How to Get Dropped Rankings Back!

Today’s topic covers 10 time-tested tips to recover from rankings that have dropped in search engines. Dealing with vacillations in the SERPs (search engine result pages) resulting in page churn or displaced rankings is extremely frustrating.

Dropped Rankings in Search Engines

How to Get Dropped Search Engine Rankings Back

One day you have traffic, visitors and conversions from your most cherished ranking, then for reasons unbeknownst to you, your legacy position is a memory and your ranking is bouncing about, rolled off the page or no where in sight.

The natural reaction; what the %#%$@ do I do now? While your first reaction is panic (in fear of an SEO penalty), the reason for the usurping could potentially be derived from a variety of equally substantial causes, such as:

  • Google or other search engine algorithms are merely testing a new filter.
  • The search index is being rebuilt (where old pages are scored in contrast to new entries and aged contenders), which often settles and your ranking / position reemerges.
  • The link flow (rank order) of your pages shifted from making changes to your website.
  • Some of your own pages and / or internal links have lost value from (a) duplicity (b) low value content or (c) potential indexation issues or the most obvious…
  • Competition has kicked their SEO in gear to take your spot!

While frustration from any of these causes can make even the most calm, collected business owner or webmaster uneasy, there are ways you can stave these vacillations by either creating additional padding within your website (theming) that insulates your primary pages (by reinforcing them with internal links) and / or creating stronger trust signals that omit your website from the churn.

While no website is immune, there are varying degrees of displacement which can occur as the search engine index is like an organism in its own right vastly spanning billions of documents with the constant yet prime directive to find the best 10 pages for any given search query.

Okay, Einstein Now What?

Most causes are algorithmic, so, if you address and make the appropriate change, stability returns. The question is, what can you do about it today? So, here are 10 tested SEO solutions you can start with right now in your vetting process:

1)      Revise Titles: Check your titles (to see if you can remove any noise) and refine relevance. Excessive titles diffuse relevance, so, make sure they are succinct and only reference the content on THAT page, not something general. Follow the link for more information about optimizing titles and meta descriptions.

2)      Indexed Pages: Use the site:mydomain.com command [replace mydomain.com with your own domain name in a Google search] to see if you have lost an inordinate amount of pages. If you had 1000 pages indexed and now you have 100, there are crawl or sever issues which could cripple your websites link flow. If you are suffering from indexation issues then pages that are not in the index are no longer passing ranking factor as supporting pages.

3)      Inflated indexation: like the contrary and not having enough pages indexed, sometimes your website/server will create a hiccup and pages will get indexed multiple times. If this happens, then your website can trigger duplicate content penalties (where multiple pages have the same data and go supplemental) in other words, they will not rank in Google’s primary index (which is what you are querying, Google’s snapshot from their spiders, not the web) when you are searching using THEIR engine.

4)      Add content: Add more unique content to primary landing pages. Ensuring your pages have at least 500-750 words of unique content for primary landing page can aid relevance and authority. This is critical because a search engine is programmed to look for co-occurrence (the presence and proximity of other supporting synonyms and / or related keywords) to ascertain relevance.

5)      Target Specific Landing Pages: Make sure primary keywords have the appropriate landing pages. For example, instead of the homepage ranking for everything, use a keyword specific landing page. Not only does this help on page conversions from message match (giving a user what they expect when they click through) but it also adds another layer to your SEO for deep links (building backlinks to pages other than the homepage) see next item for elaboration.

6)      Build Deep Links: By building specific links to keyword-rich landing pages designed specifically for the keyword, you can dramatically increase rankings by consolidating on page SEO efforts.

This means if you have a category called electronics, and you have different sub categories (portable electronics, USB accessories, wireless accessories), then create specific pages for those sub categories and then build links to them from other websites with the keyword those sub categories/landing pages should rank for (portable electronics, USB accessories or Wireless Accessories, respectively). This also strengthens the category (Electronics) and all the pages it links to.

7)      Remove Excessive Links: If you have excessive internal links on a page (particularly boilerplate links that appear on multiple pages) then you are better off minimizing the amount of outbound/internal links to under 50 links per page (up to 100 links max) when internally linking your pages.

