It is time to address a question that we get asked fairly frequently which is “why doesn’t my website rank? ”or “Why am I not visible for my search keywords”? Usually, these questions come with a bit of a backstory as well such as:
“I got an email, I was promised SEO for $250, they did the work and three months later I still don’t rank – was I ripped off”?
Well, the short answer is probably No. Whoever did it, did what they promised to do. They optimized a few pages, maybe wrote some meta descriptions, threw in some alt text and that was it. They did what they said they would do, but there was something missing and that something was the most basic level of competitive research.
Let’s look at an example, and this is actually a real example of a search query: “accounting firms in Toronto”. A company came to us with that exact story and they weren’t even in the first four pages, so they were a little upset, they thought they’d been ripped off but the reality is that they weren’t, and here’s why.
Why A Website Does Not Rank
This is a quick SERP overview, it’s a tool we use which evaluates the strength of a domain and the ranking page. We can see that we’ve got a website that does not have great domain authority – it’s 5 out of 100. The other factor that contributes to why the website is not ranking is that in terms of actual IPs linking to them, they’ve got 1. Additionally, they have page authority of 14 out of 100, so not an incredibly strong website.
The Importance of Competitive Research for SEO
Here’s where competitor research comes in. This is an illustration of that same search result that we looked at earlier for the search query, “accounting firms in Toronto”, but this breaks it down by the metrics that affect a websites organic ranking:
- The domain authority
- The page authority
- The inbound links
Just as a quick reminder, the website we are examining’s domain authority is 5, and page authority is 14. I’ve put that website into the preview tool, I just blotted out the name, but you’ll see here all the other sites that are ranking have domain authorities of 62 to 35, the lowest being 14 – but this company only has 5. In terms of page authority, we have a similar situation, and in terms of links, they’re not doing a lot better.
Understanding Your Potential to Rank Organically
This is an example of doing simple, basic competitor research before starting your SEO project. The problem here was that they never stood a chance of ranking, certainly not for a keyword like that. So, whoever optimized their website did what they promised they would do, but they did it with no ability to actually follow through. There was no way that that website was ever going to rank for that search query, and sometimes you have to accept the fact that your website does not deserve to rank the way it is now. There is obviously a lot more to it than just this quick glance at the search engine results pages and we’ll cover that in the next video.