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August 21, 2017

What to Do When Your Search Rankings Drop

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Photo Credit: andercismo

Yes, it happens to the best of us.

Just when we feel comfortable with the amount of organic traffic we get, we see a massive drop. And it’s bound to ruin our day.

If this happened to you, too, you must know what I’m talking about. If it hasn’t, keep on reading. It’s bound to happen at some point.

And I’m not being pessimistic. But think about it: there are a few major yearly updates Google makes. Plus a few hundred smaller ones. And each of them can bring down your search rankings.

So what can you do if you notice a sudden drop?

1. Make sure it’s a drop in the first place

Spikes are perfectly normal and you shouldn’t panic if your organic traffic has decreased in the past few days to a week. If the problem persists, it’s time to investigate.

Your starting point: Google Search Console. The Search Analytics here can break down the number of impressions clicks and position for any given page. And for the entire website.

In the Index Status section you can find out how many of your pages are currently indexed by Google. Again, look for discrepancies in the same period when you noticed the dropping.

If the findings in Google Search Console are similar to those in your ranking tracker or analytics tool, you should take action.

2. Up your internal linking game

Just as the name suggests, internal linking means adding more links to your own website/posts in your articles. For instance, check out my other articles on SEO on SiteProNews.

This is an example of internal linking. But it’s not enough just to link to other posts. The links have to be behind relevant keywords. In the example above, I used “articles on SEO.” This will tell Google that the page I linked to is relevant to that term.

I suggest you always use long-tail keywords in your internal linking. This is the best way to signal what that page is really about.

Also, you need to be patient. Internal linking doesn’t produce results overnight. It typically takes around three months before you notice a significant change. If you want to speed things up a bit, you can always go to the Search Console and ask Google to re-index your entire website.

3. Check your robots.txt file

You’ll find it in your Web server – the top level directory. This is a file that literally gives crawl bots instructions on how to interact with your website. Check to see if there are any pages that bots aren’t allowed to crawl and fix those errors.

You can also check your robots.txt file in your Google Search Console. If anything looks out of place, ask your network or Web admin to take a second look.

4. Optimize for mobile

Google made it clear: since most people use a mobile phone to search on the Internet, everyone needs to adapt. The mobile-first algorithm means that your website may not appear in searches made on a mobile device if it’s not optimized.

You need a fully mobile responsive website to make sure that you never miss a search. It’s still unclear whether this update has been rolled out yet, but we know for sure it will be happening this year.

Even though your website would still appear as a result in searches made on a desktop, do you really want to miss all that mobile traffic? Plus, if you can’t accommodate your clients’ preferred devices, you may lose more than your rankings and organic traffic. You may lose actual revenue.

5. Update older posts

It’s not always Google’s fault. Ranking drops also happen simply because your competition outranked you.

How dare they, right?

And, most importantly, how did they make it happen?

I don’t have an answer for the first question and I’m guessing you don’t even need one. As for the second one, it’s quite simple: the competition has better content.

Authority content needs to be the norm today, not the exception — if you want to maintain or boost your rankings, of course.

Mediocre, short blog posts no longer cut it. Your audience doesn’t want to read that. And neither does Google.

LSI keywords are your best friends – they are what signals search engines that your approach on a topic is exhaustive. Not keyword stuffing.

Remember that you are writing for people. And that Google bots have gotten smarter. They know what your audience is looking for and they reward websites that deliver just that. No interstitials, no excessive self-advertising. Just good, valuable information.

The increasing demand for quality content is also what drove the cost of copywriting services upward. Today’s copywriters need to do more than type. They have to have mad research skills, find relevant outbound links and think like marketers so they can match the tone of voice your buyer persona expects to see.

If you have any older articles that aren’t as good as they could be, spruce them up. Add extra paragraphs – long-form content always works best. Check outbound and inbound links to see if they still work. Update them with fresh research.

6. Keep on adding fresh content constantly

The Internet is a living thing and your website must keep up. Whatever your industry, your content also needs to keep up with new trends, discoveries and thought leaders.

I always recommend writing at least one new blog post per week to my clients. Especially when you are trying to establish your brand through content. Ideally, you should aim for three per week if your blog or website is brand new.

The more pages and the more content you add, the better your rankings. Yes, you may still take the occasional hit that comes with a new Google algorithm update, but having more content also improves your domain authority. And when your authority is high, your chances of being “demoted” are much slimmer.

You need to be in it for the long haul to win it

SEO is a long-term game. Things don’t change overnight, especially not for the better. Three months until you see results from inbound linking or updated content is the minimal period you will need to wait for.

Got a new blog or website? Expect to see results in a year. Six months if you’re in a very small, non-competitive niche.

I know it sounds daunting, but remember that there are websites that have been around for more than 10 years. And they still keep updating their already huge library of content. You can’t expect to beat their rankings in a month.


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the CEO of Idunn, a digital marketing agency that helps clients all over the world with copywriting, social media marketing and marketing strategy. Follow her blog here: http://idunn.pro/blog.

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