For a website owner, there’s nothing more exhilarating than seeing your website make it to page one of search engine rankings. Conversely, nothing is more frustrating than seeing your once mighty site relegated to the second page or worse, to deeper and farther pages in the search engine rankings.
This, indeed, can be worrisome, as many search engine users do not venture past the first page of search engine rankings. That means your site won’t be getting much traffic, which also means you won’t be doing much business.
Before you go about fixing things to restore your search engine rankings, you need to determine why your search rankings have dropped first. Here are some possible reasons:
1. Your honeymoon period is up
New websites are typically given decent search engine rankings by Google et al to give them a chance to be somehow introduced to the world. If your website got higher search engine rankings when it was new, that was probably the reason, particularly if your site is one of the first in its niche. Honeymoon periods, sadly, come to an end, and that’s probably why your website was pushed down to more realistic search engine rankings.
2. Your site is loaded with broken links
Links are integral parts of any given website, and links that don’t work—broken links—are very frustrating and annoying. Worse, search engines don’t like them. As Google and company are dedicated to providing search engine users the best experience possible, they are averse to indexing websites loaded with broken links, and that is probably why your search rankings have dropped.
Fix these broken links manually or with tools, and you’ll be able to fix your search engine rankings.
3. Duplicate content
This is a common problem among website owners. With the propensity of many unscrupulous website owners to just copy content from other sites and pass it off as their own, it is highly likely that duplicate content is the reason why your search rankings have dropped. Search engines are not yet that advanced to be able to accurately determine which website posted the content first, and it’s not uncommon for them to give credit to the wrong website. When that happens, any other website, including that of the original publisher—you—that bears duplicate content are pushed farther down the search engine rankings.
So if you find out that your content has been duplicated, you can either fire off an angry email to the owners of websites that have duplicated them or you can just take down the original post so that your site’s search engine rankings won’t suffer.
4. You are experiencing server problems
In some cases, server problems are to blame. Search engines cannot index a website if they couldn’t access it in the first place because of server issues. Be sure to talk to your server host about these problems and make sure that you are getting the server hosting that you paid for. If nothing changes, consider transferring to other server hosts that can give you the kind of server hosting service that you need.
5. You got hit by an algorithm update
Search engines, Google in particular, has been implementing algorithm update after algorithm update lately. These updates change the factors that go into how high a website is going to rank, and that will certainly affect your site’s rankings. Other websites that have linked to your website could drag your rankings down with them, even if you’re not directly affected by the algorithm update. That may be why your search rankings have dropped.
6. Your site has file issues
Search engines index pages by crawling them. If your site has file problems, such as robot.txt files that prevent Google bots from accessing your website, then don’t be surprised if Google doesn’t index your website. If there are pages in your website that you don’t want indexed, make sure that these are the only pages included in your robot.txt files. That way, those pages that you do want to get indexed get crawled by search engine bots.
7. You’re a victim of the “Sandbox Effect”
For your site to maintain high search engine rankings, it has to consistently deliver unique and informative content, use low competition keywords and get high quality inbound links from high authority sites. Fail to do that, your website is, in effect, standing on a sandbox, and will slowly get pulled down the search engine rankings. The moral here is that you should never rest on the laurels of high search engine rankings that you got because of the newness of your website. Newness, after all, wears off. Your site should continue proving itself as it’s being showcased to make sure that its high search engine rankings stay that way.
8. Malware hit your site
When your site gets hit by malware, it will be very much like a leper in the online world. Webmasters won’t link to you and search engines will certainly warn other users not to access your site because of malware issues that could harm their systems. As traffic slows down to a crawl, so will your search engine rankings.
9. The dreaded “Google Dance”
The “Google Dance” refers to the random shuffling of rankings performed periodically by the search engine giant. Extremely hard to explain, the Google Dance could cause your website to have decent rankings one day, then lower ones the next. Fortunately, the random shuffling doesn’t last that long. That means sooner or later, your website will be restored to its original high ranking.
10. Your site has been penalised
As mentioned above, search engines want the best possible experience for search engine users. Sites that do keyword stuffing, doorway pages and other black hat SEO techniques are considered by search engines to be unethical and the complete opposite of everything they stand for. So they penalise these sites by pushing their search engine rankings down. If your site has been “promoted” using black hat (manipulation) techniques, then there’s your answer.
When you identify the reason why your search rankings have dropped, waste no time in fixing the problems to find yourself once again at the top of search engine results pages.