What Should You Do If Your SEO Rankings Go Down?
What should you do if your SEO rankings go down? Panic? Run out of your office screaming for help? As a top web design company, we are very aware of how important SEO rankings can be and have also faced that exact same problem. While running and screaming does have its place in the world of alarmed reactions, it tends to be a bit over dramatic just because your SEO rankings slipped a notch or two.
Rather than go that route, we recommend approaching the problem from a more logical perspective and perform some basic SEO diagnostics first. These steps can help uncover the problem and then you can move on to resolving the issue with a practical solution.
Was there an actual change?
There can be false positives in the SEO world. So before we jump fully down the rabbit hole of concern let’s review our rankings again from a step or two back to gather some perspective.
First and foremost was there a holiday, large nation or global event, or internet outage over any part of the past week? Sometimes search can get a boost or drop from simple things like everyone going outside for the Fourth of July or a massive blizzard that knocks out power along the east coast.
Next, have you compared the affected pages over larger ranges of time? For example, is this drop larger than any prior drops in the past 6 months? Look carefully over your organic traffic numbers and try and see if there is any sort of pattern or if the actual drop is acceptable compared to the normal ebb and flow every site has with SEO. After that check the Google Search Console and see if there is the same or a similar rankings drop.
If you still feel there is an actual, notable change make sure not to panic. There are always going to be fluctuations that go both ways. At this point you should sit tight and monitor your rankings each day to try and determine if your drop is sustained or just a down point that then ticks back up.
After all of that if you do determine you have a prolonged dip then you need to determine what caused it.
What then caused the change?
Let’s put on our Sherlock hat and start sleuthing. While there are a lot of things you can check, here is where we feel it is best to start:
- Check the page history – Did you or anyone make any changes recently to the affected pages? The simplest solution is the one to check first. There are a lot of things on a page that can change which then affect SEO such as the page URL, changing keywords in the page title and headers, or even overall keyword density. Heck, Google could just be having a hard time crawling your site which means checking the search console reports to ensure they see everything you have to offer.
- Check Google – If you didn’t change anything, did Google? They are known to make tweaks to their search algorithm and often don’t bother to announce what they do to the world. However you can check the big internet news site like Search Engine Watch and see if any Google SEO stories have been posted.
- Check your links – How are all your links doing? You should run a lost links report to check if you have lost links and also check your internal links on the affected pages if you have any. Sometimes that can even happen if you make changes to the site navigation.
- Check the competition – Of course if you didn’t change anything, Google didn’t change anything and all your links and everything else is working as it should then the next thing to check is the competition. Have your competitors jumped over you because of a strong SEO campaign that is bearing fruit?
There are a number of things you can do depending on the exact problem. If things have changed on your end one obvious solution is to put things back the way it was or find fixes to boost your rankings back to where it was. If Google made a change then it looks like you need to figure out exactly what it was and then modify your strategy properly. The same goes for getting passed by your competitors.
The bottom line is that SEO is a tough discipline and gaining rankings and maintaining them requires work. What you should do if your SEO rankings go down is not to panic, but instead take an analytic approach to accessing and then fixing what went wrong. After all, you were able to get your rankings to a certain level before and with some analysis and strategizing you should be able to do so again.
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