It happens all the time, you spend loads of time and energy getting a site to rank for a keyword that you know has search traffic and you get little if any extra search traffic. This investment can then seem like a bit of a waste. What’s more it can seem like you’ve been lied to, either by the people doing your SEO or by your traffic estimating tool.

There are a few reasons why you may be ranking and still getting no traffic. They are as follows:

  1. Ghost Rankings
  2. Keyword Research Failure
  3. Engagement

Ghost Rankings

Search results are more and more personalised and that means that you can’t be sure that what you’re seeing is what everyone else is seeing. The two main reasons for rankings being different for you than other people is due to:

  • Personalised search

This means Google checks out your user behaviour and attempts to match up what you’re doing with the websites out there and serve up sites that are really relevant to your search queries – so if you search for a search term and click on a certain site a lot then you’re likely to see something different than everyone else.

  • Locational search

By using the change location feature (see image) you can tell Google where you are making the search from, that’s because you’re IP address can what local results you can see.

If that’s still not giving you the answers you need take a look in your Analytics account and review the keywords by city – that should show you if there are any big holes where you’d expect to get some traffic.

  • Universalism beats organic

There are plenty of times when you can be first in the organic results but due to the position of Google Places results, Adwords results, Google Product Search results etc the first organic results can actually appear below the page fold.

Keyword Research Failure

The next thing you’ve got to look at is do your keywords actually drive traffic? It’s very easy to look at Google’s figures and think you can target a certain keywords and you will get shed loads of visitors. It never, ever works like that. Google’s data is less than accurate at the best of times and it’s, mainly broad-matched info – so the more long tail you get the more inaccurate the results become. It’s just a guide.

If you use exact match then you’ll find your results go down to about 10% of what Google originally say.


So you’re ranking well for a keyword you’ve double-checked that you are actually ranking in the position you think you are and you’ve rechecked traffic volume on exact match and compared it to other traffic estimating tools and you are sure that there is traffic there, the next thing to consider is why aren’t people engaging with your listing on Google. There are a couple of options to consider:

  • Layout of Listing

You got to think of your listing in Google as your opportunity to engage with your audience. That means getting the right information into your page’s snippet. There are times that you can’t control what Google display here, but a good rule of thumb is this is made up of the page title and the page description.

This needs to be informative and instructional whilst including the keywords that someone has used to search for the site. Be sure to put some wording in that explains what your products or services are, and also give them a call to action telling them to read more about them. I normally include a phone number on there as well with the thought that it’s one less click for someone to have to make.

  • Context of Listing

Take a look around your listing, does it sit right? Do the other listings try and do the same thing as you? Are any of those listings potentially damaging to your listing – ie do any use your brand, do they mention your brand in a negative light?


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est. 2009

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