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How to Diagnose and Fix a Rankings Drop in 6 Easy Steps

5 min read

Navigating the ebb and flow of online business rankings and traffic fluctuations becomes second nature over time. Even those dramatic plummets, though disheartening, might have crossed your path. However, if you’re a newcomer to the scene and have enjoyed an uninterrupted reign at the pinnacle, the recent dip in your rankings could induce a sense of panic. Take solace in the understanding that this setback is not etched in stone; what has slipped away can be reclaimed. The query arises: why does this tumult occur? The landscape is rife with myriad factors. Fortunately, for both you and us, methodologies exist to dissect and rectify a drop in rankings and traffic. There’s a way to unearth the precise reason(s) meticulously and strategically ascend from there. Below is a compilation of six streamlined steps, offering a comprehensive guide to diagnosing and remedying a decline in rankings. Continue reading to uncover the insights!

1. Confirm That Your Rankings and Traffic is Actually Dropping

“But this is why I find myself on your website, engrossed in this blog.” That’s the initial thought crossing your mind. Yet, before you proceed, grant us a moment to explain. Resist the urge to undertake sweeping changes based solely on intuition. The sage advice is to verify before you venture forth. When confronted with a minor dip in rankings—perhaps a transition from Position 3 to Position 5—coupled with traffic fluctuations hovering around your customary average, there’s no need to set off alarm bells prematurely. A certain degree of volatility is par for the course and doesn’t necessarily align with your apprehensions.
Nonetheless, if a substantial plummet occurs—picture a descent from Page 1 straight down to Page 5—there’s unmistakably cause for concern. A swift inspection via Google Analytics will furnish clarity, standing as the most reliable approach among various methods or tools. Our diagnostic arsenal comprises an amalgamation of Google Analytics, Search Console, SEMrush, and Ahrefs—deployed to identify and corroborate a decline in rankings and traffic. If the threads linking your website to Google Analytics remain unknotted, it’s imperative to hasten this connection immediately.

2. Check for Errors on Google Search Console

Think of Google Search Console as a doctor keeping your site’s health in check and notifying you every time there’s an error or a warning, however major or minor, or worse still, a penalty. Log on to Search Console to find out:

  • Are there pages being blocked by Robots.txt?
  • Page or pages marked in No Index?
  • Does the page have a crawling issue? Anomaly? Duplicates?
  • Are there 404 Errors, Server Errors, or Redirect Errors?
  • Are there any Mobile Usability Errors?
  • Are there any manual actions against your website?
  • Or are there any Penalties that need to be taken down?
  • All this information will be pretty easily accessible and need to be taken care of on priority.

In case you find a penalty and unsure how to fix it, we recommend you go through 10 STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SERP RANKINGS IN 2020 WITHOUT BEING PENALIZED BY GOOGLE: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE.

3. Review the Latest Algorithm Changes in Google

These occurrences are constantly unfolding daily, often eluding public attention, particularly the more minor ones. Yet, they wield an impact on your rankings and traffic, exerting their influence in stealth. This covert interplay results in the observed fluctuations. It’s a natural rhythm—transitory deviations give way to the familiar cadence, usually requiring no proactive intervention on your part. On the grand stage of major Google Algorithms, however, the scenario takes a divergent turn, with these transformations nearly always cataloged and chronicled across various platforms, an inevitability beyond your realm of control.
Should a momentous algorithmic shift coincide with the temporal descent of your rankings and traffic, the probability is high that this adjustment is responsible for the dimming spotlight on your website’s appeal. In such instances, your optimal course of action entails a concerted endeavor to recalibrate and refine (read: enhance) your website, aligning its essence with the specific focus of the algorithm update. Conversely, when the chronicle of algorithmic updates reveals no correlation with the onset of your website’s lackluster performance, the juncture demands a meticulous examination of alternate causal factors.

4. Review the Latest On-page Changes Made on Your Website and Content

Whatever changes you make to your page you’re trying to rank can directly affect its position and traffic inflow based on how relevant or irrelevant Google thinks you’ve made the information with respect to the target keyword and the queries it wants to address.

This includes content that appears on the page. Lengthier it is, better are its chances of getting ranked higher, given that it is originally written and written well. On the other hand, short content will keep your progress, well, short. Try and write or rewrite each of the pages to at least a thousand words. Remove pages with thin content altogether if they don’t add any value. If you don’t, Google will rank them down anyway.

Other On-page SEO factors like Title Tags, URLs, Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Keyword Selection and Density et cetera can also directly affect your rankings.

Check for New Plug-ins added or Any Major URL Structure Change

It’s entirely plausible that subtle adjustments have ushered in unintended consequences. Odd as it may seem, specific actions you’ve taken, perhaps without a second thought, could have silently influenced your rankings and traffic. They likely have. Consider scenarios like integrating a new plugin into your website’s framework or executing updates on pre-existing ones. Even alterations as seemingly innocuous as modifying your website’s theme or introducing fresh pages can unwittingly cast a shadow on your site’s standing. A systematic review of these elements, taken step by step, could unveil a significant clue.
The architecture of your URLs, too, might hold the key to deciphering the perplexing downturn in rankings and traffic. Have you relocated your site to an entirely new URL? Perhaps multiple sitemaps are concurrently running in tandem with Google’s algorithms? Prioritizing an investigation into the latter could pave the way for restoring your previous equilibrium, possibly transforming the unsettling fluctuations back to the familiar norm.

5. Review Your Site’s Backlink profile

Put briefly, the volume and caliber of high-quality backlinks in your arsenal directly correlate with your ranking ascent. Scrutinizing your backlink portfolio holds the key to unveiling the complete narrative.

Investigate Broken or Vanished Backlinks – Once funneling valuable referral traffic, a premium backlink might have severed its connection or ceased functioning altogether. Utilize the resources of SEMrush to aid in this endeavor. Should you pinpoint specific links as the culprits, consider reestablishing rapport by initiating communication.

Exercise Vigilance Against Spammy Backlinks – While perceiving every backlink as an asset might be tempting, such a perspective veers off track. Cultivating a robust site and scaling the ranking ladder necessitates the judicious disavowal of these detrimental links. A recalibration of your backlink strategy, pivoting towards natural and in-content links, emerges as a crucial mandate for elevating your site’s well-being and rankings.

Monitor Anchor Text Ratios – Simplify this task with Ahrefs. Navigate to the site and select ‘Anchors’ for a streamlined evaluation. Adhere to a regimen of non-keyword-based, branded, and bare anchor text. Strive to confine exact-match keywords to a prudent 10% or less of the referring domains, which fosters equilibrium and authenticity.

It’s important that you don’t skip any of the above mentioned steps when trying to diagnose and fix a rankings drop of your website. However, if you still feel this is all too overwhelming or if the problem persists, you can schedule a consultation with us, SarkarSEO, and we will help your website get back on Page 1 of Google and stay there.

Sarkar SEO
[email protected]

Mohit Parnami aka Sarkar is an entrepreneur, marketer and Co-Founder of SarkarSEO. He is passionate about SEO and lifelong learner to learn new things. He has been in the internet marketing industry for 10+ years.