I’m about to lose my mind, rankings are down and I don’t know why I’m running out of time, I need a doctor. With our take on Dr.Dre song, we open this guide to try to tackle one of the most asked questions in terms of SEO “why has my ranking dropped on google”. Below we will a quick way to SEO Diagnosing your website, that can help you identify what might went wrong?
Tools you need to complete this Diagnostic:
- Access to Google Analytics
- Access to Google Search Console
- Programs like Screaming Frog / SerpFox / SEOSpyGlass
On Page Issues & Violations
One of the most common issues while SEO diagnosing is that the site went through some recent changes (migration, updates) that cause the website to drop in rankings. If this is your case, we suggest that you go back to your on page technical optimization routine.
You can start off by checking your site speed; certain updates might not slow the website from the user perspective, but they can slow the website from SEO perspective. Use tools like GT Metrix, Pingdom or Google Page Speed to find these issues.
If images are slowing down your website, please make sure to compress the images and use a reliable CDN service.
If you just went through a migration, double check for Crawl Errors, this is a very common mistake where previously crawled pages have a new URL due to updates, hence Google is throwing a lot of 404 errors.
Make sure that you implement responsibly all the 301 redirects and solve al crawl errors in Google Search Console.
Finally, is review your on-page content, it is a known fact that a lot of on-page content is copied from another website. Sometimes this is done just to have something published quickly, but if this is happening then you need to review all this content and rewrite it. We would suggest using Copyscape for you to find all the content that is marked as duplicate and amend. Word of advice we always suggest publishing less content but something which is unique and that delivers quality rather than posting every day with copied content.
Off Page Issues
If you implemented an effective off-page strategy than here, you require something which is more SEO skill intensive. There are a couple of reasons why your site might have lost rankings, and this is how we suggest you diagnose them
It is a common occurrence that backlinks are not always forever and ever, you might lose some along the way. This may be a result of site updates, content refreshes, and other things. While this might seem like a small issue, knowing how hard it is nowadays to do an effective link building campaign, losing a link is like losing part of your foundation. What we suggest is that you monitor your backlinks regularly it is far easier to ask for your link to be reinstated just as soon as it is lost, rather than 6 months later.
This seems like a longshot, but it is listed in our checklist; for those who might not know what Negative SEO is; it is when someone decides to start doing bad SEO linking to your website. This can happen if someone sees that you took the 1st spot and wants to punish you rather than compete against you.
We believe that while this is a cheap shot it is something that can be fixed by regularly monitoring who is linking to your website. Once you find spammy links make sure that you use the disavow tool to fix the issue.
Algorithm Updates, Competitors and User Behavior
Finally, there are three important points to mention while SEO diagnosing that might not be as easy to fix as the above.
This is something that cannot be prevented, search engines issue updates to algorithms without any notice. Keep yourself updates or hiring someone who is always informed about the latest updates is a must. There are a lot of ways to identify issues related to updates, the first would be to read news articles like Search Engine Land, a community who is always on the lookout for latest news and updates.
Monitor updates in SERP for your targeted keywords, if you do this regularly you can identify immediately when you might got hit by one of the algorithm updates.
Remember your website does not live on an island , so competition is inevitable and with so much businesses knowing about the power of SEO, this is a common occurrence. However, if this happens we suggest the following:
Make sure that this is not part of an algorithm updates, sometimes rankings (especially if you are not that stable in the top positions) do a little dance, where they fluctuate. Review your ranking history and monitor to see if all the position got hit with this movement,
If you were beaten by your competition, this is where you need to do some digging. You need to look at your competitor website and see how strong the domain is, how good is the technical optimization and on-page content. Review backlinks to his website, this may give you some ideas on some good backlinks opportunities that might be stronger than yours. Finally, check social signals, we always suggest that having a strong social media presence can always help your rankings, so step your social media game up.
Going back to the roots, it is all about the people, it is all about servicing the users who are searching for the best results possible. What users were searching in 2005 is different than how users are searching in 2018. Keep up to date with Trends and use Keyword Tools, like Keyword Explorer Tool on Moz (we take this moment to salute one of our idols Rand Fishkin, thanks for your knowledge Rand…we salute you from Tricycle) which can assist you with identifying what users are searching for. Keep an eye out for localization searches, if you are ranking for something where you have a name of a city included be aware of Google Business rankings. While you might see yourself ranking but having a big google map showing all the businesses in the area that most probably will take all the screen above the fold, will be enough to see your traffic numbers go down.
Trying to fit all that is required to diagnose your site into an article might be tough, but we are sure that the above can get you going. However, if you lose rankings don’t panic, in this digital world and with the importance of SEO, these are things that happen on a daily basis. The most important is that you tackle the issues swiftly and remember if you require help keep the SEO doctors’ contact close to you *hint hint*