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SEO Ranking Slump? 10 Reasons Your Rankings Are Falling

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Article Overview

All businesses need decent Google rankings to survive. Lost rankings are a nightmare and the issues causing them to need to be addressed asap! If you have lost your SEO rankings you will notice this immediately as the phone will stop ringing and inquiries will dry up. It's a disaster!!

Have you woken up one morning, turned your computer on, checked your Google rankings and are horrified by what you see? Have you noticed a drop in your SEO rankings?

Let’s have a quick look at some of the main reasons why your SEO rankings are dropping or have suddenly dipped. These may be quick fixes, but in some cases, you might need to take a good, long hard look at your SEO agency and the work they are doing.

To help you better understand what’s happening with your Google rankings, I thought I would put together valid points that you should follow to fix your rankings slump.

Whether you’re an SEO expert ( like us, hahaha) or a small business owner, implementing these changes is a sure way to get your Google & SEO rankings back to a respectable position.

Here are the reasons you’re experiencing an SEO Ranking Drop

Spammy Link Building

Link building is the foundation of SEO and is one of the main reasons why your website ranks. A link from another website to your site sends a signal to Google that your site is essential. It’s similar to a tap on the shoulder to Google that says:’ Hey, look at me, I’m critical’!

The idea behind this is the better quality backlinks you have, the more critical your website, the higher the rankings for specific keywords.

Because so many SEO agencies know about this ranking signal, they will often try to build as many backlinks as possible to beat the system.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work, and the abuse of link-building strategies will more often than not lead to a drop in rankings. If your SEO provider has broken any of these rules, you need to take immediate action to help recover lost Google rankings.

Firstly, ask them for a list of all links they have built and then look at getting another SEO agency that will build authentic and trusted quality links.

When it comes to the backlinks of your website, it’s a matter of quality over quantity. One decent backlink or citation from another website is far better than a thousand low-quality spammy links.

Removing all dodgy and spammy backlinks created by your current SEO agency should fix this issue. Get on top of this ASAP because continuing this practice will only harm your chancing future rankings even further.

You’ve Received A Manual Action from Google

Put simply, a manual action from Google is not a good thing. A manual action is when someone from Google has had a good look at your website and seen issues with content or spammy link building ( refer to point 1). It’s not some algorithm change standard with Google, where your ranking may drop a few places. A manual action is much dire than that. A person employed by Google has picked your site as non-compliant with Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines.

Manual actions are prevalent, and you can reverse this if you have to go about pruning all your spammy links. Removing outdated and spammy links or thin or hidden content is the first step in changing your manual action to restore rankings. All you need to do is see if there are any messages in your Google webmasters search console ( you will need to log in to your Google account for this) and see the issue.

Nine out of ten times it will be an issue with your SEO agency, or perhaps you have attempted some link building which has resulted in this. Immediately fix all problems, and then you can submit your site for reindexing and a request for consideration with Google.

If all this sounds far too hard, you must speak to a professional Google penalty agency that can help you recover your rankings and web traffic. Leaving this and hoping it will go away is not a solution. You have to be proactive and be on the front foot with this. Failure to do this will see a dramatic loss of website traffic and business inquiries.

I have seen far too many businesses suffer because of manual actions due to dodgy SEO practices by former SEO agencies. Luckily, I know what to do and how to fix these types of Google issues.

Your website is far too slow

If your website is too slow to load then in 2021, you will pay for it through lost Google rankings. Google wants speedy fast website load times. You have 1 max 2 seconds for your website page to load. Any longer and your visitors will start getting anxious, bored and frustrated. Google knows this fact and will penalise your site for this. It’s all about the user experience, and having a slow website will detract from this.

You can quickly check your site’s page load speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Get onto this soon as you will see the performance of your websites page speed and load times. Some quick adjustments may be all that’s needed to fix this issue.

Also Read: How to optimise website speed for better SEO

You’re Targeting the Wrong Keywords

It is not an overly common error, but this does happen when businesses target the wrong keywords. You should know your business and what your customers are looking for online. But, some people don’t understand this and look at marketing the wrong keywords.

Ideally, this should be a no-brainer. If you’re a plumber in Sydney, you’d want to be targeting all plumbing related keywords that have high traffic volumes. Use third-party platforms like SEM Rush to work out the best keywords for your business.

If you’re a new business, many high traffic keywords may be hard to rank for in the beginning due to the competition. In this case, you have to go after the low hanging fruit keywords that will at least drive some customers to your site. For example, keywords like ‘hot water system repairs’ will be easier to rank with the plumber.

Keyword planning tools like Ahrefs will help you target the right keywords, but ideally, you should start thinking about using an SEO agency for this. You don’t want to waste precious time stuffing around targeting keywords that don’t bring quality customers. Make sure you build high-quality landing web pages for each top keyword you are trying to target. Customer-focused web pages will help with conversion rates and, in turn, push your rankings higher.

You are losing backlinks

Backlinks get lost over time. They get deleted from old websites, and this can, in fact, cause your rankings to drop.

Quality backlinks to your site are among the best ways to maintain and improve rankings if they are decent backlinks. But, over time, some of these links may disappear, which will harm your rankings. Use third-party tools to check your backlink profile like Ahrefs, which will let you know how many links you have and which links have disappeared.

