply refers to the number of times a keyword appears in your content and is expressed as a percentage. It used to be believed that keyword density was important to how relevant search engines considered your content. However, this myth has been repeatedly debunked.
“So, how can I be over-optimizing if keyword density doesn’t matter?” you might ask. Well, keyword density in your content does matter, but it matters from a global perspective of how often you’re using the exact keyword on your page. This includes everything from your title and heading tags to your URL and the recent posts widgets in your sidebar, as well as the anchor texts for incoming links.
Say you are trying to optimize a page for the keyword “wedding floral arrangements Manhattan.” You manage to find a domain with the exact keyword phrase in it and you write an article based around the same keyword. You name your page the exact keyword, you use it in the title of your post, a couple of times throughout your content, you add it to as many heading tags as you can, you put it in your meta description, and essentially make sure it shows up in every element you’ve heard is important to SEO. And that’s not all. You even make sure that all of your incoming links use anchor text that’s an exact match to “wedding floral arrangements Manhattan.”
If this is you, then there’s no need to wonder why your website isn’t ranking. It’s not ranking because Google has penalized you for over-optimizing for a certain keyword. To fix it, you need to tone it down a little and, instead, use a variety of keyword phrases that are naturally related. Some alternatives to our previous example could be: florist in Manhattan, wedding floral arrangement specialist, flowers for weddings and so on and so forth.
Essentially, you should be using a variety of related terms throughout the page to ensure Google doesn’t penalize you for over-optimization. If you focus on creating content for your readers and forget about search engines, you’ll find that you’ll come up with variations on the term you’re targeting naturally.
And don’t forget those incoming links. You want to have incoming links that look natural, which means they can’t all have anchor text that’s an exact match for you keyword phrase. Instead, vary things by using the name of your company, “click here”, and related terms.
No Internal Links
Linking between your posts is important. Not only will it guide your visitors to content they might find useful, but it will also give you a boost with the search engines. Internal linking shows search engines that you have plenty of relevant content, and it also shows that you’re focused on delivering value to your audience.
If you have no internal links, there’s a good chance you’re ranking poorly because of it. Likewise, if all your internal links point to the home page, you might also have trouble ranking. Ideally, you want to interlink your content in a way that makes sense to your readers. For example, if you wrote a post about bridal bouquets, then you could naturally link to a post on floral arrangements for weddings, rather than to the home page.
So, it’s time to take a closer look at your site and see whether the keywords you’re trying to rank for have too much competition, if you have over-optimized your pages, or if your internal linking structure is non-existent or poorly constructed. All of these aspects are incredibly important to getting your site to rank well in the SERPs. The good news is that these issues are relatively easy to fix, and it won’t be long before you see an improvement in your site’s rankings.