Emma Miller
January 30, 2018

How to Get Back on Your Feet Once Your Google Rankings Drop

Google Rankings Drop

The long-term effects of your SEO campaigns can sometimes be quite unpredictable. You might’ve actually done everything just right and climbed the SERP ladder. However, with SEO, you never really know what happens next. So, if your rankings suddenly drop, you need to act quickly and remedy the problem right away. There can be numerous reasons for your drop, and how you will react depends on the type of problem that has caused the inconvenience.

In short, search engines are all about user experience. They will rank your website based on an algorithm that evaluates the quality and relevance of your content and the user-friendliness of your website in general. A drop basically means that your website has been marked not to match the standards set by search engines. When this happens, there are dozens of potential explanations. Here are some of the most common ones. 

Leading Reasons For a Google Rankings Drop

Algorithm updates

If you have been using suspicious SEO tactics not allowed by search engine guidelines, it’s relatively easy to ascertain the problem. For example, if you’re employing a number of black hat tactics, you shouldn’t be too surprised with what has happened. Also, you should double-check if there are technical issues with your site that could’ve caused the drop. But if you’re absolutely sure you did nothing wrong, you have likely fallen victim to a rule change.

Algorithm updates happen quite often, and this is something you should get used to. The best way to avoid being penalized for breaking rules you never knew existed is staying up-to-date all the time. It might sound like a hassle, but if you want to keep your position, you should check for updates regularly. Usually, Google announces changes in the algorithm in advance, and the most renowned blogs that deal with SEO issues, like MOZ, Search Engine Land or Search Engine Journal will most certainly report on that. Just stay informed, follow the new rules, and this shouldn’t happen again.

Manual Penalties

If you are sure the algorithm hasn’t changed, the penalty is likely manual. The cause could be something you weren’t aware was wrong with your website or SEO activities. In this case, open your Google Search Console. If GoogleBot has found something suspicious about your website, it’s probably been reported to you. So first, check the Site Messages menu for notifications. Try opening the Manual Actions menu in the Search Traffic section. If someone takes manual actions against your website, it will be announced here. Fix the problem, file a request for reconsideration and you’re all set.

Problems with Backlinks

One of the most important aspects of building your website’s reputation and thus improving your rankings, is your backlink profile. Backlinks are links to your website from other sites or blogs. The more prominent a source that links to your pages, the more your reputation grows. The fact that websites “inherit” each other’s value and authority through linking is called link equity. So what happened might be that some of the backlinks that were passing credibility and trustworthiness to your site are now missing or compromised.

You can use tools like Ahrefs or Majestic that can show you which links you’ve lost, and check your GSC once again. You can contact the blog and site owners to check if they can provide some info on what happened. It could be that the owner didn’t remove the links on purpose, so ask if it’s possible to get them back. All this might have happened due to technical difficulties or during the website’s redesign or in numerous other ways unknown to the blog owner. In any event, try whatever you need to get the healthy links back.

If all the reputable backlinks are still out there, then the exact opposite thing could’ve caused the problem. An abundance of spammy, untrustworthy websites pointing to some of your pages can do a lot of damage. What your website inherits through link equity is not just good reputation, but also a lack of value and relevance. Of course, you can’t control who’s going to use your content as a reference. What you can do is disavow unhealthy links, which will make search engines ignore them when calculating your rankings.

On-site Problems

If none of the abovementioned methods of detecting the problem have worked, there’s a good chance that your rankings dropped due to some technical failure or oversight. Furthermore, some sort of irregularity concerning your content can be another on-site issue causing you troubles. There’s a whole array of things you could be doing wrong with your website in terms of SEO. Naturally, it’s very difficult and time-consuming to inspect your whole website for possible mistakes. That’s why it’s reasonable to look for SEO consulting so that you can execute your SEO campaign as well as fix any previous wrongdoings.

Among the most common on-site errors are missing, bad or duplicated tags of all sorts. Alt tags, H1 tags and title tags all affect user experience significantly and must be in order. You should study the guidelines for each search engine and sort things out. Some of the technical issues are interdependent and can all badly affect your rankings. This means it’s difficult to know where exactly the root of the problem is. For instance, low CTR will damage your reputation. However, low CTR might be due to some reasons that also negatively influence your rankings, like bad design or a slow website. Duplicate content or low word count is something you should check as well.

At the end of the day, your rankings drop might not at all be due to your mistake or carelessness. It could be that your competition simply overtook you by using more effective SEO methods. In general, the best way to fight the drop is to prevent it. Improving the quality, relevance and user experience on your website is the most reliable weapon. Keep your content fresh and credible, build your backlinks on reputable blogs. Also, if you respect all the technical guidelines, you probably won’t have to worry about a drop in rankings again.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever experienced a drop in your ranking? How did you get to the bottom of it? Any shared experiences (first or second hand), or other suggestions, will certainly be appreciated by your fellow readers.


You may also want to read: 10 Social Media Optimization (SMO) Tips to Boost your Website Ranking

How Long Does It Take To Rank In Google? [Infographic]

Google Told You How to Rank. Did You Listen?

Why Google Page Rank Is So Important To Your Business

Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_stefanamer‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Emma Miller

Emma Miller is a digital marketer from Sydney. Works as a blogger, Senior Editor for Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends.