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Why have my rankings dropped?

Posted on 5th July, 2019 by Grant Johnson

Search Engine Optimisation

In order to answer this question, it is important to understand what type of rankings drop there has been. A drop of a couple of positions may just be a normal fluctuation while a bigger drop will often point to a bigger problem. If your website has had a sudden drop in visitors, there has been a sudden slowdown in enquiries or online sales are extremely low then these are all warning signs you need to take note of. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common reasons for a drop in website rankings and what you can do to understand them and combat them.

Check website changes

One of the first things to check is if there have been recent changes to your website. From removing text and website pages to changing title tags and updating categories, the changes you make on your website can have a big impact on how your website is viewed in the search engines. Start off by checking the website traffic before changes were made and compare this to after any changes were made. If there is a steady decline in traffic following your changes then this points to this being the route of your problem.

Monitor for updates

Have there been some big changes in the search engines that could impact your rankings? While there are thousands of changes to the search engines made each year, some of the bigger updates are well documented and will generally impact a certain type of website or sector more than others. Recent Google updates in 2019 include: the Site Diversity Update and the Core Update both in June.

If you think that your website has been affected by a core or other algorithm update, then it is important to check other websites in your sector to see if they have been hit with a similar drop. Once you understand what has caused the drop, you’ll be able to start doing something about it.

Website migrations and restructure

Having a new website is generally a good thing and a great move if your old website is starting to look dated, doesn’t work well on mobile and is hard to use. But when migrating to a new website you need to make sure that this is done in an SEO-friendly way. This is especially important if you are changing the structure of your website. Where possible try to keep the URL structure of your website the same and if you do need to change it, then make sure that 301 redirects are used to let the search engines and website visitors know they have moved.

Technical issues

There are so many technical elements involved in a website that the smallest change can cause a big drop in terms of the performance of your website. Common issues that can cause a drop in traffic and rankings include: misconfigured robots file, 301 redirect loop, incorrect server configuration, and site having been hacked.

Loss of links

If you have a handful of great links pointing to your website and these are suddenly removed, then this can tip the scales and lead to a drop in traffic. You will generally see a more gradual decline in traffic rather than a sudden drop so check your analytics platform to see if your website traffic has been gradually getting lower or if the drop is more sudden.

For those who are seeing more sudden drop in traffic then this could point to search engines discounting links. This is often the case when business have paid for links and seen an increase in their rankings from this tactic.

Google penalty

The final thing to check for is a manual Google penalty. If you have checked everything above, then this may be what has happened. To check for a manual Google penalty head to Google’s Search Console and check under the Manual Actions section. If you have been penalised the report will give you a summary of what the problems are with your website and so you can start investigating these to make the relevant changes.

We hope this article has helped and if you are experiencing problems or have seen a drop in your organic rankings, we’d be happy to help to just get in touch.

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