Let’s face it, with nearly two-thirds of the market share, Google is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to online search. It’s not that other search engines should be ignored; however, the importance of ranking high on Google cannot be overstated. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, 51% of website traffic comes from organic search. And this 2015 study from Infront Webworks shows that the first page of results on Google receives 95% of web traffic. So how do you get your website to rank well in Google searches? Here’s 4 ways you might be hurting your rankings and how to fix it:

1 – Bad or Spam Links

It used to be that any links to and from your website would help your SEO, but with recent updates to Google’s algorithm, links that go to irrelevant or spammy websites will actually penalize your ranking. If you’re not sure about the links on your website, you can run a test on Majestic or Monitor Backlinks to see how links are affecting your SEO.

To stop being penalized by bad links, simply remove the offending ones. You can leave the content on the page (as long as it’s relevant to your site’s purpose), just take away the offending links. And if you’ve ever paid a service to create external links for your website or you find a website linking to yours in a way that doesn’t make sense, ask the site manager to remove the link. If you can’t contact them, you might need to resort to Google’s Disavow Tool. Here’s a tutorial for that.

2 – Not Being Mobile Friendly

Nearly 60% of searches occur on mobile devices. Take a moment to let that sink in. With this new technology trend, one that doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, it’s no wonder that Google penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly. That’s why all R&A websites are optimized for desktops, phones and tablets.

If you aren’t sure how mobile-friendly your site is, you can run a test here. You can also talk to your website builder about using mobile-friendly practices. And if you haven’t prioritized a mobile-friendly website yet, it’s time to put this at the top of your to-do list.

3 – Loading Slowly

It may seem like a few seconds wouldn’t be a big deal, but it can mean lower rankings and fewer conversions or sales on your website. Need proof? Here’s a list of how websites were affected by load times, including how Walmart found that their conversion rate sharply declined when load times went from one to four seconds. Even if you are doing everything right, quality links, appropriate keywords, mobile-ready, you will still be penalized for loading slowly.

To improve site speed, first conduct a speed test using Google’s analysis tool. You want to be at or less than 2 seconds for a desktop and 1 second for a mobile device. You can increase your site’s speed by simplifying the pages and optimizing images for websites. You’ll also want to enable caching and make sure the server response time is good.

4 – Using the Wrong Keywords

Instead of using keywords as a catchall to try and attract any user who might have a slight interest in your website, you should be trying to focus on qualified users who you can easily convert. You can easily check your website’s grade by clicking here

When creating content for your website, make sure to know what the purpose is for each page. Do you want to drive people to your store? Be sure to mention your location so you’ll rank higher in searches for your area. Do you want people to buy your product? Include words like purchase, best, review, and discount throughout the site. And by bringing in more users who are interested in your website, they will stay longer and poke around on different pages, thereby helping your SEO ranking further.

Search Engine Optimization is spoken about so often because Google is constantly changing their algorithm. Their goal is to provide the best results for their users, so your goal should be to become a good resource for your intended audience. There’s no real shortcut to long-term SEO success, so it’s worth investing the time to do it right.

Is your website ranking poorly on search engines? Contact a R&A representative to discuss solutions and start building an all new SEO-friendly website today!