What to Do if My Content Doesn't Rank: Why It Happens & How to Fix It

What to Do if My Content Doesn’t Rank: 13 Reasons Your Site Is Dead in the Rankings, and How to Fix It 

by | Apr 14, 2020 | SEO

Today on the Write Blog, we’re answering this question:

Why isn’t my content ranking?

For today’s topic, I’ve featured the original insights and stories of three experts in SEO, marketing, and web development.

Currently, the ROA on ads is as bad as .6x (average!), and ad accounts are being closed down or locked up. Organic SEO content rankings are of massive value to the smart marketer of today.

Featured in today’s blog is Jessica Campos, J.D., a local influencer here in Austin that I’ve mentored. She shared her tremendous success story with website content.

I also interviewed Jeremy Knauff​ of Spartan Media,​ and Jill Caren of 2DogsMedia​ on what they see that stops content from ranking.

This blog is full of PRACTICAL advice you won’t find really anywhere online. There’s even a FREE downloadable checklist.

We put so much time into this topic because I see this question in our sales chat and email more times than I can count:

…What to do if my content doesn’t rank?

You’ve already spent hours typing away at your keyboard. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your words. Or maybe you’ve even hired the perfect content team.

What’s more, you’ve recently updated your editorial calendar. You’ve done topic research. You know you’ve done everything right.

So, why isn’t your content ranking?

Why are you seeing your piece on page five of Google, with a 0% success rate?

If this is you, make sure to first give yourself a pat on the back. That’s it: congratulate yourself!

Because you’re already halfway to your goal: content that drives a ton of traffic and converts like crazy. You’ve done things right so far. And you’ve come to this blog, where I’ll show you what you’re still doing wrong.

Ready to turn things around for your own content?

Let’s begin!

Get the free checklist-style version of today’s blog here.

In this post:

What to Do if My Content Doesn’t Rank? 13 Issues that Prevent Content from Ranking (And How to Fix Them)

A Story of Google Ranking Success: A Content Agency Built on Awesome Content

1. Google’s Web Crawlers Are Confused about Duplicate Content

2. You’re Trying to Rank for the Wrong Keywords

3. You Don’t Give Visitors a Clear Site Map

4. You Don’t Use Links in Your Content

5. Your Content Doesn’t Have any Backlinks

6. Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

7. You’re Competing against Huge Brands

8. You Skipped Registering on Google My Business

9. You’re not Promoting Your Content

10. Your Site Is Too Slow

11. Your Site Is Too New

12. You’re Not Beating the Crap Out of Your Competitors

13. You Didn’t Submit a Site Map AND Add Schema Markup

Why Isn’t My Website Ranking? Bonus Tips from Real-Life Web Developer & SEOs

Why Am I Not Ranking in Google? A 3x Case Study: How Jessica Campos at Marketing for Greatness Turned Her Rankings Around

How to Turn Things Around if Your Content Doesn’t Rank on Google

guide what to do if your content doesnt rank table of contents

You’re halfway to your goal: You've created great content primed to drive traffic and convert. So why aren't you ranking yet?! Let @JuliaEMcCoy show you what you’re still doing wrong in this ultra-helpful guide. Click To Tweet

A Story of Google Ranking Success: A Content Agency Built on Awesome Content

In 2011, I started my content agency Express Writers.

I didn’t have a ton of capital, years of business experience, and I had little to ZERO knowledge on how to rank on Google.

In fact, my situation back then was desperate.

I was failing nursing school, and dropping out of college.

On top of that, I had no parental support. I grew up inside of a cult (yes — think Handmaid’s Tale-style).

I had no safety net, nowhere to go, no support system.

All I did have:

  • $75 in my pocket
  • A passion for writing
  • A determination to learn and grow

(If these are all you have right now, too, be inspired—that’s all you need to start.)

I started Express Writers from scratch. No thousand-dollar courses. No big names. No expensive tools.

Did we make it? You bet! J Fast forward nine years later, and we’ve earned over $4 million in sales.

In fact, Express Writers is growing every single year.

Exciting stat: traffic to our site literally doubled this year!

According to Google Analytics, we have over 106,000 unique site visitors per month.

Express Writers analytics

Our domain authority score is at 54. We’ve worked hard to earn this benchmark. Sites with a score of 50 and above are considered high authority.

