In the August episode of Google SEO office-hours, someone asked why his site is not ranking despite having low competition and the site having good SEO. The user expounded and mentioned the site has a sitemap, indexed pages, updated content, on page optimized, and have backlinks bit despite these, it is still on the the top 200 results for his keywords.
John Mueller responded that he sees this kind of question often. Google tends to focus on various technical aspects when it comes to talking about SEO, bit this is not enough and you need to do more than that.
Mueller compared it to the offline world and how for example, when it comes to books, a good cover photo, a reasonable sentence length, few misspellings, and a good topic does not mean that a book will become a best-seller. Or how as a restaurant, using the right ingredients and cooking in a clean kitchen means it will get a lot of customers. Technical details are good to cover well, but there's more involved in being successful.
The search team has always recommended going through their guidance for creating helpful, reliable, people-first content as their automated ranking systems are designed to present helpful, reliable information primarily created to benefit people and to to gain search engine rankings. Reading through the guide and asking yourself these questions should be able to provide a better idea of what content the search engine benefits. Check out the guidance here.
Watch the SEO Office hours episode here: