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August SEO office hours: Why a site doesn’t rank despite good SEO?

The August 2023 release of SEO office hours is here. For those who don’t know, Google release a regular, often monthly, video session to answer key questions sent in by site owners about various areas of SEO.

Our attention was drawn to a particular question in this latest release,

“Why is my site not ranking despite low competition and good SEO?”

The questioner claims their site is not in the top 200 results despite having a sitemap, indexed pages, updated content, backlinks and on-page optimisation.

John Mueller responds to the question:

“I see this kind of question often. Google tends to focus on various technical aspects when it comes to talking about SEO. But you need to do more. A good way to think about this is to compare it to the offline world. When it comes to books, does a good cover photo, reasonable sentence length, few misspellings, and a good topic mean that the book will become a bestseller? Or as a restaurant, does using the right ingredients and cooking in a clean kitchen mean you’ll get a lot of customers? Technical details are good to cover well. But there’s a lot more involved in being successful.”

Interesting – but what does he mean about doing more?

Roger Montti over at Search Engine Journal builds on this by mentioning site promotion. He hints that site owners must do more to promote their sites on podcasts, speaking at conferences to develop press and industry contacts, radio, making YouTube videos, and advertising to boost site promotion.

But has the questioner done that? They did mention having backlinks, perhaps they need more, or a broader variety.

Or maybe, the questioner’s SEO isn’t as good as he claims.

Nonetheless, it’s good to hear Google confirm that marketing of their content and business will contribute towards their search positions. Optimisation can only take you so far.

Here’s the full list of questions asked in the August SEO office hours session

  • How many URLs can a sitemap index file have?
  • Does setting ARIA attributes improve SEO?
  • Should I redirect canonicalized “domain/en” to “domain,” or is being canonicalized enough?
  • Do the elements of the link after a hashtag (#) in the URL affect how it’s displayed in the search results?
  • Why is my site not ranking despite low competition and good SEO?
  • How can I see if my newly bought site has a penalty?
  • Is it okay to use product rich snippets for real estate properties?
  • Can hreflang be used to link similar content targeting different countries, even if not direct translations?
  • Can we use a white font, but on a colored background?
  • Does the use of an article HTML tag have an impact on Google?
  • Is it a problem for SEO to have a mix of relative and absolute links on our website?
  • For structured data on a French website, should we write the opening days in English or French?
  • Is the IP address a Google crawler?
  • Does Google treat certain tags as a signal that the website is attempting to give a good UX?
  • Why does the Google cache page show a 404 error for my site?
  • Online gambling websites appearing on our domain that originate from Google’s smartphone crawlers. Help!

Watch the video:

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