How to Act When Your Search Rankings Plummet
Search engine representation for brands is a key measurement of health for most in today’s world of online marketing. While there are plenty of optional methods for bolstering visibility, search engines continue to be one of the best long-term, passive and low-cost options for small businesses and brands in terms of consistent reach.
Periodically, search engine algorithm changes can affect how businesses and brands are featured in various search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, external factors such as content quality, link building efforts and website security can also lead to changes in rankings.
If your search engine rankings have suddenly taken a hit, then continue reading to find out what steps you should take to reverse the process.
Evaluate Potential Algorithm Changes
One of the first places to begin questioning any rankings change is to verify whether recent updates to one or more search engine’s algorithms have occurred. Some websites can consistently be pinging search engines and ranking prominently, only to find themselves suddenly losing ground due to changes in how these search engines classify content.
Google in particular is notorious for sudden and unexpected algorithm changes that can wreak havoc on the rankings of many websites. Generally, quality content that suffers a rankings hit will rebound in time – but sometimes changes are related to core mechanics. Algorithms such as Penguin that focus on link quality can ultimately require additional action from webmasters in order to rectify any sudden rankings change.
Inspect Search Engine Admin Panels
Many people realize just how frustrating the dynamics of algorithms and rankings in general can be to understand. Yet there are options for navigating these difficult subjects and finding out what may be causing your rankings to suddenly plummet.
Search engines offer admin panels that can be useful in determining what may be out of sync with their expectations. For Google, this is known as the Search Console. Here, webmasters can determine whether or not there are major link errors, crawl errors and other technical problems that are causing rankings issues for one or more pages. Bing’s Webmaster Tools is a relative analogue for those targeting results on Bing.
Some features – such as receiving email alerts whenever there are major changes – can make it easier to know when something has happened under the proverbial hood.
Look at Analytics
Whenever rankings change, it is not only important to know why they have occurred, but also how they are directly impacting your website’s performance with audiences. For instance, if a sudden rankings drop hasn’t impacted overall sales but has impacted overall traffic, what does that ultimately mean for the brand’s long-term performance?
Using website and search engine analytics to monitor where exactly major changes have occurred can help correlate any recent changes on your end with a drop in search engine rankings. Regardless of how many pages you’re pinging search engines with, taking time to understand how factors such as bounce rate, on page time and number of sessions relate to each other can help uncover where the problem originates.
In some cases, a sudden drop in search rankings is inevitable. However, most situations are caused by recent changes made to one or more pages, or other user errors. By analyzing search engine data, analytics and algorithm changes, websites can better determine what caused their rankings changes.