Wondering Why You’re Not Ranking on Google? Here’s Three Possibilities

If your content isn’t ranking—or if it was ranking but has suddenly dropped down the SERPs—you’re generally left up to your own devices when it comes to figuring out what went wrong. In our experience, however, the answer usually isn’t all that complicated. When content isn’t ranking on Google, it usually comes down to one of three things. 

You’re Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Each and every piece of content on your site should be built out of the following questions

  • Why am I creating it? 
  • What value does it provide to my audience? 
  • What search terms would someone typically use to find this content? 

The last question is where we generally see people slip up. They might be targeting keywords that are too competitive, or trying to rank for phrases dominated by a much larger, more successful brand. Or maybe they’ve chosen keywords based on raw numbers rather than intent

Either way, if your content isn’t ranking, your first step should be to re-examine your keywords. 

Your Website is Bad

Picture two department stores.

  • The first store is clean, well-lit, and laid out in a streamlined, intuitive way. The way everything is laid out makes sense to shoppers, and the staff are friendly and efficient.
  • The second store is a dirty, confusing labyrinth. No one is entirely sure where anything is, and employees are surly at best, actively unhelpful at worst. 

Where would you rather shop? 

The best websites load fast and have an interface that’s easy to both navigate and understand. Their content is well-organized, and their design is aesthetically pleasing. Can you say that about your site, too? 

You Simply Aren’t Publishing Compelling Content

Not everyone is a content creator—and not everyone needs to be. If you know for a fact your keyword research is accurate and your website is well-designed, it may well be that your content simply isn’t that good. Remember that the best content is:

  • Original
  • Concise
  • Informative and/or entertaining
  • Well-written, with no errors
  • Trustworthy
  • Authentic

If you’re simply rehashing word for word the things you’ve found elsewhere, you’re not going to rank. 

Closing Thoughts

If there’s one thing that’s remained constant about search engine optimization for the past few years, it’s Google’s insistence on keeping its search algorithms close to its chest. Much of what we know about search engine optimization (SEO) and the search engine results page (SERP) is the result of observation and educated guesses. It’s conjecture made by knowledgeable experts, but conjecture all the same.

That isn’t to say that Google has provided no SEO guidance, mind you. The company has actually published a fairly comprehensive SEO Starter Guide that walks you through pretty much all the basics. The last piece of advice we’ll give is to familiarize yourself with that guide if you’ve not done so already.

It may help immensely.

Understanding the Different Types of Keywords

Keywords used to be simple. You’d enter your search terms, and you’d be presented with a list of results containing your keyword or phrase. Pages with more instances of that phrase ranked higher on this list. 

As you might expect, this system was incredibly easy to abuse. That’s why since then, both keywords and the algorithms that analyze them have grown considerably more complex. These days, there are a ton of different classes of keywords—and it’s in your best interest to understand them all. 


Let’s start with the different matching options you can choose during keyword research and ad targeting. Once you’ve defined your initial topic, focus, or core keyword, you can find variants of it in a few different ways. 

Broad Match

Although search engine optimization research tools still allow broad match searches, broad match keywords have been retired by Google as of July 2021. Originally, they used to match any result containing your core keywords. They accounted for any permutation or variation of those words, and also included similar words. 

This functionality has largely been wrapped into phrase match keywords. 

Phrase Match

Phrase match keyword searches contain your core keywords in the order you typed them. When it retired broad match keywords last year, Google also tweaked phrase match keywords. Phrase match searches now apply road match criteria while still preserving the original meaning of the search. 

Exact Match

An exact match keyword is exactly what it sounds like. The exact permutation of each word in the exact order you typed them. With that said, exact match targeting will also typically include reordered or rephrased close variants if Google determines that they retain the original meaning. 


Arguably the most important characteristic of a keyword is its intent—what the searcher is looking to do.


Someone searching with commercial intent fully intends to make a purchase as soon as possible. They’re effectively right at the end of the sales funnel, ready to convert when they find what they’re looking for. 


