Why is this “Poor Quality Site” Ranking Above Me? Part One, Back to Basics
A couple of weeks ago, Moz.com posted a White Board Friday video that really got us thinking. The video explain what those of us in the inbound marketing industry hear all of the time: why is my website “losing” rankings to lower quality websites? In order to really explain this, let’s start by getting back to basics…
How do Search Engines Work?
On the surface, some of the websites ranking above yours may seem of lower quality. However, there is a lot to consider when looking at ranking. Google’s algorithm has so many moving parts to support their intent – to deliver the most relevant and valuable results to a search user’s query. Google’s intent has always been the same, it really has not changed. When pulling up its search results, Google is asking two KEY questions:
- Is this content relevant?
- Among all the relevant content, which one is the best?
Content can be deemed relevant for a number of different reasons – the content’s topic, a business / brand, a searcher’s preferences and location, etc. Once Google has deemed a website’s content to be relevant to the search query, there are a number of signals that tell them which is best.
What to Consider in Evaluating a Website?
When you’re checking out that seemingly “poor quality” website ranking above you, keep in mind that Google has deemed that site the most appropriate result for that position. Does Google make mistakes? Sure they do, the algorithm isn’t perfect. Here are some features / site qualities to consider when evaluating a website ranking higher than yours:
- Domain-based items
- Page-based items
- Listing-based items
When looking at domain-based items, you want to consider the domain age of the website, domain authority, etc. These factors are all considered in Google’s algorithm. Using tools like Moz’s SEO Toolbar (FREE!) can help you find this information.
When looking at page-based items, you want to consider the layout of the website, the user experience and usability of a website, etc. How people interact with a website and its ease-of-use will play a role in Google’s algorithm.
When looking at listing-based items, consider the way that website’s result appears. Is their meta description a better marketing piece than yours? Does it have a better call-to-action than yours?
Again, take a step back and start doing some research on the websites ranking higher than yours. That website might not appear to be better than yours, but Google shows the results the way they are for a reason – to support their intent of producing the most valuable and relevant results to a searcher’s query. Remember that there are many factors aside from domain, page, and listing items that can determine the search results, like a user’s location and search preferences, a company’s brand, etc. Next month, we’ll go over what you can evaluate in terms of the strengths v. weaknesses between your website and the websites ranking around you.