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Why did my Google search rankings drop? (+Solutions to fix it)

It happens all the time. You start off a brand new day by doing a Google Search for your site or checking out your search rankings on Google Search Console. To your horror, you realized that the search rankings you took great pains to acquire have fallen! At this juncture, there is no use panicking. Focus on finding the cause of the drop so corrections can be made. There is a variety of reasons that can lead to a drop in Google rankings. In today’s article, we’ll lead you through the more common ones and provide some ways you can recover from them.

Manual or algorithmic penalties

Google penalizes sites which are involved in practices that are against their guidelines. There are two types of penalties – manual and algorithmic.

Algorithmic penalties are automatic. There are quite a number of such algorithms, but the most well-known ones are Google Panda and Google Penguin. The former goes after low-quality content while the latter focuses on identifying unnatural links.

Google does not inform site owners if they are hit by an algorithmic penalty. However, it is likely to be the cause if the drop in rankings happens around the same time when Google updates its algorithms. Check SEO sites and blogs such as Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal to keep up-to-date with the changes.

On the other hand, manual penalties are applied by Google employees. According to Google, over 400,000 manual penalties are applied each month. That’s a huge number! In order to know if a manual penalty has been applied, check the Manual Actions report on Google Search Console (GSC) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Manual Actions report on Google Search Console (This account is free of it!)

How to fix it?

Algorithmic Penalties: Read more to understand what the algorithm is penalizing and remove the unfavorable practices used on your site.

Manual Penalties: Refer to this guide by Google for recommended actions to take for various manual actions. Remember to submit a reconsideration request after correcting the problem.

Losing links

Links, especially inbound links, are a paramount signal for search rankings. Every time another site links to you, it serves as a recommendation to Google. The more quality links you have, the more authority you have to Google, leading to higher search rankings.

You may lose links if they are removed or temporarily unavailable due to technical issues. Verify if the drop in rankings are due to lost links by using link monitoring tools such as Ahref and Majestic. Check if there is a substantial drop in inbound links for the affected pages.

How to fix it?

First, reach out to the site owners. The inbound links may have been removed by accident during changes to their sites. In that case, there is a high chance for you to regain them. If they have been removed or replaced intentionally, then it is better for you to start building new links to substitute the ones removed. Quick tip: Good content naturally garners quality inbound links! Also, definitely utilize internal linking! Here’s a great article on Yoast about how internal linking helps SEO! 

On-site technical errors and badly-executed changes

Technical errors and badly-executed changes can have an adverse impact on search rankings. The possibilities of such occurrences are countless but here are some errors to take note of!

1) Can Google access your page/site and all its content?

Check using the Fetch and Render tool on Google Search Console to see if Google can access your page and all its resources (photos, JavaScript etc.)

2) Do you have a lot of site and URL errors?

Verify this using the Crawl Errors report under the Crawl section of Google Search Console.

3) Did you change your URL?

Changing your URL is a no-no for SEO. Although the content may be identical, Google regards the changed URL as a separate page. The impact on SEO can be alleviated through certain measures. Read our article on migrating sites to understand the steps involved!

How to fix it?

Work with your web developers to fix the errors on your site. If needed, it is better to consult someone who can provide an SEO perspective on the issue.

Competition

Simply put, your competition outranked you. The drop in search rankings due to this reason should be rather small. You would probably notice your competitor/s ranking above you.

How to fix it?

Keep an eye on your main competitors, especially on their content marketing and SEO strategies. You can do so by using tools such as SEMRush (paid but powerful) to monitor the keywords that your competitors are ranking for. Also, look at the content they create and strive to provide even higher quality content. Remember, always keep the audience in mind!

Moving Forward

That’s all for today! Due to the fast-changing pace of the SEO industry, it is inevitable for your search rankings to experience some ups and downs here and then. The best thing to do is to understand the cause and come up with a corresponding solution. Our last piece of advice is to keep yourself updated with the frequent changes that Google implements. With the relevant knowledge, you will be able to better avoid drops in search rankings.

Looking to truly improve your search rankings and stay ahead of the competition? Contact us now and let our SEO experts help you take over the digital world!

Till next time!
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Zachary is a Business Development Executive in Appiloque. In the after-hours, he serves as a Division Agent, taking back the city of New York when all else fails.

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