EW domain authority score

On Alexa, our site ranks 25,724 in global engagements. This is amazing, considering there are now 1,744,517,326 websites online today!

EW Alexa rank

If we paid for the kind of traffic we get, we’d spend over $200,000 per month.

EW traffic cost

But the thing is, we don’t pay a single cent for the traffic we’re getting.

We don’t have a backlink campaign.

We’ve never participated in the trendy growth hacking strategies that explode and disappear every year.

So, how did we do it? How did we go from a tiny $75 startup to a successful agency worth over $4 million? How did we get from nothing to ranking for 18,600 keywords on Google?

The secret behind it all boils down to three words: consistent quality content.

  • Consistent content. This is a rule we stuck to from the very beginning. We committed to posting at least one piece of content every single week. If you want your site to take off, you’ll have to do the same.
  • Quality content. At the start, there were times when we clicked “publish” just to get a blog out there. But once we started incorporating quality (around 2016), our agency REALLY took off. Read the story of my content strategy framework.
  • A commitment at all times to value first, over selling. We don’t just “sell” to our customers. In fact, we don’t hire a single commission salesperson! Instead, we treat our inbound leads with respect, and have a simple core commitment inside of our team of No Client Left Behind. Internally, we match amazing customer service and high-quality deliverables to our exterior powerful presence of content marketing. This is critical. You cannot have great content, great marketing, without great client support and services.
[email protected] says: You cannot have great content, great marketing, without great client support and services. ♥ Click To Tweet

So, that’s it, folks. Content works to build a strong brand.

With AMAZING content published CONSISTENTLY over time, your success can be similar to ours.

Want great content, but find yourself too busy to produce it consistently? Our expert team at Express Writers can help you.

…But what if your AWESOME, consistent content isn’t ranking as well as it should?

Unfortunately, ranking well on Google isn’t only about top-notch content optimized with the right keywords.

If you’re producing the BEST content on the regular but still seeing no traction, something else might be off.

Here are 13 things that could be unintentionally keeping your Google rankings low. Want this as a guide to read for later? Download here.

Improve your content ranking with this free checklist

1. Google’s Web Crawlers Are Confused about Duplicate Content

Scary fact: A whopping 29% of the web is duplicate content!

Let’s get this straight. Having duplicate content on the web doesn’t mean you intentionally copied content to manipulate your Google ranking.

Google on duplicate content

Source: support.google.com

It can happen because your site is available in both HTTPS and HTTP. Or maybe you’re confusing search engines with dynamic URL parameters.

Either way, duplicate content is bad for you.

Here’s why:

Imagine Google’s spiders setting out to crawl the web. When they do, they find four pages with the same or similar content.

Of course, Google won’t rank all four pages. It’ll rank only one version. And if you don’t inform Google which is the best option, it can rank the wrong one.

Your content might not rank with duplicate content

Source: moz.com

When this happens, the visibility of each of your pages is affected.

How to fix it: First, find out if your site has duplicate content by using the Duplicate Content Checker. Then, do one of the following:

  • Redirect Google’s robots to your original content page by setting up a 301 redirect.
  • Use a good WordPress plugin like Canonical SEO Content Syndication.
  • Add the “rel=canonical” element to the content you want Google to rank. When you set a web page as canonical, Google knows it’s the one you want to have ranked.

2. You’re Trying to Rank for the Wrong Keywords

Keywords help Google match content with questions asked on its search engine.

This means if you’re not clear on what questions your keywords are answering, you’ll never get close to page one of Google’s SERPs.

How to fix it: Do careful keyword research to find relevant long-tail, low-competition keywords with which to optimize your content.

3. You Don’t Give Visitors a Clear Site Map

You only have a few seconds to impress visitors who land on your website.

In these few seconds, a ton of things can happen. Your visitors might want to view your products but are unable to find the menu. Or they might come across confusing jargon and end up frustrated.

When this happens, they won’t stick around to try to figure out your site. They’ll quickly leave, making your bounce rate rise. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your chances of ranking well on Google.

How to fix it: Tell visitors what to do with a clear navigation menu. Also, show your brand’s USP (unique selling point) above the fold (the part of your website people see before scrolling down). Tell visitors who you are the instant they land on your site.

