in SEO Tips by Jeffrey_Smith

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?

Page 1 Rankings

Getting Back to Page1

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.

Examples like:

  • 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”. 

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About Jeffrey_Smith

In 2006, Jeffrey Smith founded SEO Design Solutions (An SEO Provider who now develops SEO Software for WordPress).

Jeffrey has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and marketing strategies to increase rankings, revenue and reach.

20 thoughts on “SEO Tips for Getting Back to Page 1
  1. bill says:

    Im so glad that you covered this because I for one panic when any page looses ground in google. I admit I would rush to the site and start changing titles, descriptions etc… and all in all just compounding the issue and making it worse till the page has dropped completely out of my ability to find it. What is your view of using onlywire to submit new posts to social sites?

  2. Anomalies always exist Bill, but I found most of the time, its just a Google shuffle.

    I have not checked out onlywire yet, but the rule of thumb is, its better to let others submit (anything else that uses automation typically leaves a trail).

    Keep in mind, every change of every page since the inception of a site is cataloged and can be used to determine what is natural and what it not.

    If you use a tool and that tool is not pliable enough to randomize, then those variables can work for or against you, depending on the filter.

    Diversity vs. uniformity is a cardinal rule of authority, just as quality over quantity also plays a big role.

    Your own website is its own best source of links, first… After it has authority, rankings are just a by-product.

  3. This has happened to me several times and indeed it would work best on your part to not panic. Analyze the situation, investigate what happened and work for it, then surely you’ll regain position.

  4. This article spoke right to me. I went from page one to page three overnight!!!

    I think Google finally took into account that I had a ton of 404 errors. I took down a few sample websites and didn’t do any 301 work. Yikes! I took care of it a few days ago, but Google has not yet registered that the 404s have been accounted for. It’s just so irritating that I had FINALLY made it to the first page. Ugh.

  5. Usually I panic when some of my sites go down in Google rankings. Eventually some of them come back up, and I have just attributed the phenomenon to ‘Google Dance’. Your post is very informative on what could be the other causes for this… Thanks for the post.

  6. jennifer says:

    These tips are really informative..
    I would also suggest to use some good and efficient SEO Tools that help in optimizing your site’s performance..

    http://siteopsys.com/

  7. Justin says:

    Thanks for the interesting post Jeffrey. Do you have any advice regarding fluctuations in rankings for new sites? I have a few relatively new (4 months old) websites that dont’t rank where they have done (albeit for a few days) or where I think they should be. They sometimes jump into a high ranking position one day and then disappear for a few weeks or even months. A lot of people talk about the Google dance, but do you recommend sitting it out until the site stabilizes, rather than keep building links whilst Google seems to be holding the site back?

    Thank you once again. Have a good day Jeffrey!

    Justin.

  8. @Andrew:

    Agreed… People often forget SERP positioning is a competition. There are 1000 spots for any given keyword and they can be dense or hollow depending on who occupies them. Analysis is great, but being able to dissect that analysis to ensure you make the right changes are priceless from a time (back to the top) perspective.

    @Joseph:

    Sometimes for Google to do another deep crawl of your site, it can take up to a month, particularly for pages that lack links of connectivity to the powerhouse pages.

    At this point it is a waiting game, or you can focus on getting 7-10 solid themed deep links to the page that took a dip.

    If it was your homepage, the algo may have identified there were other pages more suitable for the keywords. You can also shoot yourself in the foot, from not identifying which pages should rank for what terms (through the hierarchy of internal links).

    You also never know which of those pages with a 404 or that was getting pointed to with a 404 was getting link flow from other pages in the site.

    This goes into both the indexation and crawl category, but just don’t change too much too fast and focus on getting rid of the 404’s (try webmaster tools) and perhaps submitting a new sitemap when all is done to expedite (in addition to a few quality deep links).

    @Michael:

    Appreciate the feedback, you give away some great tips on your blog too. Hope all is going well and glad you stopped by.

    @Jenifer:

    Will look into the siteopsys toolset.

    @Justin:

    Time and trust are THE most important things you can acquire now for a new site.

    Things like:

    1. getting a solid based of links from trusted sites (best of the web, yahoo directory, business.com, etc.) to pass along some of their clout to your via link osmosis.

