Dealing with On-site issues that negatively impact your site rankings

On-site issues are the most common factors that cause a delay with getting top-10 rankings on Google. These could be anything from poor site design, to bad page layout, to slow page load, and poor-quality content. But have you ever stopped to think why these issues matter? Aren’t you curious to learn how these issues might impact your site ranking and, by default, your business?

Well, we’ll discuss the answers to those questions in detail below. But suffice it to say that onsite issues have been known to directly impact organic rankings via the following SEO factors:

  • Increasing bounce rate
  • Deindexing pages due to duplicated pages/content
  • Run into Google manual actions due to thin content
  • Loosing organic traffic due to no or poor on-page optimisation
  • Turning the page off from rankings “game” due to bad interlinking structure (orphan pages, broken links etc.)
  • Loosing backlinks juice due to on-site errors (404 pages error, not using redirects etc.)
  • And many others

When pooled together, the impact of these on-site issues amounts to a single problem: Slow or no progress in promoting your website or Dramatic decline in your sites’ search engine rankings. The result: Not only will your site be invisible to most of your customers and prospects; but many of your competitors might rank higher than your site, leading to customer poaching!

Understanding common on-site issues

Below is a list of common on-site issues than have a serious negative influence on rankings.

Beware of the 6 issues I’ve highlighted below – they are the most serious. We regularly work with clients that were not able to rank for a long time (before they met us :)) )  because of such issues. The info provided should be enough for you to be able fix each issue. However, if you still require assistance, we are here to help.

1. Page speed issues

The Issue Explained: The rank of your website on SERPs depends a lot on site speed. The faster a site is, the better the user experience (i.e. lower bounce rate), so slower websites are more likely to have lower rankings. Google reduces the number of crawlers sent to your website if the server response time is more than 2 seconds. This, in turn, means fewer pages get indexed!

Fixing the Issue: There are several steps you can take to address site speed issues. Minifying JavaScript, making CSS code more efficient, optimizing images and graphics, and fine-tuning browser caching are just a few things to add to your to-do-list.

It may help to periodically use page-analytics tools, like Google PageSpeed Insights, to optimize and fine-tune your page speeds.

How we’ve helped other clients: Page speed issues aren’t uncommon – especially if you have been updating and upgrading your site frequently, without doing a complete review of previous pages. So, how can we help?

  • Site Audit: We will run a complete Site Audit to verify whether your site has page speed issues
  • Web development: If any such issues exist, our Web Developers will promptly, and professionally, remediate them to prevent further impact on your sites’ ranking

2. Thin content issues (a.k.a.: “low word count”)

The Issue Explained: In your haste to get your site up and running, you may have inadvertently created a ton of pages – but with not much content on them. On the other side of that spectrum, you might only have a few pages – but with unnecessarily long and windy content. When Google ranks a site, it not only looks at your content for relevance to specific keywords, but for other related keywords as well.

Too many pages with not much to say is a red flag. Sites with many pages containing in-depth and insightful content usually make the cut to the top-ranked sites.

Fixing the Issue: There’s no solution to this except great content! Offer content that’s well-researched and well-crafted. Add keywords to headings. Use long-tailed keywords. Include sub-headings and bullet-points to break-up and space content over each page. And above all don’t skimp on wordcount – but don’t just “stuff” words either.

How we’ve helped other clients: If your site suffers from thin content, don’t worry! We’ve helped customers quickly address the issue. Here’s how:

  • Site Audit: We perform an exhaustive Site Audit to determine whether the site has thin content, identify which pages are most exposed to the issue, and what specific content needs remediation
  • Content Creation: Once we identify the root cause of thin content, our professional Content Creation team produces high-quality, professional content to address the issue

3. Duplicated content issues

The Issue Explained: Google’s algorithmic spiders, creepers and crawlers hate duplicate content as much as your visitors do! Non-unique content doesn’t just drag site rankings down – they may even force Google to penalize you by barring your website from any SERP.

Fixing the Issue: There’s no substitute for fixing duplicate content issues like creating and hosting only original content. Audit your site content thoroughly by using tools like CopyScape and SiteLiner to weed out duplicate or copied content. If you host duplicate/similar content on multiple pages or sites, use canonical tags to give Google’s BOTS a heads-up that more than one page has variants of the content.

How we’ve helped other clients: Believe it or not, Duplicate content happens! In a fast-paced environment, web administrators may upload a new version of a site or page, but inadvertently omit decommissioning the prior versions. Quite often each page has several versions – with www. and without; http:// and https://. The result – the same content resides in more than one place. And that’s something Google does not like! So how can we help?

