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Are you unable to find your website listed in Google for its target keywords? It’s disheartening when you invest countless hours into building your website, only to discover that it isn’t ranking. While there are countless ways to generate traffic, organic search traffic is arguably the most cost-effective.So, why isn’t your website in ranking in Google, and what can you do to fix it?

1) It’s Still New

If you just recently launched your website, perhaps Google doesn’t know it exists. Search engines work by following links to other websites and web pages. Without any links, however, it can take Google up to four weeks to index a new site.

While there’s no way to instantly have your site indexed, you can expedite the process by submitting either your site’s URL or sitemap to Google, the latter of which is particularly effective for large websites with lots of pages.

A sitemap is essentially a file that lists every page on your site, along with their respective URLs. It acts as a directory, guiding search engines through your site so they can find and index them more easily. You can create it manually or by using a third-party service like XML-Sitemaps.com.

To submit your sitemap to Google, log in to your Webmaster Tools account > select your website > Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap.

2) Google Can’t Crawl it

Google won’t index your site, let alone rank it, if it’s unable to crawl it. By default, all search engines should be allowed to crawl your site. If you or someone else modified your site’s robots.txt file, however, it may prevent Google from crawling it.

Also known as the robots exclusion standard, robots.txt is a text file that specifies which search engines can access which pages on your site. Some webmasters use this file to prevent search engines from indexing their sites while they are still under construction.

There’s also a setting in WordPress that allows webmasters to block search engines from crawling their sites. If your site uses WordPress, log in to your dashboard and access Settings > Reading > and make sure option titled “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is not checked.

3) It’s Penalized

Hopefully, this isn’t the case for your site, but Google may penalize sites for violating its Webmaster Guidelines by lowering their rank or completely removing them from its search results.

Google has improved search ranking algorithm over the years to prevent webmasters from manipulating the system. Websites that buy links, for instance, may suffer a drop in rankings if spotted by Google.

Common reasons for Google search penalties include:
• Buying links
• Cloaking (showing visitors one version of your site and search engines a different version)
• Hidden text or links
• Keyword stuffing
• Publishing scraped content from other sites
Keep in mind that search penalties may carry over when a website is transferred to a new owner. If you believe Google penalized your site under a previous owner, submit a reconsideration request via your Webmaster Tools account.

4) Bad Content

Websites with little-to-no original content may struggle to rank in Google. The search engine giant even has a specific algorithm update designed to target such sites. Known as the “Panda” update, it aims to lower the search rankings of thin sites with low-quality content, while also raising the rankings of high-quality sites. If your site falls under this category, it may fail to rank in Google.

In the past, you could obtain top search rankings in Google and other search engines by publishing short articles with no real sustenance. These days are now long gone, however. To achieve a top search ranking, you need to publish well-researched, written and optimized content that’s relevant to your respective niche or industry.

5) You’re Targeting the Wrong Keywords

For what keywords are you trying to rank? Known as “target keywords,” it’s important to choose the right ones. Some webmasters make the mistake of targeting short-tail keywords, believing it will generate more traffic than longer keywords.

While short-tail keywords generally have greater search volume than their long-tail counterpart, the competition is just too stiff for newly launched sites. Depending on the specific short-term keyword for which you are trying to rank, there may be tens of thousands of other sites trying to rank for the same keyword. So, even if you’re able to rank for them, your site probably won’t rank high. If you want your site to rank high in Google, target longer-tail keywords instead.

You can use Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner tool to research keyword ideas for your site. This free-to-use tool reveals keyword search volume, competition, and even average bid prices on AdWords.

6) It’s Not Optimized Properly

Search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly evolving, with Google changing the way it ranks website from year to year. If you aren’t taking the time to optimize each page on your site, it may sit at the bottom of the search results where few people actually see it.

Here are some optimization tips to encourage higher search rankings in Google:
• Avoid publishing the same content on multiple pages. Small amounts of duplicate content is okay, but you shouldn’t publish entire pages of duplicate content.
• Give every page a unique title tag and meta description.
• Create a policy policy and terms of agreement page.
• Publish content with visitors in mind, not search engines.
• Use internal linking to guide visitors to other relevant pages.
• Publish long-form content with a high word count.
• Enhance text-based pages by adding images.

7) Bad User Experience

Finally, a bad user experience (UX) can hurt your site’s search rankings. Long load times, a mobile-unfriendly design, and hard-to-read text are all things that can negatively affect your site’s UX. And if Google believes your site has a bad UX, competing sites will be given greater weight in the search results.

To prevent UX problems from lowering your site’s search rankings, try navigating and using your site as a typical visitor. This new perspective may reveal technical issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

These are just a few common reasons websites struggle to rank in Google. Once you’ve identified the cause, you can take the necessary steps to fix it.