One of the issues that intimidate webmasters from time to time is figuring out how some domains with practically no backlinks, mediocre content, and irrelevant keywords outrank their better optimized websites with excellent backlinks, high-quality content, and strong keywords. To be honest, there is no straightforward answer to this question. There are, however, some likely scenarios that can put a website in this situation. An understanding of how search engines, especially Google, rank websites is crucial in order to find out why your website is underachieving.
Ranking factor #1: The older the better
Domain authority is one of the most indisputable facts in search engine ranking. Both Google and Yahoo! are known to trust older domain names. Check if the website with poor keyword targeting and average backlinks has been around for some time. If it was present even before SEO became popular, then it’s easy to understand why this site outranks yours despite its poor web page structure.
Ranking factor #2: Excellent ad copy works wonders
Sometimes, the difference between a successful webmaster and a failed one is very simple: the quality of the former’s ad copy. This is an important detail known to many marketers for years, but there are still thousands of people that don’t understand this concept. This is not only applicable for PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns but for any ad copy, and is the reason why well-known advertising agencies are hired by successful Internet businesses to write their text.
Ranking factor #3: User experience and behavior matter
Google doesn’t disclose to the public how they obtain their search engine results, but they do provide the free Google Analytics program. After years of using this tool, webmasters discovered that Google definitely considers user behavior when ranking sites. For example, if your website has a high bounce rate, it is natural for the search engine to assume that your content is poor quality and not relevant, so they will keep your rankings lower than your competitor’s site. The website that is outranking yours could be successful in keeping visitors at their pages longer. They could also be doing a much better job at converting. These are important factors that search engines consider when determining the rank of a website.
Ranking factor #4: Optimize the website for mobile phones
If your competitor’s website loads quickly on mobile devices, it may rank higher than yours even if it has low-quality content and poor backlinks. Your website, on the other hand, may function badly on mobile phones. Google has made it clear that website ranking also depends on how it performs on mobile devices since more people are using smart phones these days.
Ranking factor #5: Viral popularity is hard to beat
Working hard on your content will improve your ranking in most cases, but sometimes your competitor may have a video, song, or news article that has “gone viral” and is drawing in millions of views daily. Since there is no way to tell whether or not a piece of content will become an Internet phenomenon, this factor is largely out of your control. Once it does become popular, however, the website that owns it becomes extremely hard to beat in the rankings.
Even if you optimize your site to the best of your abilities, it may not always end up on top. Other factors will come into play that you have no control over. It’s always better to apply SEO, however, even if there are no guarantees. This takes care of things that are under your control. The rest is up to the fate and a little bit of luck.