“Everything was going so well until…” Recognize that? If you’re playing the SEO game for a while now, you must have heard this phrase from your fellow webmasters or even from your own thoughts. For some SEO practitioners, a sudden ranking drop can be quite traumatizing. After so much time, energy, and effort put into it, how could it end up so badly? Why did it happen in the first place?
Most of us tend to panic. It’s understandable. However, before you bring more agony to the situation, you need to acknowledge and understand that your site’s ranking position in the search engines has a temporary nature.
Our emotions, thoughts, and our external environment are temporary. That means that they’ll never stay the same forever. There will be variations – positive ones and negative ones. Perceive your SEO efforts the same way as you perceive your business success – a process, not a result.
“Even if we can’t guarantee that our search engine rankings will be perfectly steady and consistent, there’s something that we can and should do to make things better. It’s called SEO recovery, and it’s the practice of analyzing, assessing, and troubleshooting your sudden drop in rankings, with the intention of discovering effective solutions to minimize the damage that has been done.” – Halsey Jones, Marketing Manager at UK Best Essays
In today’s post, we’re discussing the main reasons why your search engine rankings might have decreased while exploring the solutions for an easier recovery. Pay attention and apply!
1. You Haven’t Respected Google’s Guidelines
To rank high in Google, you obviously must play by its rules. More exactly, Google has officially published a list of webmaster guidelines, a document that states some of the rules and practices that webmasters must follow in order for the search crawlers to easily index and rank their sites and pages. There are many secret guidelines and factors that contribute to rankings, however, these are known only by Google itself and by a select few.
Search engines are automatically and manually penalizing sites that don’t follow their guidelines, so by consistently assessing your site’s condition, content, and analytics, you’ll have more control and power over your SERP rankings.
The first thing you should do is check your Google’s Webmaster Account. Check for missed notifications to see if you received additional information regarding the penalty. When they send you a notification, they’ll also give you the reason. That’s your lesson for the day – learn it, optimize what needs to be optimized, and never repeat the same mistakes again.
Once you have figured out what caused the drop of rankings, focus your full attention to fix the errors and optimize the website according to Google’s remarks, or, if you lack concise reasons, according to your instinct and intuition.
Lastly, you should consider sending a reconsideration request. You shouldn’t put all your hopes in this letter. It’s often helpful and useful, however, your rankings won’t immediately recover – Google must analyze, decide, and organize your rankings according to many factors, including your competitors’ performance and your recent website changes.
2. Your Site Has Suddenly Lost Important Backlinks
Another good reason for your sudden rank-drop could be that you’ve lost important backlinks, signals that were coming from high authority & ranking websites. How could this happen? Three main reasons:
- The content (or the page) that was hosting your links was replaced, updated, or removed.
- There may be some issues that Google encounters while trying to connect to your host.
- The website that was hosting your links has gone offline or it has been severely penalized.
What can you do?
If the links were extremely important to you and there’s a way to get them back, contact the webmasters who can help you.
However, this may not be as effective as focusing on building new, highly qualitative backlinks. Create even better content and pitch to even higher-ranking prospects. Develop an exceptional site and content, make it exceptional for both your audience and the webmasters within your niche, and let the backlinks flow!
3. You Changed the Design or the Content of Your Website
Every small change you make may potentially increase or drop your search engine rankings. The truth is, when it comes to design, you can barely predict whether your new moves will bring negatives over positives. It’s a risk that you must take.
In case your search engine rankings have suddenly dropped after you’ve changed the design or the content of your site, you got your feedback. It’s negative. Dig deeper and try to understand what specific changes caused the unpleasant happening. Never repeat them again!
When it comes to redesigning, you may have forgotten to install the necessary redirects. Whenever you plan to produce significant changes, ensure that you’re planning all your 301 redirects in the proper way.
4. Your Web Hosting Can No Longer Support Your Traffic
If your web hosting plan can no longer support the amount of traffic your website receives on a consistent basis, you’re in big trouble for now. Firstly, most of your visitors will encounter trouble when trying to interact with your page. Your site’s loading speed is an important SEO factor, and without a proper web hosting option, very few visitors will be patient enough to wait annoying seconds for your pages to load.
Start by checking your site’s loading speed by accessing several website speed tools. Talk to your web hosting provider and ask for further information. Ask whether they can help you fix the issue. If they can’t, start looking for a new host.
5. Your Competitors Have Outranked You in the SERP
SEO is a competition game. All webmasters want to rank higher and higher, yet all of them acknowledge that other webmasters are trying the same thing at the same time. Therefore, whenever your rankings go down, it may not necessarily mean that you’ve done something wrong or that you’ve been penalized.
Your competitors might have done better than you, so they have outranked you in the SERP (search engine results page). What you can do now is focus on the solution.
First off, assess the website that has outranked you using the SEO competitor analysis tools that suit your needs best. Once you discovered clues and ideas that may justify the outranking, develop a plan. Plan to build X number of backlinks by Y date, plan to improve the social engagement, the website speed, and so on. Basically, decide what you’re going to do next and start working on your SEO even harder than before!
SEO is a challenging yet extremely rewarding practice. Just like any skill, it can be developed in time. Knowledge and skill, along with a strong will and great planning will do the job. For now, it’s Google that leads the game. In 10 years, it may be something else. Until then, embrace Google for all its goods and its wrongs and learn along the way. Remember – treat your SEO as a journey, not as a result!