How to Respond When Your SEO Takes a Hit
It can take months or even years to build a sustainable SEO strategy that delivers results. Between creating ample amounts of content, targeting a variety of search engine results pages and juggling the technical aspects of SEO behind the scenes, some brands put in hundreds of hours of work to rank well in various niches.
It’s no wonder that a sudden drop in visibility, traffic or rankings can be a traumatic experience for bloggers and businesses alike. With so many possibilities causing the drop in performance, knowing where to begin can feel overwhelming. However, there is a right way to proceed – and doing so will help you determine what is causing the problem.
Let’s take a look at the proper way to respond when SEO outcomes suddenly change for the worst.
The first and arguably most important decision you can make in a situation where SEO performance plummets is to collect yourself and not panic. In the midst of freaking out, people often do dumb things. Whether it’s pinging search engines with lots of low-quality content or changing design elements out of concern, keep a clear head and breathe before anything else.
Ultimately, you’ll want to collect as much data as possible regarding performance changes and discover whether the changes are across all SERPs or confined to specific examples. This can help further narrow down what may be causing the problem.
Check Search Engines
From here, you’ll want to consider two factors that relate directly to one or more search engines where the pain is being felt. First, verify whether you have been slapped with a penalty: for instance, Google sometimes applies manual penalties that can be found via its Webmaster Tools. Likewise, major algorithm changes may have been applied, meaning that it’s not just you, but countless websites experiencing the same problem.
The second factor is performance relative to the competition. If the drop in SEO performance has been more gradual, other competitors may be encroaching upon your virtual territory. While this is a more difficult obstacle to overcome, it at least indicates that technical issues, penalties or algorithm changes aren’t likely to blame.
Conduct an Audit
In many cases, the best way to uncover any underlying SEO problems is through an audit. SEO audits can uncover many potential problems, such as navigational issues, harmful and broken links, duplicate content and mobile-related issues. You may even discover that a competitor is pinging search engines with links to your website as part of a black-hat SEO effort designed to harm your image with Google and Bing, among others.
Likewise, other technical concerns – such as a sudden change in site speed – can be uncovered via a comprehensive audit.
Ultimately, there are a few common factors that can cause a drop in SEO performance. Sudden penalties from search engines, changes in algorithms by Google and others, technical issues with your website’s performance or competitor-related struggles are the cause in the vast majority of instances. By not panicking, evaluating search engine data and conducting an audit, you’ll most likely uncover the root of the problem in very little time.