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3 Reasons Your Google Rankings Suddenly Dropped

Sudden Traffic Drop

It’s a nightmare scenario: You’ve put some effort into your page’s SEO and you’re sitting nicely in Google’s results. You’re ranking for your keywords and finally seeing some targeted traffic come in. Things seem to be on the up-trend and then it happens…the traffic stops seemingly overnight. You scratch your head, wondering what could have happened.

When you check your Google Analytics page, you notice that your traffic has fallen dramatically and your rankings have plummeted. The panic begins to set in. Your site has lost all of its SEO credit, and as far as the SERPs are concerned, you don’t exist.

The above situation is every search engine marketer’s worst fear, but it’s important to realize the missteps that can lead to this terrifying situation becoming a reality. There are various reasons a site may experience a Google rank drop; here are three of the main ones.

Manual Penalty DespairManual Penalty

Your site’s sudden drop in Google traffic may be the result of a manual penalty. These negative hits on your site’s ranking happen when a human Google employee determines that content or pages on your site are outside of Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.

There are multiple reasons that your site may have suffered a manual penalty. More often than not, sites are hit with these downgrades because of site hacks, fake or unnatural backlinks, content that delivers little or no value, spam, or content cloaking.

You’ll want to check for manual penalties first if your site experiences a substantial ranking drop for various keywords. Luckily, these penalties are easy to spot. You simply bring up the Google Search Console and log into your account.

Navigate to the Manual Actions section, which can be found under Search Traffic. If your site has indeed been hit with a manual penalty, you’ll see a message here explaining the violation. While the notice won’t give too many specifics, it will indicate whether the action is against just one page or the entire site.

Algorithm Penalty EffectAlgorithm Penalty

If your Google ranking suddenly dropped, your site may have fallen victim to a Google algorithm change. Unlike the manual penalty, these hits to your site happen automatically. These Google shake-ups that hit your site’s ranking can take two different forms; it may be a completely new algorithm release or just a refresh of one of the currently known algorithms.

Unfortunately, an algorithm penalty isn’t as easy to spot as a manual hit. Google can be tight-lipped about the algorithm updates, which makes diagnosing these penalties even tougher. Check search engine blogs and news if you have a hunch that an update may be affecting your ranking. See if any other marketers are having the same issues with their site.

If the refresh or update is specific to a certain niche, it may only be affecting a limited number of pages, which make identifying the issue even trickier. Pay attention to individual keywords that are particular to your niche. Any odd or drastic changes in the results for these keywords may indicate that the algorithm refresh is niche specific.

If the widely talked about Google algorithm update impacted your website, there are options for getting the details and ways to make the necessary changes. If the algorithm change affected only your niche, when looking at your competitors, you will see a drop in their search page results, as well.

By analyzing your website, you can identify distinct patterns that help pinpoint specific reasons for the decline in your search ranking. For protection against algorithm penalties, it is essential that you provide original, useful, and informative content that site visitors find engaging. Be sure to avoid gray hat techniques that try to manipulate your site ranking and prevent effective link-building efforts.

Loss of Valuable LinksLoss of Valuable Backlinks

While new links to your site can boost your rankings in the SERPs, a drop in high-quality links to your site can have the reverse effects. This can be particularly drastic if your site is relatively new and doesn’t have many links to begin with.

Monitoring your link data is crucial and will help you quickly diagnose any rankings hit due to lost links. You can use various SEO tools to keep track of your backlinks and identify any loss of valuable links. It’s not a task that has to be done manually, and most tools have some sort of link alerts that notify you when there is an issue.

For revising a lost link, you can take different approaches based on the nature of the link.

There is a good chance that you will need to contact the webmaster overseeing the sight from which the link came. If you do not have a current relationship with that individual, try reaching out via text, email, or through social media. On the other hand, if you have a connection with the webmaster, a quick phone call would help identify the issue, as well as the appropriate fix.

It is important that you develop and follow a backlink auditing schedule, which allows you to take quick and appropriate action whenever backlinks get lost. By contacting the webmaster right away, that individual will have an easier time identifying the lost link.

While seeing a sudden drop in SERPs is unnerving, do not panic. Instead, take the necessary steps to get to the root of the problem so that you can take the right course of action for recovery.

Prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure when it comes to your site’s search ranking. While some SEO hits are inevitable, you can avoid a fair amount of ranking drops by avoiding gray hat techniques and following a solid value-driven SEO strategy.

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