Why My Website Google Rankings Dropped Dramatically & How To Recover
19 Reasons Why My Website Google Rankings Have Dropped Dramatically & How To Recover From Google SEO Penalty
Google organic rankings are the backbone of the majority of online businesses, and if your established business rankings drop dramatically or your website was progressing well and all of sudden starts to disappear from Google results, it could be a big blow to your business. Nothing happens without a reason, so if your website rankings have dropped, either your website activities are the direct reason behind it or Google algorithmic changes have impacted your website rankings somehow. Before starting to panic, you need to figure out first what went wrong and if there is actually a ranking change. Before starting to explore the solution, you need to properly figure out the problem first. Once you know the problem, you can recover rankings easily if they have dropped due to an ordinary mistake but if it is a severe Google penalty then you must reverse all of the wrongdoing through the proper processes and then you should be able to recover from the Google SEO penalty - it will definitely be a time consuming process.
We have compiled a list of potential reasons for your drop in rankings and possible ways to recover from a Google penalty.
Your Website Lost Valuable Inbound Back-Links: Losing quality natural inbound links could have a severe impact on your website rankings on Google and other search engines. You can lose such links due to many reasons e.g. website re-design or update, links removed intentionally, links moved to another place etc. If your inbound links have been lost then you should plan a strategy to re-build those inbound links.
Google Algorithm Update & Changes: There is not much you can do if your website rankings have been affected by Google algorithmic updates. Google regularly adds/updates its algorithms to improve its search results and many websites see some impact of algorithmic changes on their search results. You shouldn’t panic if your website has seen some fluctuation in its rankings due to Google algorithmic updates; sometimes the rankings go down slightly for a certain period of time and they bounce back quickly, and we would highly recommend you to use social media and SEO marketing techniques to carry out white hat SEO work to continue improving your website rankings.
Crawl Errors & Broken Redirect Issues: Crawl errors and broken links could have a negative impact on your website rankings e.g. if you are re-designing your website, migrating to a new server, changing URL’s, changing domain name and have not implemented 301 redirect properly, then it could be bad news for your business as you are leaving behind the link juice your previous URL had, and also your website could be penalised for the duplicate content on both websites if 301 redirect is not in place.
You Are Tracking The Wrong Keywords: If you are an established business and have been trading for many years, you might be using outdated and irrelevant keywords. You should revise your keywords (both short-tail and long-tail) to make sure you are using the right approach.
Location Based Search Result Discrepancies: Google results could be different depending on the location you are searching from e.g. if you are searching for the same keyword from two different locations, it is highly likely that the results will be different.
Website Speed & Page Load Analysis: If your website’s overall speed or page load speed is slow, it could have a negative impact on your website rankings and user experience. Over the past few years Google has focussed heavily on user experience especially for mobile site experience, and websites that load quickly and give a better user experience are more likely to appear on the top pages. Therefore any drop in rankings could be related to your website’s overall speed or individual page load speed which you should definitely investigate further. There are free websites such as Google PageSpeed Insights, pingdom and gtmetrix that allow you to check your website speed for both mobile and desktop versions.
Manual Google Search Engine Penalty & Rankings Drop: If your website is manually penalised by Google search engine then the best place to start is by looking at your Google Webmaster account. If you are sure you have got a Google manual penalty then you will be able to find some information in the Manual Actions section of the Google webmaster tool. It will also tell you which pages of your website are not using Google quality guidelines and how you can resolve the problem. If your website rankings have dropped sharply then it is highly likely that your website got a manual penalty by Google employees for some black hat SEO work. To recover from such a penalty is simple: admit your mistake, follow Google guidelines, remove any black hat work that is not compliant with Google guidelines, submit your re-consideration request and only use white hat SEO methodologies for SEO work in future.
Server Side Issues Drop Rankings: If your website rankings have dropped due to server side issues, then you should speak to your hosting provider and try to resolve the server side issues because continuous server side issues can have a bad impact on your website visibility on Google and other search engines. To identify and resolve the problem, look at your server logs or see how Google renders and fetches your pages.
Spam Inbound Back Link Penalty: Spam and outdated back links can harm your website rankings badly instead of putting any positive impact. Google policies are very clear about the link building process. Any black hat link building techniques used to influence rankings get penalised severely by Google algorithms. We have seen over the years that most websites that get penalised on Google are due to spam black hat link building practices. Therefore, if your website rankings have dropped sharply and you believe you have carried out any black hat link building activity, then you should remove all of those spam links first and file a Google re-consideration request.
