SERP Rankings Drop: Getting To The Cause

In the SEO world one of our biggest nightmares is when a web site is losing rankings in the SERP. We’re supposed to gain rain rankings and hold on to them! It says it right there in our job descriptions. When faced with a rankings drop do not panic, stay calm a try and diagnose the problem so you can fix it. In this article we’ll share some ideas you can follow to help you on your way to finding out what the cause is.

serp rankings drop diagnosis

A Minor Drop

We’ll address minor ranking drops first since this won’t take long to address. A minor drop in rankings could be either so minor it’s not worth worrying about, or it could be an indicator of a larger problem. When you experience one ask yourself this question: have the rankings been steadily dropping for more than 1 month?

If there’s no pattern of decline over this period then we’re most likely looking at normal SERP volatility. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on it and just wait for things to stabilize. No need to get all worked up over it at this stage.

If they have been then you are potentially looking at a search engine algorithm update. Check for information on when the algorithm was updated and what other SEOs have been saying in regards to meeting its new standards and make changes accordingly. There, problem solved! Easy wasn’t it? Sometimes though an algorithm update is not responsible for the decline. It could be due to changes and updates to your site, or a competitor is simply being a better result in the SERP for searchers.

Take the necessary steps to address minor drops before you loss to much and have to fight to make it back up.

Major Drops

Suffering a major rankings drop is obviously much more of a concern then a minor one. In fact it can be borderline heart stopping when you first see it. As stated above though you have to keep it together if you plan to do something about it. Hyperventilating into a paper bag will only waste time and a perfectly good bag. So with that said let’s look at some of the things you can do to try and get to the bottom of this before your site hits the bottom of the SERP.

Algorithm Updates

I’ll get this one out of the way first since it is covering ground we have already talked about above. Some times when an algorithm gets updated the changes are so major that standards have changed in a drastic way. The drop could be temporary as the new changes being reevaluating websites, or they could be permanent until you meet the new standards put out. Either way keep yourself up to date on these updates, find out what the changes are, how they are affecting you, and what can be done to gain ranks instead of losing them. Coordinating with fellow SEOs and seeing what they say can often be the best way to quickly find solutions.

Check Google Search Console

Open up your Google Search console and see what it has to say. There may be warnings telling you about penalties Google has leveled at your site for one reason or another. If this is the case then you’re going to have to take steps to fix the issues Google has with the site and then getting a new review so the penalties are lifted.

Another issue you can find through GSC is indexing issues your site is experiencing. You may have broken links, or unintentionally set pages to be no indexed by the crawler. Make sure that all pages that need to be indexed are and that their links are accurate. If need be set up your 301 redirects in the event that urls have been renamed.

Site Updates

When we make changes to a web site it is with the best intentions and it’s aimed at improving performance. Sometimes though the changes end up affecting the site in a way that was unintended. Keep a good log of all your website changes and when they were made so you can cross reference when rankings began to drop and when the changes were made. I’d recommend reversing those that line up with the date of drop and then reevaluate what you need to do, or if you should even change anything. Sometimes things are working just fine and no changes are necessary.

If no changes where actually made it’s entirely possible that you are simply being beaten by the competition. The SERP landscape is a competitive area and if you aren’t doing your best to be the best answer for a searchers query then you will fall behind your competition.

Tracking Issues

It’s entirely possible that the result of a huge rankings drop in your data may be because of a problem with your tracking. The software may be experiencing a glitch or a hither to unknown bug, keep an eye on the community who whose the same software as you to see if the problem has been reported. If you download your data to a spread sheet then your down load may have glitches as well, or your sheet my not have been set up properly and is giving you false results. Check out these possibilities before you begin worrying about penalties and competition as false reporting will only cause problems to develop that would not have been there to begin with.

At NetGain we take steps like these when faced with sites losing their rankings. Keeping a cool head and running through the motions of investigating the cause and effect can often lead to solutions for small problems, or uncover larger issues that need to be addressed. At the end of the day it’s all about getting back into the rankings game.

If your site is experiencing a drop in rankings, or you’d like to get professional SEO done to your site by a company with over 10 years experience, then reach out to us, we’ll work with you to get your site performing the way it should be.