Reclaim Your Google Rankings
No matter how frequently you update your website, sooner or later you will come across small changes in its performance, and rarely, an abrupt and sharp decline in Google rankings.
Your website used to rank on the first page for your money keywords for months without any problems, but one morning you check the stats and it falls behind or disappears from the first page of search results for no apparent reason, now that’s concerning.
More than concerning, this can be a dreadful situation. You are right to fear the worst, meaning less and less organic traffic and conversions, if you can’t restore your rankings and recover your lost traffic.
Here is a screenshot of traffic recovered within only a week after technical fixes took place.
Don’t worry, there is a plan laid out in this post. Read carefully below.
Why Rankings Drop
Understanding the problem: SEO is a sophisticated, always-shifting environment. You’re working hard to check every guideline, plus you strive to produce as much content as rival websites do daily. But why after doing so much work you see your rankings dropping? Here are some reasons:
- Updates to Search Algorithms: To increase the quality and relevancy of search results, search engines such as Google update their ranking algorithms regularly.
- Competitive Environment: The fight for SEO is never-ending. Your rivals are also producing excellent content and optimizing their websites. If they perform better than you do, their ranks may go up and yours may go down.
- Trends, seasonality, and changes in user behavior can all have an impact on keyword popularity and, consequently, search engine ranks.
- Website Changes: Any content or technical changes you make to your website, such as changing the images or backlinks, adding new content, or reorganizing the structure, may affect your search engine rankings. Temporary oscillations might result from very few modifications.
- Technical Problems: Dropping in ranks might result from redundant code, broken links, unresponsive websites, slow loading times, or unfriendly mobile interfaces.
- Geographical Reasons: Search engine results take the user’s location into account. For the same keywords, various locations may receive different ranks, which could lead to a rankings drop.
Verify the Drop
Keep in mind there are always ways to recover rankings. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the health of your rankings with just about every single shift. There are always small changes or fluctuations in your rankings with the rate search algorithms change. The same stands for a small +/- one-position shift that may drop a keyword from the first page e.g. 10 to 11, and that’s excepted and normal.
Do not panic just yet but keep on monitoring. Your page should recover the initial position in a few days.
But if there’s a big decrease, like five or more spots, you need to act quickly.
Use SEO tools that track keyword performance over time to track with accuracy your rankings.
When you have the whole picture, you can go ahead and investigate the drop.
The best ways to assist Google in indexing, and ranking your website are outlined in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Violating these rules may have a detrimental effect on how Google ranks your website or even result in its removal.
Three primary areas are covered by Google’s guidelines: quality, technical, and content and design.
- Quality recommendations on how to avoid manipulative techniques, also referred to as black-hat SEO approaches, like copying content from other websites, stuffing keywords into content, or using clever redirects.
- Content and UX Recommendations for creating a user-friendly website with a strong information architecture.
- Technical Guidelines to encourage search engines to crawl and index your website.
To check for any crawl mistakes, manual actions, or security flaws that can prevent Google from indexing your website, you can utilize Google Search Console. It’s buggy but in the long run, it yields positive results.
By following Google’s guidelines when developing your website’s SEO strategy, you’re practicing the so-called “white-hat SEO” and ensuring that there won’t be any unwanted ranking drops down the line.
It is well known that Google often updates its search algorithm to caliber its search results. These upgrades can be subtle adjustments that are hardly noticeable or major overhauls that result in abrupt changes to search engine rankings on millions of websites.
The most recent one to date is the November 2023 Core Update.
To stay informed about these important changes:
- Follow search engine optimization news sources such as Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Journal, and this blog to stay current. These resources typically include up-to-date information on changes to the Google algorithm as well as professional analysis and suggestions for modifying your SEO approach.
- Google frequently posts important updates on its blog or Twitter accounts, so be sure to follow Google’s official news. Thus, be sure to follow prominent Google Search Relation team members like Danny Sullivan and John Mueller as well as the Google Search Central Blog daily. Note that these guys push the envelope, so they will christen any wrong as good.
- Track Google’s search results and algorithm modifications with Algorithm Monitoring Tools, then interpret them following your KPIs, and metrics that make sense for your business. Changes in Google’s rankings are more significant the “hotter” and “stormier” the forecast.
Here’s how to verify and manage lost backlinks:
- Employ tools for backlink analysis. Several SEO tools have backlink-tracking features. Ahrefs is among the prominent instances but sometimes skews the numbers. This tool could be useful for tracking websites that link to you, keeping an eye on your backlink profile, and—most importantly—any backlinks that you may have lately lost.
- Use SEO tools to find Lost Backlinks: These tools can do routine checks to find lost backlinks. There are a few possible causes of lost backlinks: the website may have gone offline, the linked page may have been taken down, or the connection may have been removed.
- Examining Lost Backlinks is key. After you’ve located the missing backlinks it’s time to examine the relevance and quality of your referring domains. Losing these links may have contributed to your rankings decline if they were of a high caliber.
A solid SEO plan should not only aim to obtain backlinks, but it should also make sure those connections are relevant, of a high caliber, and most importantly, permanent. As a result, regularly checking the quality of your backlinks can be an important component of any SEO recovery strategy.
