Has your website recently been affected by a Google algorithm update or other unidentified digital activity? If so, you’re not alone. Many website owners have seen dramatic google rankings drop, which can be a real shock. Because Google constantly changes its algorithms, it can be challenging to keep up and adjust your website accordingly. But don’t worry – you can learn how to recover from a Google update and get back on track.
Here are nine potential scenarios to explore if you’ve been hit by Google core updates:
1: Is your website facing a manual penalty?
If a Google algorithm update has hit you, you should first check to see if you’ve received a manual penalty. Manual penalties are imposed by Google when a website violates its guidelines. This could be from having too many keywords on a page to more serious offenses like participating in link schemes. If you have received a manual penalty, you will need to take action to remove the offending content or links from your website before you can submit a reconsideration request to Google.
To resolve a manual Google penalty:
- Login to Google Search Console
- Click on “Search Traffic”
- Click on “Manual Actions”
- If you see a message saying, “No manual webspam actions found,” you do not have a manual penalty. If you do see a manual penalty, it will tell you what the violation is and what pages are affected.
2: Check your website for technical issues
If you don’t have a manual penalty, the next thing to do is check your website for any technical issues that could be preventing Google from indexing your pages correctly. Technical issues could include things like a sitemap that’s not working correctly, broken links, or duplicate content. You can use Google Search Console to check for these issues.
To check for technical issues:
- Login to Google Search Console
- Click on “Crawl”
- Click on “Crawl Errors”
- You will see a list of any errors that Google has found on your website. If you see any errors, take action to fix them.
3: Review your website content
If you don’t have any technical issues, the next step is to examine your website content quality closely. Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, so it’s essential to make sure that your content is up-to-date and relevant. Take a look at your pages and see if there’s anything you can do to improve them. This could include adding new and relevant content, revising old content, or improving the overall quality of your writing.
Clear signs that your content needs an update:
- Your website is focused on keywords instead of providing valuable information
- Your content is thin or poorly written
- Your content is outdated, with the “most recent” information being more than a few months old
- Your website covers a topic that’s no longer relevant
4: Off-page negative SEO
In some cases, a Google algorithm update can be the result of off-page negative SEO. This is when someone deliberately tries to harm your website’s ranking by building spammy links to your site or creating fake reviews. If you suspect you’re a victim of negative SEO, the best thing to do is ignore it and focus on building high-quality links from reputable websites. Google’s algorithms are good at detecting and filtering spam, so negative SEO is unlikely to have a long-term effect on your website. This is especially true if your technical SEO is also in good standing.
Some indications that you may be the victim of off-page negative SEO:
- A sudden increase in the number of low-quality links pointing to your website
- A sudden increase in the number of fake reviews or negative mentions online
- Links from spammy websites
5: You’ve been outranked by competition
In some cases, a drop in rankings can result from your competition outranking you. If you suspect this is the case, the best thing to do is to look closely at their website and see what they’re doing that you’re not. This could include better content, a more robust link profile, or a more user-friendly website. Once you identify what they’re doing that has allowed them to outrank you, you can take steps to improve your website.
Some likely indicators that you’ve been outranked by competition:
- They have a higher Domain Authority than you
- They have more backlinks than you
- They have more social media engagement than you
- Their website is better optimized than yours
6: Lost backlinks
A drop in rankings can also be the result of lost backlinks. These are links from other various webpages that point to your website. Backlinks are an important ranking factor for Google, so losing them can harm your website’s ranking. This can happen for many reasons, such as if the website linking to you has gone offline or if they’ve removed the link completely. If you’ve lost backlinks, the best thing to do is to try and get them back and resume link building. You can do this by reaching out to the website owner and asking them to add the link or find other websites that would be willing to link to you.
