Google Answers Why A Site Doesn’t Rank Despite Good SEO

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Google’s John Mueller answered the question of why a site with “good SEO” doesn’t rank, even when there’s low competition. His answer might seem controversial at first but his words are worthy of consideration.

Good SEO But Lackluster Ranking?

There is no one definition of what constitutes “good” SEO because how people understand SEO depends on where they learned it and how long they’ve been doing it.

The meaning “good” SEO depends on the experience, knowledge and skill of the person making that call.

It’s hard to be aware of what one doesn’t know until failure makes it clear that there is a knowledge gap.

That is one way of looking at the context of the question that John Mueller answered.

John answered it from the position that maybe the person knows what they’re doing.

Why Does a Site Rank Poorly Despite Good SEO?

The person asking the question was frustrated because they’re in a situation where the competition is low and they have applied what they feel is “good SEO.”

They asked:

“Why is my site not ranking despite low competition and good SEO?

I have a sitemap, indexed pages, updated content, backlinks and on-page optimization.

But my site is still not in the top 200 results for my keywords.”

John Mueller answered by first recognizing the shortcoming of Google’s advice on SEO.

He says that Google’s advice tends to lean more to the technical side of SEO like structured data, page speed, and content quality but not so much about site promotion.

Mueller responded:

“I see this kind of question often.

Google tends to focus on various technical aspects when it comes to talking about SEO, but you need to do more.”

Mueller then zeroed in on the part that Google doesn’t really talk about, site promotion.

He continued:

“A good way to think about this is to compare it to the offline world.

When it comes to books, does a good cover photo, a reasonable sentence length, few misspellings, and a good topic mean that a book will become a best-seller?

Or as a restaurant, does using the right ingredients and cooking in a clean kitchen mean you’ll get a lot of customers?

Technical details are good to cover well, but there’s more involved in being successful.”

Site Promotion and SEO?

At a certain level, it can feel like it’s all too much to have to optimize a site and promote it.

But promoting a site, whether it’s talking on podcasts, speaking at conferences to develop press and industry contacts, radio, making YouTube videos, advertising, it’s all a part of site promotion.

That said, if a site can’t rank well for low competition keywords, that may be a sign that maybe there’s still a little more about SEO to learn.

Always keep an open mind about SEO and don’t assume you already know it. There’s over 20 years of nuance to SEO and it can be surprising where the knowledge gaps are.

Listen to the Google SEO office hours at the 3:28 minute mark:

Featured image by Shutterstock/pedrorsfernandes

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