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10 Things to Do If Your Keyword Search Ranking Drops

Today’s digital competition for a good keyword search ranking is stiff!

As the world uploads itself online, more and more businesses are becoming digitally fluent. From fashion to tech, every kind of business has begun to incorporate SEO into their marketing strategy at some level. With so many people vying for the same spots, Google has become the ultimate equalizer.

keyword search ranking

You could be the number one result on SERPs for weeks, only to wake up one day and find yourself unceremoniously kicked off the first page altogether! Witnessing a decline in your keyword search ranking can be scary, especially when you’ve put a lot of time and money into them. These ten to-dos are actionable steps you can take if you find your keyword search rankings drop.

Things to Do If Your SEO Ranking Is Down

Up first is what to do if your search rankings drop:

website ranking drop

1: Track Changes in Google’s Algorithm  

If your keyword ranking has suffered a drop recently, one of the first things you should do is check for a Google algorithm update. An algorithmic change by Google means a change in the way your keywords relate to SERPs. In other words, your old keyword strategy may be in violation of Google’s new terms, causing your rankings to decline.

When Google made the recent Google Fred update, many sites saw their rankings decline. Don’t be like them, stay ahead of the game! Refer to notable SEO sites and blogs for announcements and analysis on these updates. For example, Mozcast is the “Google Algorithm Weather Report”, and if you’re a digital marketer, you should probably be checking Google’s algorithm as much as you check the weather.

Make sure there are clear skies forecasted for today before you head out without an umbrella! Another easy way to see if you’re being penalized by Google is by checking other search engines. If your page is still ranking on Bing or Yahoo, then you can deduce a Google intervention.

2: Protect Your Site from Unnatural Links

The only benefit of unnatural linking to your site is that Google alerts you when it happens. When this happens, go to Google Webmaster Tools →“Search Traffic” tab → “Manual Actions”, and here you’ll find a reason stating Google’s actions and why. This is where you’ll see if GoogleBot has detected any issues with your site in the form of unnatural linking.

On-page issues usually require a reassessment of your digital strategy, and off-page issues require your team to comb through the Internet and find/remove links whose very existence are undermining your hard work.

3: Trace Your Steps

Backlinking has been a proven digital marketing tool for years. This tactic helps increase a site’s traffic while building its credibility. Backlinks are reliable tools…until they no longer exist. Losing backlinks can be a major contributing factor to your recent decline. Check to see that all your links are still viable, or consult with an agency to clear the backlinks that are hurting your site. Make sure their placement is still satisfying your search engine needs.

trace your seo steps

4: Be a Good Sport!

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes your competition just does it better. They may have built a better following or implemented a stronger content strategy. They may have even gotten more authoritative links published, gasp! Lucky for you, this usually just a slight drop in your ranking.

Don’t fret and take it with a grain of salt. Learn from your competitors, sometimes they have great ideas. This is an opportunity to see where you can improve your own keyword search strategy.

5: Keep Your Enemies Close

Take your competition’s ideas and make them better!

Monitor your competition to see what tactics they’re using, and see which ones you can utilize for your own business. Their growth doesn’t have to mean your loss, it could also mean your gain. It’s better to have competitors pushing you to think more creatively than staying comfortable in the same spot. Your team will produce and create more interesting content when the pressures on. As a result, your ranking will go up organically.

6: And Your Users Closer

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all this SEO talk because there’s so much to it. Organic, inorganic, paid, backlinks, content, the list goes on and on. When that happens, remove yourself! Take a second to do some good old research on your target demographic. Find out if their habits have changed over the last couple months or over the course of the year. Are they still using the same search terms today as they were three months ago? Have they started using new search terms?

Remember to pay attention to your users, and your team will be the ones beating the competition.

Things To Do When Moving Forward

Up next is what to do to move forward:

7: Keep Channels of Communication Open

Working in business, there’s always some form of miscommunication going on. Make sure your website development team is keeping you in the loop about any changes they might be making to your site! Develop a relationship with them so you understand the structural changes that are occurring.

8: Keep Your Boat Afloat

Having good communication with your website development team also means you’ll know of any technical issues your website may be facing. On-page issues could also lead to keyword search ranking drop. To check if it falls in this category, go to your Google Webmaster Tools and you’ll see notifications on whether or not it was an on-page issue.

9: Update Your Website

When your keyword search rankings drop and you’ve diagnosed the errors, update your website! Change the copy, change your keywords, and change the link locations. Don’t be afraid to evolve alongside Google, especially if the issue came about because of an algorithmic change.

10: Update Your Keyword Strategy

Make changes to the way you link your content and don’t be afraid to test new tactics. Most importantly, give your strategy time to breathe. Your keyword rankings won’t bounce back to exactly where they were overnight, you’ll need time to heal.

Tip Checklist

These 10 actions are simple steps your team can take after having your keyword search rankings drop. Although the game is filled with highly skilled competitors, your business can still find itself on the podium after experiencing a setback. Don’t dwell in the past and look forward to improve your strategy.

Let’s look over the tips one more time:

  • Track changes in Google’s algorithm
  • Protect your site from unnatural links
  • Trace your steps
  • Be a good sport
  • Keep your enemies close
  • And your users closer
  • Keep channels of communication open
  • Keep your boat afloat
  • Update your website
  • Update your keyword strategy

Good luck, and may the search odds be ever in your favor!

Therese Palmere
Therese Palmere is a content writer at Aumcore, a digital marketing agency located in New York City. While specializing in SEO and social media, she is experienced and covers everything from user experience to mobile app design.
More articles by Therese Palmere
  • Julia Blake

    ‘Take your competition’s ideas and make them better!’ – Coolest tip ever! Thanks for this list, it’s helpful indeed.

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