Q and A: Why are directories getting better rankings than my site?

Question

Dear Kalena…

If I type in my wife’s business name ‘Petals and Patches’ or ‘Petals & Patches’ into Google I would have expected it to come up first. Yet directories or other sites that link to my wife’s site come up. Questions 1. Should not my wife’s site come up 1st? 2. It it bad that she does not? 3. How would I get her site to appear first using SEO (if possible)?

Regards Tim

Hi Tim,

I believe that the resolution to your specific problem is actually very simple, so if you just can’t wait for a solution, skip to the end of this post, but in the interest of “educating” our readers I will 1st provide more general answers to your questions :

1. Should my site come up 1st?

It is not unusual for directories (particularly if they are large, authority directories) to achieve good (and sometimes better) rankings than the sites they link to. If you type in separate keywords without quotes the search engines treat these as separate keywords and will provide results that match one or more of them. If you use the specific business name in quotes (which you seem to have done), then your site is more likely to get higher rankings because it will significantly narrow down the search competition.

I would normally expect any site that has been properly optimised to achieve better rankings for their specific business name, than directories (or other sites) that link to it.  Whether they actually achieve  #1 rankings will depend on how well they have been optimised and what the competition is.

2. Is it bad that my site doesn’t achieve #1 rankings?

Most site owners strive to achieve #1 rankings, so I guess, yes, it could be seen as a bad thing not to be #1 – but I’d rather achieve lots of page 1 rankings than a few #1 rankings any day.  Ultimately rankings are unimportant – as long as you get the traffic (and sales/enquiries). However, at the moment not only are you achieving poor rankings, but very few of your pages are actually indexed in the search engines.  This is a VERY bad thing, and hints at a much bigger issue for your site.

3. How do I get my site to appear first using SEO?

This is clearly way too big a question to answer in this simple Q and A.  Also, remember Search Engine Optimization is not the only way to get traffic to a site (PPC, Social Media, eMail marketing, and even traditional offline marketing tactics should all be considered). However, your site has already (to a large extent) been reasonably well optimized.  It has good, keyword rich content, it has (mostly) good Page Titles and Tags, It has a reasonable number of external sites linking to it… On the surface I would expect your site to achieve much better rankings than it seems to.

And the Solution Is….

Further  investigation very quickly highlights that very few your pages are even appearing in the search results – in fact most of your pages are not currently being indexed at all, and at the moment there are only 8 of your pages (all from your blog) listed in the Google Index.  This is highly suspicious, and indicates an issue which is preventing your pages from being indexed.

There are a number of scenarios which may cause this type of situation – but in your case, the answer is actually very simple.  All pages on your site (except the blog) have a
<meta name=”robots” content=”NOINDEX” />
tag, which is in effect telling search engines NOT to index them at all.  These pages therefore are not even being considered by the search engines for inclusion in their search results.

By default, search engines will index most pages that they find, so to fix the problem, all you need do is simply remove the tag altogether (or you could change the tags to :
<meta name=”robots” content=”INDEX” />
if you prefer).  Once these tags have been fixed, and your site is re-crawled by search engine spiders, your pages will start to appear in the search results and I expect, start to achieve much better rankings within a very short time scale – possibly within days – but probably within weeks.

You have clearly spent a significant amount of effort creating and optimising the site, so it’s a great shame that this small thing was overlooked – but the good news is, that with a very simple fix, you should expect to see significant improvements in rankings, traffic (and hopefully sales) within a relatively short time.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

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