How to Diagnose and Repair a Rankings Drop in Simple Steps

repair rankings

Google is a mighty search engine. It’s the most popular and widely used search tool worldwide, with an estimated market share as high as 94%. Other leading search engines such as Yahoo!, Bing, and AOL only have about 6% of the global online searches.So it’s not surprising that when you’re performing a Google search, you are likely to get an overwhelming number of results.If you are a business owner promoting your website, it’s even more frustrating when Google decides to drop your rankings. You may have all the best content written for your visitors, but if not implemented correctly to improve SEO, you’ll soon notice that there’s something off with how Google is ranking your website.To make sense of the entire process, you need a step-by-step guide on diagnosing and repairing a rankings drop in simple steps. It’s a very tedious job, yet we highly recommend that you learn more about this SEO task as soon as possible. If you can do this, you can bring your website back to the top of the search engine results page.You might experience a rankings drop for various reasons. Usually, it’s due to one or a combination of the following: low-quality links, website errors, outdated content, or Google penalties.In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of diagnosing and repairing a rankings drop in simple steps. By following these steps, you’ll be able to do it more efficiently.

Diagnosing and Repairing a Rankings Drop

The best way to diagnose and repair a rankings drop is by performing these steps:

  • Step 1 – Diagnose the problem
  • Step 2 – Fix the problem
  • Step 3 – Evaluate your progress and continue to monitor for any other changes or problems

Before beginning the process, you need to check the history of your website using Google Webmaster Tools. By performing this action, you’ll get to see the list of problems that may have caused your ranking drop from Google’s perspective and monitor your penalties.When you first sign up for Webmaster Tools, you will receive an email notification that Google has detected “this site may not be compliant with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

To resolve this issue, a list of recommendations will be included in the report, including checking your crawl rate, checking your page titles and meta description tags, checking the site indexation, etc.Next, you need to find out if there are any problems with the keywords that you’re ranking for in Google Search. Go to Google AdWords Keyword Tool and enter a few of those keywords into the search box. If you notice a drastic change in the search volume of those keywords, you might be having a problem.

Check your Google Analytics to see how many people have been visiting your site and compare it to before your rankings dropped. If there’s an obvious decrease in traffic, it’s likely that you’ve lost a portion of your site’s authority that’s why you’re ranking lower.Also, you need to find out if there are any significant changes in the top pages and sections of your website which have resulted in this problem. For instance, have you implemented new functionality on your site recently? Did you just publish new content? Did the number of external links to your site increase? All of these are significant changes that can possibly result to a drop in rankings.

Step 1 – Diagnose the problem

The first step is to diagnose the problem. You need to go through all of your web pages and analyze them individually to find out what’s wrong with each page or section of the website.More importantly, make sure that there’s nothing wrong with your pages. If your site has multiple pages or sections having problems, try narrowing down the issue to one section or page at a time.

Step 2 – Fix the problem

The next step is to fix the problem. Fixing common issues can be straightforward, even if you don’t have technical SEO skills.Some of the most prevalent issues that cause Google ranking penalties and how you can easily fix each include:Low-quality Links
One of the most common reasons why you might be experiencing a drop in rankings is due to low-quality links.
If your site or a number of your web pages have a high number of outdated or spammy backlinks, it can result in penalties. To resolve this, you need to remove all of those links as soon as possible.404 Errors
Another common problem that results in a drop in rankings is site errors. If you see a spike in 404 errors, it can be the reason why your website dropped from Google’s search results. It isn’t showing up because web pages don’t exist anymore.To solve this issue, you need to go back and ensure that everything’s set up properly to solve this issue. After you’ve fixed the problem, Google will view your site as compliant with its guidelines and start showing your pages again in search engine results.

Site Speed or Lack Thereof

Another common reason for a drop in rankings is site speed or lack thereof.If your site isn’t loading fast enough, there are specific measures you can take to resolve the problem. These steps include: enabling caching, using a content delivery network, optimizing your images, reducing the size of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML text files, and choosing the right web hosting plan.Google has placed a lot of emphasis on website speed related to its ranking algorithm. If your site doesn’t load quickly, you can see low-quality scores, resulting in lower rankings.Mobile-Friendliness
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly or doesn’t load quickly on smartphones and tablets, it can also lead to a drop in rankings. Google placed an emphasis on how fast sites appear when accessed from different devices.