Like this.

Content not ranking? Tell visitors who you are immediately

Source: coca-colacompany.com

4. You Don’t Use Links in Your Content

Links tell Google what your content is all about.

Let’s say you specialize in DIY gardens. To promote your brand, you create a website and write awesome blog content.

In your content, you link to an expert’s site on DIY gardens. When you do this, Google makes the connection between your site and theirs.

The result? Google now has a clearer idea of what your site is about.

On the other hand, if your content has no links, Google will have a hard time finding it on the web.

How to come up with great links:

  • Link to a high-authority website in your niche. Make sure the site ranks less than 100,000 on Alexa’s Website Traffic and Analysis
  • Create internal links to other pages on your own site. This shows Google which pages are important and helps it understand the structure of your site.
You need to include links in your content to rank in Google. How? 2 ways: 1) Link to high-authority sites. 2) Create internal links to other pages on your site to help Google determine structure/hierarchy. ✅ Click To Tweet

5. Your Content Doesn’t Have Any Backlinks

No matter how amazing your content is, not having backlinks can seriously hurt your Google rankings.

This is due to how backlinks work:

  • Backlinks lead visitors to your site from other sources, increasing traffic.
  • Backlinks show Google an influencer liked your content enough to link to it.

That said, backlinks are harder to get than internal and external links.

How to get backlinks: You could say getting a backlink boils down to luck, but there are two things you can do to increase your chances of getting one or more.

  • Contact influencers in your niche. Send out a friendly email or tweet, asking an influencer to look at (and possible link to) your content.
  • Guest blog on an influencer’s site. When you write a guest post, you get a profile where you can include a link back to your site.

6. Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

3.5 billion people across the world now own a smartphone.

smartphone users in billions

Source: statista.com

In fact, mobile usage has gone up by 222% in the last seven years.

This means when your audience views your website, there’s a huge chance they’ll be using a mobile device instead of a desktop computer.

And if your site isn’t optimized for mobile usage, your visitors will be confused, frustrated, and even annoyed. They’ll bounce, and Google will notice.

Also, Google will rank your site lower specifically because it isn’t mobile-friendly.

How to fix it: First, find out if your website is mobile friendly by using the Mobile-Friendly Test. If your site is not mobile-friendly, fixing this is as simple as picking a WordPress theme that supports website usability on mobile.

7. You’re Competing against Huge Brands

This is where things get hard.

Imagine you’re selling shoes, and you’re up against brands like Nike, Adidas, and Vans.

When you search for keywords like “shoes” or “shoes for sale,” you get the high-authority websites of big brands, plus eCommerce stores like Amazon.

Does it mean you should change your business, or quit trying to succeed with content marketing?

Of course not.

How to fix it: For starters, you should start working 10x harder on your content strategy.

Make sure your content stands out from your competitors’ in a unique, compelling way.

Also, try to rank for long-tail keywords. So, instead of “shoes” you can use “where to find the best black leather shoes for men.”

Competing against huge brands in the SERPs? Time to start targeting long-tail keywords. Think 'where to find the best black leather shoes' vs. 'shoes' Click To Tweet

8. You Skipped Registering on Google My Business

When you create an account on Google My Business, you show Google:

  • Your website information is updated.
  • You care about Google’s rankings.
  • You want to cooperate with Google’s system.

Registering on Google My Business is great because there are millions of searches done on Google My Business per month.

get on Google My Business to help your content rank

Source: google.com

Remember, Google’s main goal is to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. And if your competitor’s business is registered on Google My Business and yours isn’t, you’re missing the chance to beat them in the SERPs.

How to fix it: The good news is it’s easy to register on Google My Business. All you need to do is provide your business address, fill in information about your business, verify your account, and you’re ready!

9. You’re Not Promoting Your Content

Content marketing isn’t only about creation. It’s about promotion, too.

In fact, content marketing should be 20% creation and 80% promotion.

Here are two ways that work excellently in content promotion.

1. Content Promotion through Social Media

Today, there are 3.6 billion people on social media. When you share your blogs on Facebook or LinkedIn, you get increased traffic which alerts Google.

Also, Google uses special signals to determine whether your business is active and updated on social media. If it is, Google prioritizes it in its SERPs.

