Have you paid attention to your search engine rank lately?
You might be wondering why your store doesn’t show up on the first page of results. Even for searches that you strategized around.
It might even seem like Google hates you. You’ve worked so hard, but no one can see what you’ve done.
As it turns out, search engine optimization isn’t magic. Google has rules. Sites that follow those rules make it to the first page of results.
But you can’t follow just one rule. Or two. Great keywords won’t mean much if you’re missing several other key SEO elements.
So why is Google punishing your page? What can you do to break through and reap the benefits of a great SERP rank?
Let’s take a look at 7 reasons why Google isn’t giving your store visibility (hint: it isn’t because they hate you!).
Reason #1: Your Site is Slow
I get so frustrated when I try to access a site, and their page doesn’t load.
In fact, I leave most stores if they don’t load within 5 seconds.
This isn’t a matter of impatience. It’s a matter of principle. If you’re a competent brand offering quality products, why did you skimp on your website?
And I’m not all.
According to a recent study, 40% of online shoppers will leave a store if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.
That’s right – you have three seconds for your page to load, or you can watch prospective customers walk right into your competitor’s lap.
Google knows we get frustrated with slow pages. That’s why you’ll rarely find a slowly-loading website on the first page of your search results.
Test your own website to see how quickly it loads. Are you waiting longer than a few seconds?
Fortunately, there are a few straightforward ways to speed up your website:
Optimize your images (Use CSS sprites to combine images, specify your image dimensions)
Avoid redirects and bad requests
Use CSS in your document head.
Make the most of browser caching.
Don’t use a character set in your meta tags.
There are dozens of WordPress plugins aimed at making your page faster. If you have a web management team, talk to them about more advanced options to speed up your store.
Reason #2: You Don’t Have Backlinks
When was the last time you went to the second page of Google’s results page?
It’s been awhile for me.
But think about why. You want to click on the first result because you think it’ll be trustworthy. And you want information you can trust.
Google knows this, too. And the best way for them to verify your brand?
Backlinks are testimonies to your brand’s validity. If 100 different websites backlink to you in their own content, Google will think you’re trustworthy.
This SEO tactic has been around for as long as Google. In the past, website owners would turn to link mills and generators to make their pages rank highly.
Google put a stop to that with numerous changes to their algorithms. Long gone are the days when the sheer mass of links to your page could guarantee you the top spot.
Nowadays, Google places value on each link. The bigger the audience of the page linking to you, the more authority it holds. Sites with authority backlinks will rank more highly than those with links from content mills.
Reason #3: Your Site Has Broken Links
Just as quality backlinks can help you, broken links on your own site can hurt you.
As your content expands, you’ll unavoidably face broken links from time to time. Google checks for these when it ranks your site.
The more broken links you have, the harder you’ll struggle to rank well with Google.
Use a tool like Broken Link Checker to analyze your site. Replace any broken links you might find in your content. This doesn’t play a major role in Google’s ranking algorithms, but it can definitely hurt you if it gets out of hand.
Reason #4: Your Mobile Experience Sucks
How is your mobile store working for you? Have you done anything to optimize it?
Mobile traffic is at an all-time high, and it’s only growing. In fact, the most recent surveys show 7 out of 10 online sales are made on mobile devices.
People aren’t shopping on their computers anymore. They’re shopping on their phones.
Stores are punished for having a bad mobile experience. You’ll never rank well if your mobile store is worse than your desktop site.
How can you optimize your store for mobile?
There are a few ways (which we’ve outlined in one of our previous articles), but we recommend using responsive design. Responsive websites automatically adjust their experience to the device they’re on. This takes less time than designing a separate website for your desktop store and your mobile store, and it will very effectively improve your mobile store – and subsequently, your Google rank.
Reason #5: You’re Not Using Unique Content
Remember high school? Or college?
Think about the one thing your teachers always said you shouldn’t do.
We’re not talking about eating in class. We’re talking about plagiarism.
I had classmates who were expelled for plagiarism. It’s a serious offense, and it can land you in a load of trouble.
Google doesn’t have a big tolerance for it, either.
“I’d never published plagiarized work on my site,” you might be thinking.
And yeah, you might not copy and paste an article directly to your brand’s blog. But what about your product descriptions?
Are you taking the time to write unique products descriptions? Or are you using manufacturer descriptions?
Thousands of independent Shopify store owners think using manufacturer descriptions to save time and money is good practice. When in fact, it’s desperately hurting their store’s rankings.
Google will count this as duplicate content and brand it as plagiarism. You might not face legal consequences, but you can bet Google isn’t going to promote websites with plagiarism.
Luckily, the fix is easy. Write your own content! Take the time to write your own unique product descriptions, or hire someone to do it for you. You’ll greatly appreciate it when your store’s Google rank improves.
Reason #7: You’re Keyword Stuffing or Missing Keywords
Keywords are tricky. You have to have the right ones, and you have to use the right amount.
Keywords are a bit of a guessing game. How many is too many? How many is too few?
Each end of the spectrum presents its own issues. Keyword stuffing will certainly punish your store, while missing certain keywords can hurt you even more.
Instead of cramming as many keywords in your content as you can, provide value to your reader. Write content around your keywords, don’t stuff your keywords in around your content. Find a keyword or phrase you can offer knowledge about, the offer actionable content about that topic.
How does your Shopify store rank with Google? What are your SEO tips? Let us know in the comments below!