Have an Old Website That No Longer Ranks Well in Searches?

p-google-search-boxFor years, many have believed the age of a domain name is a factor in Google search results rankings. We have seen anecdotal evidence that it seems to be true, to a point.  Google’s Matt Cutt’s answer to a related question in a Google Webmaster Tools video prompted this post.

Does this sound like your business?

  • Your domain name was registered several  years ago.
  • You had a website before a lot of others understood the importance.
  • Your website was doing pretty well in Google for many keyword searches
  • Lately, the last statement is no longer the case.
  • You are wondering why you no longer do as well in Google SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) rankings.

Does this sound like your business or organization?

  • You have not done any meaningful updates to the content on your website in years
  • You have not redesigned the look and layout of your website
  • Your photos and graphics are not optimized to be fast loading
  • You are not using Social Media
  • You have not included Social Media share & follow buttons
  • Your competitors have been doing all of the above

Take a fresh look at your website to see just what visitors are experiencing, and compare that to what they experience on your competitor’s or other similar websites.

Don’t just listen to us. See for yourself what Google’s Matt Cutts says in his video, “How can an older site maintain its ranking over time?

Three Important SEO Facts to Remember for 2014!

1. The Google Search you remember from 2 years ago doesn’t exist!

GoogleMost likely, what you thought you knew about getting ranked in Google SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) rankings, matters very little anymore. Think semantic and entity search with keywords as the tertiary element.

2. Just having a website is not enough!

Social Media needs to be included as well. Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – know the social media platform used by your target audience and connect with them frequently.

3. You can’t ignore Google+ anymore! Especially, those of you with local businesses.

I know. I know. I don’t like it either. When someone searches locally for your business or the products or services you offer, you simply have to control the narrative.

Two Things You Can’t Ignore: Landing Pages and Quality Score

I am sure our clients, and others who take advantage of advertising using Google AdWords, wonder why I frequently talk about landing pages and quality score. Well, they are simply two things you can’t ignore!

The people of Google write about understanding landing page experience, and it is important to know what they say about it. It is also important for anyone wanting to maximize their investment in Google AdWords to use the advice they offer.

Here is how they start their article about landing pages, “Landing page experience refers to how good we think someone’s experience will be when they get to your landing page (the web page they end up on after clicking your ad). You can improve your landing page experience and Quality Score by focusing on three things: relevant and original content, transparency, and ease of navigation.”

How do your landing pages stack up?

Don’t forget the ever important quality score. Here are a few considerations that Google says can come into play when calculating “Quality Score.”

  • The keyword’s past click through rate (CTR): How often that keyword led to clicks on the ad
  • The display URL’s past CTR: How often the display URL received clicks
  • The account history: The overall CTR of all the ads and keywords in the account
  • The quality of the landing page: How relevant, transparent, and easy-to-navigate your page is
  • The keyword/ad relevance: How relevant the keyword is to the ads.
  • The keyword/search relevance: How relevant the keyword is to what a customer searches for
  • Geographic performance: How successful the account has been in the regions targeted.
  • If targeting the Display Network – The ad’s performance on a site: How well the ad has been doing on this and similar sites.

It is important to note the number of times in the above list that Google looks at account performance. It is easy to not worry about a particular keyword or a handful of keywords that are not performing well, but it is a costly mistake to ignore the impact poor performing keywords can have on your ad display placement.

Here is more from Google on Quality Score.

Don’t forget. When it comes to Google AdWords campaigns,  there are “Two Things You Can’t Ignore: Landing Pages and Quality Score.”

Websites Aren’t a “Build It And They Will Come” Proposition.

So, you just launched a new website? Is it a month or more later and you are wondering where all the traffic is? Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines don’t just “magically” know your website exists. After they do find you, if you and your web developer both have not done your jobs, you won’t be ranked very highly (or at all) for some time. Here is roughly how it should work.

Before you launch:

Some of you have heard me repeat this mantra many times. This applies for Google AdWords and for organic search results, here is what matters, “Landing pages, landing pages, landing pages.” On those landing pages, you need well-written “Titles,” Meta Descriptions,” “Headlines” and a first paragraph that contains the keywords for which you would like to be found. If you did not provide (or have your web developer edit and provide) well-written, keyword-rich content for your pages, those pages won’t rank well, if at all. If you want your website to be found for specific keywords, those words have to be well-placed on your landing pages. That, is a simple fact.

