Why Isn’t My Website Ranking? 9 Reasons (And How to Fix Them)

Discover the top reasons why your website may not be ranking well in search results and learn effective strategies to fix them, including indexation issues, penalties, content quality, and algorithm updates.
  • Portrait of a smiling woman with long hair, transparent background.
    Sarah Berry SEO Consultant
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  • October 25, 2023
  • 4 min. read

Search engine optimization (SEO) is filled with questions, including, “Why isn’t my website ranking?” There are plenty of reasons a website isn’t ranked, from indexing issues to content problems and other SEO challenges, and you can learn about them (and how to fix them) below:

1. Indexation

Indexation is one of the most common reasons a website doesn’t rank in search results. If you want to appear in search results, you have to enter a search engine’s index. That’s why we recommend checking for indexing issues first when troubleshooting a website that isn’t ranking.

A quick test for index issues is a site search in your Internet browser, like site:example.com. Your results will show which pages Google has in its index. Alternatively, you can visit Google Search Console, enter your affected URL, and view its index status.

There are a few types of index issues, including the following:

  • Noindex: A noindex directive tells search engines not to index a page.
  • Robots.txt: A robots.txt file tells search engine spiders if they can crawl a site, folder, or page.

You can fix the above issues by updating your robots.txt file and noindex directive. How you fix these issues specifically will depend on your website setup. If you use a tool like Yoast SEO, you can resolve this problem without a developer.

2. Website penalty

While rarer, a website penalty from Google can also remove your site from search results. Log in to Google Search Console to see if you have a penalty. If you do, Google will provide instructions on what to do next.

3. Time

Time is another consideration for why your website isn’t ranking.

If you expect non-news content published a few hours ago to appear in search results, prepare to shift your expectations. Typically, content will take a few weeks to a few months in some instances to rank (and rank well) in search results.

Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t have an immediate fix.

4. Search intent

Search engines aim to deliver users the most helpful and valuable content based on their searches. That’s why content that doesn’t meet search intent doesn’t rank. So, analyze your target keyword’s search intent by reviewing the first three to five URLs and comparing them to yours.

Resolve the content gap and re-submit your URL to Google if your content misses the mark.

5. Keyword competition

The competitiveness of your keyword targeting can also affect your website’s ranking.

Businesses will often encounter this ranking issue when targeting high-competition keywords with a website with a weaker backlink profile. That’s why we recommend solving this issue by pivoting your keyword targeting to lower-competition, long-tail keywords.

6. Backlink profile

As one of the most influential ranking factors, your backlink profile can affect your website’s ability to rank in search results. While your backlink profile won’t prevent you from ranking, it will influence how well you can rank for keywords.

Tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush all include custom metrics for measuring your backlink profile’s authority. Based on their score, you can gauge which keywords your business can successfully target and rank for in search results.

Besides changing your keyword targeting strategy, you can also build your backlink profile.

The best strategies for link acquisition focus on creating great, original content, which can include:

  • Infographics
  • Guides
  • Tools
  • Research
  • And more

Link building is hard, but it’s essential to ranking in search results.

7. Thin or duplicate content

Another reason why your website isn’t ranking on Google relates to your content.

To troubleshoot this potential issue, we recommend a site crawl with Screaming Frog, free for up to 500 URLs. Screaming Frog will generate a thin and duplicate content report, which you can review.

For duplicate content, there are a few options:

  • Create original content for the duplicated page
  • Redirect one of the duplicated pages

If you have thin content, look for ways to make your content more helpful, like by adding content.

8. On-page optimization

If none of the above reasons fit your page, check its on-page optimization for:

  • Unoptimized title tags, meta descriptions, and headings
  • Poor formatting with long paragraphs and grammar errors
  • Keyword stuffing

Based on your on-page SEO audit, you can make any necessary updates and re-submit your URL.

9. Algorithm update

In some cases, search engine algorithm updates can also affect your website’s rankings.

Tools like Rank Ranger, Semrush Sensor, and CognitiveSEO can help you monitor the impact of an algorithm update. If you’re practicing white-hat SEO and taking a user-first approach to search engine optimization, it’s unlikely you’ll see a dramatic impact from an algorithm update.

If you do, though, check out Google’s official documentation for more guidance.

Fix your website’s ranking issues with SEO.com

If you’re struggling to fix your website’s ranking issues, SEO.com can help. With our award-winning team of SEO experts and decades of experience, we can help your business troubleshoot and resolve your ranking issues. Contact us today to learn more!

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Sarah Berry is an SEO Consultant at one of the largest SEO agencies in the USA — WebFX. With more than 10,000 hours of SEO experience, she offers practical insights and strategies you can use to grow your rankings, traffic, and revenue from search.

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