    2. Linking out – believe it or not, hording link flow is not the premise of the web. You can rank as (a) an authority site (b) a hub site or (c) both. The way you do that is based on who links to you and more importantly who you link to…

    Try linking to sites ranking in the top 10 results for the keywords you want to rank for.

    This is what we call the grappling hook or ranking by affinity. You can earn or generate trust based on where your site fits in the link graph.

    Also, if you get a link from a site already ranking for the keyword that is higher than you, they can pull you up by that same affinity.

    If you can’t do either, then focus on content creation, internal linking and rss aggregation to (1) improve post frequency (2) build more trust, in addition to a larger semantic footprint in search engines and (3) get the spiders to crawl more frequently and deeper in your site.

    All of those are precursors to authority and are a perfect recipe to facilitate it.

    Hope that helps…

  9. Justin says:

    Thanks for the detailed reply Jeffrey. Just one more thing if you don’t mind. When you say link out to others that are already in the top 10 for the keyword you want to rank for, does this need to be using the anchor text of that keyword, or will a link just using any anchor text have the same effect? I can see how this should work, but I’m just wondering what’s the best way without making my competitor stronger by promoting them for a keyword I’m trying to outrank them on.

    Thanks for the helpful reply.

    Justin

  10. Aglolink says:

    I just know that the crawl errors affect the index page. There is some error on my page that is currently still try to fix it. thanks for your tips.

  11. SlimJim says:

    I use a wordpress plugin that will clean-up all the 404, with a 301 redirect.

    I changed my site NAV-Links (a bunch of links – 60+), I didn’t expect Google to crawl my new site so fast.

    When I found out about all the 404’s in Google Web Tools, I started running the 301 plugin, then I went back & posted about 10 or so, blog post, spread out over a week.

    I’m down to 9, 404’s left in Google Web Tools.

    Give things time to get crawled, it will happen sooner or later, ;)

  12. Craig says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Great article and I am becoming a big fan of your blog. I am glad I found your site via your WP SEO Ultimate plugin.

    My question is I am launching a new ecommerce site and have some great promotional strategies that will build inbound links and probably quickly but done completely whitehat and ethical, just great buzz and promotion. My concern is that our competitors do nothing like this and will Google think we are spamming social media sites and blogs if we get links much faster than our competitors?

    Thanks for the advice!

  13. @Justin:

    You can always link to Wikipedia (since they are always at the top anyway) and if you do, I personally use Anchors I like to rank for (at least for a page determined to use the grappling hook method).

    Competitors are not the best solution to link to, look for more authoritative sources ideally. EDU’s, associations, etc.

    @Aglolink:

    404’s and trust seems to be the flavor right now. It seems like they take twice as long to get removed than they are to get discovered, but Slim Jim made a good point on using 301’s and blogging to expedite the process above.

    @SlimJim:

    Bingo on the tactic, now a few deep links to set things off to the new location should give you a little push.

    @Craig:

    I am glad you are enjoying SEO Ultimate, next up is the internal link module (my favorite). With this module, you will be able to turn any blog into a wikipedia style internal link dynamo without pushing the limits past a coherent site architecture via virtual theming

    SEO Ultimate is by no means done, there are 20 more revisions I know of that John is working on, pretty sick stuff indeed.

    We may have to make a paid version if we keep giving away the goodies for free, he spends months on development all for the passion of the plugin.

    Glad to see someone is enjoying it…

  14. Craig:

    I also meant to say that Google is keen and if you are genuinely creating a buzz, it should not flag anything, its the automated (one dimensional)one-size-fits-all software you have to be weary of.

    Enjoy…

  15. SlimJim says:

    “Also, if you get a link from a site already ranking for the keyword that is higher than you, they can pull you up by that same affinity.”

    This is so true!

    I have a blog post that has been #1 for a specific keyword in Google SERP (almost a year). I have a friend that has their own blog, I gave them a backlink on my blog, about 6 months after I made my blog post. Now I’m still at #1, & they are #3 in the SERP, for the same keyword.

    My point is, it’s good to have friends to swap related backlinks.

    I’m a Mod. on my freinds forum, so we have a good deal of trust between us. Plus my blog is PR-2, my friends blog is PR-6, now that’s a real friend counting/swapping backlinks, or not. :)

  16. SlimJim says:

    Jeffrey,

    That “internal link module” sounds cool!

    Can’t wait to try it!

  17. We are transparent here, told ya we give away the good stuff… :D

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