Getting slapped by Google with a rank drop is frustrating, and recovering can be very challenging. Follow this guide to help you understand why you lost rank in SERP and how to recover quickly.
Where is the bleed?
There are different reasons why your site lost ranking in SERP. The first task is to assess the situation and identify the problem. Once ths source of the leak is identified, you have to build a strategy to fix the problem. The following tips will provide you with different pain points and a solution for each.
On-page issues are the easiest to detect and to fix. Lucky google provided us with a toolset to identify these issues.
- Page Load speed. Check the load speed of your site using the PageSpeed Insights. Make sure that the site load speed rank is close or above 80 for both mobile and desktop.
- Site uptime. Make sure you don’t have stability issues on your site. Monitor your website using a web performance service like pingdom. It will provide you statistics about uptime from different geo-locations. This information is important as your site service provider might have issues from a specific country or region.
- Mobile Usability. Make sure that your site has no issues related the mobile usability. Text being small, clickable elements to close to each other, and content being wider than screen size are important issues that you must fix. You can easily determine if your site has these issues by checking the Mobile Usability section. The Google Search Console will provide you with the list of issues and the pages affected by these issues.
- Url Errors. Url errors are bugs in your site where you have pages indexed by Google, which don’t exist in your site. Page renames and wrong redirects are the main cause of such issues. Search console will provide you will all the errors that the crawl bot encountered when your site was indexed. Url errors are critical if important content is not accessible by the users.
- Content. Content is the cornerstone when it comes to the google search algorithm. Make sure that the quality of the content is top-notch. If you outsource content writing, make sure that articles don’t contain spelling and styling issues. Content is original and not a plagiarist. There is a vast rank of online tools that use AI to help identify these issues quickly. Take a sample of the pages and run them through a tool.
- The site marked as unsafe. If your site was hacked and infected by malware, Google will mark your site as unsafe. Google will de-index your site Make sure that you tackle this issue immediately.
On-page issues are harder to solve, as are typically more time-consuming. The following are the items you should be on the lookout.
Check your backlink statistics, particularly check if there was a loss of backlinks. It is also important to check the backlink statistics of the competition as well.
If you lost backlinks, did they go to the competition?
If you didn’t lose backlinks, did the competition have an increase in backlinks?
You don’t have control who links your site. For some reason or another, your site might be linked from sites that are not reputable, spammy, perform an illegal activity or part of a PBN. It is vital to audit and list backlinks, that might be harmful.
Once you audit your site, you can instruct Google to ignore these unnatural links to your site. Use Google Console to compile and upload a list of links that you want to disavow.
Competition acting nasty
Competition might be using black hat techniques to force google into penalizing your ranking. The two most common techniques are
- Adding backlinks to your site from sites with adult content or adding links with vulgar text in the anchor text. Make sure you disavow the links through Google Console
- The competitor site might copy the content of your website and use it on their site. If a site has higher authority than google might be forced into giving their pages a higher rank. Report the copyright infringement to google, so they get those pages delisted.
Changes or Update in Google Algorithm
Google changes the algorithm very frequently, making SEO very dynamic in nature with constantly changing.
Changes to the Google algorithms are mostly a black box. They provide announcements and release information about changes; however, it is very difficult to predict how updates will influence your sites. Also, there are cases when they publish changes without announcements.
If you detect a dip in your SERP results, it is best to check the SEMrush sensor. This tool provided by SEMRush tracks the movement of the top 20 sites in different categories. This tool will allow you to investigate if the dip in SERP was a result of Google Algorithm change.
The SEMRush sensor also provides information about the top 20 changes in a category. Using the information, you can research sites in your categories and investigate why their site is being rewarded. Your research should include the backlink distribution of the these sites, keywords, and an overview of the content and page structures.
The trick is to identify what are the differences between your site and the competition which is ranking better after the google algorithm change.
Once identified introduce one change at a time and monitor google for a period of time until you move to the next item. Once you see positive movement you have hit jackpot.
Introducing multiple changes at once might be counterproductive as it would be harder to identify what change was reworded by Google.
Losing rank in google search results can jeopardize months are hard work. Recovering can be a time consuming process and it is important that you fine tune your skill set to handle this scenario.
We at Gainchanger automate the tedious part of SEO to allow you to scale your results exponentially and focus on what really matters.
Simon Bonello is Co-founder of Gain Changer. His main area of focus is Business Process Automation, Software Technical Architecture and Technical SEO