One of the business’ worst nightmare is seeing a drop key term rankings. Losing your position within Google’s search results can cause a confusing panic. It may only be for a brief period, but rankings dropping down dramatically in Google’s search results can lead to damaging effects on your website, and we don’t want to see that happen. But what are the reasons your website rankings to have dropped dramatically?
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Why Your Website Rankings Have Dropped Dramatically?
Dropped Page Redirects
When implementing technical changes and re-branding your website, duplicate/error pages can create instances where there is a lot of links equity sitting behind permanent redirects. Websites regularly form a dependency on URL redirects to sustain rankings. Frequently we have seen sites that have not prepared for site migration. This often results in these redirects being removed or changed, which ultimately has an adverse impact on the site’s keyword ranking performance.
New Linking Domains
You may think an influx of high-authority links pointing to your Website is going to automatically increase rankings for the key terms targeted, but this is not the case. Sometimes, a sudden surge in links to a site may temporarily affect rankings.
These drops in rankings could be because of the trust flow and overall authority of a linking domain, which will determine the impact of new links to the site. It is also important to consider how trustworthy your site is from Google’s perspective.
If you have been previously notified or even penalized for unnatural links to your site, you may find that for a short period Google will negatively impact the new links to your domain. In the industry is known as ‘The Google Rank Transition Patent’. This patent acts to confuse or hide the impact of any attempts to manipulate search results. Even if you have got high-authority and relevant links to your site, it could simply come down to how much Google really trusts your backlink history.
Lost Linking Domains
As mentioned prior, getting new linking domains could initially have a negative impact on rankings. So, it comes at no surprise that losing links within your backlink profile can also have an adverse effect on rankings.
For many websites out there, having a small backlink profile means having to heavily rely on a certain amount of backlinks linking to the domain. If these backlinks are removed from your site or become temporarily unavailable, this may have a significant impact on the authority of a website and could trigger a ranking drop for your website.
We strongly advise you to use a reliable backlink tool to discover whether the links have in fact been lost, and haven’t just fallen out of the backlink tool database. To do this, you access the tool and select whether to ‘show’ or ‘hide’ the deleted backlinks from your site.
This screenshot from Majestic highlights where this feature within the tool is available;
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There is also a feature available within Majestic where you can identify where and when the linking domains have been lost from your site:
It is normal for backlink tools to show a certain level of activity of lost links, as pages fall out of their index meaning the links are unavailable.
We strongly advise that you create a database of your site’s lost links, in the context of your competitors. You can then begin to benchmark these backlinks and then form parameters on what we may perceive to be unnatural to Google and other Search Engines.
Manual or Algorithmic Penalties
Google’s Algorithm updates are becoming stricter when it comes to what they identify as an SEO friendly and healthy website. They continuously tweak and improve their algorithms, in order to make sure search engine users are visiting the most relevant sites, in relation to their search terms.
If you have noticed a ranking drop for your website, alongside several suspected backlinks pointing to the pages affected, then there is a probable chance that the drop in rankings results from a Google Penalty. These Google penalties are put in place by filters that have been applied to an algorithm, or manually.
No matter what penalty your site has been hit with, it is very important to take action immediately and remove the issue straight away. In our diagnoses, we explain why you have been hit with a penalty, how to resolve the issue.
As well as Google Penalties affecting your rankings, algorithms update, and change regularly. These rolling algorithm updates result in many keyword positioning drops.
Prior to 2015, Google released algorithm updates and the SEO world provided detailed analysis in order to understand the reasons behind the winners and losers of the updates. But as updates have continuously become more complex, sophisticated and less frequent, the SEO industry has had less understanding of these algorithm updates. It is immensely important to understand whether your ranking drops coincide with these ongoing algorithm updates.
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Alterations made to your site
We previously mentioned that changes made to your site can negatively impact rankings on your site. To oppose this, you could instruct your developers to make changes to the site. Whether we make these alterations to the meta titles, meta descriptions, H1s and even the content on the site, it is really important that you benchmark the rankings and highlight when the changes are made.
Check the technical fundamentals
It is really important that you don’t overlook the most basic technical elements that control the crawling and indexing of your website. When you are making technical alterations to a site, it is vitally important to make sure there are no issues within the site.
Here are a few technical elements that can have a negative impact on your site’s ranking performance and can cause website rankings to have dropped dramatically:
- No Index Tags
- Incorrect Canonical Tags
- Missing Robots.txt File
- Missing Alt Text
- Content that cannot be rendered
Changes in search behavior
Ranking drops may not be because of issues with Google Penalties, alterations made to your website or even the quality of inbound links to your domain. Keyword ranking declines could result from changes in the type of results Google wants to return to users.
“Query Deserved Freshness” may kick in when there is a sudden surge of searches for a particular topic, indicating that the query requires up to date and fresher news-based results. This can push static and out of date content onto page two.
Click-through rate changes
Declining click-through rates are less likely to negatively impact rankings, but they can underline why Google may prefer your competitor’s keyword listings.
User signals are continuously growing in terms of performance. There is more evidence now than ever that click-through rate does have an impact on ranking performance. If the click-through rate has dropped on several on-site pages, it could ultimately cause rankings dramatically to drop within Google’s search results. Below are some reasons why your click-through rate has dropped:
- Irrelevant Ads
- Poor Landing Pages
- Ad Extensions Not Used or Not Showing
- Poorly Optimized Content
Out of all the points on this list, this is one of the hardest to diagnose and the most complex. Server issues are often out of your hands, but they are something you or other technical team members can resolve that. If your site is affected by a server error, it can ultimately bring down your website and make it invisible in Google’s search results. We have seen server errors bring down websites entirely and cause severe ranking and traffic drops – but don’t worry, this issue can be resolved!