5 steps when you are not ranking in Google

It can be extremely frustrating when we are not ranking in Google or any of the other search engines.

We research and write great articles and then there is nothing. And there can be nothing for a very long time.

First of all, you are not alone.

Everyone who writes with the intent to get visitors from the search engines knows the feeling.

And we know we need to be patient.

But how can we know that we are doing everything right? 

What if we will never rank for anything because Google doesn’t like our website?

Here is a 5 point checklist that I use to put my mind to rest and make sure that I am doing what I can.

1. Google Search Console – celebrate the small wins

To make sure that you remain friends with Google you should sign up for Google Search Console. 

It is easy to sign up and you can link the Search Console to your Google account. 

When you have signed up you list your domain name(s). Then you follow the instructions to claim your website. Basically Google will ask you to add something to your website or DNS to prove that you indeed are in control of the domain name(s) you have listed.

When this is done you will have a tool at your fingertips that shows your website’s visibility, presence and ranking in Google Search results.

Pretty amazing!

And it gets better. You will also receive error reports if Google has issues with any of your webpages. And if errors are reported there are clear instructions on how to correct the errors and re-submit the offending webpages.

When we log in to the Search console we land at the section named Overview. Here we have graphs for Performance, Coverage, Experience and Enhancements. 

Now, when we first start out we have no visitors. So to look at sections like Performance can get a bit depressing after a while.

Instead we look for the small wins and click focus on Coverage.

Here’s mine and my small wins are that all my pages are indexed (accepted) and Google reports no errors. 

Google Search Console and the importance of counting small wins

My conclusion, I am on the right track!

I should add that the same logic of course applies to for example Bing Webmaster Tools.

2. I need to act my age

“Hear, hear. Mattias has started a website. All eyes this way now.”

Some of the websites I am competing with have been around for a long time. It is not reasonable that I should be ranking in Google alongside these websites from day 1.

I realize that I need to continue to produce quality content and show that I am here for the long term.

Simply put, I need to act my age.

3. Ranking in Google and search intent?

In my guide on how to build a website the right way I write about the different types of keywords and the importance of search intent when we select keywords.

To give you a short summary there are navigational, informational, commercial and transactional keywords.

As affiliate marketers with content driven websites we focus on informational and commercial keywords where we inform and educate the visitor. We then funnel our visitors to action pages that link to carefully selected partner companies. 

Our business idea is in other words built around ranking for informational and commercial keywords. These are keywords that for example include words like “best”, “top”, “review”, “what” and “how”.

So let’s say we have written a tutorial style article with the keyword phrase “How to grow tomatoes indoors”. 

When I search in Google the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) returns a mix of blog type how-to articles and Product ads. 

Check the Google SERP for User Intent per Google

The way the SERP is constructed tells me that Google is not sure what the searcher is looking for. Am I interested in buying tomato growing supplies or am I looking for instructions and information?

I would conclude that my article is a partial match of the Google assigned search intent. In other words, it was a good article to write for the purpose of ranking in Google.

4. Be the expert 

We start a website because we have information and knowledge to share.

But even if we share our name and photo the web can be quite anonymous.

You should continually ask yourself how you can become the expert in your chosen field.

I force myself to do one specific act of establishing myself as an expert every day.

It can be as simple as looking through the available requests from HARO where journalists list opportunities for media collaborations. 

Or maybe reach out to a complementary or even competing website to ask for possible ways of cooperation.

And being the expert also means that you should always be critical of your own writing. Always look to improve. 

5. Investigate other sources of traffic

Do keep producing quality content as Search Engine Optimization requires patience.

Whether you produce one article per week or more you need to keep adding more content to show your worth.

But as it will take time to rank in the search engines it is wise to not put all your eggs in one basket.

Do look into writing guest posts, creating Facebook groups, Pinterest and whatever else you feel is appropriate for your chosen niche.

And guess what, Google — and other search engines — likes it when you have coverage and visibility outside of their index.

Summary and bonus tip

So there you have it. My 5 steps that I fall back on when I start to worry or have doubts.

I do know that it will take time and require patience. And I know that you know that as well.

Still, I do find that taking inventory of all the things that I actually do right gives me strength. It re-assures me that I am on the right track.

And then there was the matter of the bonus tip. Do stay on top of your page loading speeds via Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmertix. Think Mobile first and remember that it is necessary to optimize for fast loading sites to succeed.

And remember to run the tests on a regular basis. You need to get a feel for how your website’s performance is developing over time. After all, the tests I ran for the scans below are already a part of my website’s history.

GTmetrix speed scores
Google PageSpeed Insights scan result

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.