One day your site is sitting pretty in Google’s search engine rankings, the next you find you’ve dropped off the edge of an SERP cliff. Our natural instinct is to panic, after all it takes a lot of time, endeavour and, often, money to establish a healthy search engine ranking. However, fear not, we’re here to explain what might have caused the drop and what tools you can employ to remedy the search ranking slump.
Common Causes Of Search Ranking Drop
Change in search engine algorithms - The most common culprit. Search engines, not least Google, draw on an ever-changing set of variables. This seemingly constant flux in the algorithms that underpin search rankings can play havoc with your site’s listing. Even if your own site isn’t directly affected, you may feel the knock-on effect if sites you link to are hit.
Broken links - Certain internal links / linkbacks are the framework around which a good search ranking can be constructed. If broken, you may find your site banished to the far reaches of the SERP.
Robots.txt errors - It might seem obvious, but mistakes in the robots.txt can inadvertently restrict search engine crawlers from accessing certain pages on your site. The upshot? Your search engine ranking may take a spanking.
Malware - Could your site be suffering from malware, or other viruses? If so, and if detected, Google will warn visitors before they click on your site. If this happens your once excellent visitor numbers become a thing of the past.
Duplicate content - Search engines really don’t like duplicated content. Google, in particular, is displeased when it finds the same content appearing in multiple online locations. Excessively replicate content throughout your site, or duplicate from other locations and you’re asking for trouble.
Analytical Tools to Help You Fight the Search Ranking Drop
Google Webmaster Tools - One of the most formidable weapons in the webmaster’s fight against declining search engine ranking, GWT allows you to see your site from Google’s perspective. Amongst its any functions, GWT can generate a list of broken links for the site, check a robots.txt file and allow you to view stats pertaining to how Google actually indexes the site and any access, or other errors occurred in doing so. What’s more, it allows you to see what keyword searches are integral to the site’s SERP position.
Google Analytics - There’s no better web analytics device for enabling you to identify the cause of your site’s search ranking decline. The basic package is free, although a premium version is available. Google Analytics can be crucial in allowing you to pinpoint when, on what pages, and via which keywords your search rankings have been affected.
Screaming Frog - A neat piece of desktop software for both PC and Mac. The blurb describes Screaming Frog as a spider that, “crawls websites links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective”. For our purposes, it’s a brilliant tool for picking over a site and highlighting pesky search ranking issues in an easy to understand manner.
We hope these pointers help you identify and remedy the causes of your search ranking slump. If you need further advice, or want to chat through some ideas, get in touch today.