Step 3 – Monitor progress

The last step you need to perform is to monitor your rankings. Once you’ve fixed the problem, you need to keep an eye on your rankings for at least 5-7 days to see if they start to rise again. If the issue isn’t resolved after a week, you might be dealing with more severe problems with your site. If this is the case, you need to hire an SEO expert who can do this on your behalf.The key here is not to panic when you experience a drop in rankings. Most of the time, they are caused by minor issues and can be fixed easily.

Fixing a Drop in Rankings for Specific Keywords

If you’re trying to figure out why your website rankings have dropped for various keywords, there are also steps you can take to diagnose and repair the problem.It doesn’t help that some opt for “pump and dump” techniques to gain views or set aside legitimate content creation. Also, there are various ways that website owners try to hack the system in Google’s favor, which is tantamount to cheating and can also result in a drop in rankings.Simply put, if your site’s rankings decline, it’s because you may have done things to push your website down in SERPs.

Tips for fixing a rankings drop

In summary, the steps to fix a rankings drop are as follows:

  1. Check for Google algorithm updates.
  2. Identify any changes in your website or content.
  3. Audit your backlinks and disavow any that are low quality or spammy.
  4. Make sure your website loads fast and is mobile-friendly.
  5. Conduct a search engine optimization audit to improve your site’s ranking signals.
  6. Increase your social media engagement and followers.
  7. Try paid advertising via Google AdWords or Facebook Ads.
  8. Track your results with the SERPWatcher rank monitoring tool.

Other Possible Reasons for a Drop in Rankings

  1. Lack of fresh and unique content.
  2. Guest blogging and link building are done in a spammy way.
  3. A poor user experience due to any of the following:
    • Too many broken links, ads, or distracting content on the website.
    • Bad design or structuring of the site pages, such as not enough headings or over-reliance on text-only content.
    • Slow website speed, an unhelpful site navigation system, and lack of call to action (i.e., a way for readers to take some action, such as getting in touch with you).
  4. Violations of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  5.  The use of black-hat SEO techniques such as:
    • Cloaking and sneaky redirects.
    • Overuse of keywords in page titles, description meta tags, and within web pages.
    • Keyword stuffing and link buying.
    • Link schemes intended to boost rankings artificially.
    • Identifying and using loopholes in Google’s algorithm.
  6. Excessive social media engagement, especially from users who have a lot of fake followers. Performing this action inflates your site’s authority and can artificially increase rankings.
  7. Poor or lack of link building to other websites within your niche.
  8. Duplicate content on your website or blog.
  9.  Poor internal linking, especially from higher authority pages to lower authority pages or content.
  10. Keyword cannibalization, wherein your page appears multiple times for different keywords, dilutes the page’s rankings for ALL of those keywords. Remember, it’s better to focus on one page and the best keywords for that page.
  11. Overuse of rich snippets (review stars, etc.) can sometimes trigger a penalty in Google’s algorithm. You don’t want your site or blog to look like an advertisement. Instead, you want it to be helpful to readers and earn their trust.
  12. Linking out too much or having too many external links on your page. Having too many links can also dilute the rankings on that page for ALL of those keywords. 

  13. If your site is new and doesn’t appear yet in search results,  Google may need more time to index it. Give it at least six months before assuming that all of your hard work hasn’t paid off.

The steps we mentioned in this article should prove useful to get your rankings back on track. If you need help with any of the steps, or if other issues contribute to the problem that we didn’t cover here, contact us for a free consultation. We’re eager to get started in solving your ranking problems together!

About the Author

Sherwin has been in the customer service industry since 2011 before landing his first job as a content writer three years ago. In 2016, he decided to pursue Psychology as a second degree. In between social experiments and case studies, he continued to fuel his passion for writing by serving as the chief editor of their university publication for three years.

At present, he’s a full-time writer for Reach Digital, writing mainly about SEO and online marketing topics, and has been a part of the company’s pool of writers since October 2020.

When he’s not traversing the alleyways of digital marketing, you’ll most likely find him backpacking as he tries to find inspiration for his next book.