SEO rankings drop? Sound familiar to you? You’ve checked your website to see how your site’s pages are ranking and you’ve seen a sudden fall in their positions?
There are a lot of reasons for why that happens, but this drop of your site rankings cost you money.
Don’t panic, because the rankings can fluctuate all the time. What can you do? I give you some ideas that you can use to find out why your ranking might have dropped and try to fix them.
Step 1: Make sure that your site is working
You don’t believe it? Go to your website and look if you see anything meesed up. I have a friend that panicked when his rankings started to drop and the site looked perfectly well. But, when he checked it turned out that it was on a 5-day DdoS attack that caused the site not to load.
What? Yes: I know it sounds crazy, but literally, go to your website and take a look to see if anything is messed up.
Before you do anything else, check to see if:
Your hosting expired
Your domain expired
Your webhost messed up and is not displaying your site (this happens all the time!)
Step 2: Confirm that your website traffic is actually dropping
Not all the times tools are 100% accurate and that’s why is so important to double check and confirm the traffic loss.
You have to check your site analytics with Google Analytics or with another analytics tool in order to verify that the organic traffic of your site is indeed dropping. It is very normal for the chart to go up and down.
But if you see that you have a big downward drop and it doesn’t come back up, that means that something is wrong.
In general, information offered by Google are most accurate. If you want, you ca use other tools to confirm your site drop or to give a 2nd layer of confidence.
You can use Ahrefs Site Explorer or other tools you can find online. These 2 traffic tools provide all the information you need in one place, in order to diagnose and repair the ranking drops.
When you are using them , make sure that you check for the correct country. If your site is in Sweden, make sure you are looking for the Sweden ranking ,not UK or US or other country.
Step 3: Check the Google search console for any errors or warnings
See how is Google crawling your site. Are there any errors or penalties for your site?
You have to know that Google notifies you of crawl errors automatically when the bots crawl your website and also will notify you of any manual actions by their human reviewers if they flag your site’s pages.
The information that you will get from Google will be straightforward so check for errors and take care of them when they appear.
Step 4: Review any recent changes
You are thinking that you didn’t made any changes.
There are some things that change in a site’s backend pretty often that could be affecting your site.
Think about any of these possible changes :
Any new plugins
Any updates on existing plugins
A new site theme
Some new pages added
Any major URL structure changes (Moving your blog?)
Remove this from any pages that you want to rank.
Step 5: Check for any recent Google updates
Things go up or down in SEO. From here, they may go back without you doing anything.
Google usually releases multiple updates every year. So changes are really inevitable .
You can check when your rankings dropped and use this date to see if there was an uppdate from Google around that time. If there was, then it is a big possibility that it is the reason for your site fluctuations.
You can use some tools to check for SERP fluctuations like SEMrush’s Sensor, Rank Ranger’s Rank Risk Index, and SerpMetrics’ Flux chart.
If you have the confirmation that it was an update from Google that caused your rankings to drop, try and improve your website according to what that update may have been targeting.
Step 6: Find out what exactly dropped and when
Once you’ve checked the above steps to rule them out, you can start to do some closer serches to see what dropped. Was it:
A certain page: Is it just one key page that dropped or more?
Certain pages: Was it multiple pages that dropped?
The whole site: Did all of your pages take a hit?
Certain keywords: What keywords in particular are you targeting and looking for, which ones have started to drop, and when did they start dropping?
To check for this information use your tools : analytics, Rank Tracker, or Ahrefs.
You can use this data to do research and identify a possible cause:
Were there any known Google Updates around this date?
Did you stop doing any work that you had been doing consistently around this time?
Have you received any notifications in Google search console?
Is your business or website seasonal? For example, a Christmas website will have more traffic in Nov/Dec rather than May.
Step 7: Find out if you’re being outranked
Sometimes your website didn’t “drop,” rather, it was just outperformed by another website!
To find out if this is the case, check:
How many backlinks your competition have? Your goal is to beat them.
How much content does your competition have? More content usually translates into better rankings for a site.
How many pages does the competition have? As with more content, a competitor with more high-quality pages than you might get better rankings than you and your site.
You can get this information very easy, just by plugging your URL and your competitors’ URL’s into Ahrefs Domain Comparison like you see in the image below:
Once you’ve run through all the above possibilities, you can check these specific factors to see if there’s something going on with your backlink profile or onpage optimization that needs to be fixed or changed by you.
Step 8: Check your backlink website profile
Check Your Backlink Profile
The links pointing to your website can have also an impact over the site. Here are the things to look for:
Check for lost backlinks
If you have lost backlink from an authority site that helped pump you up can now result in a rankings drop.
There are some tools that you can use to check your link profile like: The HOTH’s Backlink Checker, Ahrefs, Majestic.
If using Ahrefs, go to “Lost Backlinks” zone and check for any specific days with an important link or abnormal number of links lost by your website.
Double check where those links came from in order to see what may be affecting it. If those lost links were helping, see if you can re-establish them by reaching out to the publishers of the pages they were on. Maybe you can restore the links between your sites.
Check for any spammy or unnatural backlinks
When you check your site’s backlinks, you want to be alert about certain types of links that can hurt your rankings and your site.
You can check for this using Ahrefs by searching your website and going to “Backlinks.”
