I personally know how panicky one can get when they see that their Google rankings have dropped, especially dramatically.
Having experienced this countless times, I have learned why this happens and what to do when it does. This article is going to show you what actions you can take to fix this problem.
This is also an open topic meaning that if you are personally seeing your site’s rankings drop in Google and you don’t know why this is happening, tell me about it below and give me details so I can help you figure this out, but before you do that, please read this article first, because chances are, the issue that’s causing this on your site will be addressed and if my tips help, comment below anyway 🙂
The first thing I want to say is that there are a multitude of reasons why this stuff happens, but I’m going to list 10 of the most likeliest reasons and give you the solutions to each problem. Odds are, if you address these 10 problems correctly, then the other reasons why your rankings fell will also be addressed automatically. Think about this as though you are fixing the “root” of the problem.
- 1 Each of these 10 reasons carries it’s own color:
- 2 10 common reasons why your Google rankings drop:
- 3 1) The Google Dance. Level: Green.
- 4 Solution:
- 5 2) You are looking at your results through Google+. Level: Green.
- 6 Solution:
- 7 3) You slowed down your blogging/content creation. Level: Yellow.
- 8 Solution:
- 9 4) Holidays or other events are playing a role. Level: Green.
- 10 Solution:
- 11 5) Your website has been hacked and has malware. Level: Red.
- 12 Solution:
- 13 6) Your website has 404 errors (broken links). Level: Yellow.
- 14 Solution:
- 15 7) Your website links to low quality/bad content. Level: Red.
- 16 Solution:
- 17 8) You have badly written content. Level: Red.
- 18 Solution:
- 19 9) You approve spam comments with bad links in them. Level: Red.
- 20 Solution:
- 21 10) You do the following black hat things. Level: Red.
- 22 Solution:
- 23 Now that you know the 10 most common things that affect Google ranking…
- 24 Want specific tips on improving your rankings?
Each of these 10 reasons carries it’s own color:
- Green: It’s not really a problem and will be corrected on it’s own.
- Yellow: It could be a problem and you should do certain things to fix it.
- Red: It is a big problem and it needs to be corrected ASAP.
Having these 3 colors to rely on to understand why your ranking is dropping is important because people who don’t understand how this whole ranking and SEO game works will look at any drop that’s happening and equate it to a red level emergency (many times, it won’t be the case), so hold on panicking just yet…
10 common reasons why your Google rankings drop:
1) The Google Dance. Level: Green.
There is a 99% chance that if your rankings are dropping or fluctuating, that the main cause is due to the Google dance and not some truly serious circumstance. This is a completely normal process that Google uses on EVERY, SINGLE, WEBSITE that tries to get high rankings.
The more new your website is in it’s early age (under 6 months) and it’s content amount (not a lot of pages or blog posts), the more this dance will happen and it can go on for months, during which the position your site appears on, will never stay that way. It’ll “parkour” itself all over Google’s search results.
During this early period, your site will experience the Google Sandbox and within that time period, will see the biggest ranking fluctuations.
Understand that the dance and sandbox are normal things every new website goes through. Very often, you will need to just let this play out. The best way to calm the dance and solidify higher, more consistent rankings that aren’t hopping around everywhere is to add more content to your site and have it grow.
The older a site is, the more content it has, the more authority there is, the less of a dance you’ll be experiencing. So work on the site and let the dance play itself out. To speed this along, each time you post new content, use Google Webmaster Tools and the fetch tool. It’ll provide faster indexing and help the site mature faster.
For example, I see this dance happening on one of my websites. I have a special tool which shows me how a particular blog post of mine is doing on Google. Check out those fluctuations:
But it’s because I know about the dance and that it’s normal, that I know it’s nothing to worry about.
2) You are looking at your results through Google+. Level: Green.
I face palm a lot when I see people posting that they wrote a blog post and that it’s ranking on the first page Google in minutes. Already I know that there’s a 99% chance that they are not looking at the REAL results, they are looking at them while looking through their Google+ account.
You see what happens is that a person registers on this social network.
Then they write a blog post and share that blog post on the network.
Then they go on Google, type in the keyword associated with that blog post and BECAUSE they are logged into the social network, they will get personalized results (not the real ranking results) and it will show that blog post they shared as being on the first page.
They are going to celebrate, thinking that they conquered the Google rankings, when in fact the TRUE position of that blog post is nowhere near page 1.
Once they find this out, they think it dropped somehow and panic. It kills me to have to tell them this each time because they get depressed and think they have somehow failed, but it’s necessary that they realize why this is going on, otherwise, they aren’t going to do what’s right to fix the problem.
Do not be logged into the social network when you look for your blog post’s ranking. You can also just use a completely different web browser that you’re not logged into to see the results. 99.9% of the time, if you just published your blog post, it will NOT be on the first page.
Don’t worry, use the same tip I provided above for the Google dance to fix this issue. It takes time, but it’s the best way to go improve the ranking.
Want to know what your site’s rankings are on Google? Use these tools.
3) You slowed down your blogging/content creation. Level: Yellow.
SEO and high rankings is something that takes a lot of work and time to reach, but there is also a maintenance discipline required to keep those rankings…
Most of the time, a SLOW decline in rankings is an indication that you’re slowing down on the content production. When Google sees that you significantly reduced your content production pace, they will adjust your site’s favorably with it, accordingly. It may not always happen quickly, but if you see steady decline in rankings, look to the pace you’re putting out content as a possible reason this is happening.