2. Content Promotion through Email

You don’t have to sell anything when you send emails to your subscribers.

All you have to do is give them a teaser so they’ll click on a link to your content. This will get you increased traffic and higher conversions (since people in your email list are already interested in your brand).

Here’s an example of a teaser email crafted to bring in tons of traffic.

Bring in traffic with email

Source: Email from smartblogger.com

10. Your Site Is Too Slow

How long can you expect a user to stay on your site before leaving?

Five minutes? Three minutes? One minute?

The answer is surprising: less than 15 seconds.

In 15 seconds, your visitor quickly judges your site to determine whether to stay or leave.

So, what happens when your site takes half a minute to load? That’s right. Your visitor vanishes without a second thought.

When a ton of people bounce from your site, Google notices and ranks sites with higher engagement above yours.

How to fix it: First, take a site speed test. If your site is too slow, consider using a WordPress plugin like WP Rocket.

Get content to rank by improving site speed

Source: wp-rocket.me

11. Your Site is Too New

Don’t expect to reach page one on Google’s SERPs if you’ve published your site one month ago.

As a rule of thumb, a site needs to gain “weight” and authority before Google ranks it.

How long should you wait?

Depending on how often you publish (and the quality of what you publish), you can expect to start ranking in 6-12 months.

Is your content not ranking? Consider the newness of your site. Depending on how often you publish (and the quality of your content), expect to start ranking in 6-12 months. Click To Tweet

12. You’re Not Beating the Crap Out of Your Competitors

I get it. Your content is amazing.

You’re using all the right keywords.

You have an editorial calendar planned for the next year.

But there’s a problem.

Your audience isn’t impressed.

There’s a ton of reasons you’re not impressing them:

  • You’re too salesy.
  • You’re not solving their problems.
  • You’re targeting the wrong search intent.

OR it’s simply because your content is inferior to your competitors’.

How to fix it: Type your focus keyword on Google. Then, study the top 10 results. What makes them good? Bad? What’s missing? Then, create content to beat the crap out of all the 10.

#factsfam - If your content isn't beating the crap out of Google's top 10 for your keyword, you won't rank. ❌ Time to level-up that inferior content. Check what else is bringing you down via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

13. You Didn’t Submit a Site Map and Add Schema Markup

Did you forget about this? UH OH! This has been known to completely stop sites from ranking at all. Anytime I launch a new site, this is what we do to boost immediate rankings from all the mega-content I put on my sites. 😉

Good news—it’s an easy fix. Schema markup (or structured data) is the language search engines speak. It’s the code that allows Google to understand what your content is about.

When you use schema markups, rich snippets are also displayed under your website’s link.

The great news is you don’t need to be a tech expert to submit a site map and add schema markup to your website. There are excellent WordPress plugins that do it for you.

  • The Yoast plugin creates site maps for sections of your site. All you have to do is submit the index link of your sitemap.
  • For schema markup, Schema Pro and WP Review are excellent choices.

Too busy to write your own outstanding content to beat your competition? Get expert help here.

Why Isn’t My Website Ranking? Bonus Tips from Real-Life Web Developers & SEOs

To give our readers a truly epic guide (such is the Write Blog standard!) we decided to field for a few web design experts and ask them to write original quotes for us. Here’s what several web design and development practitioners with years of expertise at building sites that rank had to say. Thank you to all of our awesome participants!

Jeremy Knauff, CEO at Spartan Media, says:

“A lot of issues come from search engines simply not understanding what your content is about.

This could be due to how it’s structured, which is often a relatively easy fix, or it could be due to bigger underlying problems in how a web page is coded, making it difficult or even impossible for search engines to properly render the page.

Content structure can be fixed by paying attention to details like your title tags, bread crumbs, subheads (h1-h6), alt attributes, and other factors that serve as hints to help search engines to better understand a page in context.

It’s important to point out that none of these things will be a silver bullet that skyrockets you to the number one position in the SERPs. Instead, they will each play a cumulative role in improving your performance.

The bigger, underlying problems in how a web page is coded can be more difficult to identify and fix. I see this a lot in cases with amateur developers, page builder tools, and outdated plugins.

Fixing issues here can be difficult because it often requires substantial changes to the underlying codebase, which is time-consuming and costly.

