Hidden problems with search engine rankings

seo hidden problems

When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), many businesses focus on securing top search engine results. This is important for driving organic (unpaid) traffic to your website, and for boosting the visibility of your company online. However, the search engine results themselves are often not a reliable indicator of your SEO performance, especially when taken at face value. In fact, there are a number of hidden problems with search engine rankings that can have a negative impact on your performance. So what are these hidden problems? And how can your company ensure SEO success?

What are the hidden problems with search engine rankings?

If you’re using search engine rankings to measure the success of your website and content online, it’s important to note that the rankings often do not tell the whole story. In fact, there are a number of hidden problems that could be holding your company back. These include:

  • Ranking in the top 10
  • Overlooking the competitive landscape
  • Keyword cannibalisation
  • Not meeting search intent
  • Dynamic nature of search rankings

Ranking in the top 10

For new websites, and new content on existing websites, breaking into the top ten results for a given search query can be exciting. However, it’s important to be aware that securing a place in the top ten results does not automatically mean success. In fact, your website will be competing with the other top ten results, which may have the upper hand in terms of relevance to search intent, industry authority, branding, and even content quality. Because of the competitive nature of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), ranking in the top ten is often not enough. In fact, you are much more likely to see real results with a ranking in the top 3, while ranking number 1 should obviously be the main goal, to secure the lion’s share of the traffic.

Overall, this means that your company may need to reassess your goals, and focus on improving the quality of your content, to secure higher rankings than the top ten. This may mean investing more in SEO content, and developing a new and thorough SEO strategy.

Overlooking the competitive landscape

In general, competition for search engine ranking positions in every industry is high. Overlooking this factor can leave your company open to being usurped by other businesses in time, due to the sheer volume of relevant content that will be being created for these competitive keywords. This means that if you are measuring the success of your SEO strategy through your SERP rankings, you could be drawn into a false sense of security, if you are currently ranking highly. For example, other larger businesses can invest more money into their content and SEO strategy, which could relegate your website to a lower ranking position, or push your ranking out altogether. This means that even with the best quality content, and valuable information, your website could end up overshadowed by larger competitors. As a result, a thorough SEO strategy that adapts over time and involves reassessing content performance in the long run, can be an important factor for businesses of all sizes to consider.

Keyword cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalisation can be a significant issue for effective SERP rankings. This is something that occurs when you have more than one page addressing the same keyword or phrase. While this might seem like a good way to ensure your content ranks, it actually has the opposite impact. Multiple pages optimised for the same phrases will actually dilute the authority and relevance of each individual page, and it’s actually much more likely that none of the pages will rank as highly as intended, if at all. This sabotages your own attempts to secure top rankings. This is yet another factor that can be avoided with a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy, tailored to your industry and area of expertise.

Not meeting search intent

Another key issue with using search engine rankings as a measure of SEO success is that the actual ranking position only tells part of the story. You may be ranking in the top 3, or even placing at the number one position, but your content may not be driving traffic to your website. This is because while your content has been rated as informative, relevant, original and authoritative, which is why it is ranking highly, it may not be meeting the search intent. When searchers use the keyword or phrase they will have a specific intent in mind. If your searchers are looking for information about a product for example, and your ranking is a sales post, or vice versa, you will find that the ranking position doesn’t matter too much, because the content doesn’t match the intent of the search. This means that searchers will skip to the next result to find the information they want, instead of clicking through to your website.

To alleviate this issue it’s important to consider the search intent associated with each keyword you use, so that your website content can align with this for improved results. The different types of search intent include:

Hidden problems with search engine rankings

Dynamic nature of search algorithms

Finally, placing all your eggs in the search engine rankings basket can cause a problem for your website because of the dynamic nature of search algorithms. Search engines are always updating and changing their algorithms to enhance user experience and combat manipulation and spam results. What this means is that if you are ranking highly for a search term today, this does not guarantee its position tomorrow. From algorithm updates, to changes in user behaviour, and emerging competitors, there are a number of different factors that can swiftly disrupt established rankings. As such, it’s essential to formulate a long-term strategy for online success that keeps on top of future changes to search algorithms.

How can your business improve SEO performance?

So, with all of this in mind, how can your company successfully measure SERP ranking performance? And what steps can you take to improve SEO performance overall? Well, there are a number of things you can do, including:

  • Prioritising search intent- providing content that meets the search intent is not only going to ensure more click throughs from the SERP, this will also help to improve the user experience on your website overall.
  • Developing a comprehensive SEO strategy- a thorough SEO strategy will help you plan and deliver content that covers a wide range of keywords and phrases relevant to your business. This will also ensure that your content is high quality, original, informative and relevant, which will raise your brand’s authority and credibility, regardless of ranking position.
  • Data driven analysis- data driven insights and analytics can help your company to continue to improve the SEO strategy, and by monitoring user behaviour, identifying trends, and adapting to evolving search patterns, you will be able to identify areas for improvement and development.

For more information or advice about long term SEO strategies and SERP success, get in touch with the experts today, here at Pumpkin Web Design. We are Preston’s leading web design and web marketing experts, and we work with companies across the North West, from Southport to Wigan, and even Manchester, to deliver web marketing solutions that really work.

Pumpkin Web Design Ltd is a small and highly results driven digital agency working for like minded clients in Preston, Chorley, Southport, Blackburn, Burnley, Morecambe,Wigan, Manchester, London, Warrington, Blackpool, Lancaster, Leyland, Lytham St Annes, Bolton, Chester and the UK. Our services include web design, SEO, content marketing, video production, brand design and much more.