Is a competitor outranking your business’s website on Google? Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that your website won’t receive as much search traffic when it ranks below a competitor’s website. The first step to achieving a top search ranking, however, is to determine why the competitor is outranking.

#1) Better Content

Google emphasizes the importance of unique, high-quality content in its search ranking algorithm. The Mountain View company says that publishing high-quality content is the most important thing webmasters can do to. Therefore, a competitor’s website may rank higher than your website if it contains better content.

#2) More Relevant

Even if your website has better content, perhaps the competitor’s content is more relevant for the specific search query. You can’t expect your website to rank for the phrase “professional landscaping services” if its content is about dogs and cats. Both Google’s and Bing’s algorithm is designed to provide the most relevant results for users’ search queries. If your website’s content isn’t relevant to a specific keyword, it probably won’t rank for that keyword, regardless of how much SEO work you invest into it.

#3) Stronger Backlinks

Maybe the competitor’s website has a stronger portfolio of backlinks. Since the dawn of Google — in the mid- to late 1990s — the search giant has analyzed backlinks as a ranking signals. Websites with more, higher quality backlinks tend to rank higher than websites with few, lower quality backlinks. Use high-quality content on your website so that other websites will create backlinks to it.

#4) Better Optimized

On-optimization is a major ranking signal used by search engines, including Google and Bing. If your website is slow, not compatible with mobile devices, contains crawling technical errors or other problems, it probably won’t rank high. Go through your site and optimize it for high usability.

#5) It’s Older

Of course, there’s also the issue with age. Perhaps a competitor’s website is outranking your website because it’s older. Google trusts older websites more than it does newer websites — and rightfully so. Older websites are trusted because they’ve been online longer than newer websites.

#6) It’s More Authoritative

Finally, your competitor’s website might be outranking your website because it’s more authoritative. Authority reflects the way in which users perceive your website. If it’s a trusted, well-known brand, they’ll view it a more positive lighter, thereby boosting its authoritative. Use Google Analytics to measure to engagement metrics like average time on page and percentage of new vs returning visitors to gauge your website’s authority.