Why High Quality Blog Content Still Does Not Rank On Google (6 Reasons)

Ideal Length Blog Posts

The whole field of blogging and SEO can be a pretty frustrating area to be in right now. We can spend time carefully creating and curating content that we think is super high quality, helpful, detailed and relevant to certain topics. And yet when we publish this content, it still does not seem to rank well on Google or drive traffic.

We feel like we just wasted our time creating a great resource for a certain topic/search query, that no one will ever see or get value from. We might wonder why we even bother with this blogging and content creation. What’s going on here? Why does carefully, conscientiously crafted content we think is high quality still not rank on Google?

Firstly, for people newer to this field of SEO, you might have to give it time. For newer sites especially, it can take up to 9 months (and sometimes longer) for newly published content to rank, even if it is high quality and deserves to rank in the top three and drive traffic. Sometimes longer for certain niches that are more competitive.

But putting this aside, we can be patient and wait, and the content still might not rank. What is going on? That’s what we’re going to cover in this guide, offering some additional reasons why even “high quality” content might still not rank well on Google.

Bottom line – Google has never always ranked what might be considered the “best” individual piece of content for each query all the time, but this trend has grown even more common with recent changes to their algorithm in 2022 and 2023 especially. We’ll cover these and other factors below. Let’s get started.

Reason #1 – The Content Isn’t Really High Quality

I don’t mean this to offend people and it’s definitely NOT true all the time. Sometimes content people think is good is genuinely good and they’re right to be frustrated that it isn’t ranking.

But sometimes, just being honest, content might not be super high quality to the extent that’s needed to rank well, and we can be too attached to the content we’ve produced to see that. We’ve got to really look at it objectively – is this really the best resource online for this topic?

The benchmark or minimum standards needed to rank content high on Google is getting higher and higher each year. Google is more and more looking for high quality, original, useful content that adds value. (see their guidelines here).

Of course, there’s the more obvious things that everyone is aware of – make the content thorough, detailed, helpful, giving a complete answer to the question/query. But you need more even than that now to stand out to Google and make sure you rank well and drive traffic.

Here are some additional layers to this idea of “quality content”:

  • Does your content add new and original insights/information/facts not currently available in the other search results? (information gain is a HUGE part of Google’s algorithm going forward from 2023. Readers need to be learning something they didn’t know before they found your article).
  • Related to this, content which just regurgitates and repackages what’s already in the other search results, without adding original value, is doing less and less well in search results, even if it’s lengthy.
  • Is the article easy to read and digest for the users? (sometimes, producing monster length articles isn’t the best user experience. It’s better to be helpful but also compact in some cases. No adding “fluff” just to get the word count up).
  • Is the reader fully satisfied by your article, to the point where they don’t need to go to any other search results because they got everything they needed to from your content?
  • Is the content relatable and engaging, clearly written by a human with knowledge, expertise, experience and passion for the topic? (no impersonal, AI generated trash content)
  • Is the content created with a “user first” approach in mind, not a “search engine first” approach?

Just producing lengthy, meaty articles isn’t enough anymore. You need to be adding original value as well. One more reason why it might be advisable to be restrained with your use of AI, since it by definition can only re-hash information that’s already available, and can’t create anything new.

Reason #2 – The Keyword Is Too Competitive For Your Site

This is another trap newer bloggers can fall into – going after the biggest keywords right away, as that’s what they think will drive the most traffic. But this approach won’t work on newer sites.

With blogging and SEO, you need to build up more gradually, winning some smaller, lower competition keywords before moving up to medium and higher competition keywords. If you write fantastic content, but just in the wrong order, it probably won’t rank or drive traffic.

Just going after a big, competitive keyword right away won’t work – the content won’t rank, even if it’s super high quality, even the “best” content online for that topic. A newer site won’t have the “authority” in Google’s eyes to win these bigger keywords yet. Your effort will be wasted if you write your content in the wrong order on a new blog, even if it’s great content.

Here’s the general process to build up your site’s “authority” and actually win keywords:

  1. Start with super low competition keywords, with poor and/or non relevant search results, and write quality (but usually shorter) articles to provide a precise answer that isn’t currently in the SERPs. Get 20-30 “wins” with these keywords first, preferably also building up topical clusters or “silos” with your keywords.
  2. Move onto medium competition keywords, where there are some websites already ranking. Content needs to be better though – high quality, meatier, original, adding value etc.
  3. Depending on the niche, you may also be able to move up to, and win, the highest competition, highest traffic keywords, but this content needs to be super top notch, highest quality, going further even than the (usually already good) content that already ranks from established sites. Hard to win these and not possible in all niches.

See here for an excellent video on the ideal “content mix” or order of keywords to target and content to write on newer sites, in order to successfully. But also be aware that topical authority is another important factor in the content you write post 2022 updates (see next section).

Reason #3 – Not Enough Topical Authority On Your Blog

This is a follow up reason to #2, that’s become more important post the 2022 Google updates. Now Google is looking not just for basic “authority” in terms of winning smaller keywords before moving up to bigger ones, but also now topical authority. 