Transactional intent is similar to commercial. Searchers do intend to make a purchase at some point in the future, but they’re still doing research. 


Someone searching with informational intent simply wants to learn. They might be looking for a how-to, developing their own content, or performing academic research. Though they may be convinced to convert, they typically aren’t looking to purchase. 


A person searching with navigational intent is looking for a specific website or brand. They know exactly what they’re looking for, and why. Your job is to ensure your site provides this to them. 


Lastly, keywords can be categorized in terms of length. 


A short-tail keyword tends to be much more general and consists of only one or two words. Generally speaking, a short-tail keyword acts as a starting point. Users don’t typically only type one or two words into Google, instead resorting to more generally conversational searches. 


Long-tail keywords consist of three or more words. Particularly with the growing prominence of semantic search, long-tail is generally the way to go. 

Link Building 101: Laying the Foundations for Outreach

It’s a bit of an oversimplified explanation, but the more high-quality pages that link to one of your pages, the greater that page’s authority. The greater that page’s authority, the better it’s likely to rank on Google. The higher your PageRank, the more traffic you get through organic search.

When it comes to building up your website and creating brand awareness, link building is arguably one of the best strategies at your disposal—but you must first understand how it works. 

What is Link Building? 

Link building is the process of generating more inbound links to your website. Said links must be from websites that themselves have a reasonably high E-A-T score—Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In simple terms, what this means is that they have an established reputation for publishing authentic, informative, high-quality content. 

How Do You Start Link Building?

As with any marketing or growth strategy, the first step in any link building campaign is to define what you want to accomplish with it. 

Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority in your sector? Are you looking to generate conversions and inspire more people to purchase your products or services? Or do you simply want to generate traffic and increase awareness of your brand? 

What Are Some Common Link Building Strategies? 

Modern link building is generally predicated on a very simple idea—if you create excellent content, people will link to that content. Informative, entertaining, and well-researched blog posts can easily generate a ton of passive inbound links to your website, particularly if they rank well on the search engine results page. Similarly, highly shareable content can draw considerable traffic from social media. 

However, if you want to take a more active role in your link building efforts, you generally have three options. 

  • Guest blogging. Find a well-established site in either your niche or a related one, and create guest content that can be published on that site with a link redirecting back to you. Typically, it’s advisable to focus on sites with guest editorial programs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out if you find a promising prospect—but do not, under any circumstances, use a generic email template. 
  • Seek out broken links. Basically, this involves looking at high-quality sites and searching for broken or outdated links. When you find one, contact the webmaster and offer to replace the link with similar content on your own site. 
  • Syndicated content. Somewhat similar to guest blogging, this involves creating high-quality content such as an infographic, then submitting it to user-driven directories and content sites. 

What Link Building Tactics Should I Avoid? 

Let’s wrap things up with a quick list of link building tactics that are not only doomed to fail, but likely to get your site penalized in the process: 

  • Buying your inbound links.
  • Using a link farm or content mill.
  • Paid content disguised as organic content.
  • Purchasing/creating and interlinking multiple websites.
  • Spamming links in comments, forums, etc. 

Three Ways Augmented Reality Will Reshape SEO in the Coming Decade

One not entirely unexpected side effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been a technological renaissance for augmented reality. Amidst quarantine measures and distributed work, multiple businesses—especially those in the ecommerce sector—began exploring ways to simulate an in-person experience online. Augmented reality technology offered exactly that. 

Many in the marketing sector further recognized that the potential of AR extends far beyond interactive product pages. AR has the potential to completely revolutionize multiple segments of marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO). Potential which, we expect, will be realized within the next decade.

Here are three of the most compelling innovations we’re likely to see from this. 

Visual Search Gains Ground

Imagine the following scenario.

A customer is trying to mount a monitor, but they can’t quite figure out how to remove it from its base. They pull out their phone and take a snapshot of the device, at which point Google automatically detects the brand and model number. From there, the customer is able to quickly find a digital product manual and solve their problem. 

