Why is my SEO content not ranking?

Cut out rookie SEO errors for better ranking

Content is at the core of any effective SEO strategy. But what happens when your posts aren’t ranking, and your boss is asking for results? You need to find the answers – and fast.

You need to identify the problem (or problems) in your content and fix them. If you’re not experienced in creating SEO content, you could be making terrible mistakes that could be terminal for your content.

We’ve been creating SEO content for 20 years now (has it been that long?), and over that time have learned some lessons. There’s no paywall here, we’re happy to share them with you for free.

Here are 22 reasons why your content isn’t having an impact – and what you can do to fix it. (We’re going to keep updating this list, so 22 may become more). Understanding where your content could be failing is the first step to fixing it – so treat this as a practical guide for creating pro-level SEO content.

#1 Your blog posts aren’t long enough

Think a 500-word blog post is going to boost your SEO ranking? Think again.

Experts found the blog posts must be over 300 words. To rank for competitive search queries, you’ll need to produce detailed blogs of over 2000 words. That’s a lot of words, but it demonstrates how competitive the world of SEO is.

If you’re attempting to target highly competitive markets or sectors (such as SEO agency, for example), you may need substantially more.

Solution: Ensure all blog posts are over 1000 words and aim for 2000 or more.

#2 It’s not good enough

You can publish 2000 words, but how is it written? Too many businesses and brands focus on keyword stuffing and length without assessing their content for its value.

Basically, your blog must be well-written, correctly structured (something we’ll walk you through later), and compelling. If your blog is basic, boring, badly written, and breaks Google’s rules (like stuffing keywords to boost your ranking), it’ll rank lower than high-quality content that’s written by a pro (like us!).

Solution: Only publish posts that are well-written, engaging and accurate.

#3 You’re not providing value

Ask yourself: What problem dos this post solve? Do we answer every question and provide answers? Is it full of actionable insights that demonstrate our authority over this topic?

If the answer to any of these is “no” you’ll understand why your content isn’t ranking. Google is clear that your content must demonstrate “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness”. They call this E-E-A-T – and it’s critical to creating good quality content.

Solution: Learn what Google is looking for and ensure your content ticks all the boxes. When it comes to content, you are what you EEAT.

#4 You’re not publishing enough

The question: How often should you blog for SEO 2023? is a popular one. While there’s no definitive answer, experts agree that blogging at least twice a week sends out the best signals to Google.

Solution: The answer is simple: publish more. But don’t let quantity impact quality. Focus on creating the best posts you can. While publishing twice a week is ideal, it’s not critical (unless you’re operating in highly competitive areas).

#5 You’re copying competitors

This happens *a lot*. An SEO agency or inexperienced content strategist will suggest you copy the titles, outline, content structure and even tone of voice of competitiors to capture clicks.

Firstly, this strategy demonstrates a massive lack of insight, and also a misunderstanding of how Google search works. Firstly, if you’re copying you’re not adding anything new (red flag). Copying titles and structures is a serious infringement of IP and just bad form. Finally, you’re not delivering on any of Google’s EEAT criteria.

Solution: Sack your content strategist and contact us! Seriously though, you should find your own way to rank in your industry. Be bold, not boring!

#6 You’re not using the right keywords

Keywords are the bedrock of SEO. Get it right, and you can capture clicks and build an audience. But too many strategists focus on the top-level (high competition) search terms because they have volume. That’s vital, but don’t miss out on that juicy low-hanging fruit and find those search terms with low competition.

Solution: Always go after the high-competition keywords but include low-competition keywords in your content and strategy. As long as the intent is the same (they want to buy your product or service, for example), they’ll get results.

#7 You’re using too many keywords

Keyword stuffing is so 2002 but it still happens. Bloggers and writers look for ways to include keywords in text, but a little goes a log way.

Solution: Write longer posts! The longer your post, the more times you’ll naturally use a keyword (and its many permutations). You can use tools such as SEMrush to provide writing assistance and warn you if you’re using too many keywords. It’s not science, but it is a useful tool for SEO content writers.

#8 You’re not optimising your posts

This is an SEO content writing guide, so you’d expect us to talk about keywords, titles, etc. That’s part of optimisation (and covered below), but it’s not everything.

When we talk about content optimisation, we want to know how far your content is fulfilling Google’s EEAT requirements. Is it offering value? Does it demonstrate experience? Are you establishing yourself as an authority?

Here’s an idea. Read through this blog and ask yourself whether it reaches the EEAT benchmark?

Solution: Be critical about your content and approach it like a customer. If I land on this page will I have a better and deeper understanding of the topic? Do I have the information I need to do better? If so, it’s worked. If not, get editing! (We can help with that…)

#9 You’re not using H1s, H2s, H3s, and H4s properly

This is simple stuff, but people still get it wrong. Your H1 is your page title, with H2s (and the rest) forming the spine of your article. Using these helps Google to scan your content and understand it.

