Published: April 11, 2014
Is your site performing well?
Does it rank well for selected keywords in Google, Yahoo an Bing?
Are you receiving a decent amount of organic search engine traffic?
Perhaps this checklist can help you identify the issues and then you can proceed to solve them:
These are the 20 main reasons why sites rank low in search engines:
1. Duplicate content, canonicalization issues: it's a serious offense nowadays to have multiple pages with largely similar or even identical content - also make sure that your site doesn't have two versions - most common mistake is to maintain a version starting with "http://" and one with "http://"; it's a common duplicate content-related problem of e-commerce shops especially (see this page on Moz, which explains canonicalization)
2. Drop of Google Page Rank: it does influence the SERPs and certainly it does decrease the financial value of your site (the lower the Page Rank, the less people will want to buy ads on your pages etc.)
3. Many "toxic backlinks": the Google "disavow tool" within the Google Webmaster Tools package is recommended to solve the issue - remove the poor quality, spammy backlinks and your site's ranking may improve (use wisely, because the effects cannot be undone!) - although, it is questioned by many webmasters around the World whether the disavow tool actually has any effect
4. Over SEO-ed content: if you've put a lot of effort into optimizing your content, then make sure you haven't overdone it!
5. Too many exact-match keyword-containing backlinks: it won't get you far, it's not like back in 2004, when a large number of keyword-stuffed links did actually help sites rank higher
6. Too many exact-match keyword-containing internal links (even internally, it can harm your site as well): although many sites continue using them, do note that internal links can also be spammy and Google won't hesitate to apply penalties, if it considers your onsite links inappropriate
7. Large amount of "do follow" outbound links: if you have a few, it shouldn't hurt your site, but Google has explicitly asked sites to change outbound links to "nofollow"
8. Don't use "nofollow"in your internal linking structure: it's not recommended to play around with the "nofollow" attribute within your own site, because Google might suspect you of PageRank sculpting, which they frown upon - it's better to let PageRank flow freely, pass through your pages and allow Google to attribute the rank they consider is best for each page
9. Swapped links: if you reciprocated links in the past, then drop/erase/disavow most of them - this is a serious reason for severe downgrading by Google!
10. Poor on-page SEO: make sure you are using enough keywords and the right keyword combinations in your content - don't overdo it, but if you're not optimizing your content enough, then it will be less likely to sore high in the SERPs
11. Poor quantity and/or poor quality of backlinks: don't just hoard backlinks, make sure that you're getting quality links pointing to your pages (for example: having a ton of weak blog links, a large number of forum comments with links, too many links from too few sources)
12. Insufficient fresh backlinks: you need to acquire backlinks once in a while, otherwise your site will simply "die" in the SERPs (it's advise to acquire at least a handful of new links every month)
13. Scarce in-depth backlinks: the links must point deep, having only main page links is another way to reach failure (you can't rely on main page links any more)
14. Hidden/cloaked content: don't hide or cloak anything from Google and from your visitors (not even affiliate links in the browser status bar should be hidden), Google has explicitly warned webmasters of penalties in these situation
15. High bounce rates: make sure your average bounce rate doesn't exceed 60 %, but it would be better to keep under 50 %, ideal would be under 40 % (over 70 % is quite bad, over 80 % means that you really have an "uninteresting site" to your visitors)!
16. Too little time spent on site: your visitors should spend as much as possible on your site - so try keeping them at least for 2 minutes, maybe 3 minutes, even
17. Low figure of average page views: similarly to the time spent on site - you should make sure visitors cross multiple pages on your site, view as many pages as possible
18. Errors on site: use AWSTATS and Google Analytics, but you should also try the W3 Validator to see if there are any errors, such as broken links
19. Too much code, too little content: struggle to separate codes from content as much as possible, Google encourages this - too much code will also slow your site down and, it will also mix with your real content (this can negatively affect your SERPs)
20. Slow loading pages: the Alexa Toolbar is one of the best tools that displays you how slow your site is in comparison with others (e.g.: "Very Fast. 96 % of sites are slower", "Very slow. 73 % of sites are faster")