One important element of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is rankings. The goal of marketers is to achieve the top rank or land on the first page of the search engine results page (SERPs) for keywords or searches that are related to their niche or business.
So you set out to create an SEO strategy with the hope of boosting your rankings which will hopefully result in increased traffic, higher conversions, more leads, and business growth. As far as you’re concerned, you’re employing only the best and acceptable practices. However, you still experienced a drop in rankings.
Initially, it’s normal to get worried. But it’s important to act fast and figure what caused that ranking drop and address it from there. Typically, negative ranking changes happen for several reasons. Some can be dealt with on your end, while others are just way beyond your control.
Let’s look at 10 reasons why websites experience ranking changes and the ways on how to deal with them.
Links leading to your domain can affect your rankings in several ways.
First, if you have an influx of new links leading to your website, you can experience a temporary drop in rankings. This usually happens when you had issues in the past regarding unnatural links.
Meanwhile, lost links can also contribute to a ranking change. This happens when there are links going to your website that has been removed or may be temporarily unavailable.
Low quality links pointing to your website is a bane of SEO, and you want to avoid them at all cost if you want to maintain good rankings. If you have a lot of poor and irrelevant links leading to your website, search engines can view that as spamming and your website can be penalized or worst, get de-indexed. If you fell victim to link buying schemes or manipulative linking practices, it’s recommended to do a link clean-up.
Track links actively and continue building up high quality links to your domain. You can do this through creating quality content that’s share-worthy, substantial, and relevant. You can also market your content and brand through participating in different platforms to share your insights and expertise.
Search engine penalties
Search engines can also penalize websites if they violate the practices recommended for SEO, which are ultimately geared towards improving user experience on the web.
When Google rolled out the Panda algorithm, a lot of websites suffered a huge drop in rankings because of thin and low-quality content. Meanwhile, websites who employed spammy linking techniques were greatly affected when the Penguin algorithm update rolled out.
If you have been penalized, don’t fret. It may feel like doom and gloom has set upon your website, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t recover. What you need to do is to re-assess your website, revamp your strategy, remove low quality content and links, adhere to recommended practices moving forward, and always monitor the performance of your website.
Search engine changes and tests
There are cases when search engines implement changes or conducts trials, and it may affect your rankings. There’s not much you can do about these instances as they are not within your control. If you’re employing best SEO practices, you wouldn’t have to worry so much and you can expect your rankings to be back up in a few days.
Slow page speed
Page speed plays a crucial role in user experience, and ultimately in your rankings. It wouldn’t matter if your website has the most comprehensive design and content if it will not load fast enough. So check your servers, and make sure that they are efficient in giving your visitors a fluid way of navigating your website. Likewise, use tools that can help track your website’s page speed and determine what elements are slowing down your pages.
Sometimes, issues within your pages cause your rankings to take a plunge. It could be due to poor internal linking and optimization of your website, incorrect robots.txt file, incorrect canonical tags, absence of index tags, slow page speed, or worst, due to a hacking incident. This further reiterates the importance of conducting website maintenance and regular monitoring of on-site elements so that you can spot errors and address them before they can affect rankings.
If you used to be on the first spot and you suddenly dropped one to two notches, it could be that your competitor outperformed you. While it’s important to always keep your website well-maintained and strategies in-line with acceptable marketing methods, you also need to monitor your competitors if you want to stay on top. Be aware of their recent actions so that you can stay one step ahead and devise new strategies before they do.
A decrease in rankings can also be caused by changes made on your website like a new design or updates in the code, layout, plug-ins, and other components. Make sure that all key persons involved in your internet marketing efforts are in the loop with these changes, so that you can avoid any implication on other areas of SEO and on your placement on the SERPs.
Changes in user behavior
User behavior is one of the reasons why SEO is dynamic and ever-changing. If your strategies are not connected with how users behave, you can experience a drop in rankings.
There are cases when the way users input queries changes, which happens when they demand for fresher results. This occurs when a particular subject becomes trending. As a result, news and more up to date pieces about the topic dominate the top of the SERPs and evergreen content are pushed down. Since that is the case, it pays to be abreast in your industry, so that you’re always in the forefront of delivering quality and up to date content to your target audience.
Changes in click-through rates
If your click-through rate has dropped, it could be the reason why your rankings experienced a decline. Remember that Google is all about user experience and generating results that they think is the most relevant to search queries. If you proved that your CTR is to blame for the drop in your rankings, you can work on improving your listing on the SERPs.
Even if it sounds like a cliché, content is king when it comes to SEO. Poor content can drive your rankings down or worst, take you out of the SERPs altogether. Devote time in developing quality posts that your target audience would be compelled to share and cite as source. If you master the art of content marketing, traffic, links, good reputation, and high rankings will follow suit.