Has your website suddenly dropped off Google searches? Well the reasons could be many but the most popular ones could be the following:
- Google have penalised your website
- Google have changed their Algorithm so your website has lost it’s position
- Your competition are doing more and better Search Engine Optimisation than you are
That’s the simple list that covers the big ones, but there could be many factors of each so lets break them down.
1. Google have penalised your website
This can be because either the links you are building or our SEO have built are considered spam by Google. If you’re lucky here you’ll just drop down some places, if not then you could actually be penalised in which case you need to stop the link building you’re doing and seek a professional company to help with getting the penalty lifted.
However please be aware that if you have been given a penalty the fix can be a very time consuming and lengthy process. So much so that it will very likely take up to 3-9 months to recover (depending on how bad the slap was) and cost way more than it would have to do Search Engine Optimsation properly as you’ll need to build up a new and very high quality campaign to gain back ranking positions.
You have to try to track down every link possible use the disavow tool and contact all the webmasters to remove them, essentially you need to keep a very very very detailed list of what you have tried to do to remove the offending links. Even then it’s not uncommon for people to have to go through many rounds with a forced break before you can resubmit. In which time you need to do even more removals, oh and it’s generally a good idea to stop link building activities as well and never return to doing what you were doing that got you banned in the first place.
If you want to know if you have received a penalty you’ll need to make sure you have setup Google Webmaster Tools (now known as Google Search Console) as Google will tell you direct that is indeed the case.
Also please note that sometimes it might actually be worth starting from scratch if you’re a business that depends on web traffic from Search Engines (no you can’t copy and paste your old site to a new domain). It might take you time until you have the new site up so look at alternative sources of traffic such as email newsletters and social media to generate additional traffic.
Google don’t have sympathy for you if you hire a bad SEO company who use bad techniques so please vet multiple SEO companies and ask if they do purely white hat techniques as anything like grey or black hat will have adverse effects at some point and you might never recover.
2. Google have changed their Algorithm so your website has lost it’s position
So if you’ve checked with Webmaster Tools and you haven’t been given a penalty…phew! You’ve just been given very good news as that means recovery will be easier, cheaper and faster.
So it’s time to start looking at various things like your competition, have they dropped also then it’s likely to be an algorithm change that may recover in a few days. If you’re just hit then you’ll want to look at what you or your SEO company have been doing to make sure nothing has been done to drop the quality of your site.
This means looking at anchor text keywords (so the text on the links) and make sure they aren’t focused just around one or two keyword phrases as that can signal that you link profile is over optimised. Now also check the on your website page for the same over optimised problem. Generally you don’t want a keyword or phrase + your anchor text for links to be more than 2-3% and you want lot’s of different things like “click here” and “http://www.domainname.co.uk” basically what looks natuaral to Google.
You can check this using a tool called Majestic SEO the free account should be more than enough for most people to get a general sense of what’s going on.
3. Your competition are doing more and better Search Engine Optimisation than you are
So if you haven’t been penalised and your keyword phrases are perfectly natural, the most likely scenario is that your competition have upped their SEO strategy or are just doing it better. Maybe they’ve got a new company on board doing it.
So how do you deal with this situation where your competition is beating you online. The simple answer is if you’re doing it yourself build more high quality relevant links from sites that are related to your industry, increase your social media campaigns, blog more, interact with people (generally think local first).
If you have an SEO company doing it for you then arrange a meeting with them and discuss the strategies, you might even have to increase the budget to build more high quality links or content to speed things up because you’re industry is more competitive now since things change over time.
A forgotten service is Public Relations (PR), given that they can do a lot online now and have many connections to highly trusted news sites, then this could be a great way to boost your website and brand above your competitors, Google loves Brands and especially Brands that are being talked about!
Google are very big on the technical aspect of your site now as well, now you might not be able to do much about this but your web company usually can get these things addressed. Go to this website https://gtmetrix.com/ (the free account is good to have) and put in your website URL and see what the score is. You ideally want to be in the high 90s, but if you’re as low as 80 then you should be ok, but see if there are any quick wins to get the score higher.
There are generally 3 areas to consider with this tool.
- Server based – so you might have to move your website to a hosting company that can support newer technology.
- Code quality – so some of the code might need to be updated or changed to work better or remove things getting int the way that you no longer need
- Content Optimisation – so usually the images are the big culprit here where they need to be optimised, that’s being made smaller in file size so the web pages can load faster or scaled properly, which is the issue of making a bigger image smaller in visual size but not making the file size smaller.
So there you have the top 3 reasons and a bonus of why your site may have dropped out of the rankings a penalty, an algorithm change or your competition beating you and what you can do about it along with how to improve your own site technically for google (other search engines will like the changes as well).
This topic is a pandora’s box of issues and solutions and traps you could fall into, but if you use the above information you should be on steady ground with Google going forward as it’s about getting the foundations right of your digital assets first then building on top of them.
If you’re unsure of anything get in touch with us or your own Digital Agency to do a review of your site and bring it up to speed.