Here are my recommended top five ways to identify if this may be your issue:

  1. Check Google Search Console for errors.
  2. Test rendering for key pages in Google Search Console.
  3. Validate the HTML of key pages.
  4. Test pages in various browsers and on various devices.
  5. Check the load speed of key pages.

If you find yourself in a position where your ranking is negatively impacted by your website’s coding, it’s important to invest the time in finding a developer who really knows what they’re doing instead of someone who is only going to put a band-aid on the problem that you’ll still have to deal with later.”

@jeremyknauff says, 'A lot of issues come from search engines not understanding what your content's about. How it's structured or coded can make it impossible for search engines to even render your page.' More #SEO blunders here Click To Tweet

Jill Caren, CEO at 2 Dogs Media says:

“There could be so many reasons for your website not to rank, and most often we find it is a simple technical issue with your website.

Below are some of the most common issues we find when doing technical audits for clients to try and find why ranking is such an issue.

  1. If you are on WordPress make sure your Search Engine Visibility box in your reading settings area is unchecked! We are amazed how many times we have seen this left checked after a site launch.
  2. If you have migrated your website from one platform or another – or did a redevelopment of your website – make sure you are doing a 301 redirect if your page URL structure has changed.
  3. Make sure your robots.txt file is not causing issues! A simple wildcard being used incorrectly could block items from being indexed that you do not want to block.
  4. Make sure your website is integrated with Google Search Console so you can check for errors, suggestions and keep an eye on issues with your sitemap.
  5. If specific pages are not getting any traffic or not visible in search, double check you have not marked that page as “noindex” which is essentially telling the search engines to not index the page.

If all of the above are in good shape, then it is time to visit your content and keyword strategy!”

@2dogsmedia says, 'Make sure your robots.txt file isn't causing issues! You could be unknowingly blocking content right now if there is a small error inside.' More on #SEO blunders that stop rankings from happening Click To Tweet

The 13 step checklist to improve your rankings

Why Am I Not Ranking in Google? 3x ROI Case Study: How Jessica Campos at Marketing for Greatness Turned Her Rankings Around

Jessica Campos is a local networking and social media influencer here in Austin, Texas, an attorney-turned-marketer, and the mastermind behind her own firm, Marketing for Greatness.

I had the honor of meeting her at one of her networking happy hours when I happened to come across her group of almost 5,000 entrepreneurs that she started from nothing — Austin Networking for Professionals and Entrepreneurs — late one Wednesday evening in December of 2018. I was searching for a way to make my word for the upcoming 2019 year, “EPIC,” feel more real. I’d decided to put myself out there, and was looking for a local entrepreneurial group to join that would both challenge me and help me grow.

I joined Jessica’s group five minutes after discovering it, and found myself at her networking event the very next night.

Jessica’s group turned out to be just what I needed. Jessica was the first person who got me to speak on the mic (!), and invited me to speak at two more events that she hosted shortly after we met. She saw something in me, and being the timid, self-doubting introvert I was back then, I was honored and blown away that she showed me so much kindness. (She is featured in my book, Woman Rising, and has been a huge catalyst in my personal journey of shattering my shells. I have also met some amazing mentees, friends, and mentors through her!)

In return, I was able to show Jessica some of my ‘ropes’ in content creation and content marketing, and she immediately put them into practice and 3x’ed her online presence and website results, going from 20-24 organic users total to over 700/day. Talk about epic rankings in Google! Jessica is a walking case study of the results of content in search, because she’s that rare breed known as a “doer.” That’s why I asked her to tell her story on our Write Blog today. You’ll enjoy hearing from her. Ready?

what to do if your content doesnt rank in Google free checklist jessica campos


Let me start with my “before.”

I still remember when Julia and I met back on April 26, 2019 to discuss our very first, one-day collaborative conference on social media marketing. She spoke on content marketing and I revealed the trends on social media.

As she was practicing her talk, I became aware of what content marketing meant, for all practical purposes. Until that day, I was convinced that a website was just a feature a business needs, just to place a name, and that was IT.

