7 Things to Do When Your Google Rankings Drop

While Google rankings are no longer available for prominent display via the Page Rank toolbar add-on, this metric never went away, and neither did the authority it infers.  So, when your rankings start to drop and you lose top position or even page one exposure, you naturally want to do all you can to find the cause and update your SEO strategy.  Here are some tips to help you figure out where the problem may lie and what you can do to improve your rankings and reach your audience.

1. Check Your Backlink Profile

Plenty of factors can impact Google rankings, but one of the biggest is your linking profile or the number and quality of links you have pointing back to your website.  While building a solid network of quality organic backlinks takes time, you can’t forget to remain vigilant when it comes to maintaining your backlink profile, as opposed to focusing all of your effort on securing new backlinks.

Luckily, there are tools available to help you find a complete profile of your domain and page-specific backlinks, complete with data pertaining to growth and decline over time, as well as issues like broken, nofollow, or spammy links that could be damaging your performance on Google. Two great options to consider are Majestic, which provides data on quantity and quality of backlinks, and the SEO Spider tool from Screaming Frog, which you can also use to find duplicate content, audit redirects, analyze meta data, and more.

2. Fix Redirect or Crawl Issues that Hurt Google Rankings

Over time, you’re bound to make changes to your website – adding, deleting, and updating pages.  This can cause problems if redirects don’t work (or you fail to create them).  Whether users are trying to reach your website or bots are finding pages inaccessible during crawls, you may experience some decline in rankings as previously viable pathways to your website are rendered useless.

Correcting these common issues gives you the opportunity to make the most of long-term SEO efforts. If you’re like 38% of websites on the internet today that are powered by WordPress, you might want to consider handy plugins like the 301 Redirects, an easy redirect manager, or Redirection, for example.

3. Research Changing Google Algorithms

Anyone engaging in e-commerce knows the dread of changing algorithms.  Just when you think you’ve got a handle on your SEO strategy and you’re starting to see gains, it seems like Google blindsides you with a new set of rules that either diminish or outright destroy your strategy.  What you might not know is that Google is constantly tinkering with their algorithms (it is estimated they perform hundreds or even thousands of “changes” and “improvements” annually), so in between announcements for major upgrades, it’s not a bad idea to stay abreast of smaller changes that could be responsible for dwindling rankings.

4. Improve User Experience

It’s easy enough to blame broken backlinks or changing algorithms for messing up your Google rankings, but you also need to remember that the user experience plays a role in traffic, authority, and other important metrics.  If, for example, your site isn’t responsive (i.e., mobile-friendly) or pages are slow to load, you might not only see higher bounce rates, costing you customers, but you might start to see problems where rankings are concerned.  In other words, ensuring a good user experience imparts myriad benefits.

5. Check Google for Manual Action

It is possible to raise Google’s ire without intending to, and if you start to see rankings drop for no discernable reason, it could be because there is a manual action against your website or specific web pages.  You may have done something to earn demotion, or perhaps a mistake has occurred.  Either way, you need to correct the issue as soon as possible.  Using Google Search Console, you can verify manual action, receive alerts when issues arise, and notify Google when problems have been fixed.

6. Update Copy for SEO

You’ve probably heard the popular SEO adage “content is king”.  For the last several years, the team at Google has made it their mission to deliver the most relevant and high-quality content for search queries, and this has led websites to up the ante when it comes to their copy, delivering unique, value-driven content that speaks to consumers and earns Google recognition.

Duplicate, scraped, non-relevant, and low-quality content must be replaced with better fare if you hope to improve rankings and customer satisfaction. In addition, updating content gives you the opportunity to conduct keyword research and incorporate relevant, timely, and trending keywords, in order to drive SEO performance. Just make sure to avoid keyword stuffing practices that Google frowns on.

7. Perform Competitive Analysis

If you were the only company operating within a given category, it really wouldn’t matter how many backlinks you had or what kind of content was on your website.  Unfortunately, competition online is fierce, with north of 1.6 billion websites (and potentially closer to 2 billion) currently in existence, and an estimated 400 million active.

The point is, your Google rankings don’t exist in a bubble – you’re competing against other sites in your market, and it pays to understand how you measure up to them.  Competitive research is an essential part of any SEO strategy.  When you understand what competitors are doing right and how they’re surpassing you in rankings, you can tailor your strategy to account for competitive influence.

If you’re like most e-commerce companies, you don’t have a ton of time to devote to tracking down ranking snafus.  This is where a reputable and experienced full-service advertising, marketing, and web development agency like Jungle Communications can help.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve online rankings.

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