This is a concept known as visual search, best exemplified by Google Lens. Instead of relying solely on text or voice search, visual search creates queries based on real-world items, a sort of natural ‘next step’ from standard image search. It’s also a technology that’s been around since at least 2017. 

Renewed interest in AR will likely bring about a resurgence for visual search and its associated technologies—high-resolution product photos, accurate keywords, and optimized alt text, titles, and descriptions will quickly become more important than ever for SEO. 

A Bridge Between Digital and Physical

Once the pandemic is well and truly over, and everyone can return to a semblance of normalcy, we expect local search to undergo a period of explosive growth. AR technology will allow users to view a business’s Google My Business page, reviews, and even social posts. Again, this is an innovation we’ve already seen some leverage to a limited extent. 

In order to ready yourself for this shift, all you need to do is ensure your business follows general best practices for local SEO: 

  • Ensure your Google My Business page is up to date.
  • Submit your business’s information to all relevant directories.
  • Create a Facebook Business Page. 
  • Monitor online reviews, and take action to address negative ones. 

Immersive Web Design Will Become the Norm

We already briefly touched on how AR will make ecommerce product pages more interactive and immersive. Moving forward, we expect to see an increasing number of websites leveraging immersive design. Real-time feedback, environmental overlays, and features that leverage the visitor’s smartphone camera or webcam are just a few examples of what this will look like. 

Websites will need to account for how AR technology changes the user interface and user experience, and redesign their frontend and backend accordingly.

What Search Engine Marketing Professionals Can Learn From Facebook Ads

Facebook—or Meta, as it would rather be known— is everyone’s favorite whipping boy these days. This is hardly without reason, either.  Between October’s embarrassing outage, The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files, and the recent news that Meta’s shares have tanked through the floor, the social network/corporation has been having a rather bad time of late. 

We’re not here to talk about any of that, though. We’re here to discuss a symptom of Meta’s slow erosion. To be frank, Facebook advertising is terrible, and it’s been getting progressively worse. 

You’ve likely noticed it yourself if you still spend time on the social network. Low quality, word salad ads with nothing in the way of actual targeting. Constant stories of ads being rejected without explanation or cause, often for completely nonsensical reasons. 

And all this is tied together by a backend that can charitably be described as cumbersome. 

To be frank, it’s a disaster. But as with any disaster in the marketing world, it represents an excellent learning opportunity. Here are a few search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) insights that can be gleaned from this mess: 

  • Control your ad network.  We’ve made no secret of our belief that modern advertising is broken, perhaps beyond repair—and that the blame lies almost entirely with ad networks not properly policing their content. Facebook is a microcosm of this wider problem; its advertising algorithms clearly aren’t up to the task of maintaining quality.  
  • Targeted content is crucial.  There is one foundational rule that unites content marketing, SEO, and SEM—know your audience. The more effectively you can nail down who they are, what they’re searching for, and what they want, the better your content will perform. 
  • Technical SEO is no substitute for quality. You’ve probably seen your fair share of ads about how robots are stealing your traffic or auto-generated content is the future of marketing.  How many of those did you actually click on, though? Even though they’ve been delivered to the right audience, these error-laden, rambling ads simply don’t seal the deal.  
  • The quality of your tools matters.  Managing SEO for a smaller site is something you can usually handle on your own. However, as your web presence and business both continue to grow, you can either bring in an agency or start relying on paid SEO tools. If these tools are not simultaneously intuitive and effective, they’re likely going to do more harm than good. This is evidenced by Facebook’s Business Tools, which suffer from the same design problems noted by UX Collective.  

SEO and SEM have evolved in recent years. By contrast, Facebook has remained largely stagnant. There’s another lesson there—if your business does not evolve and adapt with the market, it will ultimately be left behind. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of SEO Reporting

Reporting is a necessary component of search engine optimization (SEO), but that doesn’t mean you have to like doing it. For many professionals, reporting comprises all the worst parts of the job—boring meetings, number crunching, and paperwork. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be painful or wasteful. 

