It’s frustrating when your website is getting a steady flow of visitors and making sales and then things change for the worse. Even more vexing, many business owners are not SEO experts and cannot diagnose issues and at a loss as to why rankings dropped in the search results. Here’s how to get to the heart of a sudden drop in rankings.
New Links Could Be the Issue
Traditionally, it’s great to build links to your website, hence many invest in link building tactics performed by outside agencies. Some links, however, are not high quality as seen by Google and other major search engines. While you can’t control what sites link to yours, you can do something about how Google and other major engines view the links. A sudden drop in rankings could be due to a recent surge of poor quality links. One could disavow such links using Google’s Disavow Tool.
Links That Are No More
Similarly, rankings can dip because some links are lost, another issue out of a business owner’s hands. But, a diligent owner could look at a site’s link profile and align it with changes in results. The change could be due to a high authority and linking site that accidentally de-indexed a page, moved it to another URL, etc. In each scenario, evaluate whether it’s appropriate and useful to contact a person at the site to come to a resolution. In many cases, site masters will be happy you pointed out an issue.
Google Thinks Your Site is Suspicious
Google has been known to roll-out several changes to its algorithm. In most cases, there is little to no effect on the majority of websites and pages. However, there have been cases of sites losing rankings for major commercial terms because of suspicious behavior (as identified by Google’s algorithm or manually stipulated by a member of Google’s spam team). You can check to see if a rep has contacted you by logging into Google Search Console and going to the manual actions section under the search traffic category.
Engines Can’t Read Your Site
A website is built to inform the public and make them take action. However, before a search engine can deem your page relevant for particular queries, it needs to crawl and index a given page. There are few issues related to a page that is not indexed, and it’s usually a quick fix. Ensuring search engines can crawl a page is another issue. It’s important for an engine to crawl, but you want it to crawl speedily and often too. That involves clever orchestration by designers and developers. Learn how to do an SEO audit or outsource the duty to a trusted marketing agency.
The Developer Made Changes
In some cases, web developers or outside freelancers make updates to your site. A small change could have monumental effects regarding how a page is indexed, crawled, and ranked. There needs to be good internal communication in addition to search engine optimization implementation. Otherwise, an unassuming freelancer could drastically influence your site’s ability to make money. In some instances, you may not be able to identify whether your chosen developer is SEO savvy. Therefore, hire an SEO agency to suggest a developer, to counsel the freelancer or ‘test’ one in question.
A Change in the Way People Search
Words require context. It’s easy for humans to decipher a given meaning but it’s harder for a robot or an algorithm. Google relies on search behavior when creating connections between queries and search results. For example, a very popular song could momentarily influence search engine results related to a product of a similar name. It’s reason to constantly do searches related to major keywords to ensure there is no competition with relevant or irrelevant search intentions.
Click-Through Rates Have Changed
Ideally, SEOs match a keyword (or a consumer intent) with a respective page. In good scenarios, Google will include the page for a related search result. But your page’s ability to rank and stay atop of the results depends on the subsequent behavior of users. Google tracks the CTR or click-through rate of users. If a search result looks like it satisfies a user’s query but subsequently fails to do so once a user lands on the page, the user will bounce off the page or leave the site. In many cases, pages with poor CTRs will not continue to rank well because of a discord between the engine’s results and a user’s need.