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Common Reasons of Ranking Drops: Rankings Suddenly Dropped? Here’s How to Find and Fix or How to Revert the SEO Apocalypse!

Posted By > Amrit Dubey > 08 January 2019

Disclosure: "This article is personal opinion of research based on my experience of almost 11 years. There is no third party advertising on this page or monetised links of any sort. External links to third party site are moderated by me."
Amrit Dubey, JSM Digital Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the ultimate way to rank high in search engine results page.

It is essential to rank high because of several factors; one of them is that when a company ranks higher in SERP, it gets noticed by visitors more. Hence, this leads to more traffic flow which leads to a greater rate of conversion!

Sometimes after SEO, your website’s rank goes higher but decreases to a great extent after a particular period.

There are numerous reasons and today you will know about common ones which make a website’s rank drop suddenly. It is crucial you know all these so that you can simply fix it if there is ever a need for it.

However, you need to ask a set of questions first and come to a conclusion to understand whether your website’s ranking really dropped.

Finding out specific things first
One of the first things which you should try to answer is that the pages which are affected according to you; whether organic or natural amount of visitors dropped significantly.

This is vital for you to find out because it offers data that is most reliable and reveals a lot of other things about your website. Google's various ranking trackers along with Search Console try looking at the work Google does.
Note: Tools like web master analytics you use only tracks user count!

Next thing to know for sure that organic traffic has dropped, you require going through data which would show you the result. To get this, you need to compare the list of all organics visitors who visited the website before as well as after ranking of affected pages dropped.

Just a Tip: Try to compare data of similar days as that will help you get the best comparison.

Your answer should consider questions such as how significant the drop count is if the drop happened during a holiday if there is a reason for search volume to drop, etc.

Apart from this another thing you need to go through which is, checking if Google Search Console shows same result when it comes to drop count. Also, ensure knowing that whether the ranking trackers you use shows a continuous ranking drop.

If these answer all points to rank drop then you need to go through the common reasons for rank droppings in SERP and fix it adequately. It is the only way to regain the lost rank and make your site higher more attractive for traffic to make them visit.

Have a look at this list below for details!

  • New links pointing to a single domain

Having new links pointed to a domain is always good, right? Well not exactly!

Yes, it is true that new links help in ranking your website high in SERP and is the reason for SEO experts using this technique whenever they perform search engine optimization for assisting a website to rank higher.

However, there are times if new links to a domain surges remarkably, and then sometimes there are aspects which might lead to your website’s declining ranks in SERP.

From various observations, it is certain that your company's website's trustworthiness comes to question if linking domain's authority determines how newly added links will impact your site. It might be positive as well as negative depending on various factors.

This is more in question if your organization’s website previously had trust issues. The impact is negative if there had been an incident where it has received unnatural links’ notification before.

For example, if this has occurred before then Google most of the time randomizes new links’ impact for a very short time. This will occur even if the links are relevant to your site and organic.

For this, Google applies its function of rank transition. This activity from Google hides or confuses each attempt that might be thought of as trying to manipulate any search result.

If this happens then you need to follow the fix for it, which is below! However, before putting applying the solution there are a few specific things which need to be checked first just to be sure that it has affected the rank.

The solution to fix this!

Do you know about different SEO tools which can help? You would require help from such applications. These are basically back-linking tools. These help in checking whether there is an increase in new links that contributed to your site’s decreasing rank.

These online tools mentioned in the above paragraph have the capability of discovering new links over a span of time.

To be certain about genuine nature of the links, you would need to check it yourself. If you come across any unusual peak in links, then that will be one of the factors for your ranking drop.

However, this list of reasons doesn’t end here. There are a total of 10 common reason which leads to ranking drops. However, this blog starts the reasons with new links because it is one of the major causes for ranking drops all over the world.

So, let’s check out the second cause for decrease in SERP ranking.

  • Redirection drops due to rebranding and other causes

First, you should know what is rebranding!

It refers to a strategy for marketing in which certain things like symbol, name, term, design, etc. is created for a brand that is already established. This is done for creating a different identity altogether in consumers, investors, and competitors' mind.

So, if your company and website have gone through such changes then there are several instances where numerous amount of equity links sitting on permanent redirects’ back.

Now you should know that you're and any other website in the world forms a type of dependency on such redirects for sustaining rankings on SERP.
Hence, if any redirect is modified or removed then these will have a plenty of adverse effect on when it comes to ranking in search engine results page. 