Here are some things to watch for when you are evaluating your site backlinks:
Sitewide links: These are not always spammy if they are natural and relevant for your site. A sitewide link found in a header, sidebar, footer on another website can be completely natural. For example, a relevant blogroll link would be a natural sitewide link.
Anchor text for sitewide links pointing to you should be branded terms rather than keywords of site, and your site should be very relevant to the site linking to yours. On the other hand, too many sitewide links with keyword rather than branded anchor text from sites that aren’t relevant to yours can have a negative impact on your site and rankings.
Languages: Links from China, Russia, or any non-Roman character site. 3-5 of these links are ok for a large backlink profile, however if your local pizza shop has 1,000 Russian backlinks, that’s bad for you.
Any websites that are similar to bookmark sites or are not “in-content” links.
If backlinks look unnatural to you, they may look unnatural in Google’s eyes, too. So, remember to disavow any links that you receive a manual action/notification for in Google Search Console.
To improve the health of your backlink profile, focus on building more natural/in-content links and creating additional content that gets linked to. Try to use more brands, well-known for your market and niche, for example for some projects we are using ZIMERTECH or Bazaar Gadgets. Try more alternatives like https://domain.com
Check IP (Location) of the backlinks of your site
Too many backlinks coming from a single IP are unnatural in some cases.
We sometimes see website with links from PBN (private blog network) sites pointing to them. Those sites have the same IP because they’re built on the same host, and thus are unnaturaland bad for the site.
A lot of sites have the same IPs naturally, however.
Check Referring Domains Ratio
The ratio of backlinks vs. domains should be always relatively proportional. You’ll usually get more backlinks than referring domains since some domains will refer to you more than once.
However, 600-800 backlinks coming from 2 Referring Domains does not look natural at all. These are most likely sitewide links that you should check for relevance in order to be sure that they are ok. In that case, you should identify which sites have the most links from them to yours.
Once you’ve identified the site with too many backlinks coming from it, disavow those links for the good of your site.
Check the Anchor text ratio
Ahrefs makes this easy to check by entering the site and going to “Anchors:” like in the image
Exact match keywords should not be over 10% of referring domains or pages. Keep anchor text branded, benign (non-keywords), and naked.
Step 9: Check Onpage factors
The content on your site’s pages can affect your rankings too. Check for these on-page factors to avoid getting penalized without knowing why.
Check for thin content site
Too many pages on your site with thin content can hurt your SEO work.
To check that, use an Word Count tool and make a sheet listing the word count of every page on your site.
For any pages less than 500 words, decide whether that page has enough benefit to your site already (for example: by having gained backlinks, or by being an important product or sales page).
Try to hit at least 1000 words by adding good content to those shorter pages, or delete them from your website if they don’t benefit it.
E-commerce stores are websites with many product pages that don’t have much description on them may appear as having too much “thin content.”
For example, sites like Amazon.com solves this problem by including lots of content on a product page beyond its bullets and description with customer reviews and images.
So, additional to fixing any thin content by adding to or deleting it, try to post new content to your website regularly that is a good length (1,000+ words). One good sample you can check right here at Natural Vitamins Online.
check keywords on the site
When it comes to pages of your site that you’re trying to rank for a specific keyword, check for over-optimization and under-optimization in case it’s a factor of dropping the ranking.
Over-optimization can be identified when your keyword density is greater than or equal to 25%. Use an Keyword Density tool by entering your URL and the keyword to check its density on the page.
Under-optimization is the opposite of the over-optimization: If the keyword you want to rank for can’t be found in the text of that page you won’t rank for it at all.
To solve over-optimization, focus on topical relevance and make sure keywords are occurring naturally in the content of the page site. You’ll also want to be sure to include LSI or secondary keywords to help indicate the page’s topic to Google.
Step 10: Check in on your SEO activities and work
So, regarding “how to repair and solve a rankings drop“maybe your rankings didn’t drop, but they just aren’t growing as you want and are staying stagnant.
In that case, you will need to up your SEO game. SEO you aren’t doing isn’t a reason for dropping, but it could be a reason you aren’t growing at all or enough.
Here are some things that could contribute to stagnant or dropping rankings:
Not doing any consistent SEO work every month (such as once every 3 months). SEO needs to be done consistently over time if you want to see great results for your site.
Adding JUST content or JUST links to your website doesn’t help you very much. You need both content and links added to your site together as consistently as you can.
The competition level of the keywords you want to rank your site for might outweigh the work being done. Check to make sure the SEO you’re putting in matches the difficulty level of those keywords.
You can check the Keyword Difficulty (KD) of keywords in Ahrefs. It runs on a scale of 0-100:
Low Competition = KD 0 – 30
Medium = KD 30 – 70
High = KD 70+
Don’t forget that the time is a factor in SEO. It can take at least 3 months of consistent work (or more) to see rankings start to increase. But once you put a good work in and rankings start going up, they’re easier to maintain there.
The bottom line here is that the SEO work you do needs to be consistent and proportional to the competition of the keywords you’re targeting for your site.. Make sure you are aware of the difficulty level to avoid having mismatched expectations, and to avoid being upset.
Now you have a full checklist to run through when your rankings are stagnant or dropping.
Remember not to panic. You can get your site’s mojo back with some good work and attention.
You just need to be methodical in how you diagnose your site to see what may be going wrong and take the good steps to fix it. Good luck!