A Decline In Site Rank: Here Are The Main Reasons According To Semalt Expert Opinion
The fact that the website does not rank high in the search engine is not a cause for concern if it has been created recently and you are just starting your SEO activities. However, in a situation where this is a site that has been in operation for a long time, it is a good idea to act as soon as possible. Check what the possible reasons are for the decline in the position of your website and what needs to be done to stop it.
The most common reasons for a site's lower ranking
There are many reasons for a sudden drop in a page's position in the search engine, but there are some that are found much more often than others. You can influence the ones described below and fix errors quickly to prevent the page from falling off any further.
Changes within the website structure
It often happens that a page shows lower in search results due to changes made to its structure. This happens, for example, when moving a site from one server to another. A moment of inattention and forgetting about details is enough to, for example, prevent Google robots from indexing the URL. To check if this is the main reason, enter the address: yourdomain.pl/robots.txt. If you see a code snippet: 'Disallow: /', it means that the file settings are not correct and need to be corrected.
Changes within the structure of the page also apply to the sitemap. All URLs should be listed there. Moreover, they must be encoded in such a way that the web server can read them. It is a good idea to check if you have accidentally entered incorrect records in your sitemap. If so, after the introduced corrections, the further decline in the website's position should be stopped. It is worth emphasizing that finding such problems is not very difficult, so very often they are considered first.
Duplicate content is identified when the same content appears within several URLs or on one page. The internal copying problem is sometimes the result of simple negligence, for example, when a test version of a site is not excluded from indexation. This is a bit different from external copying. Often, the content is reproduced without the consent and knowledge of the author, and thus it is considered stolen. Duplicate content very often concerns, inter alia, product descriptions that are copied to the online store from the manufacturer's website. Google's crawlers are quick to detect duplicate content, and. as a result, your website drops in search results.
It should be borne in mind that duplicate content harms positioning. There is no single, effective way to eliminate this problem, as it is caused by various factors. Above all, we must always ensure the uniqueness of the content of the site with a control tool of uniqueness to know if it has not been duplicated by the competition.
Keywords excess and other Black Hat SEO activities
Black Hat SEO activities effectively increase the visibility of the site in the search engine, but usually only for a while. Their use causes more harm than good, so they should be avoided or eliminated as soon as possible. One of the most popular practices is the use of an excessive number of keywords. This makes the content unreadable for users, and the site may be disregarded for a specific phrase.
There are also other popular Black Hat SEO techniques that cause a website to decline:
- Low-quality content - creating substantive texts is not easy, but only thanks to them, the website can achieve a higher position. Due to low-quality content, the website is considered less valuable by the search engine.
- Buying external links - Google robots may find such links unnatural, and then you will lose trust for the entire website.
- Cloaking - in other words, presenting other URLs or content to users and to other search engines.
- False redirects - created links lead to different pages than they should, which misleads not only users but also robots.
The use of Black Hat SEO techniques can permanently harm a website and its position in the search engine. A better solution is to patiently and regularly follow permitted practices, i.e. White Hat SEO.
Reasons beyond your direct control
As already mentioned, it is not always your actions that contribute to the lower position of the site. There are a few things that are beyond your direct control.
There are two types of Google penalties:
- Manual - When they manually check a page, employees find that it violates webmaster guidelines.
- Algorithmic - the website is blocked in search results by the Google algorithm.
Although manual penalties are rare, they can be imposed. Sometimes the reason is the use of Black Hat SEO techniques, including cloaking or low-quality content. However, it may be that the reasons for the hand penalties are beyond your control. We are talking about, for example, hacking attacks or spam generated by users. You can check information on this in Google Search Console. Algorithmic penalties are more difficult to detect, but also, in this case, special tools, such as Penguin, can help.
The website's position is negatively affected not only by penalties but also by Google updates. Mostly, changes are difficult to predict. It is influenced, among others, by the fact that, according to Google, slight modifications are introduced systematically, and some may be related to a niche and only cover a small number of pages. Another problem is that accepted SEO activities may unexpectedly be found inappropriate by Google. It's a good idea to follow industry media or Google messages and react to changes, as well as use special tools, such as Dedicated SEO Dashboard, to know the status of your site from time to time.
Actions of the competition
It is worth realizing that the position of the site in the search engine also depends on the actions of the competition. Your page decline may be because other sites in the industry are more polished and therefore rank higher. Tracking them is very important, and it's almost the same as checking your own site's progress. The Dedicated SEO Dashboard can also be used for this purpose. Indeed, this tool has a function called Google Search Analysis.
You can use this DSD feature set to find out your site's positions in Google search, as well as the TOP pages and keywords they are ranking for. This competitive analysis feature helps you identify the top competitors in the right niche, their keywords that attract traffic and understand their promotion strategy. If it turns out that the actions of the competition are the main reason for the decline in the position of the site, you should think carefully about the further strategy.
How to react to a drop in website rank?
Don't panic after your site has dropped in the search engine. The recommended solution is to react quickly, thus preventing further loss of position. See what you can do in such a situation.
When a site's ranking continues to decline, an SEO audit is a good option. By carrying it out, you can check all factors affecting positioning and detect any irregularities. The following are analyzed:
- page titles;
- the content posted on the website;
- internal linking;
- ALT attributes for graphic items;
You can outsource an SEO audit to a professional agency or conduct it yourself. This is possible, for example, with the SEO technical audit party of the Dedicated SEO Dashboard. Thanks to this, you will receive a lot of valuable information on how your website works and what you can do to improve its positioning.
Post-SEO audit activities
After an SEO audit, you will learn what needs to be done to prevent your website from dropping any further. Which actions will be necessary depends on its results. If the crawl errors are to blame, fix them first. However, most often, this is just the beginning of the work. Usually, it is also necessary to refine the content on the page and the keywords used, which should be consistent with what users enter in the search engine.
It is equally important to get rid of all traces of Black Hat SEO practices. It may take a long time, but it is necessary because techniques in this field will not guarantee long-term effects anyway. Get rid of cloaking, excess key phrases, spamming in comments, and hidden content and links.
When planning activities after the SEO audit, you cannot forget about the work on the page loading speed. This also influences the position of the site and, in addition, the user experience. The longer the page loads, the higher the bounce rate becomes, as it can be too cumbersome to wait for the content to be accessed. It is also worth refining other issues such as:
- internal navigation;
- possible problems with the server;
- corrupted redirects;
- meta titles and descriptions.
Can you prevent sudden drops in page rank?
Probably no website owner wants to experience a situation where its position begins to drop drastically. However, can this be avoided? It turns out that small drops are difficult to prevent because sometimes they are not directly dependent on your actions. However, the situation is slightly different for major ranking changes.
If you want to avoid a drastic decline, you should, first of all, avoid bad practices. The penalties for Black Hat SEO can be very serious. Sometimes it even removes the site completely from the search engine. Plus, it comes with a bad user experience who gets misled and doesn't get the information they need.
The use of ethical techniques to improve website positioning takes more time, but this is the only safe method. Their implementation requires a lot of knowledge, appropriate skills and, above all, patience. However, the results achieved with this last longer. Rebuilding the page position after Black Hat SEO detection is laborious; it can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years. Therefore, one should consider whether it is really worth taking such a risk.
Positioning is not an activity that can be abandoned after a certain period of time. It is continuous work on the content and structure of the website. Remember that it's not just Google's algorithms that are changing. This also applies to the search trends themselves, i.e. phrases that users enter in the search engine. That is why it is so important to constantly control the effects of positioning and modify the strategy.
If you need to learn more about the subject of SEO and website promotion, we invite you to visit our Semalt blog.