Why Aren’t We Showing Up for [Keyword]?

Written by Brick Marketing

Many in-house SEO managers or internal SEO champions constantly have to defend the SEO program from those who just don’t “get it.” One of the biggest things is explaining why your site isn’t showing up when they type in your top keywords. It doesn’t seem to matter how good the organic growth numbers are, if they don’t see you at number one for [keyword] than clearly your SEO program isn’t working, right?

Well here are four things you need to ask/explain to your team when they get on your case:

Does that keyword even matter?
I was talking with a client the other day who is constantly fighting with her sales team. They search for INCREDIBLY specific, long-tail and technical search terms and are upset their company is on page two and three. But as she keeps Keyword Rankreminding them, those super technical terms might be how THEY describe the product, but it’s not how a potential customer does! In fact, when we looked at the Google Keyword Planner Tool those keywords had zero search volume in Google. That means so few people are searching using that term it’s not worth tracking. There is no limit to how many keywords your site can rank well for, but if you only rank well for keywords that no one is searching for how are people going to find your website?

Are you looking at un-personalized search results?
Every move you make on Google is tracked. It knows what you’ve searched for, what you’ve clicked on, where you are searching from, what kind of device you are searching from and more. Google uses all this information to personalize your results, trying to give you only the results you are the most likely to be interested in. So if you always search for [keyword] from your office computer Google is going to adjust where your website falls in the SERPs (for better or worse). Sometimes you’re actually ranking higher than you should be, since Google knows your end goal is that particular domain. The best way to evaluate your keyword rank is to look at your Webmaster Tools data. This is as unbiased as it gets and shows you your average rank for 100s or 1000s of keywords over any given time frame.

How broad is that keyword?
The broader a keyword is the harder it is to rank for that term. Not only can a broad term mean a lot of things to a lot of people, broad terms also have much more search volume and many more companies going after them. For instance, what does “insurance” mean to you? Health insurance, home insurance, small business insurance, auto insurance, life insurance? If you are trying to rank well for a keyword as broad as “insurance” you’ve got a long road ahead of you! And even if you do rank well for that keyword, chances are a large portion of the people coming to your site are NOT going to be the right audience. If you sell dental insurance but everyone coming to your site is looking for auto insurance you’ve missed the mark.

How stiff is the competition?
When you search for [keyword], if you’re not on the top, then that is? Are you competing against companies that are similarly sized and funded? Or are you competing against 800-pound gorilla companies like Amazon or IBM? In my opinion, some sites really are “too big to fail” and beating them at their own game is practically impossible. That doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a nice spot for yourself, but being #1 might be nothing more than a pipe dream. Can you learn to be okay being #6?

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