Solution for this issue:

First of all, you need to go through a massive amount of historic redirects so that you can ensure it’s live. There should generally be a process to check this.

However, if there isn’t then you should ensure that professionals or yourself should examine these redirects as often as possible. 

It is the ideal way to know about any default in redirect and also, fix it before it affects any ranking performance in your website.

So, ensure putting a process of routine checking if you haven’t done it already! Let’s move onto the next reason now.

  • Links which are lost

You read about new links affecting the ranking performance of your website in the first point. Now you should know about losing links and how it affects ranking of your site too.

For example, let’s assume that your website has a backlink profile which is much smaller; it might have a massive dependency on numerous backlinks.

If you remove these backlinks or are not available temporarily, then this will have a colossal effect on your website's authority. This, in turn, will lead to lowering of your site's rank on search engine results page. 

Now you need to check one thing for sure, examine that all lost links is actually lost and haven’t fallen out of tool indices of backlink.
But to understand this loss of links, you need to come to the conclusion that this problem exists.

Lastly, you would also require answering whether there has been any link drop on your site's page which links to one or various pages whose ranking change you have noticed.

Also, you need to determine whether there is any other link drops noticeable to various pages which has inbound links whose rank changed and caught your attention.

After answering all these questions, you will know for sure that lost links are the reason for your ranking drop on SERP.
Solution for lost links:

You should know that it is quite normal for every backlink tool to display a particular lost links activity level. This happens as pages fall out of index which renders the links unavailable for usage.

You require framing lost links in order of benchmark. This will aid in forming parameters which will provide the answer as to what search engines think is unnatural in this context. 

  • Changes in algorithm

Google changes algorithm from time to time to help user have a better experience using their search engine. So, different algorithm means different rules starts to apply in searches and more for websites which are displayed on SERP.

This is one of the major causes of dropping to lower positions after a new algorithm is introduced. 

A few years back Google released various algorithm updates. This made SEO community offer a vivid analysis which would help you to understand the logic behind websites that ranked high and those which ranked lower.

With time updates are more carefully created and introduced to the search engine slowly, you might have difficulty in understanding whether the cause for your low rank, is a new update.

How to know about certain updates so that you can change your approach to rank higher again?

Introducing a new algorithm to a search engine is massive news. Hence, you require searching and paying attention to numerous blogs or SEO articles where they have talked about a new algorithm’s introduction around a date you realized your ranking decreased.

Also, if you are connected to a SEO community, you can ask them about any new changes which might have occurred. 

All these will help you get the idea whether your ranking had been negative effect due to a new algorithm update.
Solution for this:

First, you need to understand that the decreasing ranks coincide with variations in rankings. This indicates that whether a new update is rolled.

You should be aware of a specific website like Google algorithm tool, Mozcast, etc. These will assist you in understanding fluctuation level in different search results.

After you figure that out, you need to go through the update to understand why Google is penalizing your website along with why this update was introduced.
After determining this, you simply need to opt for a plan which would help you overcome this situation or avoid it altogether in the near future.

  • Penalties: manual and algorithm

Penalties another major reason for lowering of website’s rank.

Now for instance, if your site’s rank drops due to massive commercial terms along with backlink suspects that shows pages are affected, it is highly possible that this decreasing rank is a result of one or more penalty.

Now discussing updates above you know new updates rolling out and your site not following that guideline will result in a penalty.

Manual penalties are something where you did something which leads to a violation of terms and conditions provided by a search engine like Google.

Now that you are aware of the fact that penalties can be manual or due to algorithm changes, what you need is different filtering processes which you require applying algorithmically.

Also, you require checking messages in Google's Search Console. Apart from the activities mentioned above, also going through a section of "Manual Actions" which is categorized under "Search Traffic".

By going through webmasters, you can get an insight into penalties that are issued.

Next cause for droppingranks is due to changes in traffics’ behavior search approach.

  • Change in the search behavior

Often it is noticed that your web site's ranking dropped due to problems with inbound links, but it changes type of outcome or results which Google wants its users to receive.

Understand it with an example, suppose when a number of people suddenly start searching for a particular topic, say fresh plants for home décorthen it will automatically showfresh plants which are relevant to home décor and not just plants for home décor.

