You’ve worked hard to get your website to the coveted first page of Google. You’re enjoying the traffic influx, getting a few new business leads, or even making more eCommerce sales.
And then… all of a sudden… It hits like a ton of bricks. Your rankings tanked and you have zero idea why.
The truth is that there can be a lot of factors that contribute to a loss in site visits and high rankings. At Search Control, we help clients figure out this exact same issue all the time.
That’s why we wanted to use our expertise to give you the chance to understand what might have caused your dilemma. Here are seventeen of the most common search engine optimization problems that are dropping your rankings and traffic.
One of the most common culprits when it comes to falling rankings is not updating your website often enough. Google places a huge emphasis on providing informative and engaging content. Without fresh blog posts, articles, or evergreen information, it is hard to tell that you’re still offering the latest news and data.
The Fix: Set a content schedule to try to post at least one new piece of content a month. If you can, aim for more than this. After a few weeks, you should see an uptick in traffic and search rankings.
As you probably already know, things move faster today than ever before. In some business niches, this can mean what was important six months ago is now totally irrelevant. If you aren’t updating your website content to reflect these changes, then you’re putting yourself in a position to slide down in the search rankings while your competitors move up. Instead, you should constantly edit your current content and add new relative pieces to your page.
The Fix: Decide what your target audience needs to know most right now about the products and services you offer. Then add content with keywords that coordinate to that knowledge.
You have to think of bots as these little creatures that check out your website to find relevant information for Google. If the new design on your website is too graphically heavy or otherwise loads more slowly, it could be hard for the search engine giant’s bots to crawl your page. Furthermore, your navigation structure might have changed, which requires Google to re-evaluate the relevancy of certain content on your page. That’s why a page that formerly did well in rankings could tank after a visual update.
The Fix: Work with your website designer to ensure the navigation structure of your old website is similar to the new visual design.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you want to ensure you keep the content that consistently drives traffic on your website. Especially if it has a large number of keywords that pertain to your overall website and traffic push. This gives Google an error when they try to ensure your page is still live and functioning, which then causes them to fully pull it from the rankings.
The Fix: If you’re doing an audit of your existing content, make sure you know which pages are sending you the most traffic. Then leave them alone or update them with more content for an even better way to rank.
Another super common reason why websites suddenly tank in rankings is that their robots.txt file is sending mixed signals about what Google should be indexing. What does this mean? While explaining it can get technical, all you really need to know is that this one file in your website is telling search engines not to rank files and pages. As you can tell, this is completely opposite of what you really want to happen, which is why it needs to be fixed pronto.
The Fix: Reconfigure your robots.txt file to keep it from disallowing search engine bots. If you’re not sure how to do this, be sure to contact an expert for help.
This happens from time to time as other webmasters start to clean up the links on their pages. There really isn’t a whole lot you can do about it other than to reach out and ask that they link you again. If you aren’t already tracking these links, then it might be a mystery.
The Fix: Try to use an online tool to keep track of your backlinks to see who is giving you the most traffic. If there’s an issue, you’ll be able to pinpoint where the link was removed.
This is a similar issue. An old website that sent you tons of traffic and backlink juice suddenly fell off the face of the planet. Sadly, it is something that happens all the time and can really have a negative effect on your off-page SEO.
The Fix: Unlike a removed link, dead websites mean there isn’t much you can do to get it back. However, it is still important to try to track your backlinks in order to determine which site went offline and attribute a decline in traffic to that issue.
Sometimes, it isn’t anything you’ve done that can cause the issue. If you had a website giving you backlinks that suddenly became penalized by Google, you might see a decline in traffic, too. There isn’t much you can do about this one, either.
The Fix: Again, not much of a way to fix this other than to ensure you always have reputable websites linking to you. If you’re keeping track, you should be easily able to pick out the spammy ones that are a Google penalty waiting to happen. Then you can submit a disavow request to make sure search engines do not associate you with their bad deeds.
If your website is well-established, there’s a good chance that featured or rich snippets are sending some sort of traffic to your page. While this is definitely great, it can be a real bummer when Google changes their mind on what qualifies for snippets or makes algorithm changes. Further, there’s also a chance that a competitor has come up with a better description than you have and now has your spot.
