SEO is all about seeing your search engine rankings rise over time as you put in all that hard work. So it can be a real downer if suddenly you start to see your rankings fall—which can sometimes happen overnight.
The urge may be to panic, but you need to find out what’s going on, and fast. Depending on what the situation is, you may be able to take action to reverse the trend and stop your rankings from falling further.
Here’s a guide to the first things you should check when your rankings drop and what to do in order to sort out the problem.
1. Find Out Whether the Algorithm Has Changed
The first step to take if your rankings drop is to find out whether Google has made a change to its algorithm.
Google updates its algorithm constantly throughout the year, but most of its changes are minor tweaks. Occasionally, however, it makes a more drastic change, like the Panda update, the Penguin updates, and others that have shaken up the SEO industry in recent years.
But how do you know whether an update has occurred?
Simply check in the news. There will often be lots of talk about any updates as soon as they occur. Head to big SEO sites like Search Engine Journal to find out about the latest news and you’ll quickly see if this is the potential change behind your rankings drop.
If it turns out that the algorithm has been updated, it looks like your site has been hit. That means you are doing something that the new updated algorithm is punishing.
Find out all you can about the update. You should be able to find out what Google is penalizing and why it is doing this. If you realize that you have been doing whatever it is that Google does not like, change this quickly.
It may involve some relatively minor work, or it may involve a serious change of direction. This is where hiring an SEO firm can help.
Do some research to find one that could help you to turn your falling rankings around. For example, you can read theHOTH reviews here to find out about its SEO services.
2. Check Recent Changes You Made
If Google has not updated its algorithm, it looks like you have a different problem. The first thing to do is find out which pages have been affected and to then find out if these pages were changed at all recently.
You might have changed them yourself, or someone on your team might have made the changes.
The sorts of changes to look for are changes in the URL, changes to the content, and removing the target keyword from important places like the page title.
If a change has led to the fall in rankings, this could be fairly simple to fix. For example, you could change your URL back again or use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one.
If you have changed the copy, go back to the previous text and see if that works.
You might have changed internal links pointing to the page, and this can affect the value that Google attaches to the page. Or you may have updated pages that link to the affected page or made changes to the anchor text.
Work out what changes have been made, then try to replace them or add some new links.
3. Your Links Have Dropped
If you have lots of links, sometimes these can be dropped. Ahrefs has a tool you can use to get lost links reports, so use this to find out.
Links might have dropped from your whole site, or perhaps, to specific pages. They might have even dropped from other pages that link to the affected page.
The sites that link to your site might have experienced problems or been updated, so find out what is going wrong.
Once you know what’s up, you can set about either getting them back or getting new links to replace the old ones.
4. Get Your Rankings Back Up
These are some of the main areas to investigate if you suffer a drop in ranking. So always investigate if this happens to you, find out what is going wrong, then work to rectify it.
One final point is to check out your competitors’ websites too. It may be that they have found a way to overtake you in the rankings. If this has happened, do some research, find out what they did, and get to work trying to get your rankings back.
Declan Patterson loves all things marketing and SEO. Whenever he can, he likes to post about his findings on a number of small business sites.