Everyone who works in the SEO industry knows that sometimes all the work in the world won't stop someone's rankings dropping. It's frustrating, especially when you're unsure as to why it's happened or how to fix it. In this article, we'll discuss why rankings may suddenly drop in the first place and then what to do once they have.
It's important to note that sometimes rank drops will occur overnight for a day or two, then rankings will be realigned. This is usually just due to Google and you won't need to do anything too drastic to right your rankings.
Google Algorithm Testing
We often notice a dip with quite a few of our customers' rankings and do a little research; it's always down to Google testing or changing algorithms. You can take a look at your competitors and see if there's been a big shift around of results on searches that you often do as well as checking any ranking data to see if any searches have suddenly dropped.
If your rankings have dropped and you've found out that it is Google testing algorithms, then you just have to leave it. It'll right itself soon enough, and until it does you should still work on the site as you would normally do. Google algorithm changes do make up a large part of big rank drops, especially if sites are ranking well then suddenly disappear from page 1 or 2. Don't fret! Everything will be righted soon enough.
If your website has technical issues then this can be picked up by Google and viewed unfavourably, dropping your rankings. There are several ways your website could have technical issues, including poor page speed and errors. Page speed is simply the speed at which a page loads when someone - including Google - goes to your website. If it takes a long time to load, this won't help your rankings and will have a detrimental effect.
This is also the same for errors on your site that are caused by not adding in 301 redirects. When a page URL is changed, or a page is removed, a redirect must be put in place so as not to cause a 404 error. If a redirect is not implemented, Google will go to your site to crawl it and come across a link that it had previously found that is no longer there. It will mark your site down for these, so it's important to make sure there are none on there.
Poor User Experience
User experience is critical for your site ranking high. If you have recently changed the structure of your website, design or metadata, this may have altered your rankings for the worse. Making sure your site has an effective structure for your content, including breaks in paragraphs and the correct headings will make it easier for customers and Google to read.
Metadata must be up to date and within set Google boundaries; make sure you're up to date with the character length of meta descriptions and meta titles (they change from time to time, so look them up and make sure to change them when Google announces they're going to be lessened or lengthened).
Complex design and pop-ups will distract people from the good quality content on your website, so keep designs simple and avoid having information pop-up. Google is clamping down more and more on pop-ups as it is, so it's best to avoid them.
Sometimes it is just a case of competitors doing something different to you. Your competitors may just be performing better and using better keywords (which we'll come to next); it's difficult to beat them, but it's not impossible.
Tracking their keywords and looking at what they're doing right will allow you to see what you should be doing better. If they have a blog, add a blog, if they have a lot of images and case studies, do the same, but make them better. High quality content and targeting the correct keywords, adding new pages - whether these are location pages or blog posts - will help boost your rankings. It may seem like the fight is already lost, but keep working at it, you'll get there in the end!
On occasion, the wrong keywords will be being targeted and this affects, as you may have guessed, your rankings. If you are a plumbing company and target 'plumbers' then this may be a keyword that's to generic and hard to rank for, especially if you're adding content that is more specific to certain services such as 'shower installation', or 'central heating installation'.
Adding new content to your site is vital, but adding the wrong content for your keywords can be a real issue. Make sure you're optimising for the content you have, or change your keywords to better fit the content on your site and the kind of customers you want to target.
So, what does this mean for my website?
If you take a look at your website and notice any of its rankings dropping, make sure you think about these five things. First of all, check Google for changes in algorithms, then take a look at the content on your site, the keywords, the design and the metadata.
It's always scary when you or your customers' websites plummet in the rankings, but make sure you take a deep breath and think logically; follow the above steps to make sure you have the right content and the right keywords. Your rankings should rise once more.
- Search Engine Optimisation,