Nothing is as frustrating as a drop in site ranking on Google. The top-ranked website on Google gets 32% of all click-through traffic, meaning that a drop in ranking will hurt your bottom line massively.
Almost every website loses its rank on SERPs, but you can implement measures to reduce the frequency of such drops. Some reasons for losing rank are obvious, while others are not so direct.
What Causes a Drop in Site Ranking on Google?
Here are a few reasons why your website might lose its rank on search results.
A low-quality backlink is a link that you purchase or create to manipulate Google’s algorithms so that you rank higher on SERPs. If you resort to such tactics, you risk getting a penalty or getting your site de-indexed from the search engine.
Example of sources of such links includes low-quality article directories, low-quality guest posts, low-quality web directories, and spam comments. Here is a complete list of link schemes that go against Google’s best practices.
If your site has low-quality links, the best remedy is removing them. You should then send an email to Google’s webmasters notifying them of the adjustments made on your website. If you had received a penalty, you should ask them to reconsider.
A redirect refers to an instance where a user clicks on an address but is instead taken to another address.
For example, if a specific page on your site ranks top on Google.com.sg but instead directs users to your home page when clicked, that is a bad redirect. Since it returns information that is not relevant to the searcher, you will lose rankings on search results. Links that generate 404 errors also count as bad redirects.
The quickest solution to this problem is creating an alternative URL for every new redirect. The new link should direct users to a page with similar or even better content than the original page. If you are yet to create the new pages, you should not implement redirects.
According to Google, duplication occurs when two different pieces of content on your website match each other, either partially or entirely. If your site has duplicate content, it can hurt your rank on SERPs.
The SEMRush Site Audit tool is an excellent resource for identifying duplicate content on your website. It flags all pages whose contents have an 80% similarity or more, as well as all pages with too little content.
The solution to this problem is using 301 redirects so that both users and search engine bots cannot access the old content. Alternatively, you can use rel=canonical tags so that search engines can differentiate original content from duplicate content.
Updating Title and Meta Tags
The title tag is essential in site ranking because it tells Google about the contents of your webpage. A slight change in the structure of the title tag can impact on your ranking. For instance, if your previous title was ‘the best digital marketer in Singapore’ and you change it to ‘digital agency in Singapore’ you can lose ranking on Google.
Google Analytics enables you to compare the performance of the two titles by checking the traffic generated by each title. However, you need to have a backup of your website so that you can access the old page with the original title tag.
When you are migrating your site, always keep the title and Meta tags that were generating lots of traffic by ranking high on search results. Otherwise, you will experience a drop in site ranking on Google.
Changing Your Content
Another cause for a drop in site ranking on Google is changing your content. Content is one of the main ranking factors on Google, meaning that the smallest adjustments have a significant impact on your SERP rank.
Google Analytics is useful in comparing the performance of old content to new content. If you notice a difference, you can rectify it by including the keyword phrases from the old content that are not in the new version. Also, you can use the old content as a reference when rewriting new content.
Incorrect Use of Noindex Tags, Nofollow Attribute and Robot.txt File
The noindex tag, the nofollow attribute, and the robots.txt file are technical aspects of a webpage that have an enormous impact on your site ranking.
The noindex tag tells Google to avoid indexing a specific page on your website. This means that it cannot appear in search results. Robots.txt has a similar impact, meaning that it prevents your webpages from ranking on Google.com.sg. A nofollow attribute can hurt your ranking if applied on any part of your website.
You can check for the presence of noindex tags or nofollow attributes by right-clicking webpages on your website and viewing the source code. Also, make sure that you assess the robot.txt file to see if it blocks search engines from crawling some pages on your website.
If you find noindex tags and nofollow attributes, you should remove them immediately. Similarly, you should edit the robot.txt files so that search engine bots crawl all pages on your website.
Google Algorithm Updates
Google changes its ranking algorithms frequently. The reason for this is to provide an optimal experience for searchers and ensure that they get the most relevant results. If such changes occur, you might lose your position on search results.
A drop in site ranking on Google does not mean that you are doing it wrong, especially if it is a result of algorithm changes. It is only an indicator that you need to conform to change.
It is essential to keep track of any algorithm updates by following the Google Webmasters Blog. In the case of a core update, you need to optimise the user experience on your website.
You can experience a drop in site ranking on Google if you continually receive valid copyright removal notices. According to Google, this ensures that searchers gain access to legitimate and quality sources of content. This particularly applies to websites that deal with music, videos and other forms of streaming content.
You can see the copyright violation requests filed against your website by searching your URL on the Google Transparency Report. Once you see the report, make sure that you remove all the pages that infringe the copyrights. You should also implement a strict policy against the uploading of copyrighted content to your site.
Improvements by Direct Rivals
If your direct competitors implement better SEO strategies than you, you will lose ranking on SERPs.
The best tool for tracking your competitors is SEMRush. It allows you to see what keywords they are ranking for, how much traffic they are receiving, and many other useful parameters. Searching your main keywords on Google.com.sg can also provide some insights about your rivals.
Google emphasises responsiveness, which is why they rank websites based on the mobile version of their site instead of the desktop platform.
The increasing use of mobile devices has led to a corresponding increase in voice search. If your platform is non-responsive, you should expect a drop in site ranking on Google.
Google has a free tool for measuring the mobile-friendliness of your website. It also gives suggestions on how to make your site responsive to all screen sizes. You should also remember to optimise for voice search.
Poor Security Features
You can experience a drop in site ranking on Google as a result of poor security features. Incidences such as malware infection, hacking and other security breaches can encourage Google to push down your site on search results.
Besides, the search engine will notify any user trying to access the website that it poses a security risk. This can reduce your organic traffic significantly.
In most cases, Google sends messages to your Search Console when a security breach occurs. You can also use the Safe Browsing tool to see if you are compromised.
The good thing is that Google suggests ways through which you can improve security on your website. If you are unable to do it, it is advisable to upload a backup and request a review from experts.
Changing Internal Links
Changing the structure of your internal links can cause a drop in site ranking on Google. The Search Console is an excellent platform for checking if you have multiple internal links pointing to crucial pages on your website. If you notice any broken links, you should fix them by restoring them to their previous state.
The factors mentioned above are some of the leading causes of a drop in site ranking on Google. You need to avoid them if you do not want your SEO investments to go to waste.
That said, you can maintain and improve your site ranking by creating valuable and relevant content. More importantly, provide an optimal user experience on your website. More importantly, you should adhere to Google’s best practices.
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