Dealing with Google can be massively frustrating at times. Customer support barely exists, and trying to understand why your site isn’t playing well with Google can spiral into a wild goose chase.
Don’t let Google’s lack of customer support or the horror stories dishearten you. Most of the time, if a site is experiencing Google problems, it is only temporary. SEO problems are rarely irrecoverable.
Usually it’s simply a matter of finding out the underlying cause of the problem— more often than not, the cause isn’t what the popular blog posts are saying it might be. This sometimes means fixing several items. Once all fixed, you have stacked the deck in your favor and you are more likely to make a speedy recovery.
This chapter outlines common SEO problems that plague website owners.
If you are not at all technically inclined, I urge you to read the section on getting additional advice, or consider getting professional help if your site is experiencing serious SEO issues.
What to do when your site is not listed in Google at all
This is a common problem among webmasters and business owners alike.
If you have just launched a brand-new site, it is possible Google has not crawled your site yet. You can do a quick spot check by typing “site:yoursiteaddress.com” into the Google search bar and checking to see if your site comes up at all. If it doesn’t, it’s possible Google’s spider hasn’t crawled your site and doesn’t know it exists.
Typically, all that’s required for Google to pick up your site is to generate a handful of links to your site and some social activity.
Tweeting a link to your site is a quick way to ensure your site is indexed by Google’s software, typically within 24 hours. Try to share your site from a handful of social networks for faster results.
Check Google again in 24 hours with the “site:www.yoursite…” search query and see if any pages from your site come up. If you do see pages, this means Google has indexed your site.
If this doesn’t work, ask your web designer to set up Google Search Console for you, login and see if there are any errors. If there are errors, Google will outline the steps to fix them, so Google can see your site.
Google Search Console’s handy URL inspection tool is great for troubleshooting and finding issues. It confirms if your page is supported by Google, not suffering from any penalties, successfully appearing in the index, is mobile friendly and more. To access the URL inspection tool, click “URL inspection” in the left sidebar in Google Search Console.
Google Search Console
What to do when your business is not ranking for your own business name
A business not coming up in the top position in Google for searches for the official business name is a surprisingly common issue among brand new sites. Google is smart, but sometimes you need to give Google a nudge to associate your new site with the name of your brand.
This problem is easily fixed by building links to your site, with some of the links using your brand name as the anchor text. This can take up to a couple of weeks for Google to see these links, connect the dots and realize your site is the real deal.
The fast way to get the ball rolling is to do a quick search for the business directories used in your country—Whitepages, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and so on— fill out a listing for your business on each site and include a link back to your web site. The more links the better, but you should be aiming for a minimum of 50 links. In 95% of cases, this will solve the problem of a site not coming up in the top results of searches for the business name.
If this doesn’t work, set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for your business, filling out as much information about your business as possible in the profile. Then do a post a day for about two weeks, mixing in links to your site in the posts.
If you still can’t get your site ranking high enough, use Link Explorer to spy on competing sites ranking higher for the brand name. Do their pages have more backlinks than the total amount of links to your site? If this is the case, you are going to need to build more links.
What to do when your rankings have dropped off
Here’s a sad truth about SEO: if you achieve a top ranking, it may not keep its position forever. There are billions of web pages competing for top positions in Google. New sites are being created every day. It requires an ongoing effort to keep pages ranking high.
If your rankings have dropped off from the top position and slowly moving their way down the search results, it’s possible you’ve been affected by a Google update or spam filter. Read through the Google Updates chapter later in this book, and also look through the additional resources for keeping updated on new Google updates in the same chapter.
On the other hand, it’s more likely your competitors have simply acquired more links or more social activity than your site. Use Link Explorer to spy on competitors, find out how many backlinks they have, how much social media activity they have, and set these amounts as your target to build your rankings back up.
Next, it’s time to start a link building campaign with the targeted keywords as outlined in the chapter on link building.
How to seek professional help for free
Finding the right SEO help can be frustrating for site owners. There is a lot of information to navigate, with varying levels of quality and accuracy. It’s difficult to get in touch with SEO practitioners at the top of their field.
That said, there are sites that can put your questions in front of world-leading experts of almost any topic for free. Use the below sites for highly technical responses, and you can create an army of Internet experts to try to solve your problem for you.
The key to success with the following resources is to be specific. The more specific you are, and the more information you provide, you increase your chances you will receive a detailed answer that will point you in the right direction.
For greater results, post your question on all of the sites below, and sit back and wait for the answers to come in. You will get more answers and will be in a better position to consider which solution is best.
Moz’s Q&A forums used to be private, but were eventually recently released to the public. Here you can speak with a large number of SEO professionals directly and attract high quality answers to your questions. Great for SEO specific problems.
The Pro Webmasters Q&A board can have your questions answered by webmasters of high-performing sites.
Quora is an all-round Q&A posting board, where you can get a question answered on almost anything. On Quora, questions are sometimes answered by high-profile experts. Marketers, business owners, you name it, there are many leading industry authorities posting answers to questions on Quora.
If your site is built on WordPress, it’s inevitable you will eventually encounter some kind of technical hurdle. The WordPress Answers Q&A board is a great resource to seek out help.