Identify & Fix Drops in Google Rankings
When you type a term or phrase in Google’s search bar, you get results Google feels hold the most authoritative information about your search. If your brand holds one of those top spots, you have great visibility and a better chance of your result getting clicked on. However, that spot is not permanent, and your result can lose ranking. Being able to quickly identify and fix drops in Google rankings can prevent your brand from losing key visibility and could even improve upon your current rankings.
Reasons for Google Ranking Drops:
1. Site Changes
There are many kinds of changes you can make on your site that could affect rank. Some reasons include content updates, code changes, or even sitemap adjustments. Communication with other teams about these updates is imperative. The more information you have, the more prepared you can be to make adjustments where needed to maintain or improve Google rankings.
Another thing to look for is to make sure Google bots have not been blocked. Google bots crawl your site and determine the rank of your listing. You rarely want active pages blocked from crawling unless they are not public-facing. If pages are uncrawlable, they are unrankable as well.
2. Google’s Algorithm Updates
Google is constantly updating its algorithm, making small changes here and there, as well as releasing major updates a few times a year. Pro tip: There’s an easy tool that can help determine if there has been an update: Was There A Google Update – clever, right? Just plug in the date in question and you will be able to see if there were any confirmed or unconfirmed updates that could have affected your Google ranking.
Why do algorithm updates sometimes cause ranking drops? Google has an image of how your site should work and how your information should be presented. If your site falls short of their standards, you get docked and must make the proper adjustments to gain your rank back.
3. External Factors
There are quite a few external factors that can affect rank. The most common one, however, is competitors updating their content to a point that Google deems them more authoritative or comprehensive. This happens quite frequently as people are always adjusting their sites. New competitors could also be entering the field and targeting the same keywords.
How to Identify the Cause:
There are many great tools out there that can help monitor changes across your site. At Top Floor, we look at traffic insights from Google Analytics, as well as Google Search Console. Both platforms provide detailed information on traffic trends, as well as user information. For the purposes of identifying ranking drops, you will want to focus on decreases in organic traffic as this is the channel that search result clicks come through.
Another tool we like to use is SEM Rush’s Competitor Research toolkit. This tool allows you to plug in your site and compare it to other sites in your industry. You can also input specific URLs here if you know who your competitors are. View what keywords competitors are targeting, as well as the average rank they get for each keyword.
2. Competitor Research
Looking at competitor’s content and keywords can offer new viewpoints and information you may not have thought of, as well as help to just keep tabs on where competitors are at. To help identify the cause of Google ranking drops, look where your competitors lost ranking. Was it around the same time you lost ranking? Is the content they lost ranking for similar to yours? If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, there was most likely an algorithm update that affects both yours and your competitor’s rankings.
Another way to determine the cause of Google ranking drops is by looking at your main keywords. Identify which keywords lost ranking. If it was a keyword that usually has a lot of volume, changes to content may have made your page less relevant according to Google. Next, make sure multiple pages are not targeting the same keyword. If that is the case, the pages are competing and could be hurting each other’s rank.
After identifying the cause, fixing the issue is relatively simple. Generally, make sure you are including the keywords you want to rank for in the page titles, as well as properly saturated throughout the content. Also, any updates to content should be similar to what you were previously ranking for in terms of length and information provided.
Communication with your team is key. Talking internally about updates to the code, sitemap, or content helps mitigate or prepare for any potential issues or Google ranking drops. The more information you have, the more prepared you can be.
Lastly, competitor research should be done at a minimum of twice a year. This will help you stay on top of your competitors and give you useful information about the major changes they have made. Visit their sites and look at their content that is similar to yours. This can either give you ideas for content you are missing or even give you peace of mind. Look at their keywords to see if their rankings have changed or if they’re trying new targets.
There are many reasons your Google rankings can drop, but the good news is there are lots of things you can do to prepare for and fix these drops. Remember, internal communication is key, there are tools to help you catch any changes, and keyword targets play a bigger role than you might think. Lastly, Top Floor has trained specialists ready to help if you have any questions, so feel free to contact us!
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