Hence, a search engine modified as only plants needed for home décor which are fresh. This forms new results. Hence, it can lower the rank of your website which might have static content and might even push you to second page of SERP.

Hence, to determine this you require knowledge of what’s in and what’s outdated and modify your website accordingly. 

If due to a specific start of a trend, you realize has caused the ranking to drop then below answer will help with this issue.
Solution for this problem:

You need to be careful about the search demand. Being aware of this will help you understand what and how your potential clients are searching.

Complete search demand related to an entity affects outcomes or results appearing for a primary term.

  • Examine technical fundamentality

Crawling as well as indexing plays an important role when it comes to your site’s rank. Hence, overlooking such things will be a huge mistake on your part.

There should be no mistake when it comes to canonical tags, high-quality content index tags, etc. If there are improper canonical tags, content which is not up to the mark, index tag missing, then without any doubt your sites ranking will have a negative effect.

Having these basic technical things messed up is not a good indication at all.

You have to be aware of these facts always. You or your hired professional need to determine this, so that there is a chance of you overcoming this issue. Hence, always ensure having checked all basic technical fundamentality to avoid it.

However, if such problems occur, then this solution should help:

First, of all, you require searching for a remarkable checklist for on-page. This will help you determine whether basic technical fundamentals are the reason for you to rank lower.

Checking things like robots.txt file, homepage, etc. which are core elements is the ideal solution and helps in preventing such issues from occurring.

  • Issue from server

This is not an easy task!

Out of everything which is mentioned here this is probably the hardest to determine and solve as it complex.

For example, once I actually came across this issue. A friend of mine’s website was periodically ranking lower. This took place due to an empty markup which Google bots were coming across. This happened because his site’s caching function was broken.

It took me and my friend days before we figured out what happened. It was always near us but we couldn’t comprehend what was happening and why the website’s rank kept dropping.

A fix to this problem includes:

Well, first of all, you will require speaking to the professional team who handles server side along with checking logs from the server yourself if you can.
This will help in determining if there is an occurrence of an unusual error.

Search consoles come with a function called "Fetch and Render"; this will assist you in seeing what Google is receiving when it requests for a page.
Once you go through the result you will be able to understand why your rankings dropped as well as what is the problem with servers.

This is the ultimate way through which this problem can be solved. Apart from this, there is another issue which falls under technical category which is changes you make to your website.

Check it out in detail below!

  • Changes made in website

Apart from fundamentals of technicality, this is another place where almost every web developer makes changes. They do it without informing stakeholders as well as the marketing team.

This unknown aspect makes it quite hard for people to follow and thus when ranking drops; you would have no idea why it happened.
Solution for this:

Once you are aware of this issue, it is necessary that scheduled crawls are there that will assist you when you compare different crawls.
It will highlight each change which was made by your web developer to your website on a massive structural basis.

This is something which will not only solve your problem but also make you aware of the fact what changes are done to the website recently for future reference.

Last common reason for decreasing rank is the changes in CTR!

  • Changes in CTR (Click through Rate)

Changes in ranking through this are less impactful! However, if it is on keywords which are competitive, then it will surely provide an insight as to why Google will prefer listing of others.

When importance of user signals grow, the effect of click-through rate is much more seen. The more this user signal grows the greater will be evidence which suggests that CTR impacts your website's ranking performance.

If suddenly your rank drops, then it would be better if you check CTR activity to monitor it properly.

Solution to this issue:

Visit Search Control and list CRT of at least last 3 months time. This will help in understand that whether ranking has dropped due to decreasing amount of CTR.
To overcome this problem, all you need is to search for ways which will improve listing.

These are the common reasons as to why your website's rank can drop from time to time. Hence, it is essential for you to keep these things in mind and keep checking these if you see your website's ranking dropped.

These problems along with solutions will help you overcome all the difficulties and help you understand Google ranking as well as rank high with particular keywords.

This is the reason as to why having adequate knowledge about SEO and common issues which brings down the rank of a website is essential. From now on, every time you feel like your website’s rank has dropped, check all these common mistakes and go through them minutely to determine the problem and solve it instantly.

However, if you are not an SEO expert, then it is wise to take assistance from professionals who are certified and have ample knowledge to deal with such problems.


Amrit Dubey is the founder of the digital marketing company JSM Digital Marketing based in Delhi, India. He’s been working in digital marketing since 2009, focusing primarily on SEO. You can find him on Twitter.

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