11 Probable Reasons Why Your Search Ranking Dropped.
You have put in a load of hard work into your website and it finally paid off and you see your SERP rankings going up. Then the unexpected happens. Your rankings drop. You agonize over what went wrong or if you made a mistake. You beat yourself up for not doing it right and moan that you have to start all over again.
But it is not always true. It is not the ideal scenario, but there’s a lot that you can do to fix it. Here are a few probable reasons why your search ranking and traffic have dropped.
You are Optimizing for the Wrong Keyword
If your site has been online for several years, your keywords might have lost relevance. Take into consideration your search behavior and compare that to the keywords that appear in your search console data.
Do you use industry or niche terminology as keywords that might not be the same keywords your potential customers know? Many people often search several variations of the same question and still be unsuccessful in finding an answer or solution to their problem.
Over the years engineers at Google have tremendously strengthened their natural language comprehension ability. Today, people can use natural language to find results. Hence it is easier to rank for those keywords if you use content in plain language, too.
The search engines too have started off to rely on not just a few keywords, but they are ranking websites based on complete sentences and other elements of more natural language. Review your keywords and keywords phrases. If you are still using old or generic keywords, you need to review and revise your strategy.
Also Read: The Ultimate Checklist for International SEO
An alternative explanation on why your search engine rankings and traffic might have dropped is that you have lost links. Review your site for lost links over the last 90 days using tools like Majestic, Ahrefs, and CognitiveSEO, etc. If the tools report a significant loss, this might be the reason for the drop in rankings.
Also, there are more questions you should ask about this link loss:
- Is the drop-in links site-wide?
- Are the lost links found on the same pages of your website where there is a drop in rankings?
- Whether there has been a drop in inbound links to your pages that have lower rankings.
- Can you see dropped links to pages on your websites that link other pages that have experienced a dip in rankings?
If your inbound links are broken or lost, you will have to establish the origin of those links and the reason behind the breakup. You may then either remove, replace, or retain them.
Each link should be examined one by one to figure out your next steps:
If the links were removed on purpose, it could suggest that they were not natural links and could, possibly be flagged and penalized by Google. Let them go.
Also Read : Largest Contentful Paint
At times links break or change during a site update. In such instances, you might get a chance of persuading the site owner to restore them. If the internal links were swapped with new links to a different source, you have the choice to link to the fresh source, too.
Bear in mind, you can always switch the old links to the new ones that work. To avoid lost links impacting your future rankings, it is rewarding to invest in any link monitoring software or programs to regularly track lost links. Thus you can be proactive and take remedial measures before you drop your rankings.
Unless you have a proper 301 redirect plan in place, you are highly likely to see a drop in rankings during the launch of a new website, migrating to a new server, or carrying out any structural changes to your site.
Broken redirects are every SEO consultant’s biggest nightmare.
While using a 301 redirect, you must ensure that XML sitemaps, canonical tags, and links are also updated. A 301 redirect is similar to a relocation notice to the web. This notice communicates to the search engine that a page(s), or the entire website has been relocated and that the website visitors be redirected to your new address.
If done right, neither will you lose your rankings, nor will you get penalized for duplicate content because search engines are indexing both the old and new versions of your website.
If you see a sudden and significant drop in your rankings, it could probably mean that Google is penalizing your site. These manual actions are applied manually and are not the result of any algorithmic updates. If this drop is not seen on other search engines like Yahoo or Bing, this is a sure indication that you are suffering from a Google penalty.
Also Read: Google's December 2020 Core Update
Whether or not your penalty is manual or automatic, you will have to resolve the issue and get the penalty withdrawn. A good place to start is to examine the notifications from inside your Google Search Console account.
Look for alert notifications in the message menu and the manual actions section. Here, you will find a list of circumstances where Google has discovered certain web pages that do not comply with their guidelines.
Google is constantly exploring ways to improve strategies and results by regular algorithmic updates. Many sites have seen a drop in rankings by these changes. To escape from the glitches arising from Google’s updates, use a robust cross-channel marketing and traffic strategy that comprises social media and other marketing channels.
Natural Evolution in Search
There are instances when you might notice a dip in your search engine rankings that are due to something unrelated to your website.
Often Google has brought in revisions to the type of results based on user behavior. For instance, if there is a sudden surge in search for a specific topic, Google may boost newer results first and bring down static content further down. If your content falls under the second category, you will see a drop in your ranking. You can observe Google trends to see if any changes might explain those inconsistencies.
UX Changes in Google
Google at times alters the UX of search engine pages in ways that take away the clicks. These may be due to a featured snippet popping on a key search result, redirecting the traffic. Or some search experiment has impacted the click-through rate. Review the terms that have dropped and see if anything has changed.
Discrepancies in Geolocation
Rankings vary based on the location from which the search was made. To have a more accurate understanding of your rankings, you need to check your rankings in several areas.
Have you ever noticed that the results for a specific search you get are completely different from another person doing the same search? Also, the search results while you are logged in to your Google account and the result received after logging out is entirely different.
The reason behind this is that Google will consider your preferences, sites you have previously visited, your location, and even the device used for searching before bringing up the search results.
Perhaps, you are doing everything right but still, you might see a drop in your rankings. Part of the reason might be that your competitors are doing a better job.
Closely observe your competitors by analyzing and monitoring their social media activity, link-building strategies, and content marketing. Tools like Wayback Machine or Versionista can be used to see what changes have been made.
Also Read: Understanding Google Core Web Vitals
Backlink tools can also be used to check if they have had a new stream of new backlinks. Once you understand the changes done by your competition to outrank you, adopt those changes- but in better ways.
Page Speed at which the content on your page loads too has an impact on your rankings as well as website visitors’ user experience. When page speed is low, it takes longer to load your content, the bounce rates are higher.
Google’s new and improved Page speed tool incorporates real user data to provide you an accurate analysis of your page speed.
If your site experiences regular server issues, it might be due to a broken caching function or an empty markup served to Googlebot.
It is important that you quickly resolve any server issues.
Go through your server logs to find the errors and use Google’s Fetch and Render tool to check how a URL on your site renders or is crawled.
Losing a rank or two should not be considered the end of the world. It is common to feel overwhelmed but you need not worry. Give the above strategies a try and you can easily bounce back.
Also, bear in mind that there are no shortcuts to increase your website traffic and so keep away from sketch strategies, or you could suffer the negative consequences of poor search ranking and lost traffic.
Verbat Technologies is one of the largest SEO specialists in the industry. For your SEO and digital marketing, queries contact us.