Why isn’t my page in the top 10 Google results?

Article by Cristòfol Rovira, co-director of UPF-IDEC's Master in Search Engines

If that’s not the million-dollar question, it sure comes close, especially now that Google has just changed its algorithm for returning results. The problem is that Google does not normally provide much information about these changes, in order to avoid giving clues to people looking for ways to game the system and push low-quality websites to the top of the ranking. Based on Google’s vague responses and trial and error, we know that lots of factors are taken into account: title words, content quality, inbound links, traffic to the site and a long etcetera that, according to some search engine optimization (SEO) gurus, numbers up to 200 factors or more, all of which directly influence a page’s position in the ranking. To make matters worse, Google periodically tweaks its ranking system to reflect its growing knowledge of us as search engine users, the constant improvements in technology, and the ever-savvier ways that would-be cheaters find to get around the rules. Thus, from time to time, Google’s so-called "algorithm changes" turn the work of millions of professionals dedicated to optimizing the position of millions of corporate, institutional and personal websites on its head.

So far, we have given a long answer that skirts the question, rather like a politician. But what is the short answer to the question "Why isn’t my page in the top 10 Google results?" The bare-bones answer is: because there are other, higher-quality pages that are more popular.

We should not lose sight of the fact that when Google ranks the results, it tries to put the best and highest-quality pages first, albeit by applying an automatic procedure based on quantitative and measurable indicators obtained from information available on the Internet. Thus, quality is understood in the broadest sense: content, writing style, responsive graphic design, usability, accessibility from different devices, mobile accessibility, etc., as well as traffic to the page, the number of links, how often it is cited on social networks, and whether or not users find it genuinely interesting, based on whether they stay to read it or leave the page as soon as it loads.

Google uses all of these data, and more, to determine how good a page is, and it does not tend to be wrong. That is the main reason for its success. In the end, even our short answer turned out to be long.