The feeling you get when you are standing at the top and then stumble and fall into the abyss is something no individual wants to experience. Similarly, no business owner/marketer wants to find out that their website has suddenly dropped down 10-15 rankings in the SERPs. However, people familiar with SEO know that it is a common and predictable occurrence in the online world.
When it happens, the only thing you need to worry about is finding out why and taking counteractive measures. In this article, we will share why rankings fall and how they can be recovered.
Reasons Why Websites Lose Ranking on Google
Website rankings are ruled by Google algorithms which change constantly. No one can pinpoint the exact reason for a drop in rankings every time. However, there are some ranking factors that SEO experts know will impact your rankings. Some common causes include the following:
Your website being hacked can lower your rankings. However, it is one of the rarer causes. You can quickly identify whether your website has been hacked by going to your Google Search Console, expanding the Security and Manual Actions option, and clicking on security issues. A dialogue box will open:
- If it shows ‘no issues detected,’ then your rankings have not dropped due to hacking
- If it shows an issue, you need to fix the problem immediately.
Google penalties are another rare occurrence. However, they may happen if Google notices that your website violates webmaster quality guidelines, such as having duplicate content on your site. You can quickly identify whether you have been issued a penalty from the Google Search Console, just like you can identify security issues.
Change in content
Another primary reason for a drop in rankings can be the recent changes you made to your content. If your content changes are not optimized enough to meet search ranking requirements, your rankings fall.
Backlinks play a vital role in your search engine rankings because they help determine your site’s domain authority. If you lose some of your high-authority backlinks, your rankings can drop significantly.
Deteriorating user experience
All search engines emphasize providing exceptional user experience and include page load speed and mobile-friendliness as ranking metrics. If your website’s user experience is diminished due to shortcomings in these areas, your rankings will drop.
Someone published better content
Every day thousands of articles are posted on the internet for a set of keywords. If an article is published with better content than yours, it will likely take your place, and your SERP standing will fall.
Pages tagged as Noindex
If your developers unintentionally leave Noindex tags on your web pages during the transition from the development to the production stage, search engine crawlers will read the tags and fail to index those pages. Such pages can lower your rankings.
A disallow protocol in your Robots.txt File
Like the Noindex tag, the disallow protocol also tells search engines not to crawl specific pages on your website. Some disallow protocols, however, are added explicitly to some backend files. You should consult your developers to identify whether any of them were added incorrectly. If yes, then you need to remove them.
Changes in algorithms
Google algorithms are constantly changing, although most changes are not disclosed. However, once in a while, Google makes some massive changes, creating a tremendous shift in rankings. You can, however, get back on track quickly enough if you simply follow the new guidelines.
Tips for recovering your lost rankings and enhancing them
Now that you know the most common reasons for a shift in rankings, you can fix any issues to get back into the top spot. Here are a few things you can do to improve your ranking:
Start with checking your Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is your ultimate tool to check what’s going on with your website. You can track your website traffic and performance there and see if there are any security issues or penalties.
Fix security issues
If your Google Search Console shows a security issue, you need to fix it. A hacker may have installed malicious software or malware on your site, and you need to remove it as quickly as possible.
Remove the Noindex tags and disallow protocols
If one of your developers inadvertently added the Noindex tag to your webpages, a quick fix is to remove those tags.
The first step is to identify all noindex tags. You can use tools to identify non-indexed pages. Or, you can simply go to the View Page Source option on your browser and search for noindex to find the pages that are not indexed.
Similarly, you need to check for any disallow protocols in the robot.txt file. Consult with your team and identify the disallow protocols your developers have left intentionally and leave those alone.
Perform a site redirect
Often, you need to make a lot of changes to your website. It can be a simple migration to a new domain, a change in your site’s URL, or other structural changes. Whatever the reason, when these changes happen, search engine crawlers re-index your site, and you lose your old rankings.
To prevent that from happening, you need to perform a redirect every time you make such changes. You can implement redirects on your site through various plugins available on your CMS.
Here is how redirection works:
Generate more links
Another common reason for a drop in rankings is losing high-authority backlinks. In such cases, you need to generate more backlinks, internal links for multiple keywords to make up for the lost links. It is a time-consuming exercise, but the results are worth it.
Create better content
One sure-shot way of increasing your rankings is to create valuable content for your website. Value-adding user content plays a vital role in enhancing the user experience. By reading relevant keywords, metatags, headings, descriptions, and backlinks to your content, you can make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website.
Fix technical glitches
Any technical SEO factors such as page loading time, crawl anomalies, mobile-friendliness, and URL issues must also be taken care of to enhance your rankings.
Keep an eye on Google algorithm changes
Algorithm changes are constantly happening. Still, you need to be aware of the changes to stay ahead of the game. Some changes are too minor to make a difference, but some can turn the tables on you. To maintain your rankings, you need to regularly update your website to be in compliance with algorithm updates.
Don’t forget about SERP updates
It’s not just algorithms that are updated; Google updates SERP layouts as well. For example, snippets, ad positioning, etc., keep changing to enhance the user experience. Update your website to keep up with these SERP changes.
In the end, the most important thing is not to panic when you see your rankings fall. There is always a solution. You just need to analyze the situation, find out what’s causing it and then fix it. Studying your website regularly and keeping track of ranking metrics and algorithms is the key to staying on top.