Understanding why your website isn’t performing well in search results can be a complicated issue. Is it a technical website architecture problem? Are you doing something that violates Google’s quality guidelines? Is it something silly like including a “noindex” meta tag on your pages? Identifying site search issues requires a careful review of several components of your website.
Keep in mind that Google’s main goal is to provide its users with highly relevant results for every search query. Their search index (the place from which results are generated) is in a constant state of flux as new content is added and modified and other content is removed. These changes in web content, in combination with the various updates in their ranking algorithms, frequently cause changes in the positions of web pages in search results.
Many of these updates are not easy to understand. However, if your website contains unique, high-quality content, and is well-linked from others, there’s a good chance that most of the changes won’t have a significant impact on your positions.
It’s also important to recognize that no one, not even Google, can guarantee that any page will consistently appear with a particular position.
If you’re trying to identify why your site isn’t doing well in search, try these tips:
- Perform a “site:” search – Head over to Google and enter “site:www.yourdomain.com” (exclude quotes and enter your address in place of yourdomain.com). If your site appears in the results when you perform a Google site search for your URL, then is in the index. However, if your site does not appear, and used to be indexed, it may have been removed for a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Review the guidelines and then, once you’ve fixed any issues, submit a reconsideration request.
- Check whether your site ranks for your domain name – Again, head over to Google, but this time search for “yourdomain.com” (without the quotation marks). If your site doesn’t appear in the results, or if it ranks poorly in the results, this could be a sign that your site has been penalized for violations of the Webmaster Guidelines. Again, you should review your site against the Webmaster Guidelines, correct any problems, and submit a reconsideration request.
- Tell Google about your new content – If your website is relatively new, there’s a chance that Google hasn’t found it yet. You can expedite Google’s discovery of new pages by submitting a Sitemap. Sitemaps are also a good way to notify Google about the pages of your site that you consider most important.
If you have spent time correcting some of the most basic website search performance issues, you may then want to submit your site for reconsideration. However, make sure that your site is in full-compliance before you submit your request. Performing multiple reconsideration requests for sites that aren’t compliant is a great way to get your site into further trouble. Check out this video from Google on site reconsideration requests:
If you’re violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it’s only a matter of time before you are likely to have issues with your site’s performance within the results. Even if you are successfully gaming Google today, at some point, Google will catch up with you. And when they do, the time, money, and effort that it will take to bring your site back into compliance with quality guidelines, is usually much greater than any short-term benefit that you might have enjoyed.
If you have questions about whether or not your law firm website is performing poorly within search results, we’re happy to take a look. We offer free website evaluations for all U.S. law firm websites.