Things to do after your ranking dropped

The purpose of this post is to find any pre-existing or new issues so you can fix them and get back on track with your SEO.

Kristel Nisda
SEO Specialist

From poorly written content to an unmaintained website, an immediate drop in rankings can result from anything. Nobody likes to see a drop when the organic search rankings are in free fall or you experience a small loss of place on a secondary keyword.

Although fluctuations are inevitable, particularly in the face of rolling updates to Google's real-time algorithm, it is never good news when your search rankings begin to trend in the wrong direction.

However, we have to remember that Google updates do not usually target particular industries. Some in the SEO industry tend to believe that Google's "targets" market niches with each update. But that mindset misses Google's emphasis on relevance.

The purpose of this post is to find any pre-existing or new issues so you can fix them and get back on track with your SEO.

Check your Basic SEO

Can bots crawl your website?

Robots.txt is a text file located in your web server's top-level directory which tells bots how to interact with your website. You can set inclusions and exclusions, for example, disallowing bots from crawling a dev site, or indexing duplicate sites.

You can use Google Search Console to check for any crawl errors that conflict with your site's indexing or visibility. Navigate to Coverage Report so you can deal one by one and once finished, mark as fixed.

Are your pages still being indexed?

To see if your website is being indexed. In Google search type in 

“site:yourwebsitelink.com” 

You can also check the way search engines see your website using Google's URL Inspection Tool.

Do you have optimised home page titles and meta descriptions, and do the search results display them correctly?

Although basic elements (like meta description) as a ranking factor for search engines are declining in importance, they still have an impact. Check if your basic metadata elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and headings don't hold your rankings back.

The title tag on your home page represents a big opportunity to tell search bots about what your page is all about. If it is generic, or if it is not displaying properly, it will affect your rankings.

Although meta description does not directly affect SEO, a clear, convincing meta can boost click-through rates.

Does your page has an optimised H1 tag?

Apart from the info that you include in the title tag, the main heading lets users know the page's main purpose or what the page is about. However, unless it contains an H1 tag, search bots cannot distinguish it from the rest of your page 's content. Always make your title tag and header unique and never forget to add an H1 tag.

Do you have any unfixed technical SEO issues?

Technical SEO affects the way robots scan and crawl your website content. Although you have technically optimised your website, the troubles may occur whenever you add or delete some files or pages. So make sure that you are aware of your site's technical SEO problems:

  • Does your page returning 200 HTTP status
  • Are the redirects still in place?
  • Do you have broken links?

How’s your user's experience?

User experience is another crucial factor issue for your site rankings. If you started ranking your page high on search results and then noticed that it did not meet user expectations, your rankings could have suffered a lot. RankBrain which is the third most important factor for ranking. Focused on behavioural metrics such as the site's bounce rate, organic click-through-rate, the number of visits, time spent on your page and more. These metrics tell Google if visitors enjoy visiting your website. 

On the other hand, if a user leaves your site without taking any action it signals Google that your site is either poorly configured or irrelevant.

That’s why you should remember the following rules when optimising your site

  • Improve your page loading time and don't make your users wait. Most of the users expect your website to load fast, if it takes more than three seconds he will leave your site.
  • Simplify your website navigation, write clear menu labels, and make sure your pages are not more than 4 clicks away from the homepage.
  • Make it responsive and site friendly for your desktop and mobile users. Make your font large enough to make it easy to read content, eliminate annoying pop-ups and make your CTA easy to tap.
  • Make sure you provide the right information the users are looking for. If Google aims to satisfy the search query of the users, as a website owner, we should provide the answer that is being searched.

Review your content

Quality content has never been more important. Search engines use content to determine search query relevance so content changes can have a big impact on your rankings.

Poor content does not connect with users. For example, if users do not stay long on a page, or if they exit the site without clicking deeper, it indicates that the content is not connected or relevant.

The reason why you're creating content is your reader. Your content needs to be sufficiently persuasive, informative, and entertaining to get your public to stop and read. Your visitors need information, and the higher quality this information is, the better metrics of engagement your site will end up with.

Although this isn't a typical cause of sudden declines in traffic or ranking, as a decrease in content quality typically happens over time, your current ranking performance may have been affected by a gradual shift in your approach to content. Google favours long-form, highly detailed, original content with extensively researched elements and comprehensible text.

Using the Google Raters Guidelines, you can also know what type of content Google wants to rank.

Is your page too slow? 

Does your site require more than three seconds to load? Bear in mind that page speed is not only a ranking factor but also affects user experience.

You can go with Google's PageSpeed Insights to quickly check that issue. To speed up your website here are some speed optimisations recommendations:

  • Use Content Delivery Network
  • Minimise your HTTP requests 
  • Enable browser caching
  • Reduce server response time
  • Reduce image file sizes
  • Optimise CSS delivery
  • Try adding preconnect or DNS-prefetch resource hints to provide early connections to relevant third-party sources
  • Prioritise above-the-fold content, content inside the “above-the-fold content” should load immediately

Check your backlink profile

Do you have any bad links? 

Everyone knows that the link is an essential part of the SEO for your site. Site owners make every effort to establish quality links. 

To check your backlink profile you can use SEMrush Backlink Tool, to see what your bad links are. Using this tool you can find those toxic or spammy links that are linking to your site.

If you see any bad links, you can contact those site owners and ask them nicely to remove the link. If they did not respond or did not work, you can use Google’s Disavow Tool

Did you lose a link

If you had a very strong link leading back to your site that unexpectedly vanished, the passed authority would vanish. If that is the case, the webmaster might have chosen to link to a nofollow link or has decided to delete it completely. Hence, a drop in rankings is possible.

backlink-audit

If they removed the link, and you want to reclaim the list you can contact the website owners and ask nicely to restore the link. But if they did it on purpose, that's all right, you can always try to create new links.

Are your using or targeting the right keywords

Are you using the right keywords? If when gathering the keywords you hadn't considered user intent, it may have caused some issues. Even if your site is already ranked high for these queries, Google might have changed the way it understands the purpose of your content.

The right keywords:

  • The most searched by your target audience
  • Realistic enough to appear on page 1
  • Will most definitely lead to a conversion

Mobile SEO 

With Google's mobile-first index on the horizon, ensuring your website is clean, intuitive, and providing users with value has never been more important. 

To see if mobile compatibility could affect your rankings, run your site through the  Mobile-Friendly Test by Google. This tool can provide suggestions, such as if you are using a plugin that is not supported by a mobile browser or if the page does not describe a viewport property, which tells browsers how to change the size of the page to match the size of the screen.

Conclusion

A drop in rankings put every SEO in a challenge. But this is how we can get a deeper understanding of search optimisation and learn steps to quick recovery and solve similar problems. Face the challenge head-on and do whatever it takes to reverse the damage.

You can recover your rankings again simply appreciate what you have gone through.

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