Topical authority refers to having not just isolated pieces of content broadly relevant to your niche (even if high quality), but clusters or “silos” of content all very closely related, basically covering keywords in the same topic or sub-topic within your niche. To be considered topical authority, this content must also be engaged with by readers, not just sitting there on your blog (a very important distinction – topical coverage is not topical authority unless the content is generating traffic and views).

This means that it’s very important to be more strategic and methodical in terms of the content you write on your blog. Just publishing content in a hap-hazard way, even if it’s high quality and related to your niche, does not guarantee it will rank any more post the 2022 Google updates.

It might be best to show this with a contrast:

A good approach for topical authority – You carefully plan your content strategy out, picking keywords that are both: a) winnable for the size/authority of your site so they can actually rank and drive traffic; and b) also largely grouped into “clusters” or “silos” of around 10 articles or more, covering specific aspects of your niche. You then produce high quality content to go and win those keywords.

A bad approach for topical authority – Just producing content in a very random, unplanned way that is broadly related to your niche, but not really forming any topical clusters. You’ve got 10 articles in topic A, but then only 2 in topic B, 1 in topic C, 3 in topic D, and so on. There’s content there, but no real topical authority. As a result, even high quality content may not rank well in search.

The Importance Of Topical Authority Post 2022

“(A blogger) could write the best individual piece of content on the entire internet covering a specific search query, and never land anywhere near page 1 (of Google, if they ignore topical authority).

Ricky Kesler, Income School – see here

Reason #4 – Not Enough EEAT Signals (Some Niches)

This is another factor that’s been creeping into Google’s updates more and more the last few years. For a growing number of niches now, but especially ones considered more “mission critical” or YMYL (Your Money Your Life), Google is wanting not just high quality content, but additional signals of author and website authority and credibility, in order to trust and rank the content.

Some more well known YMYL topics include health, finance, psychotherapy/mental health. In these niches, your site needs to display appropriate EEAT signals (Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), in order to get even super high quality content ranked.

This is therefore another reason why high quality content may not rank – it’s in a niche considered YMYL, and you’re not displaying enough EEAT signals on your website, such as:

  • Displaying algorithmically measurable and verifiable credentials and expertise in the field
  • Having references to these credentials and expertise that exist outside your website (not just you saying so on your own website).
  • Having content properly referenced, fact checked and in some niches proof-read by a professional in the field.
  • Having full author profiles and bios for every writer on a site, listing and displaying credentials/qualifications etc in a way that’s also verifiable outside that website.

In other words, in certain niches, you do need to get even further than normal to demonstrate to Google that you content can be “trusted” to rank at the top of SERPs.

Checking out the About/Author pages and content structure of large sites in YMYL spaces like Mayo Clinic, Psychology Today, WebMD etc,  will give you a good idea of what’s required to rank in terms of EEAT signals in these niches.

Reason #5 – Too Much Unhelpful/Spam Content On Your Site

This is another factor that’s come in especially since the September 2023 Google core update which has decimated a lot of sites.

It’s becoming apparent that with these latest updates, sites that have a lot of content that Google deems to either be “unhelpful” or “spam” by their guidelines, can have ALL the content on their site (even the high quality content) pulled down in the rankings.

“What people need to understand is that there is now a helpful content threshold. So if you have 1000 articles on your website, and let’s say 5 or 10 of them are just old articles that you’ve not updated that aren’t actually helpful, those articles probably won’t pull your website down.

However, if you had 250 articles that were pretty average or not up to date, that can pull your website down. Site-wide – not just for those 250 pages. The entire site can go down.

So just because you might have one article that’s really helpful, that’s the best article on that subject….If you have 300, 400 – even 20 sometimes – pages that are bad, that can get pulled down”.

Kasra Dash – SEO Expert – see here.

Therefore, for larger sites, before you go any further forward publishing new content, it’s advised to go back and look over your old content, “pruning” anything on your site that’s old, average quality, not adding value and not ranking or getting any reader engagement at all. If you’ve got a lot of it, it could be pulling even your good content down and preventing it from ranking.

See this excellent video where SEO expert Kasra Dash goes into how you can do this in detail.

Reason #6 – Poor Backline Profile (Competitive Niches)

I hate putting this one in, because it’s a strongly held belief by some that SEO ranking really should NOT be about backlinks, and purely about the quality and relevance of the content. And in some niches, you can rank content purely on it’s quality without backlinks.

But in other niches, it’s the harsh reality that you’ll struggle to rank even super high quality, carefully crafted content, without also having strong backlinks to the content effectively acting as an SEO “upvote” to boost it’s ranking.

This is especially so in super competitive niches with very high competition keywords. You can be sure that much of your competition will be trying to build backlinks to their articles, so you might have to do the same to compete.

Of course, paying for backlinks specifically to boost rankings is against Google’s terms of service and has been for years. And although many sites still do it, it’s not recommended.

Rather, it might sometimes be necessary to get backlinks in other ways, through collaborations, going on podcasts on other websites, providing quotable stats that get linked to, accepting and requesting guest posts, and so on. Sometimes, building backlinks to content can help in some niches if it’s high quality but not ranking on it’s own.


I like to draw on my own experience to help new bloggers and other digital marketers solve common problems encountered when working and making your money online

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