You should disavow links that come from malicious websites, such as those that have been hacked, include malware, or are pornographic. Or you can disavow links that originate from unrelated or low-quality websites.
When negative SEO was a thing, disavowing links was used to help. However, Google can now degrade links thanks to its algorithm, a sort of disavow algorithm.
To get your keyword ranks back, you must address lost backlinks, especially if they were of a high caliber.
- Speak with Website Owners: Getting in touch with website owners can be a smart idea if they unintentionally or deliberately eliminate an important backlink. Mention the backlink’s removal politely and ask them to think about adding it back. Make sure to highlight the benefits that both parties stand to gain from the link, such as enhanced site engagement, reader-friendly materials, and a better user experience.
- Replace Broken Pages and Links: If pages on your website stopped working or moved to a new URL, you may have lost backlinks. Either replace these broken links or set up 301 redirects from your old URLs to the new ones.
- Create High-Quality Content: If the website has closed or if your request to have backlinks reinstated is denied, concentrate on obtaining new, high-quality backlinks. Creating original, inventive, and compelling content that people want to connect to is the cornerstone of building high-quality backlinks.
- Guest posting: This is an excellent strategy to obtain relevant, high-quality backlinks from reputable industry websites.
- Keep an eye on your backlink profile to quickly spot any changes. New and old backlinks should be regularly monitored. This guarantees that in the future, you can react fast to missing or misplaced backlinks.
A thorough examination of all the variables that might be influencing your website’s search engine visibility is part of a website audit. With the help of this in-depth analysis, you can develop a strong SEO strategy by learning more about your website, particular pages, and overall traffic.
- Find any technical issues as they may have a detrimental effect on the ranking of your website. Look for problems such as sitemap errors, errors in your robots.txt file, and sluggish website loads. Particularly helpful tools include the SEMrush Site Audit tool and Google’s Search Console.
- Verify the quality and relevance of the content to make sure it is interesting, pertinent to your audience, and original. Thin or duplicate content might hurt your rankings. You can use a variety of copywriting tools to find any instances of duplicate content on your website.
- Make sure your website is mobile-optimized because Google employs mobile-first indexing, which gives preference to a site’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. Therefore, ensuring your website is suited for mobile consumers is vital. This can be assisted by using Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test tool (Google officially sunset the tool last December, it was another one of Google’s gimmicks it seems, now replaced from the Lighthouse report).
- Assess page and URL structure; they should be keyword-rich, descriptive, and optimized for search engines. Every page ought to have its URL. Furthermore, make sure that the hierarchy of your website makes sense to both search engines and visitors.
- Check all metadata. Make sure that all titles, meta descriptions, and alt text contain the intended keywords. They ought to appropriately sum up the information on the page.
- Evaluate your site’s navigation because easily navigable websites not only increase user experience but also search engine optimization. A high bounce rate can be caused by faulty or complicated navigation, which will hurt your rankings.
Clean Up Your Content
High-quality, relevant, and captivating content draws visitors, extends their stay on your website, and motivates other websites to reciprocate links.
- Update Any Outdated Content. Things change more quickly than you might expect, so information that was true three years ago might not be applicable now. Review your content frequently and change any outdated information. This could entail revising entire posts, adding new parts, or updating data and statistics.
- Get rid of “Thin” content and pages that don’t have much relevant content because they can affect your rankings. Improve these pages by including more insightful content, or, if appropriate, think about merging them into related topics.
- Boost the caliber of content. Search engines reward information that is interesting and of high quality. Ensure that your writing is well-written, insightful, and appealing to the people who will read it.
- Update or Add Internal Links. Refreshing your internal linking strategy is another benefit of updating your content. To improve navigation and user experience, make sure your content includes links to other pertinent pages on your website.
Cleaning up your content may increase the value of your current pages, but it may also increase user interaction.
Your website’s content is its cornerstone, and maintaining it properly is essential to its success.
Verifying whether your website has been penalized by a human reviewer is part of the process of checking for manual penalties. When Google discovers that a website doesn’t adhere to its quality standards, it puts a reviewer who manually penalizes the site if it violates its guidelines.
Here’s how to look for and handle these penalties:
- Use Google Search Console to explore. Select “Manual Actions” from the left-side menu’s “Security & Manual Actions” category. This section will detail any manual actions Google has made against your website along with the rationale behind them, which is seldom helpful.
- Recognize the type of penalty imposed. The manual action report will detail the nature of the penalty. “Unnatural links to your site” and “Thin content with little to no added value” are two common examples. Frequently, the report will give instances or point out the specific pages where the infraction took place.
- Execute Remedial Measures Correcting infractions is the next step after determining the penalty. You may need to remove or disavow these links if they are related to unnatural links. If the content is “thin”, it may be required to enhance its quality and originality.
- Re-submit Your Site for Indexing. Once the problems that led to the manual penalty have been fixed, you may use Google Search Console to submit a reconsideration request. Explain the actions you took to address the violations in this request. After reviewing your website, Google will decide whether or not to lift the penalty based on the modifications you made.
It’s not always the case that your website has received a manual penalty just because its rankings have dropped. If all previous options have been exhausted and no improvements have been observed, or if you receive a direct notification from Google, you should think about taking this step. Although manual penalties are rare, they are severe, so you must act quickly if you have been hit by one.
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