Nor should it. Reporting should be a natural, seamless step in the SEO process. Here are a few general do’s and don’ts to help you in that regard. 

Do: Establish Baselines and Benchmarks

Your reports cannot exist in a vacuum. Whether you’re measuring progress or analyzing performance, you need something to compare it to. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how good the numbers look, they’ll lack the context that gives them meaning. 

Ensure you have access to historical SEO data when reporting, and define progress milestones as well.

Don’t: Neglect the Customer Journey

A baseline isn’t the only thing that gives your data context. You must also consider how your SEO efforts slot into and enhance your sales funnel. Don’t solely focus on conversions, but consider how each set of keywords might represent a customer at a different stage of their journey. 

Do: Tailor Your Reports

When it’s time to generate a report, there’s one question you need to answer upfront—what does your audience care about?  What are their main objectives, and how can you best fulfill them? In addition to tweaking your reports based on how they’re being delivered, provide extensive data visualization. 

Don’t: Hyperfocus on Metrics

It’s easy to get caught up with numbers and minutiae where SEO is concerned. But you need to be careful that your reports don’t end up just being a list of analytics data. You can’t just spout off metrics. You need to contextualize those metrics. 

Why does each metric matter in a greater-scope perspective?

Do: Set Clear, Achievable Goals

In addition to figuring out baselines and milestones, it’s important to sit down and hash out your objectives prior to putting your SEO strategy into practice. Collaborate with key stakeholders to figure out what you want your SEO efforts to actually accomplish. More importantly, make sure those goals are achievable within the timeframe you’ve defined. 

Don’t: Overuse Jargon

Jargon can be incredibly useful when communicating with other SEO professionals. However, you’re not delivering your report to colleagues in the SEO sector. You’re delivering it to people that may not necessarily have a working knowledge of your craft.

Keep that in mind, and remove jargon from your report whenever possible. In cases where you can’t cut a technical term, make sure you take the time to explain it as clearly as possible. Analogies are your friend here. 

Reporting In

Love them or hate them, reports are a cornerstone of the SEO profession. It’s imperative that you understand their value. More importantly, you need to have a solid idea of the most common mistakes SEO professionals make in their reporting—and the best practices that can make your reports truly shine. 

The Ten Characteristics of Low-Quality Content

You’ve probably heard every cliche in the book about the importance of content. You’ve had the value of content marketing driven into your skull for years. You know it’s important.

But do you know how to tell the difference between good content and bad content? You probably have some inkling about whether or not a particular piece of content is great. Today, we’re going to discuss how to tell if your content — or that of a competitor — is terrible. 

1.  Lack of Copyediting

Would you trust a newspaper laden with spelling errors? What about a white paper with such confusing grammar that it takes ten minutes to read a single sentence? You already know the answer to those questions.

Hire a copyeditor for your website. Trust us on this. 

2.  No Originality

Plagiarists are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the lowest common denominator in any creative field. If you aren’t coming up with your own ideas or adding your own thoughts to a piece, you need to start. And if you’re scraping content, it’s not just your content that’s bad, it’s your entire business. 

3.  Bad Titles

Google isn’t a fan of sensationalist headlines. Neither are your readers. Keep your titles relevant, informative, and simple because clickbait is the bottom of the barrel. 

4. Irrelevant Information

Value represents the most important characteristic of any content. Whatever you produce, it needs to provide your audience with something they want or need. More importantly, if you’re dealing in facts, you need to be accurate and informative. 

5. Overly Thin

We’ve all encountered a blog that seems to end almost as soon as we’ve started reading. There are admittedly some rare scenarios where short-form content is justified. In most cases, however, you don’t want fewer than 500 words. 

