Have you ever checked Google and your most cherished SEO ranking was missing in action? Even more disturbing, there is some unforeseen new website or several new sites in your place which you may have seen on page 2 or 3 in your spot?
Keep in mind, it’s not the end of the world just because your rankings slipped, you just have to identify the cause not overreact to the effect. First of all, don’t panic, this is not uncommon and there are a number of reasons why rankings change.
- Data centers are synchronizing
- Crawl Errors Eliminated Critical Pages on Your Site
- Google is Testing a New Filter or Algorithm
Datacenters and Synchronizing: Google has thousands of server farms which routinely get updated and share common metrics. From time to time despite normal vacillations and / or deep crawls pages in sites may fall in or out of the index and then later normalize.
If you haven’t made any drastic changes, acquired an unnatural volume of links or changed anything with your server settings, sitemaps, .htaccess file or robots.txt, chances are your site fell into this category and the rankings will return when information retrieval variables that determine search engine result page positions normalize.
The last thing you want to do is change too many metrics (based on panic) then truly undermine or disrupt the true degree of trust your website has. Changes should be documented and you should always have a backup in case of a worst case scenario, so you can roll-back options if needed.
Crawl Errors: Your server’s bandwidth determines how aggressive the spiders can access the pages in your website. There are numerous situations where:
- a server could times out
- sitemaps get corrupted with 404 errors
- something in your CMS breaks the url parameters
- the link structure or navigation of your website changed
But in this instance, we are referring only to crawl errors and how and which pages are indexed. This is another temporal setback which if caught in time can be corrected and rankings should return to their previous position (granted your competition has not turned up the heat).
Google Testing a New Algorithm: Google is always testing a new algorithm, but chances are, if you operate in some gray areas, then something could leave a trail (of automation) or abuse if you are pushing the envelope too hard.
- Submitting your site to 10,000 spammy directories
- Having massive spikes in social bookmarking
- Replicating your content through syndication
- Having links built from similar C-Class IPs
- Cross linking or reciprocal linking to questionable website / neighborhoods
All leave a trail. It’s not to say that the extent of that trail will trip a filter, but it is possible it could if the off page factors seem “unnatural” to other sites operating in that sector.
Google performs hundreds of tweaks to the algorithm and as a result there are always vacillations as the ebb and tide of normalization occur. Since it is their proprietary mix of metrics after-all, organic rankings will always be subject to rise and fall.
The baseline to keep in mind is (1) relevant high quality content provides stability (2) themed content supported by relevant internal linking aids crawl activity and provides structure to search engines concerning which pages are important and (3) as long as your promotional guidelines do not exceed normal patterns (like a new post getting published on 100K feeds simultaneously), then you should be just fine when things return to normal.
We only covered a few examples of getting back to page 1 in the event that your rankings slipped. Other times it’s merely a case of search engine amnesia where the main index is put on standby while new and improved metrics are fine-tuned under the hood.
SEO Tips for Getting Back to Page 1:
- Introduce new content and provide links to your preferred landing pages
- Ensure sitemaps are current, particularly if you have made changes
- check for 404 errors (broken links) to see if you are sending search engine spiders to the wrong places
- Perform a sweep to see how many practical SEO guidelines your website embraces
Aside from this, be patient and try not to make too many hasty decisions to muddy the waters until things settle. Nine times out of ten, it is just a new flavor of the algorithm which gets vetoed in the end.
Yet, if you change the structure, add too many links, shuffle your title tags or any of the typical things people do when a ranking takes a dip, you may in fact disrupt the relevance score your page has when they flip the switch back to “normal”.