At and after launch:
  1. If your web developer does as he/she should,  he/she will create a sitemap.xml file that includes a list, of all, or at least the file names of the primary pages of your website. The sitemap.xml file should be submitted to Google and other major search engines. With Google, the correct way to submit it is using a Google Webmaster Tools Account. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com and utilize sitemap.xml files. The search engine robots will follow the page links in the sitemap.xml file, index the content on the pages, and depending on your content, will include some or all of your pages in their search index.
  2. From there, your pages have to “earn” their way toward the high ranking in SERPS that everyone hopes to have. Notice I said “hopes.” There are no guarantees for organic search listing results. Good content and a good web developer can influence how you are are ranked, but if someone promises you a number one position or any specific position, put your hand on your wallet and run.
  3. If an existing website (preferably, one that ranks well in Google search page results, aka SERPS) has a link to your website, Google and some of the other search engines, will at some stage find that link, follow it, and as above, index the content on the pages, and depending on your content, will include some or all of your pages in their search index.
  4. Claim your Google Places page! I cannot emphasize this enough. Claim your Google Places page!
  5. You should ask to get your website listed in any local community directory. The Chamber of Commerce in most communities will have a business directory. Ask for links from vendors, and from associations to which you belong.
  6. Review and choose the Social Media that best suits you, and engage your prospects and customers.

Those are the basics. Most of the time, it takes weeks to months before a new website will rank well. If you do what I outlined above you will likely be pleased with your ranking  much sooner than later.

If you have done all of the above, and are still not ranking well, don’t despair. Just take another look at your content. Rewrite it making sure you have your keywords placed properly, and they are written according to Google’s guidelines. Review the websites that are getting found better than you. You will likely find some clues that will help with your website. Keep at it. You can get to the top!

Here are two effective ways to jump start a new website, or a newly revised website.

When was the last time you updated the content on your website?

Nearly every small business doesn’t update their website content  often enough. I know we certainly fall short in that regard, though I do intend for us to change that. Why is updating the content on your website important? Update WebsiteWell, your website visitors are important! Repeat visitors deserve to see new content regularly. After all, there has to be a reason for them to be repeat visitors, and I mean other than when they are looking for your customer service or support contact information. You don’t really want them coming to your website only when they need support, do you?

So, why else should you update your website regularly? Google and other search engines are good reasons. Google and the others are in the business of providing relevant, and fresh, results. If your website is updated frequently with well-written content, your website will get crawled more frequently by Google, Bing and other search engines. If you have written your content well, and it is relevant to what your intended market is searching for, your website has a better chance of achieving higher positions in search engine results. Google LOVES fresh, relevant, well-written content. Your customers and prospects will appreciate the most up-to-date information about your products, services, or company news.

I Know. I know. We are all busy and it takes time to update our websites. Well, we need (I swear I am going to try to practice what I preach) to realize we don’t have to write a  PhD Dissertation regularly to keep Google, et al happy. Most businesses continually improve, enhance, or add products or services. We can talk about how different customers use our products or services. We can talk about what is happening in our store or office, or locations. We can give tips and hints on how to use what we offer better or more efficiently. Be the expert. Get the idea?

Please remember websites are not “build it and they will come.”  It takes some effort to get positive results from your website.

So, how do we do that easily? Well, if you have a blog or “What’s New” area on your website, you already have the tools. If you don’t, ask your web developer if a blog is right for you. If you have a static website that your web developer updates for you, add a “What’s New” area or page to your website, and then regularly send them updates. Open a free Twitter account, and put a widget (free from Twitter) that shows your latest Tweets on your home or other frequently visited page. If you have a Facebook page, do the same.

Take a look at your current website analytics, and write down the average number of monthly visitors, pages visited. and their time on your website. Start updating at least monthly, or weekly, or daily. After three months take a look at those statistics again. I am sure you will see the difference.

Google will visit your website more often, index your fresh, relevant, well-written content, and your increased number of website visitors will give you more opportunities.