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Have your website rankings dropped recently in Google? Don’t panic! Before you do anything, you should find try to establish the cause of the problem. The better you understand the reason why your search engine rankings have gone down, the more likely you can prevent future ranking drops.

There are usually five major reasons why your web pages are ranked lower than before:

Reason 1: your website changes / a new website is launched

Most website owners / webmasters will try and update their web pages regularly. As long as the changes are only small and the content being added is relevant to your business and of value to your readers this will not have any negative effect on your rankings. However, if you re-design your web pages or if you optimise a page for a different topic than it is currently optimised for then search engines might reassess your search engine rankings.

Many webmasters, ourselves included, believe that Google has a filter for new website where the change is not managed correctly (the so-called ‘sandbox’). If you change your web pages and don’t do the right things, Google are likely to temporarily down-rank your website to make sure that you are not spamming them.

Solution: You need to encourage them to index your new webpages quickly by submitting a new xml sitemap via a Google Webmaster Tools account.

If you have web pages that have high rankings in Google for important keywords, only change these pages with great care. Make sure that most pages of your website are relevant to the topic of your site. Relevancy to the topic is as important as relevance to a particular keyword. If a new site is being launched create redirects from these highly ranked pages to the new pages that replace them.

Reason 2: the links to your website are problematic

If you have an old website with an established link structure then it’s not likely that your site rankings will drop because of a link change.

If the links to your site are mainly paid links or include a significant proportion of automatically created links from past SEO initiatives then it is likely that your website has been penalised by Google. Sudden changes in the link structure of a website make a website look suspiciously spammy to the search engines.

Solution: If you still use shady automated link building tools or services, stop it now.

New links should be relevant, good quality and built steadily over a period. Link building is a process, not an event. If you don’t work on the links that point to your website then your website will be replaced by websites with a better link structure.

Reason 3: the websites of your competitors change

Everybody wants to be on page one of Google’s results – there are only 10 places! For that reason, it’s only natural that other websites will be listed better than yours if you don’t always view your website as continual work in progress.

Many websites target the same topics and keywords as you do. If these other websites have better content and better links than your site then it’s understandable as to why these sites get better rankings.

Solution: You must offer better content than your competitors. Make sure that you offer many web pages that are relevant to what you do – your products, your services, your expertise and experience. You should also have link building programme in place so that your link profile is stronger than that of your competitors.

Reason 4: your web pages contain spam

Search engines don’t like spam. If search engines find out that you use cloaking, hidden text, doorway pages or any other spam technique on your web pages then it is extremely likely that your website will be penalised.

Solution: Don’t try to cheat Google. It’s simply not worth it if you want to develop a sustainable business online. Remove all spam elements from your web pages. Just because your website hasn’t been penalised yet doesn’t mean that search engines won’t find the spam elements in the near future.

Reason 5: technical problems

Your web server can be the reason for a ranking drop. If your website is down when the search engine spider tries to access your website then search engines cannot give your web pages high rankings because they cannot see your pages.

Some websites display the correct web page in the web browser but the server returns an error code. In that case, search engines won’t index the web pages.

Solution: Make sure that your website is hosted on a reliable server that has no downtime. An SEO web audit will inform you if there are any technical issues on your web pages that can cause ranking problems.

There will be times when there is no obvious reason for a website to drop in the rankings. Again, don’t panic such events are usually short lives and if you stick to a regime of good quality relevant content and good quality relevant links your website will always do OK.

For more information about our SEO Audit services, content marketing and link building services please leave a comment below or call us on 01273 328877

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