UPDATED: 24 January 2016

You’re not ranking as high as you think you should. Two of the most common questions we get asked often are “Why are we not ranking?” and “When will Google recognise us?”.

We get it. It’s super frustrating when you put a lot of effort in especially when you know that the top third of results on the first page get the Lion share of visits and business.

Ensuring your website ranks highly for your hard work seems like monstrous task and for a great deal of people, it can be a deflating, uphill battle.

Well, fear not!

We will cut through the jargon and leave the technical side of SEO at the door whilst we explore some super easy ways to get you ranking better, permanently!

1. Google’s Sandbox really does exist

It has recently been proved that Google’s ‘sandbox’ is very real.

It’s a secret place, neither confirmed nor denied, that Google keeps new websites.

It specifically applies to new domain names and lasts for few months before any authoritative backlinks really start to influence your website’s rank.

If your website is new, don’t expect it to rank within the first three months.

But wait!

Don’t take this as an opportunity for complacency. Start as you mean to go on and enjoy a turbocharged entrance into the search engine results pages (SERPS) when your website is truly freed into the wild.

In this period we recommend you focus on realistic keyword selection, on-site SEO, social media and brand signals and leave backlink building till further down the line once you’re ranking.

2. Keyword Selection and Usage

It’s the first thing we look into and pull apart when inspecting a site’s SEO performance. More often than not new websites are either not using keywords appropriately or are far too ambitious with what they want to rank for; they end up being a drop in the ocean with zero authority.

Don’t get us wrong, ambition is great, you’ll need it but it’s better to go for a more realistic approach.

It’s fair to say that Sunday runners shouldn’t be trying to compete with the likes of Usain Bolt and expecting a great outcome.

If you know that your keywords are perfect for your industry but it, after lots of work and time, isn’t working then change up your tactics and start aiming for ‘long-tail’ keywords.

These can be in the form of a question or a particularly specific search query.

They’re a lot easier to compete for and sometimes incredibly lucrative.

You can find some really good long-tail keywords to aim for by simply using the front page of Google, typing your keyword and waiting for the auto-suggest feature to kick in.

It’s good practice to try and mix it up in a common question format (such as: “How do I…”, “Where to find…” or “How to…” etc) which may reveal more hidden gems.

This method will in time improve your website’s perceived authority which is a signal that you can now compete with more direct, competitive keywords and search queries.

Install the free SEO Tool MozBar to check your websites authority and to find out more about authority.

3. NAP / NAP+W (Name Address Phone + Website)

Trying to rank locally is a great tactic to get your website started with gaining business and web authority.

Search engines use the data from local business directories as a way of verifying and ensuring their own index is accurate.

This serves as ‘thumbprint’ for your business which is why it’s imperative that these citations are 100% consistent across the web.

Local citations are one of the largest ranking factors for local SERPS and should be made a priority.

Focus on ensuring that all of your listings are consistent before building any more citations as a few inaccurate ones can really hurt the rest.

4. Duplicated Content

Trying to rank locally is a great tactic to get your website started with gaining business and web authority.

Search engines use the data from local business directories as a way of verifying and ensuring their own index is accurate.

Just joking.

Seriously, If you’re creating duplicated content (specifically copy) then you’re not creating value.

It will actually be hurting you as the likes of Google appreciate unique content that has something to offer.

It’s actually better to be lacking in pages rather than having pages with duplicate content which is why if you plan on having location based pages in the hope to rank for those locations then you need to really make the effort and ensure each and every one of them is unique.

The same can be said for meta data too so if you’re using the same title and description for a lot of your pages you should mix it up naturally and use variations of your exact match and broader related keywords.

WARNING: A lot of marketers are employing a rather cheap technique of ‘spinning’ content which means taking good content from one place and switching out a lot of verbs and adjectives to try and fool Google into thinking this is unique content.

While this does seem to go under the radar successfully, it’s not really providing anything new to potential readers or customers. A freshly updated perspective, perhaps from a different angle will always be more successful than regurgitation.

5. User Experience & Dwell Time

One of the major ways search engines gauge whether your content and website are of value is by measuring how long users dwell on your website.

If they spend a fair few minutes each on a few pages then you’ll rank better than a website that experiences an average of 20 seconds or has a high bounce rate.

This sort of information is invaluable and is easily accessed through Google Analytics.

You simply need to inject a tiny bit of code before the end of your <head> element in your website and you’ll be able to get some highly detailed information about how people are using your site.

Secondly, if your website is hard to navigate, frustrating to use or is misleading then you are in for a hard time.

The best way to test this is to let someone have at your website, leave them to it and see what feedback they have. Did they struggle? Did they find anything off-putting?

6. Inbound Link Quality (Backlinks)

Backlinks have recently took a hit in terms of value.

However, it is without a doubt still one of the biggest if not the single largest ranking factor.

Find out all about ranking factors over at Moz.

The defining characteristics of ‘link quality’ do differ depending on your SEO strategy; specifically, whether you are trying to compete on a local or national basis.

A local plumber’s website will benefit from lots of links from other local businesses, especially local newspaper’s websites. The authority of the linking website is less of a factor in these situations because it’s less relevant.

Links from national, highly authoritative websites are still great for people wanting to compete locally though, so don’t dismiss it entirely.

When competing on a national basis you will want be to focussing on gaining relevant  links from other authoritative businesses in the same or related industries. So, for Makeway & Co to rank nationally for ‘web design’ we would need some inbound links from some web design agencies, blogs etc.


It’s been proven that there are hundreds of ranking factors that influence where you rank within Google’s index.

The vast majority have a low impact, however, a few have a large impact and we’ve covered some of the larger ones above.

If you have the above sorted and still see little success, give it time. The whole task works very like a process of elimination until you get your mixture right.


We love design. We love how design can help people. Good design makes choice effortless and makes the otherwise mundane, captivating.


We improve on what you already have or start over. We’re obsessed with results which is why we really love digital marketing.


Good design and digital marketing can make a lot of money. We quite like money and can only hope you do too.

We ensure your online efforts generate leads and we won’t work with you if we aren’t sure that your investment will generate a great return.
  • I started my own business almost two years ago and could only have dreamt of the kind of contracts I am able to secure today. It is with no doubt that Makeway & Co made this possible.


    Status Electrical
  • Leon at Makeway & Co has been a really important part of my business. His knowledge and skill continues to grow our business. Honest, down to earth, doesn't promise the earth but delivers!


    Blemish Clinic
  • We employed Makeway & Co to drag the Museum & Gallery Lighting website into the 21st century and found them to very responsive, practical and competitively priced. We will certainly be back for updates as and when required.


    Museum & Gallery Lighting
  • While leads are key, quality is a very important factor to us too. However, in the first three months of our website going live, we sold and financed over 50 cars. Leon and his team do some brilliant work.


    James, Director Instant Car Finance


We understand you want to find out whether we are right for you which is why we welcome any opportunity to find out more about your project. We are big fans of the ‘no fluff’ approach and we are one of the very few which won’t try to sell you the world with wild and unrealistic promises. Get in contact and talk to us about your project, today. Ask for as much advice as you like with zero obligation.

Want the best web design in Bury? Ask for a quote and we will happily consider budgets of all sizes.

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