If your website experienced a sudden drop in ranking or traffic, you might have your SEO to blame but it is important to diagnose before you fix. There are plenty of things that could have gone wrong including a misdiagnosis. Before you go change things, take a look at these ten reasons your SERPS have dropped to try to decide what the problem is. Does Google hate you? Probably yes. Is there something you can do about it? Also yes!
1. You’re Behaving in a Spammy Way
Are you using links in every post? Have dozens of links pointing everywhere? Sell links? Have ads all over every page? Use any form of black hat SEO? All of these tactics can cause Google to think you are a spam site which will definitely drop your ranking. Make sure you limit the number of links in your content (usually 2-3 per 400-500 words is plenty) and that your content is honest, genuine, and has good grammar. It will help your ranking the next time Google scans your site.
2. You Have Too Many Advertisements
Did you know that too many advertisements on your page is indicative of a spam site? You want to make sure that the ads on your page do not exceed 20% of the available space, especially not above the fold. Consider one ad in a top sidebar and one in your header, and then one about halfway down your sidebar so that you have three ads above the fold. Usually left sidebar ads get the most hits so this should be your main focus for an important ad.
3. You Use Keyword Stuffing
If you haven’t updated your pages since early 2011 then you might have too many keywords. While previous algorithms favored keyword usage as heavy as 4%, new algorithms penalize anything over 1 or 2%! Consider using synonyms and talking about your topic in a variety of ways to mix things up. Readability should be your main concern.
4. Your Content Isn’t Helpful
Is your content a bunch of fluff? If you don’t have a lot of helpful content then you probably won’t be getting hits. Google has very proudly announced that they are scanning for helpful and informative content, so make sure you have it, the more unique and informative the better.
5. You Have Duplicate Content
Do you have duplicate content in any form? Whether copied from another site or present twice on your own site, it can definitely hurt your ranking. If you have duplicate content on your site, try using a canonical URL to your site. If you have it from another site, either use a canonical URL to their site, or change your content. Duplicate content will kill your ranking. Use tools like www.plagspotter.com to check your site for duplicate content.
6. Your Site Loads Too Slowly
The average internet user will abandon a site if it has not loaded within 6 seconds. If your site takes longer to load, Google is probably going to skip your website in favor of a faster loading one. You can test your website speed by loading it manually and timing it, as well as by using a variety of free applications on the internet (e.g. pingdom.com). You can speed up your website loading speed using gzip compression.
7. Another Website Launched Better Content
If a competitor is posting similar content to your own, only better, then they are likely to rank higher than you. ‘Better’ can mean a lot of things including better written, more informative, higher PR, better links to the article, or even a better strategy. If a competitor is linking higher than you, make sure you look into why and try changing your policies.
8. Websites Linking to You Were Flagged for Spam
Both your Page Rank and your SERPs can drop if a website linking to you is flagged for spam. This is because the value of links pointing to your site goes away if the website linking is considered to be spam. Spam indicators include selling links, and actual spam. How do you fix it? You get better links from higher quality websites.
9. You Haven’t Updated Recently
Google loves linking to fresh content so make sure you update frequently. If you don’t have a blog on your site, make sure that you update at least once per month to include new policies and features. If you have a blog, update a minimum of once per week.
10. Google Made a Mistake
It’s also possible that Google made a mistake and has falsely flagged you for spam. If you think this is the case, simply ask them to reconsider. You can do this from your Google Webmaster Tools and if you don’t have one, you should definitely sign up.
There are plenty of reasons that your SERPS might have dropped, but most of them have to do with the SEO on your blog or website. Doing a careful evaluation to decide whether or not you’ve done anything wrong can help you to figure out how to fix the problem.
Darien is an editor and writer for Opentimez, as well as a full time university student studying communication and political science.