So your rankings are sliding, you start with the most obvious checks, the site looks fine in the browser so your know your hosting server is not down, you have checked the pages with Googlebot and you display it exactly as Google sees it and everything looks fine. The robots.txt file is present and does not restrict any directories from being crawled, the canonical tag is correctly set on each page and the robots meta tag contains the “follow” attribute.
Your heart is now beating faster, you loosen your top as you feel incredibly hot all of a sudden, your mouth gets so dry that you feel like your face is imploding and spontaneously making fish impressions to your work colleagues, you can feel panic setting in, why is this happening to me, what is going on NOOOO!
STOP, take another deep breath and lets see what else could be creating this slide with some additional checks.
SEO rankings quick check list, Part 2
The .htaccess file you only get on apache servers but if any changes have been made to this file then its a good place to start. If you have any redirects, are they set up correctly and not pointing to a missing page or even worse the wrong website if you have changed your domain name. Also check that any rules and conditions are set up correctly. You may not be comfortable doing this, if so ask your developers to look into it for you.
What changes have you made to what you do
Have you changed your SEO or added some new links. I have seen instances where a website owner employed someone to get them links but they went too far and got them 1000s of external back links from dodgy sites, many of which were in blog comment links. If you have had work done find out what exactly they did and you may be able to correct the problem.
Have you made any technical changes, hosting or change of IP/DNS
From the last time you checked on your rankings, have you moved hosts, or change IP, it could be as simple as the server being down, ask someone with some technical knowledge if you are unsure yourself.
Duplicate content issues
A drop in rankings can be caused by having duplicate content on your website, or another website has copied your content and used it on their website, a simple way to check this is by using this free SEO tool at Copyscape.
Losing the fresh content bonus
When adding new content to you site you will often rank well within a short space of time. This is because Google gives a bonus to new content but after a week or two this bonus begins to diminish and you’ll notice your rankings begin to slide.
Make sure you promote your new content well and get people linking to it, even after the bonus has gone you can still rank well with good link strength to your keywords.
I will expand further on this list next time and cover areas not yet covered such as malware/hacking, internal link structure and search engine ranking algorithm changes to name a few.
Please feel free to add any comments or thoughts you may have regarding rankings issues and together we can compile a complete list of possible causes and solutions that can be shared with everyone.
This is an additional check list to my previous post below.