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Every website is bound to suffer from a drop in rankings at some point and unfortunately, there are a plethora of things that could be contributing to a drop in your website’s ranking. The silver lining is that there are plenty of aspects on your website that can easily be tweaked to counter a drop in rankings.
Sometimes damage to your search engine ranking is unavoidable due to Google algorithm updates, technical errors, or the unfortunate event of a hack or spam. However, there are plenty of other reasons why your website may have dropped in ranking. That’s why we have compiled a helpful list of possible culprits so you can get your website traffic back on track!
Content plays a massive role in determining your search engine ranking; text content, links, images, and videos all play a key role in search engine optimization (SEO). Not updating your content regularly can lead to a drop in rankings and traffic for a variety of reasons.
There are many factors to consider here but some key, and easy to fix, areas to consider:
- Outdated Content: Not regularly updating or adding new content in today’s Google search engine world is a sure-fire way to fall behind. Giving Google new content to crawl allows them to pick up new content that could have been valuable in the ranking algorithm. From a consumer traffic standpoint, this means more people visiting and interacting with your site. If a website has the same old stuff every time you visit it, you are likely to get bored and stop visiting.
- Bad Links: Forgetting to frequently check in on your content can also mean missing, broken, or bad links. Broken links aren’t just bad from a user experience standpoint, but they can also hurt your rankings. Bad links are links that lead back to insecure, suspicious, or poor-quality websites. This can cause a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- Changes in Competition: To continue to grow and remain competitive, you have to be both proactive and reactive. As competitors add new and compelling content, they may be taking traffic away from your website. Avoid this by continually working to keep things fresh. This can be anything from updated images, reoccurring blogs, new website features, and so much more. From a reactive standpoint, a competitive analysis can help you see what better-performing sites are doing. You can also find relevant keywords that would be beneficial to include in the content of your site.
- Changes in Search Behavior: Consumers continually change their minds and behavior, so content should follow suit. As trends and verbiage go in and out of style, adjust website content accordingly. This can also tie into seasonality. During different seasons, and more specifically around holidays, content should line up with the appropriate time of year. Check out our video on competition and content during the holiday season.
Traffic-Driving Content Has Been Removed
If you’re not falling prey to the plague of outdated content, be mindful about what you are updating. Before making any changes on a landing page, take a peek at your analytics. See what pages are getting the most traffic and avoid deleting them or making any massive changes to the content that is drawing people in. Instead, start by updating the pages with less traffic to increase their performance.
Your Website Has Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is important to avoid for a number of reasons, both from a rankings perspective, as well as a user perspective. There is also more to the idea of duplicate content than meets the eye.
- Page Content: Though it seems obvious that you would want different information on different pages, there are ways a page can be flagged for duplicate content that you may not have considered. Two common instances where we see this happen often are in e-commerce and on web pages with low word count. A retailer may have a product that is relevant to list on a number of pages. However, if the product exists as a separate, independent listing on each page it appears, it becomes duplicate content. Easy fix: have the product listing live on a primary page and on the other pages, simply include an image that links back to the primary page. Pages with a low word count can also present a problem, even if the pages are about different topics. If under the unique content on every landing page you include standard, auto-fill information, this can possibly pose a problem. It is not inherently bad to have standardized information on your landing pages, but if it is too close in length or longer than the unique content, it will be flagged.
- Meta Information: An area often overlooked that holds real value is in the meta-information for a web page. This encompasses meta descriptions, title tags, and H1’s (primary headings). We have already delved into the importance of meta-descriptions in our SEO blog, so let’s look more at titles and headings. Even though the title and the heading are related to the same content, it is important to ensure they are different. Generic title tags and headings such as “Home”, “News”, or “Shop” waste a valuable SEO opportunity. Work different target keywords into the title and the heading to not only add value but more specificity for the user. Having duplicate title tags can even lead to your own pages competing against each other to land on the first page of search results.
- Keyword Stuffing: Take it from Google, “Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.” No matter what service or product you are selling, you want to be one of the first results to pop up when someone searches a keyword/phrase related to your business. However, using the same keyword excessively on a single page can seem awkward for users and go against Google guidelines. Don’t try to get past Google by attempting to hide keywords, for example putting them in white font on a white background so they’re not visible. Google has seen all the tricks, instead compile a core list of keywords and spread them throughout your entire site.
Your Website is Not Mobile Responsive
In the past, Google crawlers used the desktop version of a website to index and rank pages. Now that most internet users log on from their phone, Google switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that bots primarily crawl pages with a smartphone agent. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly it could be seriously impacting your rankings.
Slow Page Speed
Page load speed is a major factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Studies by Google have found that most users leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That means the clock is ticking, and it’s ticking fast! Common culprits of slow page speed include bad/excessive coding, too many redirects, and excessive images/videos.
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