Falls in ranking can put you on panic stations, but don’t worry – here we look at how to diagnose your ranking drops. Once you know what’s gone wrong, you’re better placed to take the action you need to recover your rankings.

It is important to understand that rankings can fluctuate for a lot of legitimate reasons. These range from day-to-day algorithm adjustments, to the activities of your competitors on their websites, to personalised search results that might vary for different users.

But if your position drops significantly or the fall is prolonged, it’s probably worth investigating to decide whether you need to do something about it, especially if your sales or revenues have taken a slump too.

Are you sure?

First of all, double-check your data. Did you get the figures from a reliable SEO tool or analytics platform? Do you get different results if you log out, or use a different logged-in user’s account to run a search? Are you in a different geographical location than normal?

If you’re confident that your SEO tools are reliable and that your ranking has dropped regardless of any personalised search effects, then you can proceed with your detective work to diagnose the hidden cause behind your affected search position.

Algorithm updates

Google’s algorithms change daily, but these minor adjustments should not have a huge impact on your rankings, especially across your entire website.

Look out for Core Update announcements – these are when Google make significant and specific changes to how they rank websites – and try to anticipate these from the moment they are announced, rather than waiting until they are implemented.

Also check platforms like Google Analytics and the Search Console for any sign of manual penalties imposed against you, as resolving these can be the fastest way to recover rankings.

You can learn more about how to tackle algorithm updates in this article.

Traffic changes

Analytics platforms can help you to identify falls in traffic and may also be useful in diagnosing the cause.

Remember, a drop in search rankings causes not all fall in traffic. They can also be a sign of a problem with one of your social media profiles or could be a sign that your hosting provider experienced an outage that prevented visitors from reaching your website.

Prioritise problems that have the most significant negative impact on your website. A fall in ranking from page one to page five is usually a bigger problem than a drop from page three to page four, for instance.

Learn more about what to do if your traffic drops.

When the issue could be closer to home

Sometimes it is not an algorithm update, a competitor’s actions, or a technical problem that’s to blame for a drop in your search rankings – sometimes the responsible party is closer to home.

Look for any configuration changes on your website, such as a change in URL structures or page templates.

Check if any content has been deleted or if spammy, low-quality content has been published as part of a marketing campaign.

Also check the various ways you can block search robots from crawling and indexing your site – the robots.txt file in your root directory, or the robots meta tag on individual pages.

Check out SALT.agency’s official robots.txt guide to learn more.

High quality, optimised content

One of the best ways to maintain high rankings in the search results is to continue to publish good search-optimised content.

That doesn’t mean sales landing pages with an excessively heavy marketing tone, but genuine, in-depth articles with natural SEO keyword inclusion.

You can support these with different multimedia types, optimised URLs and good hierarchical site structure, but regularly publishing content is always a good idea.

Take a look at what your rivals have published, especially if one of their recent pages has overtaken one of your best performers in the search result rankings.

Get professional help

A good SEO agency will be able to help you recover, maintain and improve rankings by building organic backlinks to your website, publishing quality content and improving your presence on relevant social networks.

You can think of the internet as a funnel fed by many different pipes – search, social, direct links and so on – with your website, contact page or order form at the end of the funnel.

Maintaining your search engine rankings is one crucial element in feeding this funnel, so it’s right to watch your rankings, as part of a broad online marketing strategy that keeps sales opportunities coming in over the long term.

Check out our contact page to get in touch.