Some signs that you may have lost backlinks:
- A sudden decrease in the number of backlinks pointing to your website
- A decrease in the PageRank of your website
- An unusual decline in website traffic overall
7: Mobile-first indexing
Mobile-first indexing is a change that Google made to how it ranks websites. Previously, Google would index the desktop version of a website and use that to determine its ranking. With mobile-first indexing, Google will index a website’s mobile version first. This change was made because more and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet, so it’s important for websites to be optimized for mobile.
To fix this:
- Make sure your website is responsive, meaning it looks good on all devices
- Make sure your mobile website is as high-quality as your desktop website
- Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile devices
8: Website not secure
Another reason why your website’s ranking might have dropped is that it’s not secure. Google now prefers HTTPS websites, which means they have a security certificate. If your website doesn’t have a security certificate, you can get one from a reputable provider. Once you’ve done that, you must ensure that all of your website’s pages are updated to HTTPS. You can do this by redirecting your HTTP pages to HTTPS or changing the links on your website to HTTPS.
Some signs that your website might not be secure:
- Your website’s URL starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS
- Your website has a security warning when you try to visit it
- Your website’s PageRank is lower than it used to be
9: Changes to SERP
Search engine results page (SERP) features are the results that appear on a Google search page, such as the featured snippet or the top stories carousel. These features can change from time to time, and if one of them is removed from your website, it can hurt your ranking. The best way to deal with this is to keep an eye on the SERP features that are appearing on your website and ensure that your website is still appearing in them. You can do this by using a SERP tracking tool or by manually checking the SERP features that are appearing for your website.
Some signs that a SERP feature has been removed from your website:
- A sudden drop in organic traffic to the website
- Google has decided to answer a question directly on the SERP without featuring your website
- Your website is no longer appearing in a SERP feature that it used to appear in
Q: What is a Google Core Update?
A: A Google Core Update is a change that Google makes to its algorithm, which is the formula it uses to rank websites. These core web vitals are designed to improve the quality of search results, and they can significantly impact the ranking of websites. While it’s discouraging to have your website’s ranking drop, it’s important to remember that these updates are designed to improve the user’s experience, so something has indicated to Google that your website is not meeting its standards as high as others are.
Q: What is Google Search Console?
A: Google Search Console is a free tool that website owners can use to track their website’s performance in Google search results. It also provides information on any errors that Google has found on your website, which can help you fix them and improve your website’s ranking. For example, if you see that Google is not indexing your website’s pages, you can use Fetch as a Google tool to submit your website for indexing.
Q: What is a sitemap?
A: A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your website. It helps Google index your website more effectively, and it can also help you track any errors that Google finds on your website. You can create a sitemap using a sitemap generator or add one to your website manually.
Q: What are non-relevant links? Can you have too many?
A: Non-relevant links are links that don’t have anything to do with your website’s content. They can come from other websites or be links you’ve added to your website yourself. Too many non-relevant links can hurt your website’s ranking, so it’s essential to ensure the links you’re adding to your website add value and extend relevant thoughts to your readers.
Q: What’s the difference between a manual action and an algorithm update?
A: A manual action is when Google manually decides to take action on your website, such as when they remove your website from their search results. An algorithm update is when Google changes how its algorithm works, which can impact your website’s ranking. Both can be negative, but a manual action is usually more serious.
Q: What are some SEO best practices?
A: There is a ton of information on SEO best practices, but some of the most important things to keep in mind are ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly, using relevant and keyword-rich titles and descriptions, and creating high-quality content that provides value to your readers.
Q: What is Black hat SEO?
A: Black hat SEO is any technique used to try to improve a website’s ranking in Google search results by means that Google does not approve. This can include things like buying links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking. Black hat SEO can get your website banned from Google, so it’s important to avoid using these techniques.
Because there are so many variables as to why your website could have lost ranking, it can be challenging to identify the exact reason independently. If you need help, reach out to the SEO rankings experts at Zero Gravity Marketing. We will work with you to get to the bottom of it and help you take the steps needed to recover your lost ranking and traffic.