6. Far Too Long

Anyone who’s worked in content marketing for any length of time has encountered it. A blog post where the author is clearly laboring to meet some arbitrary minimum word count. Such content rarely performs well. 

Write as much as you need in order to address your original topic, and not a word more. 

7. Disruptive Web Design

Intrusive, obnoxious ads. Hidden anchor links. Terrible performance. 

The way your website is designed may not directly pertain to your content, but it inevitably influences how people experience it. 

8. Citation Needed

Cite your sources, especially if you’re making fact-based assertions or operating in an academic niche. Failure to do so not only harms your own credibility but can, in some cases, verge on plagiarism. 

9.  Strategy? What Strategy? 

Good content doesn’t just spring out of some formless abyss. It’s the result of a deliberate, ongoing strategy. It’s born out of an understanding of your audience and your goals. 

10.  Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. 

Decades ago, keyword stuffing was a legitimate tactic for getting content onto the search engine results page. Today, it’s going to get you penalized by Google. Keep it to one or two keywords at most. 

So, based on the above, how good is your content? 

Five Things to Understand About Virtual Reality Marketing

For much of its short history, virtual reality has been the prime domain of video games and science fiction. That’s changing, and fast. As noted by DevOps service provider Perforce, the use cases for VR have, over the past several years, considerably expanded

Marketing is one of these new use cases, and businesses are keenly aware of the potential benefits. In 2021, for instance, the combined impact of VR and augmented reality reached $29.5 billion, according to Statista. That number will very likely be even higher in 2022. 

If your business is to embrace its potential, there are a few things you must first understand, however. 

VR and AR are Actually Quite Different

Augmented reality projects virtual images and interfaces over reality, such as via a smartphone app or a pair of smart glasses. Pokémon Go is one of the most successful and best-known AR apps in recent memory. Google Glass is a less successful example of AR. 

Virtual reality instead projects the user into a simulated virtual world. Typically, most VR requires that the user at least have access to a headset. Other VR hardware may include, but is not limited to, haptic feedback apparel, omnidirectional treadmills, and directional sensors. 

Personalization is at the Core of VR Marketing

If there’s one thing marketing professionals have learned in recent years, it’s the power of a personalized experience. VR allows that experience to be taken to entirely new heights, engaging audiences in custom-built digital environments. AR enables personalization as well, albeit on a less immersive level. 

The Pandemic Created a Surge in Popularity

As software developed Signiant notes in a recent blog, the current fascination with VR technology can be directly traced to COVID. As the world struggled to cope with the social isolation created by lockdowns, VR technology provided a compelling means by which they might connect with friends, family, and colleagues. This was valuable to education, particularly as instructors recognized the potential to create fully immersive classrooms. 

There are (Technically) Three Main Types of Virtual Reality


What many don’t realize is that video games are actually a form of VR. Although you are not yourself present in a virtual world, you are still interacting with it as a third party. 


Semi-immersive VR blurs the line between AR and VR. On the one hand, it allows you to explore an environment via a headset. On the other, you can just as easily do so on a computer screen. 

Fully Immersive

The gold standard for VR. Complete immersion. 

Don’t Buy into the Hype of the Metaverse

At the present moment, VR marketing could be a case study in potential. It’s clear that as technology grows more advanced and widely available, it will fundamentally change how we interact not just with brands but with the entire world. However, use cases are likely to be limited in the near future. 

This is best evidenced by Wal-Mart’s ‘virtual shopping experience,’ which, per The Verge, was actually announced in 2017—yet is somehow indistinguishable from the current buzz around the metaverse

VR Marketing is, at the moment, still in its early stages. It’s a trend that’s well worth watching. But it’s not likely to impact your strategic roadmap in the immediate future. 

Here’s Why You Should Avoid Using Paywalls

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Nearly all of us have encountered that simple phrase at least once. And for most, it’s among the most frustrating things one could read. After finding what we thought was the perfect answer to our question on the search engine results page, we instead encountered a publisher reaching desperately for our wallet. 

