The most common question I come across is, “why did my website drop in Google?”
The fact is, your website’s rankings in Google can easily drop. A website can, in a matter of weeks, fall down two or even three pages – if not more.
While a drop in rankings is not necessarily always a cause for concern, it’s important to know why your website’s rankings have dropped in Google, and what you can do about it.
Here are 5 reasons why a website might drop in Google’s search results.
1. Your Website Was Down When Google last Attempted to Crawl It
If your website is down when Google’s robots attempt to crawl it, your rankings could drop immediately. This is particularly the case when your website returns a 404 error when Google attempts to crawl it.
You cannot always control when your website is down. It could be the fault of your web host, or you might be conducting scheduled maintenance and upgrades.
However, if your website is going to be down for scheduled or planned maintenance, you can tell Google by putting it in Http 503 mode. When a page appears with a ‘503 error’, it tells Google and other search engines that your website is only temporarily unavailable, and will be back shortly.
By doing this, it will lead to Google’s robots not viewing your website as lower value or relevance, and will therefore prevent a drop in Google.
2. Your Website’s Pages Were Not Properly Optimised To Begin With
Certain pages of your website may have enjoyed high rankings, but these rankings may have dropped because those pages were not properly optimised to begin with.
In other words, if your website is not well optimised, decent rankings will not last forever. The result will be a rankings drop in Google.
But why did the website rank higher to begin with? One reason is ranking fluctuations. Sometimes, this is just the way Google is. There are unpredictable fluctuations in Google’s search results, and we don’t always know exactly why. Google’s index is dynamic, not static. Its ordering of search results is calculated within milliseconds.
3. Your Competitors Are Implementing Better SEO Than You
A very big potential reason for why your website dropped in Google is your competitors.
Your competitors may be implementing SEO on their websites, and might be doing a better job of it than you are. If this is the case, then it’s no surprise your rankings are decreasing.
There are two solutions to this. First, you might need to simply implement better SEO. What does this mean? It means writing better copy and content on your pages. It also means ensuring you’ve got the basics right. You need to ensure you are perfecting every meta title and description, heading tag, content quality and length, internal linking, external linking, use of images, use of keywords and target phrases, website speed, and code.
Second, it is very helpful to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing for their SEO. Is their website structured differently to yours? Does their website have higher quality content? Have they acquire higher quality backlinks?
One way to see what your competitors are doing is to use an SEO analysis tool or software, such as SEMrush. Such tools provide up-to-date data, including the number and source of backlinks to a competitor’s website, keyword makeup and more.
You should be looking at everything your higher ranking competitors are doing. In particular, look at the structure of their pages, their style of titles, descriptions, form of content; as well as off-site aspects such as the number and sources of their backlinks and social media signals.
4. Google Algorithm Change
Google is constantly tweaking and adding to their algorithms that determine the ordering of websites for search results. An update to Google’s Algorithms might result in your website being deemed as deserving of a lower placement relative to certain search queries and keywords.
For example, in 2012, Google released an algorithm update named Penguin. This algorithm aimed to decrease the rankings of websites that were implementing SEO tactics that broke Google’s guidelines, by building excessive and low quality links to a website.
In 2013, Google released an update to their algorithm, called Hummingbird. This algorithm looks for meaning derived from a page as a whole, rather than on the basis of exact sequences of keywords or phrases.
Once again, the solution is to simply ensure every aspect of your page is optimised, while not breaking any SEO guidelines. This means avoiding the use of dodgy tactics, such as over-optimised site content (excessive repetition of keywords and target phrases), hidden text, over-optimised anchor-text, and building numerous low-quality backlinks.
5. Not Being Consistent with The Implementation of SEO.
On the one hand, optimising a website is a matter of going through every single page, and making the entire structure of it (URL, Titles, Content, etc.) relevant to the particular keywords and queries for which you want that particular page to be found.
But beyond this initial task, it is important to constantly review these on-page optimisations on a regular basis (at least once or twice a month). This is because, in light of analytics data, SEO analysis tools, and further keyword research, you may find that certain aspects of your page could be enhanced even further.
For example, what you initially thought was a perfectly crafted URL, meta title, and heading structure might actually be sub-optimal, poorly targeted. You might find that you could have included a variation of your target keywords.
The point here is that you need to be consistent with the implementation of SEO on your website. You have to keep a constant eye on SEO matters. You need to find good linking opportunities, and test which keyword and content strategies are working, and determine which ones are not.
Dropping in Google Is Normal
Decreases in rankings are perfectly normal and are a regular occurrence. A sudden drop in rankings is not an immediate cause for panic. The real problems arise when rankings continually drop over a period of time.
If your rankings have dropped merely because your SEO is sub-optimal, then all you have to do is optimise your website more effectively. If you rankings have dropped because of a new algorithm update, then change your site accordingly in order to be compliant.
Need help with your rankings? Contact Advanced SEO today for a free consultation.