The best way to get your links back is to restart an SEO campaign that will build links. The idea behind this is that the better quality and the more links you have, the higher your SEO rankings. Replacing lost links is a great way to restore rankings.

A point to note here is that they can often remove links built by your current SEO agency if you decide to cancel their services.

We have often seen the impact of malicious SEO agencies that remove the links they have built once the client terminates their services. They get nasty and trim backlinks to harm the business. Cutting and deleting backlinks is a fairly common practice, and we often hear from clients who have had this done to them.

What happens is that they decide to try another SEO agency and then find that their rankings have dipped because of lost links. We have to get in there are quickly replace these links to restore SEO rankings. Our job is to get your rankings back and improve on them.

Your Competitors Are Doing Something Well

If you are noticing that your rankings are dropping, this may not be entirely your fault. You may be doing everything right with your SEO, but your competition may be doing a better job. Frustrating, I know, but this happens all the time. One day you can be sitting in the top 3 positions, and the next day you are halfway down the page as your competition has leapfrogged over you.

Where you sit in Google’s ranking is entirely dependant on the level of competition. The more competitive space, the more you need to do to secure your page 1 top rankings. For example, top keep ranking for divorce lawyers in Sydney will require more work than the keywords’ divorce lawyers Newcastle’.

The key takeaway here is that you can never stop doing SEO, and you can never stop pushing your website if you want to maintain your position. I often get clients asking me if they can stop the SEO for a couple of months, and my answer is always the same; you have to keep on link building and content marketing consistently. Without this systematic approach, your rankings will suffer.

If you stop your SEO, your competition will take over. It’s as clear cut as that!

Redirect Strategy Not in Place

If you are launching a new website and the structure has changed in any way, you MUST have a redirect strategy. You have to have a 301 redirect strategy in place before you launch any new site. Failure to do this will result in a fall in rankings.

If you do this correctly, a new website should increase in rankings and not drop.

I had spoken to far too many business owners that complain that their Google rankings had dropped when they launched a new website. It’s a real shame that they never had a 301 redirect in place.

A 301 redirect tells Google that this new page launched is not a duplicate copy and that it’s from your old site.

Without it, Google thinks that your site is entirely new, and you are duplicating content. Plus, you are also transferring all the authority you have built up from the old site to the new site.

For example, your site might be ten years old, and individual pages might be ranking well on Google, so you do not want to lose this. A 301 will ensure that these rankings are maintained, and Google knows that it’s not a duplicate copy.

Google algorithm Change

Algorithm changes are the nature of Google and the SEO landscape. Google will make roughly 200 very minor changes every week to its ranking algorithm. Every so often, they make a massive change, such as the Panda or Penguin update, which affected millions of websites worldwide.

These changes can and do affect rankings, and this is why you sometimes see fluctuations in your rankings for keywords. One day you’re at position 3, and the next, you’re at 7. If you slide too far down the page where perhaps you’re on page 2 or 3, then this is a cause for concern.

This means that Google has rolled out a significant algorithmic change, and your website, for whatever reason, is non-compliant.

The best way to restore rankings is to see the algorithmic change ( Google will never tell you this, but there will be chatter online ) and fix the issue. Most small businesses won’t know what the hell is going on and will have no idea how to fix the problem.

Using a company like SEO Sydney Experts to help analyse the issue, fix it and restore rankings is the best way forward.

Algorithmic changes are widespread, and Googles refines the search criteria to give its customer base the best and latest results. For example, you may be ranking for a particular product one day, but you have not updated it for a while and the page the product sits on is no longer relevant.

Server Problems

Server issues may cause a loss in your organic rankings. If your website is continually having problems because of server downtimes, this may affect Google’s bots from crawling your site. Some hosting companies are less reliable than others and may not be as reliable as they claim to be.

Your site may be down for days before you realise there’s something wrong. You only find out if a customer calls you and tells you that they tried to get onto your website, but it was not loading.

Then and only then do you do something about it? In the meantime, your site has been down for 3 or 4 days. If this happens too often, your rankings will start to fall. Try to use a reputable hosting company and always check your site to see if it’s live.

Duplicate content is harming your rankings

Have you ever taken content from one site and transferred it to your site. Having the same content on two or even three separate sites is called duplicate copy and will harm your SEO rankings. Google is looking out for fresh, new, informative copy so it will not rank pages that are duplicates.

I know it’s tempting to take content from a competitors website and put it on your site. It saves time, money and the hassle of writing if you offer the same service or product. Google has very sophisticated algorithms that can detect duplicate copies, so be warned. You won’t get away with it.

Spend a little money and hire a copywriter that can draft excellent new copy for your website. You’d be surprised at how quickly this can boost your rankings.

Related article: Is quality content good for SEO rankings?

Chat with an SEO Expert today

These are just a few of the 200 reasons why your Google rankings are slumping. There are lots more, but these are the most common factors that most businesses have control over and can fix quickly.

If you have gone through this list and still don’t feel that these issues are causing your rankings to slump, then it’s best to talk to an SEO expert like us at SEO Sydney Experts.

You have to be in SEO for the long game, and it’s not for short term gains. Treating your website with the care and the respect it deserves will, over the medium to long term, result in excellent results for your business.

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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