While we acknowledge that content monetization in today’s digital landscape is a challenge, especially for journalists, we have never been a fan of paywalls. To us, they commit a cardinal sin of content marketing. They interrupt the browsing experience, impeding and frustrating your user in the process. 

Yet, for some reason, more and more publications seem prone to using them — ironically, we recently encountered a paywall on an article explaining why paywalls don’t work. 

What’s especially baffling is that it’s not as though the low success rate of paywalls is an unknown quantity. Their core business model is fundamentally flawed, based on an overestimation of how valuable a website’s content actually is. And in most cases, the number of readers driven away by this tactic in no way justifies the trickle of revenue it might generate. 

Consider the following: 

There are some websites that can get away with paywalls. The Harvard Business Review, for instance, consistently publishes high-value thought leadership content that cannot be found anywhere else. Yet even HBR doesn’t slam a hard paywall into the face of its audience, opting instead for a metered paywall: 

  • Visitors receive a limited number of articles per month for free. 
  • Registering for a free account slightly increases this number.
  • Paying users can choose between digital, digital and print, or a premium plan that provides access to all regular content along with access to exclusive case studies. 

Most websites are not HBR. They do not have the recognized authority, viewership, or expertise to support a business model like this. Rather than considering a subscription, their audience is far likelier to see what competing sites have to offer. 

In short, for most publications, paywalls are akin to self-sabotage. There are other options for content monetization, such as premium content and affiliate marketing. And if, after reading all of this, you still think a paywall might be your best bet? 

At least apply it even-handedly, rather than locking off your entire website. 


You already know there is a multitude of differences when comparing business-to-business sales to business-to-consumer sales. You’ve likely also surmised that these differences extend to search engine optimization. And you’d be correct in that.

Because B2B and B2C users have such wildly different needs, the content you create and the keywords you use must also differ. 

Let’s discuss how. 

User Intent

The core difference between B2B and B2C SEO comes down to your audience and their journey from prospect to a qualified lead. 


If you primarily serve a consumer audience, the journey is relatively straightforward. The user might be interested in buying something from your brand, either now or in the future. Alternatively, they might have found your site while researching a problem, and through your content, could become a future customer. 


For a business audience, things get a little more complex. B2B users want to know how your brand can address their specific needs or help them overcome a particular roadblock. They are working on establishing a shortlist of vendors that can help them fulfill that need, or they’ve already created that shortlist—and your business made the cut. 

Content Type

Different types of content also tend to perform better with a B2B audience than with a B2C audience, and vice-versa. 


Content targeting a business audience typically performs best when it’s informative and educational. These users aren’t interested in being entertained, nor are they likely to respond if you appeal to their emotions. They want you to demonstrate that you are a thought leader in their field—that you understand not just their industry, but the specific problems facing their business. 

Blog posts are essential for B2B users, but you’d also do well to include ebooks, case studies, and white papers in your content library. 


As you’d expect, a consumer audience is a bit simpler to market to. While informational content can still perform well, you also have a great deal more freedom in terms of topic ideation. In addition to educating, your content can also entertain and engage. 

Appeals to emotion also work far better in customer-focused content, though you’ll want to ensure you always focus on the customer’s needs, goals, and values.


Given that B2C content differs from B2B content, it follows that the core keywords, too, are different. 


Generally, B2B content tends to serve a far more specific niche than B2C content. Because of this, B2B keywords tend to be lower-volume but higher-value. In some cases, there may be hardly any search data at all—you’ll therefore need to rely significantly more on audience research. 


B2C keywords usually have relatively high traffic compared to B2B. Additionally,  low-volume keywords are significantly less valuable to a B2C site. Those keywords also tend to be more competitive due to the fact that they’re less focused. 

Closing Thoughts

This isn’t a complete overview of B2B vs. B2C SEO. It’s simply a primer to give you a general idea of how the two differ from one another. We touched on what we feel are the most important, most relevant beats—that should be enough to get you started on your own.