10 Steps You Need To Do When You're Ranking Drops
A massive drop in rankings can be an SEO horror story for many so check out these steps to review when your ranking drops. So what should you do when your rankings go down? Google will never disappoint to remind us that they update almost every single day which can sometimes cause your rankings to go in the wrong direction. So when you check the SERPs or console and see that your rankings took a toll, take a deep breath and go over this list we made specifically for situations like this. Setting up a strategic troubleshooting plan can get you started on the right foot. These are 10 tried and tested strategies that can help you get back on track with your organic SEO rankings!
1) Cover the Basics
When reviewing and monitoring keyword performance and focusing on more advanced strategies, it is common to overlook the on-page SEO ABCs. Fixing something quickly on your website can sometimes resolve many of the issues. Do your pages return a 200 status code? This indicates that your site is communicating successfully. The standard 200 OK status code indicates that you have a successful HTTP request. Free tools like httpstatus can be used to confirm that your site is returning a successful request. You can troubleshoot based on the failed status codes like 404 (page not found) or 410 (page permanently removed). Next, you need to understand that robots.txt is a text file in the top-level directory of your web server that instructs bots on how to interact with your website. You have the ability to include and exclude things in the file as per your liking, such as disallowing bots from crawling a dev site or indexing duplicate pages. Make sure you haven’t set the restrictions too tightly, preventing search bots from crawling any of your main pages. Double-check the robots.txt file with Google’s free Robots Testing Tool, and if you find anything missing, upload a more permissive file to the server.
2) Don’t Forget the SEO Basics
Making sure your SEO basics are set right ensures that you are prepared to compete in the game. Although title tags aren’t a search engine ranking factor, they do have an influence. Make sure that SEO basics, such as title tags, meta descriptions, and headings, aren’t holding back your rankings. These are simple things to get done correctly so don’t overlook them. Double check that you optimized your homepage title and meta tags, and that they are being displayed correctly in the search results. Do not miss the massive opportunity of telling the bots to use the homepage title tag to say what your page is about. Title tags that aren’t very unique can affect the ranking of your page. While meta descriptions do not directly affect SEO, relevant, persuasive metas can improve the click-through rates. Get your title and meta tags customized within the head section of your site’s HTML. If your site runs on WordPress, install a free plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to easily manage titles and meta tags across your site. Other than the title tag, the main heading also lets your visitors know what is the primary purpose of the page. But when it is contained in an H1 tag, it becomes more difficult for search bots to differentiate them from the rest of the content on the page. See to it that a single, relevant H1 is used on each page.
3) Lookout for any Google Algorithm Updates
Since link algorithm Penguin and quality algorithm Panda have become a part of Google’s core algorithm, you always need to stay alert on how any minor tweaks can impact your rankings. Every day we see multiple updates! To stay on top of the breaking developments in SEO, you can follow influencers like Danny Goodwin, Barry Schwartz, and Google’s Gary IIIyes. When you see webmasters panicking, it is a sure sign that an adjustment has been made. Don’t panic about ranking fluctuations if you are doing things the right way; in-depth content, clean and intuitive site layout, and fast load times.
4) Review Google Search Console
Google has always been crystal clear as to what they expect from a website. Follow Google’s guidelines and you will be rewarded with great search performance. Google Search Console (GSC) is Google’s free service that allows you to monitor, maintain and optimize your site’s visibility in search engines. Check GSC and see if there are any crawl errors messing up with the indexing or visibility of your site. Navigate to the Index Coverage report to see if there are any issues such as DNS errors, server errors, or URL errors. Through GSC, you can submit an XML sitemap that charts the structure of your site. See to it that there is no discrepancy between the number of URLs submitted and the number of URLs indexed by Google. You can crawl your site with a scanning software such as Screaming Frog to zero in on the issue. Inspect individual URLs in the Search Console to see if individual pages have errors or issues that need attention. In your Search Console Preferences, be sure to check Enable Email Notifications so you’re quickly alerted of any big issues. Check in with Google Search Console on a regular basis.
5) Review Google Analytics
Google Analytics shows if there is a drop in traffic or user metrics like time on page, pages per session, or bounce rate. If you have made recent changes to your site content, design, or functionality, then reverting the changes can help traffic bounce back. Google Analytics offers a treasure trove of information about how people can find your site, how you can find out how much time they spend on your time, and what triggers them to leave before making use of the call to action command.
6) Create Quality Content
Duplicate and uninteresting content can have a major impact on your website’s rankings. Interacting with the visitors is also a good idea to keep them engaged. You might look at what your competitors are doing wrong and work on it. If users aren’t spending time on a certain page, it indicates that the content isn’t connecting. Other than manual analysis of your site’s content, tools such as Copyscape and Siteliner can be used to check whether the content is original. If issues with duplicate content are flagged, they can be corrected by rewriting or expanding the content.
7) Make Sure Your Site has Exceptional Speed
If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, know that you are behind the race already. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that can help you find out the speed of your page along with actionable strategies to help improve your site’s load time. You can also find the Core Web Vitals report in the Search Console, to see metrics like Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay. Optimizations like leveraging browser caching, minifying code, optimizing images, and enabling resource compression can help take your website to the next level.
8) Make Sure it is Mobile-Friendly
Google now is an almost entirely mobile-first, mobile-only venture. Not being able to provide a good mobile experience is totally unacceptable. Every element that functions on desktop doesn’t necessarily work on mobile and you may not want to miss out on leads with a slow or complicated website. Run your site through Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to see if mobile compatibility could be affecting your rankings.
9) Check Your Backlink Profile
If your backlink profile is small, Google might see you as a less reliable site than other better-linked ones. While on the other hand, just a few backlinks from authority sites and tons of links from spammy sites can hamper your ability to rank. It is always wise to audit your backlink profile when your rankings drop. Tools such as Ahrefs can help you see what sites are linking to your site, which pages they have linked, and what anchor text is used.
10) Review Your Keywords List
Tracking the wrong keywords can have an impact on your rankings. For instance, say you run a digital marketing agency and have stopped providing graphic designing services and have removed that page from your site. It is likely that you will still fall for keywords related to those services. So when you see a downward trend for the primary keywords that drive traffic, a thorough intervention is needed.
Staying on top of your SEO performance is a business necessity. Keeping up to date can help prevent any future drops in your ranking. If you every find yourself in a situation when your ranking goes down then be sure to review these 10 steps.
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