Search rankings play an important role in your website’s long-term success. According to Search Engine Watch, the top-ranked website in Google receive one-third of all clicks for the given keyword, whereas websites ranking on the second page or deeper receive less than 1% of all clicks. If your website is suffering from low search rankings, though, you should first identify the underlying cause of its poor rankings. Here are the five most common causes of low search rankings.

#1) Low-Quality Content

Content and search rankings go hand in hand. If your website has low-quality content, it probably won’t rank high in the search results. Google has even said that publishing high-quality content is the most important thing webmasters can do when optimizing their site for higher rankings.

#2) Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Another possible reason for low search rankings is targeting the wrong keywords. You can’t expect to rank for “wedding photographer” if your website is about outdoor travel. You must target highly relevant keywords in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to increase your chances of success.

#3) Poor User Experience

A poor user experience can also hurt your site’s search rankings. Google pays close attention to the way in which visitors “behave” on your site. If the leave immediately after landing on your site, this tells Google that your site has a poor user experience and/or irrelevant content. Either way, the end result is usually lower search rankings. To prevent this from happening, design your site with a clean, functional layout that’s compatible on all devices, including smartphones and tablet computers.

#4) Backlink Changes

The addition or removal of backlinks can affect your site’s search rankings. Search Engine Journal explains that when a website removes a valuable backlink or adds a potentially harmful backlink for your site, it can hurt your site’s search rankings. Therefore, it’s recommended that you monitor your site’s backlinks on a regular basis. If you discover any spammy or otherwise harmful backlinks, add them to Google’s disavow tool via the Google Search Console (GSC).

#5) Ranking Penalty

Hopefully, this isn’t the cause of your website’s low search rankings, but you should still consider it. Google has been known to penalize websites that violate its Webmaster Guidelines by lowering their rankings. In most cases, ranking penalties such as this are attributed to black-hat link-building tactics. To check and see if you’ve been hit with a penalty from Google, log in to your GSC account and access your messages. Google notifies webmasters of penalties through this online portal.