It’s a question that we have all asked ourselves from time to time – why has my Google ranking suddenly dropped? Of course, Google is notoriously tight lipped, leaving many site owners to try and figure out what they have done wrong by themselves.

This week, the search engine did lift the curtain slightly with Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller sharing some titbits of advice on Google Hangouts for anyone wanting to know how to get a site tanking in the SERPs back on track.

The problem: sudden loss of visibility

A web master wanted to know why, on 14th January, what seemed to have been a significant change in rankings occurred. The loss led to a huge dip in traffic and revenue, despite the site owner not having been issued with any Google warnings or penalties. He wanted to know if Mueller had any specific advice on how to recover those lost rankings and get his business back on track.

Being in this situation is one that every business owner and webmaster dreads. If you don’t have any indication of what’s behind the decline, it can be hard to know where the root of the problem actually is. This makes clawing back search rankings incredibly difficult.

The answer: these things could cause significant changes

The very first thing that Mueller cleared up was that no update took place around 14 January (so if you noticed something strange around this time too and chalked it up to a Google update, that isn’t the case).

Search users aren’t interested

If your site has experienced a loss of traffic, it could be that it has nothing at all to do with the site itself, according to Google. Mueller says it could be search behaviour has changed, with Google users no longer interested in a particular topic. If a key theme has fallen out of favour, less people will be searching for it and that means you will notice a decline in visits.

Your quality rating has been adjusted

A growing part of search visibility relates to how good the quality of your content is. If a new site emerges with better content than yours, or your standards begin to slip, you may notice that your site starts to slide down the rankings. Mueller says an algorithm change could play some part in this, if an update determines that your quality rating should be changed (lowered).

What to do

  • Checking if search traffic has fallen due to changing search patterns is fairly easy – you can monitor volumes on Google Trends. From here, you can also explore emerging trends; related phrases and search strings which are suddenly becoming a lot more popular. Incorporating these terms into your content can help you to stay relevant and visible.
  • Double check you haven’t been struck with a Google Penalty. Log in to Search Console to do this. Any alerts, warnings or penalty notices should appear here. It’s wise to log in regularly as Google will flag up problems here, allowing you to fix any areas of concern or address technical issues before they cause problems with your ranking position.
  • Audit your content to determine whether you’ve fallen behind competitors. Look at sites that are ranking higher than you and study what they are doing differently. Is their content more recent for example? Do they update more often? Are they following a pillar and cluster model? Are they citing more authorative resources and linking to sources much more than you do?

If your rankings are falling and you aren’t sure why, get in touch with the Adrac team now to find out how we can help.

Author Rebecca

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