The Fix: Make sure you analyze which featured and rich snippets are no longer sending traffic. Edit your descriptions to meet new guidelines and adapt to Google’s new standards.
Remember when we mentioned updating your content to meet your target market’s needs? Well, this goes along with that. Sometimes people just aren’t searching for what is on your website. And, when that happens, the end result is traffic tanks. It’s not necessarily any optimization issue. People just aren’t looking for that particular keyword.
The Fix: Always ensure your content is on the cutting edge of what people want to know. Refresh pages accordingly and create new blog posts, evergreen content, and articles around the latest and most popular keywords and long-tail phrases for your niche.
An occasional 4XX or 5XX server error isn’t that big of a deal. But when it goes on for hours or days on end, it could cause a problem with your search rankings. If Google tries to index your page while this is going on, they’ll likely believe that the content no longer exists. In the end, they’ll pull your high traffic page from rankings, and it will take quite some time to recover.
The Fix: Make sure your website and server are always working well. If you’re not into trying to attempt the tech side of this alone, our team at Search Control is here to help.
One big thing a lot of new website owners do is go with the cheapest hosting they can find. While this is usually okay if you have a minor page with only a few hundred hits per month, those with established pages usually have bigger needs. Often, these low-cost hosts get bogged down and websites go offline temporarily. If Google notices this going on or if your website visitors can see your page when they want to, you’ll see a significant drop in traffic.
The Fix: Make sure you’re working with a professional hosting platform that has a very high uptime. It might cost you a little more, but when you look out on the traffic and potential business you could be risking, it is definitely worth it.
WordPress and other platforms have regular backend updates that can sometimes cause issues. If your website is loading slow or doesn’t look great on mobile or tablet devices, this can cause Google to push you further down in the rankings. In turn, this means less traffic to your site.
The Fix: Make sure you’re pulling up your own website on various devices every so often. And definitely after any sort of plugin, theme, or platform update. Make sure the load time is fairly quick and there’s no bugs. If there are problems, contact our Search Control team immediately for help.
Those tracking their backlinks might occasionally see something odd… A huge influx of ones from websites that have nothing to do with your niche and seem incredibly out of place. In this instance, Google can sometimes penalize you for allowing it to happen, which can result in lower rankings and decreases in traffic
The Fix: Again, make sure you’re paying attention to who is backlinking your website by using a tool with a reporting feature. If you notice this problem happening, utilize Google’s disavow tool to disassociate your site from these troublemakers.
Oops! This sometimes happens if you get too excited about submitting those disavow links. In some cases, it is possible to do this to the wrong ones. That means you’re losing out on good backlinks that were sending you a ton of traffic and weren’t actually spammy.
The Fix: Before using the Google tool to disavow links, make sure they’re really causing you grief in the first place. Some of those links could come from reputable sources, and you want to keep them in place for the added off-page SEO boost.
This issue isn’t as common since Google+ shut down, but it is possible to accidentally disavow Google. If you previously went through your backlinks and used the tool to remove anything anywhere on the search engine giant’s network, you’ll definitely see a drop in traffic. This means that you’re essentially telling the website to not link to your page, which defeats the purpose of all of your SEO work. Yikes, right?
The Fix: There is no fix. Just make sure you don’t do this. Ever. Bad things will happen to your search engine optimization. And nobody enjoys that. However, if it has happened, give us a call. We’ll help you work through the issue.
Finally, the drop in traffic could just be a Google algorithm change. This seems to happen every so often with no particular rhyme or reason. They claim it has to do with improving the search functionality, but there are times when the end result doesn’t exactly make sense.
The Fix: This is whereas a website owner you’ll need to be prepared to adapt. Often, an algorithm change is broken down by SEO experts in a pretty big hurry. Read articles online or consult us on what your next move should be to regain your rankings and improve traffic.
Still not sure what to do after a drop in rankings and traffic? The good news is that our Search Control team is here to help. We have the experience necessary to ensure your page is fully optimized, while tracking down what caused the issue in the first place. We cannot wait to help you, so please get in touch with our knowledgeable SEO experts today to start the conversation.