Friday, July 12, 2013

Why You Might Be Losing Rankings to Pages with Fewer Links, Worse Targeting, and Poor Content

Most of us have a pretty good sense for the best ways to improve our search rankings, including earning links, targeting the people who search for us, and making sure our sites contain high-quality content. Sometimes, though, we get outranked by sites that clearly have work to do in these areas. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains some of the reasons why that might happen to you.
For reference, here's a still image of this week's whiteboard:

Transcription from the Above Chart :

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, I want to address a question that comes up all the time. I get so much email about this. So many people asking in Q&A, the Moz Q&A, about:

"Why am I losing rankings to a site or page that has fewer links, worse keyword targeting, and/or poor content?" It's usually some combination of these. A lot of times it's fewer links and poor content, or they're not targeting a keyword at all, and their content's terrible. "Why are they outranking me?"

I want to try and address why that might be happening for you, because it's such a common theme. I think, as SEOs and marketers, we're trained to look at the data. We look at who's ranking for chicken coops, and we see these three results, and we go and check. Okay, how many links does this site have? How many links does the page have? What's the page authority? What's the domain authority? What does the anchor text look like? Is it an exact match domain, and maybe it's getting some domain biasing from that, or those kind of things. And then, when we don't see one of those patterns that we're accustomed to, we go, "Why is that happening? What's going on there? I don't understand why I'm seeing this page outrank my page." So I'm going to try and address those.

First off, let's understand the basics of what's going on in rankings, because there are multiple things. First off, domain based features. So it could be that MNN, which I think is Mother Nature Network maybe it has a very powerful domain, or not as powerful a domain, in terms of domain authority and trust and those kind of things.

There are page based features. This is like the content of the page and the keywords that it's targeting and how it's doing that, as well as the content experience on the page and the links that are coming to the page. The individual URL, not the domain broadly.

Then there are listing based features, meaning: Have they done a good job of making this a very compelling thing for a user to click? We've certainly seen examples of where making a more compelling snippet has actually boosted people's rankings as more people click it, and Google is seeing that searcher behavior, and now they're saying, "Oh well, if so many people like this result and they're scrolling down to find it, then we should probably be bumping it up."
Of course, there are secondary benefits to that, which is the more people who click your listing, the more people you get exposed to, and the more links you can earn, and all those kinds of second order benefits.

But it's not just these things, or it is these things, but it's also a bunch of different inputs that can be affecting these, and so I'm going to walk you through some of those.
What I really like asking is, "When we're being outranked, where do we have

weaknesses that the other listings have strengths?" I think this is a common way of going about this, but it's not always numeric. It's not always quantitative. Sometimes it's qualitative, and sometimes you have to ask yourself tough questions.

Do I have a poor listing or a poor snippet? Is this something where, out of all the listings on here, someone would want to click mine more than anything else? That's a copywriting challenge, it's a creativity challenge, and it's a empathy challenge. We want to be inside people's heads. If we were to go and get a room full of a hundred people who performed a search for chicken coops, and we asked them, "What would make you click on a listing? What would inspire you to say, 'Wow, that's what I want to see.'"

A lot of time it might be something like this............
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