5 Steps to Troubleshooting SEO

If you are wondering why your competitors are listed above you in organic Google search results, there are a few things you need to ask yourself.

1.  Be sure your website in indexed.

If you want to know if Google is indexing your website - just google yourself. Use your complete web address (e.g. "www.yourwebsitename").  If your website is indexed, it will show up in the results.

If you do not see your website in the results (SERPs) the problem is likely with the robots.txt file that tells the search engines how to crawl your site.

2. Find out if your site is being penalized.

If your site shows up in SERPs but is lagging behind your competition, it may be that it has been penalized by some recent algorithm updates.  The first thing to do is determine the penalty type you may be facing.  Manual penalties are the easiest to determine since Google posts a message in your Webmaster Tools.

If you have a more subtle issue consider improving the quality of content on your website.  If your content is old, stale or of poor quality Google will penalize you.  Get in there and improve it!

3.  Go mobile.

The big news this year (April 2015) is that Google will penalize your website if it is not mobile optimized.  Google prefers what's called "Responsive mobile" but will accept other forms of mobile optimization if done properly.  Contact your webmaster if you are unsure.

4.  Optimize key terms and add alt tags.

Consider what terms you want to be found under and concentrate on those.  You can't have your website index under everything - so get specific.  The more specific you get (long-tail keywords) the better.  Tell Google what makes you special and have your website code reflect it.

5.  Start blogging.

You've heard about this.  Now it is time to start.  Blogging is a great way to keep your website content fresh and valuable.  Don't make the mistake of blogging on a separate url. Instead be certain your blog is embedded into your site.

In addition to these basics - there is much more to optimizing organic search rankings. Keep learning and ask questions.  Search engine optimization will continue to be a commodity you must work for!