As a professional SEO agency with clients in Australia, the USA & UK, one of the top questions we get is “why have my rankings dropped?”
You, dear reader, may think it strange for an SEO professional to admit that this is a number 1 question; so let me preface this article by saying it’s not because our clients suffer consistent ranking drops!
“Why have my rankings dropped” is the number 1 question we get from a) new customers who are considering leaving their existing agency or b) a client who monitors their own rankings regularly and wonders why the results they see are different to those we report.
So let’s get straight into it and discover why rankings do drop, and how it can be fixed.
Why have my rankings dropped ?
- SEO is not an exact science
Read this recent Search Engine Journal article where Google’s John Mueller clearly states SEO is not an exact science, and that things change all time.
Anyone who says “this is exactly what you must do to rank at number 1”, or guarantees number 1 results, is scamming you. These type’s of statements are purely sales talk and nothing any decent SEO professional would claim.
Search engine results change hourly. You could search a keyword and 30 minutes later see different results.
- SEO requires active client participation
Your SEO team cannot be the sole reason for the success of your SEO program.
A reputable SEO provider requires client input, because nobody knows your business like you do.
Regular blogs (whilst they can be outsourced by a content writer, must have client input, even just to read and approve or edit).
There should be at least 2 blogs per month that have been researched and marked up.
Industry changes, launches, updates, anything new in the business must be communicated to the SEO team.
Without regular communication, SEO results will be poor.
- Website maintenance is poor
We consistently see rankings increase when a website is regularly updated and kept in good technical condition.
It is not the SEO team’s responsibility to maintain a website (unless this is part of the terms of agreement).
An experienced SEO team will make recommendations and point out what may be wrong with the website, however, keeping a website regularly maintained is generally the responsibility of the web developer or client.
See point 8 about major overhauls.
- Other channels do not support SEO
SEO is not a stand alone marketing tool.
I personally like to call our strategy ‘The Power of 3′.
– Paid Ads
– Social Media
These three channels should be used collaboratively to support each other. The combination then improves the performance of each channel as they piggyback off each other (which is where we then see the importance of Assisted Conversions).
- Website content is old
If you haven’t updated your website content in a while, it’s time to review the pages and see what older content can be given a bit of a facelift. Search engines like fresh content, this is something your SEO Team should be on top of.
- Recommendation haven’t been taken on board
SEO providers are not your parents. We won’t keep reminding you of things we need from you if you don’t respond to repeated requests.
If recommendations have been made numerous times, yet you still haven’t implemented them, it is likely the notes will be filed away for safe keeping and referred back to when things start going downhill.
You pay good money for your SEO service – take their advice or don’t bother engaging them.
- Regular blogs are not written
I’ve actually got to the stage where unless a client agrees to produce regular blogs (or agrees to our copywriter creating them), I wont take the client on.
Whilst blogs themselves may not directly lead to conversions, they do increase site traffic if well written, and a Featured Snippet will do wonders for online authority.
- Your website was recently updated
If your website has recently been updated, undertaken a site redesign or had a major overhaul, it is 99% likely your rankings will drop.
As long as SEO has been taken into consideration, then this will be a temporary drop and rankings will again increase.
- There is a problem with indexing
Google Search Console will tell you if Google has any issues with your website.
If you are managing your own SEO, use this as a valuable resource.
If you engage an SEO team, make sure they are updating you on any issues.
- A competitor has outranked you
It could also be likely that a competitor has outranked you. Ask your SEO team to investigate and report back.
- There’s been a Google Algorithm update
These updates can be killers! The good news is, whilst initially causing a shakeup, the dust soon settles and rankings return.
As I write this, the most recent update was 3 weeks ago, and we are just now seeing the dust settle on some accounts.
What to do if your rankings have dropped?
First of all, remember that the first page results continuously change. If you are still on page one – especially ranking between spot 1 and 5, then stop panicking.
Stop searching for yourself on Google. Google search results are AI driven. You are skewing your SEO efforts and the results are not indicative of the true rankings.
Remember that a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.
Unless you understand SEO intimately, stop assuming you know what the problem is and try to fix it, as you may just damage your cause. If you manage your own SEO then continue educating yourself. If you doubt what your SEO team is telling you, then replace them.
I’ve listed 10 reasons for rankings drops above, there are many many more. But as you can see, SEO is not an exact science. There are so many variables, and so much to monitor and improve for overall success. This is why a reputable SEO company is worth their weight in gold……