There are times when SEOs and site owners encounter the problem of their marketing sites search rankings suddenly going down in the search engine results for no particular reason.
When this happens, it is often hard to figure out why your rankings nosedived, but there are some things you can check out to ensure that you’re not the cause.
First though I have to say one important point.
You cannot ever know truly what causes your site to gain or lower in the rankings to 100% certainty.
Unless you someone manage to work in the Google Search Code development team or have a family member working in there.
But that doesn’t mean that your totally guessing either as the Google Webmaster Blog offers tons of information on how to ensure your site is in compliance and places pretty well within the SERPS.
With that being said,
Consider These Possible Reasons For And Solutions To Your Ranking Problem.
I arranged them by relevance, starting with the most common ones, I suggest you skim down and read the titles first just in case you find one or two that apply and you take immediate action.
1. Your Sites Ranking Got Penalized for Using Black-Hat SEO Techniques
Google has Webmaster Guidelines by which all webmasters must follow if they want to be successful.
If Google finds out (or your site gets reported) that you are not playing by the rules, your rankings may drop substantially, or your site may get removed from Google’s index altogether.
As stated in Google Webmaster Guidelines, one must not “participate in link schemes” (buying/selling links), create “doorway pages”, or use “hidden text” on a site.
These are considered illegitimate (Black-Hat) SEO practices.
How To Fix It
Well, if your site does get penalized, find out what might have caused this.
Re-read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and remove whatever is in violation from your site – then file a reconsideration request.
Let me warn you now, your first or even second request will most likely get disapproved.
The folks over at Google have this warped sense of humor and they want to make sure you know that you did wrong. So even though you may not do all that much more in between the two or three requests you submit. You need to make sure they know that you will never be a “black hatter” again.
2. The Search Engine Algorithm Has Changed
Search engines are trying to keep their search results as relevant and SPAM-free as possible.
There are people who are trying to game the system or just take advantage of the existing loopholes.
Also with the ever increasing number of websites on the Internet today, search engines are forced to tweak their search engine algorithms every once in a while to keep spammers at bay.
For example, Google’s latest big algorithm update known as Panda (or Farmer) was intended to do away with sites that provide poor-quality content and, as a result, provide poor user experience.
However, it also affected groups of sites that have significant duplicate content by nature, such as e-commerce sites, online directories, etc.
They also came out with the wonderful Penguin update.
This gem was designed to target people who were doing link building with optimized anchor text to rank for specific terms.
How To Fix It
First of all, if you are doing SEO you should be informed about what’s new at all times.
The online resources to keep an eye on are Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Land [http://searchengineland.com/], the official Google Blog (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/), and the inside-Google Matt Cutts’ blog (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/).
If the rules change, and there is no way you can continue using the same SEO techniques you’ve been using before the algorithm update – you have to change your ways.
However, if you think your site was not supposed to get affected by the algo change but it did – you can write about it on Google Webmaster Forum – that often solves the problem.
3. Your Website’s Content Got “Scraped”
If your rankings suddenly deteriorate, that could be because someone has scraped the content from your site and posted it somewhere else on the Web.
In this case, search engines sometimes lower both sites’ rankings – then look deeper into the matter.
Eventually, they are likely to start ranking your site as high as they used to before the incident, once they realize who copied whose content.
How To Fix It
I will tell you my theory on this and its up to you to disagree or agree.
RSS feeds were created and are often used by webmasters to get content off the website that they are following, many webmasters use this content to populate their sites with related content.
Or they are using the information on your site to create a post based off that information, its called content curation.
Truth be told I doubt you will really find a truely original thought online that doesn’t have its origins from some other source.
Even this article is created from information that I learned and applied, so don’t get wrapped up with this to bad, you can find more productive things to worry about.
I recommended contacting the scrapers and simply asking that a backlink to your site be placed on their site where they are using your content.
This does two things, it gets you a backlink from a site that has content related to your content.
And it tells the search engines that your site is the authority for the copied article. I have found my content on hundreds of sites, 99% already have a backlink to my sites, and the ones I contact gladly put one up.
The WordPress SEO plugin actually goes one step further and adds a link to your RSS feed before your content. That way if scrapers grab it then the link is already there.
Like I said, its really a waste of your time to chase these folks down, so use them for your advantage.
4. Your Site Got Penalized for Copyright Infringement
For various reasons, this may happen as well.
It can be that your in-house SEO or a third-party firm you hired to promote your site used somebody else’s content to boost your site’s rankings.
In which case the owner of the content may have filed a DMCA request (the request is normally filed in written form) or reported your site to Google for copyright infringement.
How To Fix It
I know what your thinking, you addressed this in point number 3, prevent it in the first place by citing your sources, think of you posts as research papers.
Your not infringing copyright if your citing your sources. But if your outright taking books or some other media and copying it word for word without the citation your violating copyright.
But remember what I said before, you can learn something and then write about it “Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.” With that being said, I’m not a lawyer and never played on T.V., so don’t go copy/pasting someones stuff.
Remove the duplicate content, hire a new SEO or an SEO services provider and submit your site for re-inclusion (just follow the same procedure that’s described in way out 1 of this post) (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35843)
5. Competitors Beat You in the SERPs
Sometimes your rankings may go down just because a competing site manages to boost their rankings to a substantial degree.
How To Fix It
If this is the case, analyze competitors’ sites and see in what way they are better than yours. Pay attention to their backlinks, keyword density, social media popularity, content, and act accordingly, depending on what your site is missing.
6. Your Site’s Structure Is Messed Up
Spotless site architecture is crucial to high rankings.
If there are broken links, HTML code errors or other structural discrepancies on your site, search engine bots might not be able to crawl it within a reasonable span of time, and thus, your site’s rankings may deteriorate.
How To Fix It
Google’s Webmaster tools is all you need for this. The site will tell you all the things it finds wrong and all you need to do is fix all the flaws that may hold back your site’s ranking.
7. Important Backlinks Got Removed from Your Site
There will be times that all those great backlinks that you created on sites with top Google positions pointing to your site get removed, resulting in a rankings drop for your site.
How to fix it
Check the backlinks pointing to your site.
If this happens, you should get these links back or get similar backlinks from other websites.
This is another one of those low payoff tasks though to tell you the truth.
If you are consistently creating new backlinks to your sites you should never run into this issue. The only time that it would apply is if your creating backlinks to your site then quitting once its gaining ranking.
Ok, so I have given you seven reasons why your ranking may have fallen in the search engines.
If you do some research you will find about 1000 more that may or may not be effecting your site. I don’t say that to scare you, but to impress upon you that regardless of how much you know about SEO your never going to be perfect and your never going to be allowed to just rest on the work you’ve done and walk away.
Your competition is also applying SEO techniques to improve their search rankings and you need to continue to improve your sites on page and off page SEO.