This accomplished two things (1) it make the page preserve more ranking factor and (2) excessive links won’t bleed ranking factor for the pages you link to. The more links you have on a page, the weaker each one becomes, so, keep your on page SEO tight and link only as needed. Click here to see a video on how to properly silo your website.

8)      Inbound Link IP Diversity: Get more inbound IP link diversity from other websites. You can do this by (a) syndicating old content on the site (rewriting it and submitting to article directories, RSS directories, using www.pingler.com or getting fresh links from press releases like www.prweb.com to create more IP diversity.

9)      Diversify Internal Link Anchor Text: While you think that linking the same keyword from every page in your website to one target page might help, if done in excess, you can toggle an internal over-optimization penalty.

To correct this, use link-caps (determine and implement a cut-off point) and then use alternate keywords and / or synonyms to link to primary landing pages. The benefit is (1) the target page still has the overlapping keywords so the primary phrase gets a boost and (2) the target page can rank for a broader array of keyword variations (mid-tail and long-tail keywords).

10)   Time: Sometimes you need to give everything more time. Between Google and other search engines constantly changing their algorithms it’s not always what you do with your on page optimization or how many links you have; it’s how trusted your website is?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more SEO Tips, tactics and strategies to diversify your website in search engines. If you like, make sure to follow us on twitter for updates as they occur.

If you like, feel free to comment below, share this post or start a discussion on techniques you either (a) personally use (b) are curious about or (c) have used to put your websites’ rankings back on course in a trajectory towards the top 10 after experiencing a dip.

Or Stick Around and Read More Posts

11 Comments

  1. Craig L.
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I saw virtually all of my rankings drop hundreds of positions with the latest Panda update. All of my pages are indexed and I feel like I have high quality, keyword-rich content. I am trying to tell myself to be patient, but it is hard when you work so hard to build a quality site just to have all of your traffic taken from you overnight.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these tips. Even though I am not sure why I lost my rankings, it feels good to know that it is probably more to do with Google’s algorithm change than my content or the structure of my site.

  2. Adrian
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff.

  3. Israel Kendall
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Great site you have here, with all these internal links you’ve had me hooked here reading your content for hours on end!

  4. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    @Israel:

    That is the idea, there are over 950 posts in here, so, far too many to link from one place, but if you like, just use the sitemap to skim for interesting topics http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/blog/sitemap.xml

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  5. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    @Adrian:

    Thanks

  6. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    @Craig:

    I suggest you look for duplicate content or pages with a low quality score and perhaps noindex, follow them. I have seen Panda drop sites then every 6 weeks or so, it recrawls and re-evaluates, so, document your changes and be patient. If your website has quality, there may be something else going on, so, you have to vet as many variables as possible.

    Hang in there.

  7. F Simmons
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    This article is good, we will try to impliment some of its recommendations. The panda update has trashed our site. We are an eCommerce site and by its very nature there is a large amount of content duplicated, both on our site, and on other sites on the net. We are trying some work arounds including re-wording almost all pages, and trying key word targeting on different pages. It would be nice if thee panda 2.xxx update takes into account eCommerce site duplication problems.

  8. David
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    Excellent and very timely. I’d just dropped from No.1 to No.4 on my primary keyword and was feeling the panic starting to rise. I’ll work through the list and let you know.

    Thank you.

  9. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted November 4, 2011 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    @David:

    You never know if it could be a fresh crawl which will normalize, competition, the links you have coming into your site, the links from within your website or Google just being fickly and testing a new algo in the sandbox. Document your steps (in case you need to flip the switch back to before the fall).

    Let me know how things work out David.

    All the best!

  10. Jeffrey_Smith
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrew:

    When your template offsets the content on the page, i.e. a heavy navigation (lots of elements in the navigation) and not enough content on the page to offset the characters, then your template can diffuse the on page “market focus” (what the page is about).

    As an example, go to amazon.com and then move through from the main page to the internal categories and pages (ex. computers, laptops, dell, inspiron, etc.) and notice how the navigation schema changes on each tier.

    This type of faceted navigation is better for (a) the user experience and (b) SEO, so, the website wins both rankings and conversions.

    Jeffrey

  11. Michael R
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great write-up. Will adding unique content help us to bounce back? We fell a few points in each category – nothing too detrimental. Our blog hasn’t been updated in a few months either.

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