Top 5 Reasons SEO Website Ranking is Suffering and Top 8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been asked “why doesn’t my website show up on the first page of Google when I type in {fill in the blank with keyword of choice}”?  There are a lot of reasons why a website ranking may be low, but in this article, I focus on the top 5 reasons why your SEO website ranking is suffering and the top 8 SEO mistakes to avoid.

What is SEO?

First, we probably have to address what is SEO.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  It’s a way of optimizing your website for search engines.  To understand how to optimize, one must understand the rules search engines use when processing the content on a website and user interaction with a website.

SEO Website Ranking Factors

I’m going to focus on Google for the remainder of the article because it’s such a popular search engine and most of the articles written on this topic focus on Google.  If I wanted to stand out from the crowd, I’d probably use another search engine, but chances are pretty good you are mainly concerned about your Google SEO ranking so I want to meet your need – not my need to be famous!

Having said that, there are 3 major factors Google uses when determining a website’s ranking.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

To understand CTR, one must understand the term impressions.  Impressions is the number of times your website URL showed up in the search results.  The CTR is determined by dividing the number of times a user clicks on your URL in the search engine divided by the number of times your website URL was show in the search results (impressions).  So if your website was shown 3 times in the search results and it was clicked on 2 times, your CTR would be 2 divided by 3 or 66%.  Google figures that if people actually click on the link for the keywords they were searching for, then it must be a relevant link.  The higher your CTR, the better your website ranking for a particular keyword.

Bounce Rate

This is the percentage of people who navigate away from the page right after only one page view.  Google figures that if a user doesn’t find the website helpful enough to stay and browse a while, then the content must not be relevant to the keywords the user was searching for.  The smaller your bounce rate, the higher your website ranking.

Time on Site

This is similar to bounce rate, but this takes into consideration the total time a user spends on a website.  So if a person clicks on the URL in the search results and then stays a while reading the full article and then clicks on other articles of interest, Google figures this website has valuable information.  The more time on your website that people spend, the higher your website ranking.

Top 5 Reasons your SEO Website Ranking is Suffering

Problem: Your website is TOO Slow

Going back to our list above, if your website is too slow, this will effect your bounce rate and time on site.  If a user is tired of waiting for a page to load, they’ll bail and go on to your competitor.  Google also uses page speed analysis when determining website ranking so it’s an important factor to consider.  There are a lot of tools out there that you can use to determine your website speed.  I recommend  After checking your page speed, you may decide you need to speed up your website.  There are a number of ways this can be accomplished.

Image File Size

The first thing to consider is the file size for the images you are uploading to your website.  If you upload your photos straight off your DSLR camera and don’t resize them, your photo file size is WAY TOO LARGE.  My best advice is to resize photos to no more than 1500 pixels wide or tall depending on orientation and no more than 800 KB.  There are also great plugins out there that will make your image files sizes smaller by optimizing them.  WP Smush is a great one that I use quite frequently.

Bloated Themes and Plugins

It may be that your theme or plugins are slowing down your site.  I recommend disabling all plugins and doing speed tests after re-enabling them one by one to see how each of them affects page speed.  If you disable all plugins and your website is still slow, then your theme may be to blame.  However, changing themes often isn’t an option and that’s when the next option may be your best bet to fixing a slow website.

Caching Plugin

If you can’t change themes and don’t want to let go of plugins, then installing a caching plugin may be your best option to speed up your site.  Stay tuned for next week when I reveal a caching plugin I used on a client’s website that increased website speed by 3x and made their website 94% faster than other websites tested!

Problem: Keyword Density

It may be that you either over use keywords in your content copy or you don’t use them enough.  If you “keyword stuff” by putting in your keyword every other word, Google will push your website ranking way down.  If you don’t use keywords in your headings and naturally within the copy of your articles including within links and alt tags for images on your website, you aren’t taking advantage of using keywords to boost your website ranking.

The simple solution is to focus on one keyword for every article you write and then try to use that within the first paragraph of your article, as many times throughout the article as you can without it seeming unnatural, within headings, within the title of the article and your URL and in the alt tag of at least one image in your article.  WordPress makes all of this easy to do, but I suggest installing a plugin to help with SEO.  I use Yoast SEO and it does a really great job.

Problem: Lack of Interactive Features

If you don’t take advantage of interactive features such as video, links to other articles on your site, and photos (just to name a few), then users who come to your site will leave pretty quickly which will tell Google your content shouldn’t be ranking high for certain keywords.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to use links within articles to link to other recommended articles that are similar in nature to the article they are reading.  It’s also great to include video and high quality photos or infographics that keep users on your website longer.  It takes longer to create these elements for each article, but it’s well worth the effort if people spend more time on your site and your website ranking increases.

Problem: Meta Description

You need to create a custom meta description that includes your keyword.  The meta description shows in Google right under your page title.  This description is what people will quickly scan to see if your article is what they want to read.  If your meta description does a poor job of telling the user what the article is about, they won’t click on your URL and your CTR will suffer.

To fix this issue, use Yoast SEO to craft a meta description in the snippet editor that clearly articulates what the article is about and why a user would want to click on your link.

Problem: Annoying Advertisements

I have been to numerous websites where the advertisements take over the website content I came to read like aliens invading earth.  It can be so annoying to close popup after popup and then to have to scroll past all these advertisements just to get to the content I came to read.  It’s recommended that you do not use popup advertisements (popups for newsletter signups are okay as long as they don’t take up the entire screen) and that you put advertisements “below the fold”.  Below the fold means they are only visible once a user starts to scroll down.  If your website is already ranking high (you probably wouldn’t be reading this article), then you can ignore all this and put advertisements wherever you want.  But if your website ranking is low, then consider how your advertisements may be keeping users away.

Top 8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t create posts less than 300 words.

This goes back to time on site.  If your article is short, people won’t spend time reading it and will click off your site quickly.

Don’t offer one page for Google and another for humans.

Google will reprimand you for this by clearing your website off the search results.

Don’t keyword stuff.

Don’t put your keyword every other keyword just to rank for a keyword so that you get more people clicking on your keyword.  I think you get the point.  It’s unnatural and annoying and Google will pick up on it and reprimand you.

Don’t have hidden text.

This is the practice of putting your keywords in the same color as the background color so that humans can’t read it, but search engines can.  Google will pick up on this and will reprimand you.

Don’t submit multiple versions of the same blog post to multiple websites.

Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to pick up on this and consider it duplicate content and may reprimand you for it.

Don’t put ads above the fold or in popups.

I covered that above so you can re-read that if you want.

Don’t put paid links in your content.

Google frowns upon paid links within content and will reprimand you.  If someone approaches you and says “I’ll pay you $100 every time you put a link to my website in your blog posts” – just say “no, thank you”.

Don’t link spam.

This is the practice of submitting your article to every comment on every website you can imagine.  It’s okay to share your link within Facebook groups and in the comments of a few relevant websites, but if you do it too many times, Google will notice and reprimand you.

Phew, we covered a lot of ground.  Seriously, SEO Is a complicated topic with a lot of factors, but I hope this article identified a few areas where you need to correct mistakes you have been making.  You aren’t going to do SEO perfectly and that’s okay.  Avoid the mistakes outlined above, do your best to include keywords where they are appropriate, craft a custom meta description, and create quality content and you’ll see your website ranking increase steadily.

And as a final test, can anyone guess what my “focus keyword” was for this article?  Hint: it appears the most times out of every other keyword listed in the tags.

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