My digital marketing strategies that I used, prior to understanding content marketing and SEO (the real way) —

  • I focused on having a strong social media presence, thinking that it was THE way to build a brand. Especially for entrepreneurs building a personal brand.
  • I built a Facebook Group for local business owners.
  • I used events marketing to build my brand.
  • I hosted weekly shows, challenges on Facebook, and countless Facebook lives and videos.
  • I chased tactics to “gain more followers.”
  • I blogged consistently. Even had SEO plugins. But I had NO content marketing strategy or content marketing PLAN.
  • I ran Facebook Ads.
  • I had a pretty website with a very fancy template and I didn’t realize that those fancy objects had broken codes because nobody told me that we needed to update codes from purchased templates. I didn’t have a full-time developer.
  • … I worked SO hard to stay in touch with my audience.

And … when Julia and I met… this is what we saw:

On April 16 we ran a 12-month report to see the results of all my digital marketing activities. The results were shocking. 24 users? WHAT? WHY? What was happening to all my amazing blogs? Julia’s team had been writing our blogs, so those 24 users were because of them.

I cried (even when she didn’t see my tears), but then I started questioning. I was so frustrated. Then I went from frustration to anxiety, because the entire content marketing system that she explained felt like an eternity for me.

That’s when the famous GIF text thread came in our inboxes. I told her, “I will be dead before my website gets me leads.”

Oh, in case you’re wondering about keywords… let’s not even talk about that. I had NONE for obvious reasons. I had no keyword tracking system.

So…. that is my PAINFUL before.

Luckily, after the tsunami, comes a rainbow!

12 months later… We have seen up to 723 users in ONE DAY! 

jessica campos amazing results from content ranking

How did I go from dead zone to profit zone? Well, I simply followed Julia’s recipe!

  1. Signed up on SEMrush to track my keywords.
  2. Created my first list of keywords.
  3. Hired a web developer that found the errors in my template. We didn’t go with a full website development, as my goal was to boost my content marketing. Julia suggested this approach, since I needed to focus on building my content first. This was about $1,300.
  4. Implemented the content writing engine suggested by Julia so I could generate content faster and efficiently. For this, I hired writers and editors from Express Writers to craft amazing pieces of content and took the expert content and authority content in-house.

Who thought that the woman who said “English is my second language, I will never be able to write those pretty words” is now a content educator for Social Media Examiner?

My digital marketing strategies today:

  • Content strategy goes first. Nothing happens if we don’t check in with our content strategy.
  • Since I found the way to attract users, I then became obsessed with conversions. Conversions, in 2020, is all about omnichannel and UX. So, I got certified in UX for marketers and I use these principles in our content marketing.
  • We shifted from social media marketing to Google marketing and use as many Google products as we can!
  • We built an in-house SEO team that works on the invisible and boring components of SEO optimization. Mostly on-page SEO. But this only goes once we are sure that our content is nothing but THE BEST.

Julia taught me the value of producing amazing content and the practical meaning of it.

My rules for content writing:

  • I write for my users, and then for Google.
  • I dig deep for opportunities to educate, not to rank.
  • Google has featured my articles — I have a few crowns, yay! When this happens, I know it’s an opportunity I need to leverage and that’s when more content writing is needed!
  • Having Express Writers as a partner is a crucial component, since they GET me! I know they won’t write just anything.

Not every content writer is a content marketer.

Not every content marketer is a content strategist.

And for sure, not every content strategist is a Google hacker!

Well done, Jessica.  

@jessicamcampos says: 'Not every content writer is a content marketer. Not every content marketer is a content strategist. And not every content strategist is a Google hacker!' We agree More on #SEO no-nos via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet @jessicamcampos says: '@JuliaEMcCoy taught me the value of producing amazing content and the practical meaning of it. We went from 24 users to 700/day — MASSIVE improvement — from her strategies.' More on the power of good #SEO: Click To Tweet

what to do if your content doesnt rank in Google free guide

How to Turn Things Around if Your Content Doesn’t Rank on Google

It’s super discouraging to spend hours writing amazing content just to find it on the 5th or even 10th page of Google’s SERPs.

It’s even more frustrating when you have no idea why this is happening.

But don’t worry. You can turn things around.

And you don’t need either luck or magic to start improving your ranking.

All you need is a simple checklist that’ll get you started working on your site immediately.

Want to improve your content’s ranking today? Download this checklist and get to work right away.

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