Types of Google ranking drops and how to handle them
It takes time and a lot of effort to reach the top of Google search results. Once you’re there, you never want to see your website leave the first page. This is why suddenly seeing a lower ranking can be devastating. But don’t panic – there are things you can do to recover from Google ranking drops. All you need to do is figure out what’s causing the problem and then fix it. There are many reasons why you might be seeing a drop in rankings. To find out what the most common ones are, how to recognize them, and how to recover from them, make sure to keep reading.
Identifying Google ranking drops
SEO takes some time to show results. So finally seeing your website climb up the top of the first page on Google search results is a great success. You’ve followed all the SEO best practices, and they’ve paid off! But then you notice that you’re the fifth result when you were the fourth yesterday. Is this cause for concern? In short – no. Google search results don’t always look the same – some fluctuation is normal. Even after you’ve established yourself and start to rank consistently at the top, you won’t always be in the same spot. You should only start worrying about a ranking drop if your website has fallen significantly in search results and if that change sticks.
Common types of Google ranking drops and ways to recover from them
There are many reasons why you might experience a serious drop in ranking. Sometimes, you are yourself to blame. Other times, it’s what Google itself does that causes you to lose your spot. You’ll need to know what happened so that you can address the problem.
#1 – The algorithm has changed
Google is always trying to improve its service. To that end, the search algorithms are constantly being tweaked. So if you look at the history of SEO, you’ll find that different things worked at different times. The same can happen in the future. Although most algorithm changes aren’t drastic, some adjustments to the search algorithms can affect your ranking. This is unavoidable – all you can do is follow the news for updates and adjust to the new algorithm!
#2 – You’ve been outranked by a competitor
You’re never the only one trying to rank on Google. And no matter how good you are at SEO, someone will eventually be better. Whether you’ve lost SEO value due to a necessary rebrand or your competitor has gained a better ranking thanks to a strong backlink, you’ll inevitably find yourself in a situation where you’ve been outranked one day. When this happens, find out what your competitors are doing better than you. A competitor analysis will help you figure out how they’ve beaten you. Then just do the same thing they’re doing but better.
#3 – You’ve received a penalty
There are two types of Google penalties – algorithmic and manual. If you’ve received an algorithmic penalty, the system may have made a mistake, and you can appeal the decision to Google. But if you’ve incurred a manual penalty, odds are that you’ve brought it on yourself. Use Google Webmaster Tools to figure out what exactly you did wrong. Then fix the problem – delete duplicate content, fix your internal linking, and disavow suspicious backlinks. Even then, recovering from a penalty is not easy. The negative effect on your domain authority can follow you for years to come. So it’s best to avoid this situation altogether by relying on white hat SEO only.
#4 – You’ve lost backlinks
Both on-page and off-page SEO affect your ranking. But one of the most significant factors in ranking is something that you can’t fully control – backlinks. Because these links are on other websites, things can sometimes go wrong with them even if you haven’t done anything. The website hosting some of your backlinks may have moved, gone down, or just decided to remove outbound links. You won’t know something is wrong with your backlinks until you either check them yourself or see a drop in rankings. So use backlink tracking tools to keep an eye on your backlinks. If you see them disappearing, take a more in-depth look at individual backlinks. You can ask for them back if they’re worth the effort or just gain new backlinks instead. Or to avoid the issue altogether, develop a good backlink strategy and only accept backlinks from reputable websites you trust.
#5 – You have too many on-page issues
Your website is the main thing that Google checks when determining your ranking for a given search. The math here is relatively simple – the better your website, the better your ranking. So if your website has too many issues, you can expect to see either a gradual but consistent fall in rankings or an inability to improve your ranking beyond a certain point no matter what you do. If you suspect on-page issues to be the cause, check Google Webmaster Tools and find out how many page errors you have. Fixing them should fix the problem. To avoid the same issue in the future, an occasional audit is a must. Regularly performing an SEO audit that looks at your speed, mobile optimization, URL structure, internal and external links, and content will ensure that you identify potential issues early on and fix them before they become a problem.
Don’t panic – not all Google ranking drops are a serious issue
It’s important to keep in mind that your ranking will always fluctuate. This is called the Google dance – the regular up-and-down that all websites experience. Sometimes, this includes drastic drops in ranking as well (also known as the Google flux). These are typical Google ranking drops that you cannot avoid. There’s no need to overreact to them and make drastic changes unnecessarily. So when you notice that your ranking is lower than you expect it to be, first take the time to determine whether this is a problem. If the drop is serious and persistent, that’s when you need to react. But if you stick to SEO best practices, this won’t happen often.