Be it a few high ranking pages or a massive plunge across the board, dropped rankings can be an SEO horror story for many!
So what do you do when your ranking goes down?
Google never fails to remind us that they update almost everyday which can sometimes result in your rankings going the wrong way. So when you check the SERPs or console or some other rank monitoring software and see your rankings take a dive, DO NOT PANIC!!!
Strategic troubleshooting can help take things in the right direction. These 10 tried and true tricks will help you get back on track with your organic SEO rankings!
1) Don’t Overlook the Simple Fixes
When deploying and monitoring keyword performance and focusing on the advanced strategies, you are likely to overlook the on-page simple fixes.
Just a small change on your website can resolve a lot of issues, which you could be trying to improve with things like anchor text ratio, link velocity, or citation optimization.
Also, do your pages return a 200 status code? The standard 200 OK status code indicates a successful HTTP request.
Free tools such as httpstatus can be used to confirm that your site is returning a successful request. You can troubleshoot based on the failed status codes like 404 (page not found) or 410 (page permanently removed).
Next, you need to know about the robots.txt file. The robots.txt is a text file in the top-level directory of your web server that instructs bots on how to interact with your website. You can include and exclude things in the file based on your needs, like disallowing bots from crawling a dev site or indexing duplicate pages.
Make sure you haven’t set the restrictions too tightly, preventing search bots from crawling any of your main pages. Double-check the robots.txt file with Google’s free Robots Testing Tool, and if you find anything missing, upload a more permissive file to the server.
2) Remember your SEO Basics
Setting your SEO basics right ensures that you are prepared to compete in the game. Although title tags aren’t a huge search engine ranking factor, they do have an influence.
Make sure that SEO basics, such as title tags, meta descriptions, and headings, aren’t holding back your rankings.
Have you optimized your homepage title and meta tags and are they displayed correctly in the search results? Do not miss the simple yet massive opportunity to tell the bots using the homepage title tag what your page is about. Title tags that aren’t very unique can adversely affect the ranking of your page. While meta descriptions aren’t everything, relevant persuasive metatags like the description tag can improve the click-through rates.
Get your title and meta tags customized within the head section of your site’s HTML. If your site runs on WordPress, install a free plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to easily manage titles and meta tags across your site.
Besides the information provided in the title tag, the main heading also lets your visitors know what the primary purpose of the page is. When that title isn’t contained in an H1 tag, it becomes difficult for search bots to differentiate them from the rest of the content on the page. See to it that a single, relevant H1 is used on each page.
3) Keep an Eye on Google Algorithm Updates
Since link algorithm Penguin and quality algorithm Panda have become a part of Google’s core algorithm, you always need to be on your toes regarding how the minor tweaks can impact your rankings.
When you see webmasters panicking, it is a sure sign that something has been adjusted. While it’s good to keep an eye on these updates don’t stress too much about ranking fluctuations if you are doing things the right way. In-depth content, clean and intuitive site layout, and fast load times will bolster your site against algorithm updates.
4) Check Google Search Console
Google has always been clear as to what they expect from a website. Follow Google’s guidelines for greater search performance.
Google Search Console (GSC) is Google’s free service with which you can monitor, maintain and optimize your site’s visibility in search engines. Check GSC and see if there are any crawl errors messing up the indexing or visibility of your site. Navigate to the Index Coverage report to see if there are any issues such as DNS errors, server errors, or URL errors.
Through GSC, you can submit an XML sitemap that charts the structure of your site. Make sure there is no discrepancy between the number of URLs submitted and the number of URLs indexed by Google.
You can crawl your site with a scanning software such as Screaming Frog to zero in on any issues.
Inspect individual URLs in the Search Console to see if individual pages have errors or issues that need attention. In your Search Console Preferences, be sure to check Enable Email Notifications so you’re quickly alerted of any big issues. Check in with Google Search Console on a regular basis.
5) Check Google Analytics
Google Analytics shows if there is a drop in traffic or user metrics like time on page, pages per session, or bounce rate. If you have made recent changes to your site content, design, or functionality and you see a major change in traffic, reverting the changes can help traffic bounce back.
Google Analytics offers a treasure trove of information about how people find your site, how much time they spend there, and what triggers them to leave before making use of the call to action command.
6) Create Good Content
Duplicate or uninteresting content can have a major impact on your website’s rankings. Interacting with the visitors is also a good idea to keep them engaged. Look to your competitors for inspiration. If they are doing something wrong or missing something, that may be a good place for you to capitalize and make a move!
If users aren’t spending time on a certain page, it indicates that the content isn’t connecting. Other than manual analysis of your site’s content, tools such as Copyscape and Siteliner can be used to check whether the content is original. If issues with duplicate content are flagged, they can be corrected by rewriting or expanding the content.
7) Make Sure Your Site is Fast
If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, know that you are behind the race already. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that can help you find out the speed of your page along with actionable strategies to help improve your site’s load time.
You can also find the Core Web Vitals report in the Search Console to see metrics like Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay. Optimizations like leveraging browser caching, minifying code, optimizing images, and enabling resource compression can help take your website to the next level.
8) Make it Mobile-Friendly
Google is now an almost entirely mobile-first, mobile-only venture. Not being able to provide a good mobile experience is totally unacceptable. Every element that functions on desktop doesn’t necessarily work on mobile and you may not want to miss out on leads with a slow or complicated website.
Run your site through Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to see if mobile compatibility could be affecting your rankings.
9) Check Backlink Profile
If your backlink profile is small, Google might see you as a less reliable site than other better-linked ones. Keep in mind this isn’t just a volume game. Tons of links from spammy sites can hamper your ability to rank as well.
It is always wise to audit your backlink profile when your rankings drop. Tools such as Ahrefs can help you see what sites are linking to your site, which pages they have linked, and what anchor text is used.
10) Check Keywords List
Tracking the wrong keywords can have an impact on your rankings. If you see a downward trend for the primary keywords that drive traffic, a thorough investigation is needed. The right keywords are those that tick all the following boxes.
- Most highly searched by your target audience
- Most realistic to rank highly
- Most likely to result in a conversion
The targeted keywords that made sense in the past, may not work very well today. So make sure to reevaluate periodically. If you aren’t proactively tracking your keywords, it can distract you from achieving true ranking success.
Ditch the keywords that won’t result in conversions and instead monitor high-value keywords that you can dominate with small on-page optimizations like creating new content or tweaking titles, meta tags, and H1s.
- If your site experiences a drop in rankings, small and simple optimizations can do wonders.
- By following the above mentioned 10 steps you are likely to see desired results.
- If you’re still not achieving rankings, get in touch with our experts for an assessment.