Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly In Search Engine Results?

In simpler terms, Search Engine Optimization is a way to improve your website so that it will appear closer to the top positions in the search results of Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines. When you perform a search on Google the order by which the returning results are displayed, is based on complex algorithms. While search engine representatives and light hatters (the whitest of the white hatters) say that having great, link-worthy content and links is enough to get high rankings, there are many sites with these traits that do not get listed for the words that matter (the ones that send serious traffic). If it were so easy and every page that deserved a high ranking had it, there would be n.

What is Metadata?

Simply put, metadata is data about data. With Search engines, such as Google, do not 'read' your content (data.) They index by seeking out information from defined metadata fields. To increase the chances of your content being located in response to a search engine request, add appropriate metadata, such as a search engine title, description, keywords, copyright and event dates. Use tagging (interest categories) to mark items intended for dynamic display.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines. Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.

SEO fields in Drupal are below the WYSIWYG editor and are now required on most ALA content types. It is the job of a Content Manager to populate these fields so that our www.ala.org content has maximum web presence. Along with improving our ranking within Search Engine results, SEO fields are also used within the overall design of our website. It is a best practice to always add values to these fields for every page you either edit or create because that data will be collected by search engines spiders quicker than those same spiders can index your actual page content.

These three SEO fields are stored in a page's metadata and are called:

  • SEO Description: A summary of what is being discussed on the page. This is the description that users see in their hit lists when your page comes up in search results.
  • SEO Keywords: Key words about the primary ideas expressed on the page.
  • SEO Title:This is the most important of all the SEO fields, not only does it aid in search engine optimization but it is used throughout the site design of www.ala.org. Read below

Where do I add Metadata and SEO?


Metadata fields are associated with a variety of content types in Drupal. Simply scroll down while you are editing a content type and the fields will be available:

What is the difference between the Author and the Editor?


Generally, the Author, in this field, refers to the ALA Unit that owns the right to publish the content. To look up the official name of a corporate author, visit the unit landing page from ala.org under Offices, Divisions or Round Tables. The personal name of an author should be used when that is the agreement you have with your bloggers or other content authors.

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The Editor would be the individual (ALA Staff member) responsible for updating the content. This can be confusing as Drupal has a separate field under Authoring Information which tracks the user that is updating or adding the content which also displays as the Author of content, but the latter is an internal reference populated by Drupal for administrative functions.

What do I add to the SEO Title?

Start with the webpage Title and add more clarity by adding synonyms to further describe the direct objects in the title, for example Recipes for Teenagers as a Title, could become more specific by enhancing it to: Suggested Recipes and Food Favorites for Teens, Young Adults, Pre-Teen or Youth. It should add a bit more clarity than the general Title of the web page, where appropriate.

What goes into the SEO Description?


Start first with a summary statement and then use the subheadings in the content. The description should be a high-level overview of what the user might expect to find in the content. If the page is structured logically, you should be able to craft a good SEO description based on a summary of each of the subheads using key phrases found in the content. You may have to reword your findings so it flows into a logical series of statements that give a clear understanding of what the content is about, but use the text in the content as your inspiration.

What do I use for SEO Keywords?

Start by asking yourself, 'What are the terms that a person searching for this content might use to find it?' The best keywords might be words used in your headings, subheadings and their synonyms. Once you have exhausted the possibilities answering what terms a person may look for, look for Proper Names of people, places, institutions that are mentioned with significance in the content. Save what you come up with then re-read the content to see if any other search terms become apparent.

Updated 3-25-2019

Every search engine uses a different formula, which is why the results will be different between Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com and other search engines. These formulas, known as algorithms, are constantly changing as the search engines strive to achieve improved results. So understanding how the algorithm works is the first step in learning how search engines rank websites.

(Note: if you need to know how Google ranks local businesses please see this article)

Anyone that owns a website wants to rank well in search engines, especially Google.

The process of improving your sites “rankability” is known as search engine optimization, search marketing or SEO for short. Because search engines are constantly evolving, it is important to stay informed of these changes in order to modify your on site optimization and SEO strategy.

To understand how to optimize your website for search, you must first understand how a website gets ranked in search engines.

How Does Google or Other Search Engines Rank Websites?

There are certain basic factors that all the search engines use to help value a site and propel that site to the top of the rankings.

The perfectly optimized web page will have the right blend of keyword usage and high quality content that flows naturally.

The website will also have a lot of natural backlinks from external websites. The search engine uses this information to determine which sites get ranked the highest.

The key components to SEO are:

Search Engines Love High Quality Content

Search engines love awesome content. Google, in particular, is very kind to web pages with excellent content.

Years ago, many websites would try to game search engines by packing keywords on a fairly light page. And it would work. These days, this type of page won’t come close to ranking. Search engines figured out that these pages were not useful to visitors.

So if you want a page to rank well for a certain keyword phrase or set of keywords then create a great page. What makes a great page?

  1. The page really answers the question or topic of the search. Its informative and doesn’t stray from the main topic.
  2. Includes original content with plenty of text. For any content page, we advise 1000 words at minimum. Shoot for 1500+ words if possible.
  3. Use simple, easy to read sentences. Break up paragraphs. (It has an added benefit of being easier to read, especially on mobile devices).
  4. Utilize headings to break up areas and sections of the website.
  5. Include multiple unique images and/or videos throughout the page.

