How to Recover from a Search Rankings Drop

Updated: Sep 30, 2018


Your search engine ranking is a critical part of your business's visibility. With high search engine rankings, it's easy for clients who are interested in products in your industry to find you: the services you offer, the blog posts you've written, and the other content you've created. You've spent a lot of time and energy building your search ranking, but that doesn't mean that seeing a drop in your ranking is any reason to panic. Instead, follow these key steps to get your search ranking back on top.


Step One: Visit Your Website

It seems simple, right? Just take a quick visit to your actual website. Sometimes, you might go for weeks or even months without visiting it yourself. You know what content is on each page, and you know what your rankings look like; there's no real reason for you to actually visit the website itself. There's just one problem: by failing to visit the website, you may miss out on potential problems. If you've noticed a sudden drop in search engine ranking or organic traffic, take a look at your website yourself. You may discover that you're in the middle of a denial of service attack or that there's another reason why your website has suddenly gone down – many of which you can fix quickly and effectively, restoring your search ranking.


Step Two: Identify Potential Harm to Your Site


If your site has experienced a sudden overnight drop in search ranking – think at least 10 places over more than one keyword – there are good chances you're dealing with a manual penalty to your website. Manual penalties are issued by Google directly, rather than occurring as a result of things that have changed in your site over time. There are several reasons for potential manual penalties. You may have been hacked; you might have user-generated spam on your website; you might have too many paid links or links from link exchanges on your site. Go to your Google Search Console and take a look at the manual penalties. While Google won't link you straight back to exactly what is wrong with your site, they'll give you a good idea of where to start looking.


Step Three: Examine Trends Over Time


Do you have a single post that has been experiencing high volumes of traffic, only to have that traffic suddenly disappear? Has your search traffic been slowly trending downward over time? There are several key questions you should ask about how your search traffic might be changing.


When was the last time you promoted this specific post? From social media to your email lists, you have plenty of opportunities to promote your posts and make sure that they're highly visible. If you aren't taking advantage of those opportunities, however, it's natural for traffic to start to decrease. Not only that, you may experience a related slump in search traffic, since many search engines base their rankings on how popular the page is.

Is the post's content still evergreen? When you wrote the post, it was intended to stand the test of time. It may still be standing the test of time, or you may find that the information in your post is no longer as accurate as you'd like for it to be. Take the time to revisit your post, revising it to update any outdated information and providing your visitors with a fresher look at the topic. This will, in turn, give you a new reason to promote the page and may even bring former visitors back for a second look.


Have your competitors posted more comprehensive guides? If so, this may be another reason to revisit your posts and discover how you can change them to add more information and provide more value to your clients.


Is there a logical reason for search traffic to have dropped over a particular period of time? For example, it's natural for your search traffic to drop over holiday weekends. You might discover that there's a marked increase in search traffic during a particular event, leading to a drop when things go back to normal. Before you assume that you're dealing with a serious problem, take the time to consider what might have led to the drop, then deal with it accordingly.


Step Four: Check for Updates


Google may have made updates to its search algorithms. Even small changes can make a big difference in your search rankings, especially if you're in heavy competition with one of your rivals. If you suspect that a recent release or update may have impacted your search ranking, take the time to do a search for more updates. Once you've established that there was an update, learn more about how to adapt your marketing plans to take this latest change into consideration.


Step Five: Check Out the Competition


Sometimes, a decrease in search ranking isn't because of anything you're doing wrong. Instead, it's because of what your competitors are doing right! The easiest way to check this out is to perform a couple of quick searches yourself. Is the same competitor consistently outranking you when just a few weeks ago, they were at the bottom of search results? Chances are they've updated something on their website that has brought them higher in the search rankings for your industry. If you want to catch up and increase your own ranking:

  • Create more content. Fresh, interesting, useful content will continue to help boost your search rankings.

  • Build backlinks. The more other sites link back to yours, the more search engines will notice you. You'll also find that the more backlinks you have, the more organic traffic you have to your site.

  • Look at the amount of content your competitor has. Do you have more than they do? If you don't, this could quickly affect your ranking.

  • Mix it up. Add graphics, videos, and other media to your content. This can help keep up with evolving content preferences and keep visitors engaged.


Are you dealing with a search engine ranking drop or simply struggling to build your SEO? Contact us today to learn more about how we can increase your search ranking and improve your online visibility.


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