Having your business ranking within the top 5 positions on Google is an important aim for most companies, as these websites attract the most clicks from customers, thus often generating many more sales and orders than those websites who are found further down the list. Sometimes, for numerous reasons, you may be ranking absolutely fine then suddenly find that your rankings drop, often seemingly overnight, causing traffic to plummet too. It is important to know some of the things you can do if you find yourself in this situation. Here are some of the ways you can diagnose the problem for your website.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a good place to start when you are trying to establish what has caused your website rankings to drop suddenly. If there are any serious issues, Search Console emails you. These can include any manual penalty actions from Google, crawl errors and problems with schema for instance. You can use other tools within search console to analyse a huge amount of data to find other issues which may not be so obvious. The overview page gives you a look at the “bigger picture”, but you can use the URL inspection to analyse specific pages through the lense of Google Bot. If you are on the receiving end of a manual penalty, you will probably know why – these are most often the result of violating Google’s webmaster guidelines. Buying links or having really poor quality content can be such causes! You will get an email from search console if there are manual penalties.
Check for Noindex Errors
The problem with “noindex” can often occur when transferring from a development site to the live site – sometimes website owners have the wrong settings in WordPress or on a plugin which causes the site to be deindexed. There is a tick box on WordPress sites which enables or disables the site being indexed – just ticking this box means that search engines do not index the site! Plugins such as Yoast SEO also have their own index settings so be sure to check yours. It is also a good idea to check your robots.txt file to make sure you are not accidentally blocking search engines.
Links to Your Site
Links are known to be a ranking factor, so it makes sense to check your inbound links after a ranking drop. There are three main issues relating to links:
- Manual action caused by link building which violates Google Webmaster Guidelines
- Devaluation/loss of links
- Increase in competitor links
Any manual action, as mentioned before, will have a notification within Google Search Console. You can simply remove or disavow any links which are causing the problem and then submit a reconsideration request. You won’t immediately restore your rankings, because the links will have artificially boosted your website rankings prior to being penalised. Devaluation basically means that Google sees less value from your links. This could be down to algorithm changes or because the website owner has broken rules. A website which is known to buy and sell links for instance, will almost certainly become worthless in Google’s eyes. The only way to solve this is to build more good quality links.