Low quality websites won’t spend time building great pages. So if looks like you put effort into building a great page, then Google with reward you. In recent years, we’ve noticed web pages with minimal backlinks still getting high search rankings because the content is superior.

Google also understands user intent. So a high quality page will often have a longer time on page and better overall page metrics. This also helps high quality pages rank better.

Note About ecommerce websites: Search engines understand that product descriptions don’t often require thousands of words of text. Product pages benefit by having strong titles, clear descriptions and as many unique images or videos as possible.

Building Quality Natural Backlinks to Your Website

One of the most important aspect of search engine rankings is to get quality websites to link to your website. This is also the most difficult and time consuming task of SEO. Search engines believe that when good websites link to you, your website must provide valuable content, therefore it’s trustworthy and deserves a higher ranking.

In the past 7-8 years, it has become increasingly important that these backlinks are natural. In other words, you earn the link.

Obviously having great content helps promote other sites to link to your page. But there are also a few tricks to gaining exposure that can help you get quality links.

Using a cheap service that gives you thousands of backlinks from very low quality websites can actually hurt your search engine rankings. Google developed the famous Penguin update in response to spam websites that ranked well by building massive quantities of links. It’s a long complex topic, so to keep it simple remember one important concept: A few high quality links are much better than thousands of low quality links.

Anchor Text in Backlinks

The words that are used in a link are known as anchor text. So the words “how to rank in google” with a link pointing to this page would be an example of anchor text.

Many years ago strong anchor text backlinks worked well for targeted pages, but search engines are smart enough to understand this practice was abused.

Having too many targeted keywords in anchor text can be bad for your site. Unnatural anchor text usage was also part of Google’s Penguin update.

Why does your site rank so poorly in search engine results todayEngine

Generally, a few links with strong anchor text are good but even basic links work well.

Backlinks that link to your website name like domain.com. Also links to your brand name are helpful. Even generic text links that say “click here” or “link” or “read more” are effective. Search engines realized that sites were manipulating rankings by using keyword heavy anchor text, so this has become less of a factor in ranking for the specific keyword.

Diversity in anchor text is critical. Too many pages with the same exact keyword anchor text looks artificial and will hurt the pages ability to rank.

On Page Optimization for Search Engines

The content on the page will include a combination of visible text, images, video, music or other media. An optimized website will also have basic meta data that to help determine how your site ranks. The combination of keyword usage in your website and metadata will affect your ranking.

When search engine marketers perform on page optimization, they are usually trying to help the site rank for 2-4 word keyword combinations. These keywords are used in various places within the web page such as headings (H1, H2, etcs.), paragraphs, lists, image alt data and meta data.

Meta data includes the page title that is found in the <title> tag in the website’s HTML code. The meta description is found in the <meta name=”description”> tag.

The title is displayed in the browse tab and is the link listed in search engines. The meta description is a brief summary of the page you provide that is approximately 160 characters. This description is normally found as part of the search listing, but google will often use a snippet of the web page as seen below.

It is critical to analyze the targeted keywords and optimize keyword usage on each page. However, like everything else in the search world, you don’t want to go overboard. A high keyword density and your site gets penalized for keyword spam. Too few keywords and your site won’t rank high for those searches.

A balance is needed but most search engine optimizers understand the optimal usage.

Additional Search Factors

There are a number of other smaller factors that are still very important for ranking well in Google. When combined, they can help a web page rank better.

  1. Page load Speed – A slow loading page can hurt your rankings, so work on getting your site loading faster.
  2. HTTPS – Google provides a small bump for sites that use the secured https protocol.
  3. Visitor Usage – This can be engagement metrics, site usage signal, CTR of search queries, etc.

Search Engine Rankings in Summary

When asking the question, how do search engines rank websites? The answer just isn’t simple. These main factors are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to cover than what we can write in an article.

Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly In Search Engine Results 2019

Search engines are complex, using many variables and they are constantly changing. In order to learn how to rank well in Google and other search engines, you will need to spend some time reading about SEO best practices. Make sure you are paying attention to current optimization trends. Acceptable SEO techniques from 5 years ago can actually do more harm than good.

As 20 year veterans in digital marketing, we have sent millions of visitors to our client websites. We provide a variety of SEO tools and services found here:

Learning Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to generate free organic traffic. Here are a few more resources to check out:

Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly In Search Engine Results Today

If you are a local business, then you can optimize your entire online presence, including search and Google My Business:

For content websites, view these helpful guides:

The Most Effect Way to Improve Sitewide Quality and Rankings – Moz

4 Important Search Engine Ranking Factors – Search Engine Journal

19 Confirmed Google Rankings Factors – Search Engine People

Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly In Search Engine Results 2020

10 Golden Strategies to Boost Your Local Search Rankings – SEMRush

Why Does Your Site Rank So Poorly In Search Engine Results Explained

If you are unsure if you need to work on your website’s SEO, then you can try our free online website auditing tool. It only takes a few minutes and it will produce a detailed report of your current website’s search ranking factors, mobile readiness and performance.