If you were once producing a blog post daily for an entire year, then the next year, you start producing a blog post once a week, that’s a significant decline in your content production and your rankings will proportionally reflect that, you’ll see it.
And also make sure you know the difference between a slow decline and a massive drop because each one has it’s own reasons. Slow declines are usually not as much of a big deal. If you see a MASSIVE drop, then you’ll need to start worrying (we’ll get to that situation). See this post to know how often you should post content.
4) Holidays or other events are playing a role. Level: Green.
If you are doing everything you need to do be doing for good SEO results, but there comes a moment where you suddenly start seeing a drop in traffic, odds are, it has nothing to do with you, either it’s the dance I talked about earlier OR some sort of national or worldwide event took place that distracted people from your site.
Just about every single website created out there has it’s own “seasonal period” where it’s doing well and periods where this drops.
Consider holidays for example:
Christmas, New Years, Rosh Hashana, the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, long weekends due to holidays, ect…
These types of events absolutely affect your traffic. They will likely even affect your sales and the reason why is because people are just distracted by the said event.
Consider world events too in this. Things happen all across the world that divert people’s attention to it and when those things happen, that attention is diverted away from your site, it’s NORMAL.
1 good example:
A client who I did SEO services for a very long time ago once called when he saw a drop in his site’s traffic and that clients were coming in less during a specific week. I diagnosed the problem as being that this week was Spring Break and thus that was the reason. Once it ended, traffic picked back up and clients began to flow back in.
1 more good example:
Don’t panic, once the said event passes, they’ll come back to you. All you really need to do is identify IF there’s an actual event happening that is impacting your traffic. Once you do that, look at your site’s rankings, if they are steady and/or not really rising or falling dramatically, then you are fine.
5) Your website has been hacked and has malware. Level: Red.
One of the fastest ways you will experience a rank drop in Google is if your website become infected with Malware. This can happen to just about anyone who doesn’t update their website or have a good security fence on it.
What’ll happen is that hackers will look for any “holes” in your website and basically use that to infiltrate it and start linking madly to low quality websites that also have malware. They’ll also infect people who visit your site with this should they click on the links.
Since this type of thing ruins the user experience and jeopardizes their computer/financial safety, Google will slap down your site very quickly to avoid that page getting too much exposure and damaging the user experience.
The first thing you need to do is determine if your website is actually hacked. You can do this by running several different plugins for malware checks on your website and/or visiting it and clicking on the links you have, if they lead to some bad website (you’ll know it’s a bad site, trust me), then you’ve got malware.
Contact your hosting provider and let them know ASAP. They will basically reboot your site’s version to help clean it away from the issue but you will want to run a program to cleanse the page off the problem.
Then once you do, re-submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. This will basically let them know your site is now clean and ready to get back up in the rankings.
I have personally had this happen on an old site of mine and I was able to re-establish rankings afterwards following these steps.
When people visit your website and click on a link, they expect that link to open up. If it doesn’t, it ruins their experience and that does affect your site negatively.
Think of any link I posted on this very article. If you click it, it opens up. More so, you click that link expecting to see something and that expectation is rewarded. If it wasn’t, your experience on my site would be lowered and that would impact the SEO of it.
When Google crawls your website and checks your links, sees they are broken, that too affects your website negatively.
You can also create 404 errors without even realizing it. The most common thing I see people screw up is that they’ll change their permalink. One word, one letter change is all it takes for that 404 to pop up.
The first way to fix this problem is to never change the links you have on your site. But if you already did…
Very often people just don’t understand that the links they point their audience to, have an affect on that audience experience. If you link people to bad sites or sites that don’t interest them, they will leave your site. What’s worse is that IF you for some really stupid reason decide to link out of your website and into horrible, illegal, adult websites, your website will not rank well at all.
Don’t link to bad sites.
8) You have badly written content. Level: Red.
I honestly didn’t want to add this to the list because people who have bad content don’t even experience good rankings to begin with, but many times you just don’t know whether you write good or bad stuff.
Let me put it this way: Bad content = trying to spam people, write grammatically incoherent stuff, and trying to sell things without giving good reasons why people should buy them.
Don’t write bad content…
Spammers like hackers are always looking to infiltrate your website. And commenting with the intent to get their stuff through is one of the ways they do it.
It just so happens that comments, when legit are GREAT for improving your SEO ranking, but when they are not legit, they can be horrible for the site.
10) You do the following black hat things. Level: Red.
Think of everything Google wants to see on your website to make it rank well and consider black hat to be the opposite of ALL of that. Here’s 3 types of black hat things you should avoid:
Don’t use any of those 3 things I just listed. They are black hat.
Now that you know the 10 most common things that affect Google ranking…
As well as the reasons WHY they affect it, you should be able to isolate your personal issue and why your website is dropping there. You will also be able to identify if the reason is a big deal or something not to worry about.
Just as well, if these 10 things didn’t help solve the problem, you are welcome to tell me about your website and I’ll try to identify why there’s a drop happening. But please be specific about your website and what you’ve been doing on it/with it.
The LAST thing I want to say is that you should totally expect your rankings to rise and fall, even when your website is doing well. It can be a little and if that’s the case, you’re probably fine, if it’s A LOT, then you need to worry.
But either way, EXPECT this to happen. This is a NORMAL part of SEO.
Want specific tips on improving your rankings?
If so, then I have a list of things you can do for that. Here is a great article that provides a checklist of things you should be doing.