The 5 Most Common Excuses for Poor Search Engine Rankings

by Dustin J. Hall | MIN READ
seo excusesThose of us in the digital marketing community have heard all kinds of excuses when it comes poor search engine rankings.

Business owners, marketers and even some SEOs will resort to blaming all kinds of things. Here are 5 of the most common excuses I've heard out there...

"Ugh, Google is out to get me."
"I've tried all the tricks but still can't make first page!"
"Google must only rank those who pay for ads."
"Google gives better rankings to my competitors even though my site is better!"
"I just need a website redesign to improve my rankings."

Any of these sounds familiar? Of course they do, because we've all heard it before or maybe even said it before.

Now, it's possible that you're website is brand new with little domain authority or perhaps built to only serve as a portal for customers (not as a marketing tool). But in the absence of rare scenarios like that, your only culprit is crappy SEO.

Let's dispel the common excuses people make when they're website is failing to help their business grow.

Google Is Out to Get Me

Google is NOT out to get you. Actually, Google doesn't care about your website at all.

Google is 100% impartial to all businesses within its index. They are an algorithm-driven machine that simply scans the internet for answers to their user's queries.

Above all, Google is partial to just one thing...relevance.

I suppose the silver lining here is that Google doesn't care about any websites out there. So at least that levels the playing field. Focus on creating a website that's highly relevant, engaging and mobile friendly...and you will become much happier with your rankings.

P.S. There are other things on the web that are out to get you, like nasty backlink profiles, poor website architecture, etc.

I've Tried All the "Tricks," but Still Can't Make the First Page

While there are a lot of sound SEO services out there, "tricks" are often synonymous with what's known as "black hat" SEO.

Black hat techniques seek to obtain better search engine rankings through deceptive tactics that are almost always disapproved by search engines.

Examples of black hat include cloaking, hiding keywords from visitors but not search engines (i.e. white text on white backgrounds) and a multitude of link building techniques like link wheels, link farms, etc.

You should know that Google drops almost $100MM per month (yes, per month) fighting this kind of trickery, which all ties into their 800+ algorithmic updates each year.

This makes the Google game one that you cannot win or quit trying.

Google Only Ranks Those Who Pay for Ads

search engine excusesKnow this: Paying for ads does not directly influence your organic search engine rankings.

There are some helpful "side-effects" of paying for extra traffic, like returning users, increased awareness, etc.

These things may help give you a tiny boost to your organic SEO as a by product...but understand that paying for ads does not equate to paying for better rankings. It's best to view PPC as an entirely separate strategy for traffic generation.

Google Gives Better Rankings to My Competitors Even Though My Site is Better

If your organic search results suck, your website is not way better. If it was, it would be trouncing the competition right now, dragging in new traffic like an alligator on a lakeside gazelle (strange analogy, I know, but you get it).

So now the focus should be on what your competition is doing to out-perform you. There are several competitive analysis tools out there (some of them are free). Use these tools to see where your competitors are getting their quality backlinks, how they're managing their on-page SEO, what types of content they're creating, etc.

This process is important to your digital marketing efforts as a whole, not just for SEO. Remember, you're at war with the competition for better rankings, not the search engines themselves.

I Just Need a Website Redesign to Improve My Rankings

I see this happen all the time. A company has crummy search performance and the first reaction is to redesign the website. So they go to a web design firm to make it happen, not realizing that web design and SEO are entirely different fields within the world of digital marketing.

So, they drop thousands of dollars to end up with a gorgeous website that confuses the hell out of search engines because it was built by amazing designers with zero experience in SEO. Then, nobody even sees this masterpiece because it simply cannot be found online. What...a...waste.

The solution is to hire marketing experts experienced in both design & SEO to redesign your website.

This will ensure you create a wonderful experience for your visitors and search engines alike.

Final Thoughts...

There are 3 important take-aways from this:

  1. You must out-perform your competition first.
  2. You goal with SEO is to make the search engine's job easier, not trick them.
  3. You must optimize your website for visitors at all times.

That's it. No more excuses. Right?

If you have some good ones that I missed here, please leave them in the comments below to entertain the rest of us!

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Originally published May 29, 2015. Updated August 24, 2017.