As soon as they sense a drop in their ranking many business owners panic and think that they are on the slippery slope to page 5 of Google. Thankfully, in most cases the situation is temporary, and even if the drop is sustained, there will be an explanation for it.
What it will mean is carrying out some simple checks to determine why the ranking drop happened. Some of those checks will involve using SEO research tools so it might mean you need to employ an SEO consultant or agency to carry them out.
Here is a guide to 4 of those checks that can be made in order to find the culprit and reverse the drop.
#1 Is Your Website In Full Working Order?
It is astonishing that many business owners do not look in on their website on a regular basis, and so if anything happens to go wrong on it, they do not become aware of this until their rankings start going south.
There are some really basic things you need to check such as the expiry dates of your domain registration or your hosting. Yes, it does happen that a website disappears from rankings because the business owner forgot to renew their hosting service or their domain.
Also, check if your hosting company is having any problems or outages. While most hosting services will be up well over 99.5% of the time, it could be that 0.5% downtime that is the issue.
Your website hosting server or a dedicated server might also be under a DDOS attack, which is when malicious hackers try to overwhelm it by sending floods of unwanted traffic in order to bring those servers down.
#2 Look For Issues In Google Search Console
It is somewhat ironic that we often think that Google is the enemy when it comes to SEO and ranking, when instead they can actually be our best friend…well, ok, a useful acquaintance at least.
Within Google Search Console you will find notifications of any errors or penalties that are currently on or applied to your website. For example, crawl errors will show automatically anytime one of their spiders crawl your website and find something amiss.
As for penalties, this is more of a manual process, and they will occur whenever one of their reviewers finds something on a website that is against their policies.
If you should find an error or penalty, there should also be information within Google Search Console as to how you can fix it, thus giving you the chance to rectify them as quickly as possible.
#3 Have You Missed A Google Update?
Google has an ever-ending quest to make their search results as useful as the can to those you use their search engine, and their policies evolve to achieve that, and so does their ranking criteria.
That means what worked yesterday, might not work today with respect to SEO, and if you missed an update that has gone live, you could see your rankings and traffic drop if you haven’t taken the necessary action.
In reality, you should not see an update suddenly enacted out of the blue, as Google normally publicise their updates well in advance. Unfortunately, we are at a stage where they have multiple updates per year, and whilst not all of them are huge, there is enough of them to sometime catch out website owners.
The best policy is to have an agency take care of your SEO for you, as not only will they able to react in plenty of time when an update is announced, they can often use it to your advantage in terms of improved rankings, while your competition gets caught out napping.
#4 Could You Simply Be Outranked?
This is one which the vast majority of those who see their rankings and traffic drop often completely overlook as a reason for it.
Rather than anything being ‘wrong’, what has simply happened is that one or more of their competitors have been working on their SEO, and as a result, they have now managed to outrank the business that thinks it has a problem.
Well. it does have a problem, in the sense that it needs to get its SEO strategy, if it has one, back on track. This is when an SEO agency can be invaluable as it will have the tools to assess what those competitors have been doing to improve their ranking.
After that assessment, the agency can then implement the SEO tactics and strategies necessary for the business to regain its rankings, and this time help them ensure they can keep them.
Bear in mind, that those competitors are unlikely to take you outranking them again lying down. So, if you want to maintain your rankings, you may find it wise to keep your SEO agency employed on an ongoing basis to cover any actions your competitors take.