Most webmasters have suffered a dip in their website’s organic rankings from time to time, especially when Google have recently released a search algorithm update. This can cause instant panic but, thanks to this article, you might be able to diagnose the issues, helping you to address the situation quickly and with minimal fuss.
The most common for organic rankings to decrease includes:
New Website: This can be the ultimate organic keyword killer. If you have launched a new website and changed the site’s fundamentals, such as page URLs, levels of SEO, and so on, then this is likely to play a massive role in your organic performance on Google, and we don’t mean in a good way.
The main cause of organic rankings decreasing when a new website has been launched is due to your URLs changing. So, for example, if your ‘About Us’ page has seen it’s URL change from ‘www.website.co.uk/aboutus‘ to ‘www.website.co.uk/about-us‘, and you haven’t put a 301 redirect in place, then Google will not realise that the change has occured. Instead, Google will simply deem that your old About Us page has simply been removed from the site, resulting in any healthy organic rankings it had achieved being lost. However, if a 301 redirect is placed on the old URL then the search engines will be aware that your old URL has moved to a new location, resulting in your organic positions, most likely, being retained.
In short, when a new website has been launched, ensure that you put 301 redirects on all URLs that are no longer present so that they lead into the equivalent, or most relevant, page on the new site. This will save you a lot of panic once the new website has gone live.
New Links Gained: Now, gaining new, quality links into your website is an essential part of SEO, and it’s something that we definitely recommend. However, if you gain too many links too quickly then this can alert Google that there may be some suspicious activity taking place, resulting in a temporary decline in your rankings. In addition, if you have gained links on websites that have been guilty of trust issues in the past then this can also result in a negative impact being suffered.
To ensure that your link activity looks natural, we recommend using Ahrefs.com, which helps you analyse your link performance.
Lost Links: As your online authority is based on the quality of links that lead into your website, not the overall quantity of links, then losing just one single high authority link into your website can have a negative impact on your Google rankings. So, we advise that you use Ahrefs, as mentioned above, to determine whether your organic reduction has coincided with any links that have recently been lost into your site. If so, and the URL/Domain rank of these links was high, it’s likely that this is the cause of your positions decreasing.
Content Changes: If you have recently rewritten the content on a high ranking page then this may have lead to a drop in your organic ranking performance, as you may have negatively impacted the page’s keyword density and overall SEO levels. For example, if the page contained 5 good paragraphs of content that included 2-3 references to your key targeted search term and replaced this with one paragraph of content, a bullet-point list and 1 reference to your targeted search term, then this will have weakened the SEO levels of the page. This will, in most cases, result in your organic rankings for the targeted term decreasing due to the quality of your text becoming weaker and the keyword density levels becoming lower.
New Site Issues: An organic decrease can be caused due to an issue with your website, whether it be broken links, incorrect canonical tags, content that can’t be rendered, or other issues that have occurred accidentally. To help highlight any problems, such as the aforementioned, then we recommend logging into your Search Console account – previously known as Webmaster Tools – as this will help identify any crawling and indexing issues with the site.
Algorithm Updates: Google are constantly updating their search algorithms but, unfortunately, as the years have gone by their updates have become more complex and rolled out at a far slower rate. This has meant that the SEO industry is less able to analyse their impact as effectively as before, meaning that certain updates can result in numerous sites suffering an organic hit and it being difficult for anybody to understand why.
As time goes by, the reasons become clearer but, this doesn’t help the frustration at seeing your results decline in the meantime.
So, there you go. We hope that our checklist will help you to understand why your website may have suffered an organic decrease, as well as explaining how to can improve performance levels once again in the very near future.
Jump 2 IT Media are specialists in search engine optimisation. Please contact us to see how our SEO campaigns can improve your online visibility and performance.