CTR Putting Negative Impact: Over the past few years Google is focussing heavily on user experience, especially on the mobile site version. If your website is not giving a good user experience and taking longer to load, it could have a negative impact on your website click through rate. If people are leaving your website quickly it could increase your website bounce rate (which you can check through your Google analytics or Google webmaster tool); a higher bounce rate can impact your website rankings on Google. If your website rankings are affected due to CTR then we would advise you to improve your website user experience and reduce the bounce rate.
Duplicate Content: Duplicate content within your website or contents copied from other websites are very bad for your website presence. Avoid content duplication and write useful, informative, fresh and SEO friendly articles on your webpages to avoid a Google penalty.
High Competition & Competitors Are Outranking Your Website: Your competitors are smart and keeping a close eye on your business and making bold moves to outrank your website - that’s why competitors analysis is extremely important. There are several SEO tools that allow you to carry out automated competitors analysis with a small one-off or monthly payment. Keep an eye on your competitor’s SEO, link building, content writing, web design and other social media marketing practices to do a better job than them. If your website is seeing some gradual drop in rankings, your competitors’ activities are playing some role in that rank drop.
Website Internal Navigation Structure: A complex and deep down website navigation structure could put a negative impact on your website rankings. If you are losing rankings due to navigation structure then try to simplify your website navigation so that your customers don’t have to click too many links to get to the page they want to visit. In the complex navigation process, customers are more likely to leave your website; this could increase your website bounce rate, impact user experience and lower website rankings.
Meta Tags: Meta tags are useful HTML elements and provide information to search engines about the webpage. Your website’s recent ranking drop could be related to missing or irrelevant Meta tags. E.g. if you have recently re-designed or migrated your website and Meta tag information is missing on the new pages, it could have a negative impact on your website rankings. Title & Description Meta tags are very important as they tell the search engine about your webpage. If you have changed body content on a particular webpage but forgot to change the Meta tags, it could impact your website rankings.
Well Ranked Page Change: A drop in ranking could be related to re-naming or migration of the page that was already well ranked and you forgot to add 301 redirect to pass link juice or page benefit from the old page to the new page. If you are moving or re-naming any page then make sure the old page has been properly re-directed to the new page and all links are fixed.
Change in Website Traffic: Any change in website traffic could affect website rankings. Websites receive web traffic from several sources such as organic search traffic, paid traffic, referrals, direct traffic, email marketing or social media traffic. You can check your website traffic and associated information through your Google analytics account and see what type of traffic has been affected and is putting a negative impact on the website rankings.
Higher Bounce Rate: Being a website owner, you should keep a close watch on your website bounce rate through Google analytics because if your website bounce rate is increasing, it could impact your website rankings. If your website bounce rate has increased, it is a clear indication that your website user experience has worsened and that’s why people are leaving your website quickly without finding what they are looking for - this could put a negative impact on your website rankings.
Website Re-design, Changes, Migration, or Other On-Site Issues: If you have recently re-designed your website, migrated to another platform or some webpages have been added/amended/deleted and because of these changes your rankings are now going down, then make sure 301-redirect has been properly implemented and broken links have been fixed to avoid any drop in website rankings on Google and other search engines.
Negative SEO: Negative SEO is a very bad practise and is used by competitors to destroy the online presence of other rival businesses. The most common method used in negative SEO is spam link building. Using this process, competitors arrange spam back links pointing towards their rival business to negatively influence their web presence. Keep an eye on your Google webmaster tool ‘Links section’ and use the Google disavow process to disapprove any such links pointing to your website.
Competition amongst businesses to attract maximum traffic and sales is very high and they spend huge amounts of money to improve their website’s online visibility. When everything is going in the right direction and all of sudden your website’s organic rankings drop, it results in a massive negative impact on your traffic, sales and overall business but just worrying about it won’t solve the problem. As we know, Google is not against any particular business unless that business is following black hat SEO practises to deceive Google algorithms. Google platform is made from businesses and for businesses. Anybody trying to deceive Google algorithms through black hat SEO methodologies doesn’t go undetected by Google. If you haven’t followed any bad practise to achieve top rankings then you shouldn’t worry too much - try to figure out the problem and fix it, and it shouldn’t take much time to recover from an unintentional mistake.