Solution: There are differences of opinion about how to use H1s and H2s. We recommend focusing less on attempting to game the Google algorithm and instead focus on answering users’ questions in your content.

#10 Your meta tags and titles suck

People spend hours writing a blog only to let themselves down on the basics of a page title and meta tag. We’re going to write a guide on best practice at some point (watch this space) but until we do, ensure yours are doing the heavy lifting.

Solution: Spend time crafting a title and meta tag that explains to users (and Google) what the page or blog is and the value they can get from reading it. Be super specific for the best results.

#11 Page loading times are too slow

Yes, page speed is critical. If your website takes too long to load, it’ll be ranked than those that are faster. Page speed isn’t something we can help with, but your web manager or outsourced agency can.

Solution: Check your Pagespeed with Google and act immediately if it’s slow.

#12 Pages aren’t indexed

Google doesn’t index your page the minute you publish a post. It can take weeks – or even months – for Google to index your page. When it does, it’ll start showing up in search engine rankings. Over time, if you’re publishing good quality content, your site will see a boost.

Solution: Softly softly, catchy money. (That’s a British saying that basically means you’ll need to wait a bit!)

#13 You’re not including internal links

Internal links aren’t going to make or break your post, but they are a useful part of the whole SEO package.

Solution: Aim for between 5-10 internal links, says SEO expert Neil Patel. Seems fair to us.

#14 You’re not adding media

Photos, videos and more can transform the user-experience, so use them! Including a selection of images and moving media can help improve the on-page experience, bring content to life, and make concepts clearer.

Solution: Spend time including relevant media into your posts (not random videos of Madonna or cats).

#15 Your website is junk

You can publish as much content as you like on your site, but if the site is junk (it’s slow, it’s old, the UX sucks, etc.) it won’t work. End of story.

Solution: Invest in a new website.

#16 You’re using AI to create SEO content

This is a new one on the list, but it’s increasingly important to mention. Yes, people are churning out endless blog posts created by SEO and the results are, well, useless. SEO evangelists, agency shysters, and snake oil salespeople will tell you AI is the shortcut to great content, but it’s not. Or at least, not yet.

We’re all for the AI apocalypse. Let’s get that UBI started and we’ll change 42group into the world’s best damn cat grooming studio. But today, AI content is going to damage your business.

We’ve written about how we’re actively searching for AI-generated SEO content, and the reasons why we’re committed to cutting it out. Our clients deserve better.

Regardless of the ChatGPT prompts you use and the Chrome plugins (we use them to), the results are about what you’d expect from an average freelancer in 2021. Do better, please.

Solution: Don’t use AI to generate your content. End of. Always check any content you publish for originality. (Ironically, perhaps, we use OriginalityAI.)

#17 You’ve trusted an SEO agency and they’re not delivering

Lots of businesses outsource content creation to their SEO agency and assume everything is going to be OK. But is it?

If your content isn’t ranking or your website not experiencing a boost (despite shelling out large sums of cash), then it’s time for a tough conversation.

Solution: Ask your SEO company what content they’re producing and who is creating it. Analyse the existing content for EEAT, and be critical. Look for ways to improve your content, either with your current SEO provider or someone new.

#18 You’re expecting too much in a competitive market

This happens a lot. Clients, companies, bosses, and business owners want to rank on page 1 in a few months. Won’t happen, will never happen, unless you use some shady tactics or competition is low.

Solution: Sketch out a realistic and achievable SEO strategy that uses content to build a competitive advantage. Manage expectations and be realistic. If you want to get to the top of Google (and have big pockets), then it’s time to use PPC.

#19 You have no backlinks

Basic stuff, but backlinks will boost your SEO. Dodgy agencies will buy backlinks on your behalf, but that’s pretty shady.

Solution: Earn backlinks by creating detailed and customer-focused content (like this SEO content guide). Share your content on social channels and promote like your life depended on it!

#20 You’re writing content that nobody is searching for

Sometimes, the content you produce has no audience. Imagine we wrote an SEO guide for miserable middle-aged men who like playing jazz. That’s pretty niche, right. (Err, it’s also a description of the writer, we had no time to come up with anything better.)

When creating content, be sure there’s an audience for it, or be prepared for it to disappear into the billions of pages of unread stuff. That contains Myspace, Friends Reunited, and the dead or dying social networks that clog up the world.

Solution: Understand your audience and write for them (not you).

#21 Your site has attracted a manual penalty

Have you been a naughty boy or girl? If you (or your unscrupulous SEO agency) hasn’t followed the rules, you could be hit with a manual penalty. Read what this is and what you can do here.

Solution: This one is going to take some work! We can’t help you with manual penalties, but work with an expert and don’t make the same mistake again.

#22 You’re not working with 42group

There is a huge number of SEO agencies and content agencies that claim to deliver the best quality work at a great price. But is your SEO content partner delivering for you? If not, it’s time to consider a change…

Solution: 42group works provides SEO content for some of the world’s biggest businesses, impactful organisations, and fast-growth start-ups. The best SEO content is a click away…

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