  • Site Audit: The first step in identifying any Duplicate Content issues is to conduct a thorough Site Audit. This will help us narrow the scope of the challenge, and identify the specialty skills needed to remediate the issue so it won’t impact your site rankings further
  • Web Development / Content Creation: Based on the findings of the Site Audit, we may call upon our Web Developers or Content Creators to resolve all duplicate content issues and put your site back on track to move higher up the site ranking ladder

4. Meta tags issues (including: multiply, missing, empty, too long, too short meta tags; this applies to meta description and meta title tags)

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The Issue Explained: While actual on-page content (2,500-words, 4,000-words – or whatever length it may be) is a great way to optimize pages to improve site rankings, the proper use of Meta tags can help too. Meta tags are tiny snippets of text, embedded in the source code of your page, that provide Google BOTS a preview of a pages’ content – be it descriptive content, images or graphics.

Issues with Meta tags hinder Google’s ability to properly index and rank your page. This impacts your site rankings.

Fixing the Issue: You don’t need to be a code junkie to fix Meta Tag issues. Some knowledge of HTML, or other web development languages, can aid in identifying and addressing these issues. For example, writing a compelling Meta description tag helps draw visitors to you site, and that, in turn, could boost your site rankings.

How we’ve helped other clients: Because it is sometimes technically challenging for DIY website owners to resolve Meta tag issues, we’ve stepped-in to support them. So how can we help?

  • Site Audit: Without a detailed Site Audit, it’s extremely difficult to identify Meta tag issues. One could do so manually, but it will be lengthy and time-consuming process that might be error prone too. A professional Site Audit will identify all such issues and provide us insight into the strategies required to fix them
  • On-page Optimization: Next, our On-page Optimization experts will perform an analysis of the root causes for each Meta tag issue, and resolve the problem at its source. Send us a message to get a quote for on-page optimization.

5. Orphan page (i.e. a page has no incoming internal links)

The Issue Explained: When calculating site rankings, search engines “crawl” through each page based on hyperlinks to each page. Sometimes though, there are “orphan pages” that have no incoming links to them. This may happen due to several reasons, such as old product pages still hosted on your site, pages with past promos left online with no links to them, etc.

When Google can’t follow a hyperlink to a page, no authority passes to the page, and Google penalizes the site and downgrades its ranking.    

Fixing the Issue: Make it a point to compare URLs listed in your log files with a list of all active URL links on your website. You must either remove or re-activate orphan pages that don’t match the two list sources. There are tools, like Screaming Frog, that can audit the site and flag orphan pages. Alternately, implementing 410 or 404 HTTP status codes may help.

How we’ve helped other clients: Once again, when you’ve updated and managed the site over a period, links to older pages may still reside on the site. Additionally, current links have a tendency to “go astray” and point to non-existent pages. How do we help you resolve these challenges?

  • Site Audit: The Site Audit explores each page and each reference to a link within the site, and identifies Orphan pages.
  • General (FREE) recommendations: We offer some general (FREE) recommendations on how you might deal with Orphan pages. And, if you still require additional support dealing with the issue, we’ll be happy to discuss it with you. Feel free to contact us with specific requests

6. Broken Internal and External Links

The Issue Explained: Broken internal or external links can frustrate web crawler’s ability to index your website. As these digital “auditors” move from page to page, sniffing out links, they assign page ratings – which ultimately go to deciding your overall site’s ranking. If BOTS come across too many broken links, they’ll just give up and move to indexing another site. This leaves your site’s page authority severely impacted.

Broken links may also frustrate human visitors too, who may stop visiting your site. And when visitor ship drops – so does your site ranking.

Fixing the Issue: The best way to fix this issue is to use specialized site auditing tools, like Google’s Search Console, to test for Crawl Errors.

How we’ve helped other clients: Once again, when you’ve updated and upgraded the site over a period, links may break. Additionally, you may have incorrectly (inadvertently) used stale or erroneous links across the site. So, how can we assist you to resolve these challenges?

  • Site Audit: A comprehensive Site Audit is the first step to help identify broken internal and external links.
  • General (FREE) recommendations: Typically, we offer limited amounts of FREE (and not specific) general recommendations on how you might deal with Broken Links. If it’s lost external links that you want us to help you replace, we also offer our clients professional Link building support

Protect Your Site Ranking

We shared this information with you because many of our own clients underestimate the role that these factors play in damaging site rankings. If you wish to protect and enhance your own sites’ ranking, make sure you monitor these common site ranking destroyers.

If you've experienced problems with getting your website ranked or decrease and need help with that - we are here to support you! Order "Site Audit Report" and we will provide you with:

- a list of issues found at your website
- recommendations on how to fix each issue
- estimation of negative impact of the issues found
- the priority order & importance of each issue
- consultation for any additional info

Contact us