4 Reasons Why Your Google Rankings Have Dropped

“We use to be in position 2 or 3 but we recently disappeared onto page 6”
From networking events to new clients, I hear a variation of this nearly every week. Panicked business owners who have noticed that their highly coveted spot on the first page of Google has been removed from them all of a sudden.
This post is about those ‘all of a sudden’ drops in rankings. Regular, slight fluctuations in website rankings are to be expected as Google updates their algorithms daily so these are nothing major to worry about.
But if you’ve searched on Google for your main keyword recently and can’t find your website within the first 3 pages although you were previously on page 1 – and you find yourself asking, “Why did our rankings drop?” then this post is for you…

The reasons why…

Including updates to the Google algorithm, there are hundreds of macro and micro reasons why your rankings could have dropped through the floor. To save going through them all, I’ve pulled together the 4 most common reasons why business websites drop hard from the first page.

Website Redesign Gone Wrong

Maybe like the smart business owner you are, you move with the times and like to make sure your business does the same. So you invest in a website redesign to bring your site into the modern age and show off your services.

But this is where we see most websites go wrong. Not all web design agencies are SEO experts, which means that not all web designers will understand what it takes to maintain a site’s rankings when rebuilding the site.

Although your old website was ranking on the first page this was likely due to well-optimised content and structure. So what happens when your website redesign includes making drastic changes to your content and site structure? Well it confuses Google and usually results in huge drops in rankings.

Fixing it

Luckily at Brick we work closely with our partner web design agencies to offer their clients a risk-free website redesign by providing the designers with the advice they need to ensure the site doesn’t dissaper from the search results.

But for those of you who have already had your site re-designed and dropped in the rankings then there a few things you can do.

  • Re-instate your previous content onto the web pages where it existed before. Feel free to spruce it slightly but avoid completely changing it.
  • Rebuild your URL structures in the same way as your old website. This means all your links will stay live and not be lost on the new site.
  • Keep the same page H1 titles and menu structure.
  • Submit your new site for indexing in the Google Search Console. This tells Google to check your new site faster and will help speed up the process of regaining your rankings.

Google Penalties/Warnings Due to Website Neglect

Neglect is common for a lot of small businesses who usually don’t have the time to keep their website up to date, not only with changes to their services but also changes in Google SEO guidelines.

Your website needs to stay ahead of the curve by being refreshed regularly with new content, and in recent times by being mobile friendly.

seo packages

If you’ve neglected your website and not had it redesigned to display properly on screens of all sizes then it’s likely a cause of your sudden ranking drop. This is due to Google’s increasingly important mobile-first indexing which regards how your website performs on a mobile device as a major factor in your search result position.

Another form of neglect can be in content. If your site has ranked for years with the same content on each page and blog that’s collecting dust then you could have been hit with Google penalties that target websites who have stagnant and ‘thin’ content. Which in the past was okay, but not anymore.

Fixing it

If you’re guilty of website neglect then your first port of call should probably be a re-design, to get your site looking fresh and professional to the modern customer’s eye.

Every good web design agency will focus on making sure that your site performs well in all screen sizes. So a website re-design can also help fix your rankings drop if it was caused by mobile-first indexing issues.

When it comes to content penalties, the simplest fix is to update your website content and ensure that every page has at least 500 words of useful content. Maintaining a quality company blog is another important layer of website SEO and a perfect way to keep your site fresh to avoid anymore sudden ranking crashes.

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Google Penalties Due to Bad SEO

Google Penalties are the worst cause of ranking drops. But when they’ve been caused by bad SEO work like spammy backlink building, stuffing keywords into content, or even hiding content on the site, they can spell even worse news for your website as the job of removing the penalty is a lengthy one.

bad SEO

You’ve probably heard some horror stories in the past about spammy SEO ruining a website and likely from SEO agencies themselves. But unfortunately, no SEO agencies shouts from the rooftops that they use manipulative techniques to rank your site, which makes it hard to pick the right agency.

If you’ve had someone working on your SEO previously and then a sudden ranking drop occurs then this is the first place to start looking for a fix. The following are the usual tactics used by bad SEOs to rank websites higher, quicker:

  • Gaining backlinks to your website from easy sources, like link farms, porn, gambling and article submission websites.
  • Cramming your website content with your keyword so many times that it is clear to Google you’re trying to manipulate the search results for that keyword.
  • Hiding content from the users eye. This is done so that SEOs can cram even more keywords into your site, without them looking ugly to the website user, but still allowing Google to pick them up.

Fixing it

As mentioned, fixing Google penalties and recorvering your positions in the rankings is no easy task. Which is why I always advise that you speak to a reputable SEO agency if you think that your drop in rankings was caused by bad SEO work in the past.

A good agency will be able to audit your website and discover what the reasons are as to why Google penalised your site, and can rectify the issues so that you regain your rankings.

 

Pharma Hacks and Malware

Hacking of any sort always means bad news. So when your Google rankings drop out of the sky it’s a good place to start when looking for the reason.

‘Pharma hacks’ is a common term used to describe a type of hack that usually occurs on WordPress websites, where hackers enter the site and redirect traffic to their pharmaceutical websites selling anything from Tramadol to a regular favourite, Viagra. And if you’re a local estate agent then that’s obviously not a good thing.

Google search results

These Malware hacks can occur on any site and will usually be followed by a dramatic fall search result rankings, due to 1 of 2 reasons:

  • Google noticed that your website content and relevance has changed massively so will remove you from ranking for your usually ‘estate agents’ type keywords.
  • Your site has been severely hacked to the point where Google establishes it as unsafe to send users to, in case of data theft.

Fixing it

These types of malware hacks will usually be caused by a security glitch in your website backend or hosting account. However, because of all the variations in these service providers there is no hard and fast rule to removing a Pharma or Malware hack.

Your first step should be to contact your web developers to see if they can help, then it is also worth contacting your hosting company to see if they have any services which can debug your site.

To avoid it happening again or in the first place, we advise you to always keep your website theme, and plugins or extensions up to date. As out of date software will usually carry holes where up-to-date hacking software can easily gain access.

Need a hand?

As you probably guessed, we at Brick are experts in the subject of search engine optimisation. If you have found your website in the depths of page 3+ all of sudden and need help recovering your positions then why not get in touch and see how we can help you.

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