It is rather annoying to say the least the moment you realise that your website has drastically dropped on the google rankings. It happened to me, I went from page 1 of google for the search term ‘graphic designer brighton’ to page 4. It was really disappointing and confusing as I thought I had been doing everything right. I decided to look into this to discover what triggered such a big drop. This is what I found.
There are 3 main reasons why any website will drop on google or any search engine for that matter.
Your website’s competitors are doing better SEO wise and have over taken you.
Your website has been penalised by google for whatever reason.
The search engine has updated its algorithms and therefore the criteria for what is considered important in terms of good SEO has changed.
It is rare to be penalised by google in the strictest sense of the word. If you have been penalised they will normally send you a message in your web tools account to let you know that you have violated their webmaster guidelines and that your site will no longer perform as well in searches. If this happens it’s usually advisable to buy a new domain as it is very hard to perform well after a penalty like that.
There are a number of other factors that can certainly contribute to a drop in google although they are not strictly penalties. They are actually due to the way that google looks upon your website in relation to others and this can change almost over night with a algorithm update such as google panda to google penguin. A google update changes the way it analyses the importance of a website, what was once the criteria for a great website may have now changed and your website will consequently drop in a google search and a competitor who was below you may now have been favoured.
What might affect your google position?
1. Duplicate content
Any duplicate content such as a paragraph or even a sentence of text isn’t a great idea. I realised I had a paragraph that was repeated on another page so I removed it from one of the pages. If it is an important paragraph that you would rather keep on both pages then simply reword it slightly.
2. Too many back links from the same site
I added a link to my website from as many free online business directories as I could find. This is in the most part fine and a good idea to build back links. However one of these business directories called Pinbud provided me with about 65,000 back links (instead of the typical 1back link given by other directories). This, in the eyes of google, could look a bit spammy (even if it wasn’t intentional) and therefore a reason for them to drop your position in a google search.
Similarly I also used to put a link back to my website in the footer of any website that I designed therefore it would appear on every page on that site. This at the time seemed like a good idea but if the site owner is a regular blogger it isn’t long before I have around a 1,000 back links from one website. Again google may look disapprovingly on this especially if the website is in no way related to the subject of your own site. I decided to remove my link from all of the websites that I have designed.
3. Back links from dodgy sites
A website that is a know “offender” could have a detrimental impact on yours if it contains a link to your website. It is a very common problem for website owners to have SEO work done on their site where the ‘SEO specialist’ simply goes down the link farm route of building hundreds of spammy links to your website. This may have worked well at one time but google has since clamped down hard on this with their algorithm updates.
4. A poorly coded website
If your website has been coded in such a way that exploits certain areas this could be a cause for a drop in rankings. Maybe you have something hidden such as a chunk of text in the same colour as the site’s background or simply using an older less favoured form of HTML. Similarly the load time is important, which is often down to the way a site has been coded for example using too many style sheets or ‘heavy’ code.
5. Key word stuffing
If you have used your keywords too many times on the same page this is considered to be keyword stuffing and google hates this. Keywords should be used in a way that reads naturally. A few times per paragraph rather than repeated over and over within the same sentence.
6. Missing alt or title tags
Alt tags are particularly important as they tell google what an image is all about. Title tags are also important but to a lesser extent. Every image should have an alt tag as it is the main way for google to understand an image. Missing alt tags will definitely lessen the importance of your page and result in your website being ranked lower. Both alt and title tags are also very important for the google image tool which is another great way of getting visitors onto your site.
7. Improper use of html headings
Html headings such as <h1> <h2> are surprisingly important for good seo. If correctly used they can greatly improve your position in a google search.