Did your website’s SEO rankings take a nosedive? Don’t panic! Here are some reasons your search engine rankings may have dropped and some tips on how to fix it.
When your website loses positioning on the search engines, it can be a temporary or a permanent setback. The first step is to figure out what happened and then create a SEO strategy to increase your Google, Bing, or Yahoo search engine rankings.
10 Reasons Your SEO Rankings May Have Dropped
1. Search Engine Algorithm Changes
Google has around 250 algorithm changes per day. Some you never know about because they could be internal programming changes or changes that do not affect your specific type of website. Whether you have a blog, affiliate marketing website, e-commerce shop, or news website, each type of website is affected differently.
Human SEO Fix: Check with Mozcast to view the levels of fluctuations within the search engine algorithms. Use your own Google Analytics data for a date-to-date comparison and make the necessary changes to your website.
2. Manual or System Algorithm Penalties
I know you… and I know you wouldn’t use black hat SEO tactics on purpose. But, you may have accidentally done something to tick off the search engines. Depending on what red flags your website may have shown, Google could have penalized your website automatically or manually.
Human SEO Fix: Google let’s you know when you’ve done something naughty. Check Search Console for new messages such as “Manual Actions” under the “Search Traffic” category on the sidebar. If there’s a red flag, fix it.
3. Increase in New Links
Yes, link building is crucial to increasing your SEO rankings, but you can’t build them too quickly or you could flag the search engines. A sudden increase in new links pointing to your website can decrease the trustworthiness of your website. Natural links are built over time and a sudden increase can flag Google that you’re playing naughty SEO.
Human SEO Fix: Check Ahrefs to view new links to your website. If you see an unusual peak in inbound links, but you built your links naturally, Google will correct itself over time and your dip in search engine rankings will most likely be temporary. If it still doesn’t come back over time, you may need to hire a professional SEO consultant to help.
4. Increase in Lost Links
A link fluctuation, either for an increase or decrease, can negatively impact search engine rankings (SERs). If your website didn’t have a lot of links to begin with, a sudden decrease in inbound links can make a huge difference. It is normal to see small fluctuations, but large changes in external links will have a significant impact on your overall rankings.
Human SEO Fix: Again, check Ahrefs to view link-building changes. Small link changes will correct itself within Google, but huge changes over a longer period of time may need the help of a SEO strategist.
5. Broken Link Redirects
Websites are constantly changing and evolving. Normally, when you overhaul your website, the URL structures can change and link redirects are needed to act as a kind of change of address for your old URL.
Over time though, a lot of website owners will remove these redirects as they feel they are out of date and no longer needed. When you remove these redirects, they can negatively impact your ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Human SEO Fix: Check your 404 pages through Search Console to see if you’ve lost some significant URL redirects. Then, use a HTACCESS file to set up 301 redirects for those links and get that link juice back.
6. Website Coding (Technical) Errors
If you build it, they will come. But… if you build it wrong, they will never find you. Your website may look good, but the coding can stop a search engine robot from properly indexing your website.
Human SEO Fix: Use a Search Engine Spider tool to review all the issues with your on-page website coding. I prefer Moz, but some free tools such as Varvy SEO Tool could help highlight crucial SEO technological issues. (Please note: use of free tools is not really recommended as there is no way to verify that they are up-to-date with SEO algorithm changes.)
7. Small or Big Website Changes
Even the smallest change to your website can negatively impact your search engine rankings. For example, installing a new WordPress plugin can decrease your website’s overall speed, which Google will not like.
Human SEO Fix: Schedule your website changes and monitor how each impacts your search engine rankings. Keep an eye on ever change and make the necessary changes as needed. Remember, that plugin may be cool looking, but is it worth you dropping to page 2 on the SERPs?
8. Bad Server Issues
Most people don’t realize that the server you use has a huge impact on your overall search engine rankings. If you’re on a shared server, the people you share it with can be implementing black hat SEO tactics that can get your server’s IP flagged by Google.
Slowness issues are also a huge problem on shared servers. Also, most people don’t know that your server’s location also has a huge impact on your rankings. Want to rank in the US, but your server is in Brazil? Good luck with that!
Human SEO Fix: Get on the phone with your technical team or website host and start asking questions. Check your website’s speed and ensure that the server is in a location that is optimal for your needs. For example, I pay $1/month extra for my server because I wanted it located in Chicago. It’s worth more than that to have a server located in the middle of the USA for me.
9. Human Search Behavior Changes
Ahh… the humans are truly in control of your search engine rankings. Sometimes the drop in rankings is not a technology issue, but rather a human issue. If people aren’t searching for your particular products or services, Google has no reason to serve up your website.
Human SEO Fix: Check Google Trends to see when your specific niche or industry has the highest number of searches. Also use social media networks to view current trends and news to get your website in front of your target market. Often, people don’t know they need your stuff but they do know they have a specific problem that your product may solve. Serve up solutions – not products.
10. People Aren’t Clicking
Did you know that Google monitors how quickly someone clicks from the SERPs to a website and back? If your website comes up at the top of the search engines often, but people are constantly clicking to your website and back to Google again (to click on another result), Google will view that as an erroneous ranking. They may then decide to decrease your ranking for that keyword or person in future searches.
Human SEO Fix: Check Search Console to view the click-through rate over time. If you notice a drop based on a specific keyword, that page on your website isn’t serving your target market well. You may need to update the content on that page to be a higher converter or you may need to create more relevant pages on your website that will be better served to your target market.
Seeing your search engine rankings drop can make your heart skip a beat. However, understanding the cause of your rankings drop is the first step to implementing a solid long-term SEO strategy.
The next time you see your Google rankings drop, follow the tips on this checklist, and take back the wheel to first page rankings.