How To Diagnose a Ranking Drop and Resolve It

Disappeared from Google all of the sudden?

Suffering a drop in the ranking of your website does not only affect the number of visitors and views you get; it can also cause a significant drop in the income you get from your website if left unaddressed. This is why it is important to ensure that you understand the factors that might be causing the ranking drop and have them resolved as early as possible.

Two major factors can cause your site to bleed;

– A Google penalty, or

– Issues from the site

In both instances, the first step to address any fall in ranking to understand what exactly is causing your website to bleed. Getting your site on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) involves having good rankings. It is important to note that several reasons can cause a ranking drop and only the most common ones are addressed in this piece. But chances are the reason your website is falling in the rankings have been addressed in this article.

Here are some common reasons why your website might have dropped in the rankings and how you can get your website back up there.

Penalty Rank Drop

As earlier mentioned, a drop in the search engine rankings might be a penalty from Google. This penalty can either be algorithmic or manual. Penalties are usually characterized by a significant drop in your rankings overnight. The notable difference between algorithmic penalties and manual penalties are the fact that algorithmic penalties are automatic and often occur when a Google update is released. Manual penalties are applied by Google Employees. Considering that Google releases updates regularly, sometimes without clearly stating the reasons, it is important to continually keep track of your ranking for any changes. If you notice a drop that is severe and fast, then it is most likely a penalty, especially if your site still maintains good ranks on other search engines like Yahoo or Bing.

The best way to identify the specific issues is to check your Google Webmaster Tools account. In the Webmaster account, you’ll get the necessary notifications from Google on any sanctions against your site. You only have to check if there are any notifications in your account, here you’ll get to know if there have been any issues identified by GoogleBot.

The Manual Actions section in the Google Webmaster Tools can also help you confirm any Google penalties on your site. Once you have confirmed it’s a penalty, the next step is to stay calm and get the issues resolved.

Finding out the specific thing that harmed your site is next. If the problem is on-page, you might want to check out the linking and content of your page. You can also check for duplicate content. But if the issue is off-page, you should detect and remove the links considered unnatural. Any other links related to your site that weren’t removed can be disavowed.

To resolve issues related to manual penalties, you would have to submit a request for reconsideration. Although even with this, it might still take some time to get you back to your original position in the rankings.

Getting Outranked by Competition

Another way to fall in the rankings is to get outranked by competing websites. This fall in the ranking is not huge and you get to see the websites that outranked you as the website would be in the position you occupied before.

Once you have identified the competition that outranks you, it is important to find out what they are doing that you aren’t. This can be achieved by checking out their site and profiles across several social media accounts.

However, a way to be proactive is to monitor your competition and their strategies. This will help you understand their content and link building tactics and maybe predict their next moves. For websites that maintain a steady growth rate, you might want to pay close attention to what they’re doing and find ways to adapt it to your platform.

As much as possible, it is important to find ways to be creative and innovative. This will help your website stand out and keep your audience.

Getting demoted due to On-page Issues

If you find that your site does not grow in rankings or you recently experienced a big drop in the rankings especially if you’re making a lot effort in getting links out, then you might want to look out for this.

Identifying and Solving an On-page Optimization Problem

The first step to take is to check out your site in Google Webmaster Tools and find out if there are problems from GWT. There is a chance that you have a  lot of broken links or bad internal linking. The HTML improvements feature would also help detect any problems you might be having with tags.

The PageSpeed insights feature would also give you valuable information on problems you might have with your site and how to resolve them. In the instance that your website was hacked, you can find out what happened using the Google Webmaster Tools as well.

Preventing On-Page Problems

To avoid on-page problems, it is important to track your site in GWT, enable the GWT notifications and have them sent to your email address. By doing this, the chances that you would suffer from any on-page issue are significantly reduced.

Site Dropped in the Rankings Because it is Losing Links

If your website drops in the rankings because it’s losing links, then it can be either a major or slight drop. If you notice huge spikes the link of your velocity, then there’s a chance that you have a lot of inbound links disappearing from your profile.

Identifying and Resolving ranking drop due to Lost Links

To identify this, it is important to check your site’s lost links in the past 90 days. If you notice a lot of lost links in your site, this might be indicative of a ranking drop. The next thing to do is to check the links individually. If the links were deliberately removed by webmasters, then this might have been a sign to Google that the links were not natural. It might not be advisable to ask though as this may lead to Google penalizing you later. Even without Webmaster dropping the links, the drop in your ranking would probably still have occurred.

Preventing fall in ranking due to lost links

A good way to prevent a fall in ranking due to lost links is to continuously track lost links with specialized software. Once these things occur, you can effectively keep track of events before it gets too late. By actively keeping track of your link velocity, you can notice when things go out of hand.

Google Updates Their Algorithm

Another factor that can cause a drop in your ranking is an algorithm update from Google. In this instance, the fall can either be a minor or a big one. So, you might be seriously affected. A good way to identify a drop due to a change in Google’s algorithm is a seemingly continuous and rapid drop in your ranking.

Although, it might also be due to a Google flux which is entirely different and more difficult to spot. Once you have confirmed that your ranking drop is due to an algorithm update, you might want to find out the peculiarities of the update and how you can position your website to get back on track with the update.

Google Flux

A Google Flux is another possible reason why your site is dropping in the ranking. A Flux is the redistribution of website rankings in search engines during a database update. A Google Flus usually accompanies most algorithm updates and can be due to a change in ranking parameter. In a Google Flux, everything looks normal. There are no;

– On-page issues

– Linking issues

– Competitor issues

– Identified updates

There is no special guide in resolving issues relating to Google Flux, you just have to try to stay on top of the situation. Sadly, since Google algorithm updates are not preventable, Fluxes cannot be prevented too. Therefore, there’s no need to continue worrying about them. Fluxes are normal for every site and you are sure to get back on track within a few days. MOZ has a good blog on this here.


In conclusion, keeping your website ahead of thousands of competitors on the internet requires you being smart and creative. Learn how successful websites build and market their sites. It might be tempting to use shady SEO strategies to get your site up in the rankings, but you will damage your site in the long run. However, with creative content and effective marketing, you can get your site to grow and rise through the ranks. A good position in the ranking aids your visibility on search engines which is also good for the traffic on your site.

This article should help with any issues you might have with staying on top of the rankings. However, it is also important to ensure that you follow updates and trends in these rankings.

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