SEM industry; SEO company; Internet Marketing Professional; Search SEO Company

There is nothing worse than the horror of watching your hard-earned Google rankings drop.

If you do SEO for a living like me, I’d bet my bottom dollar you’ve had calls from your clients, or boss protesting, “How could this have happened? How do we fix this? How do we get the traffic and the leads back to where they should be?”

How to avoid a rankings slump:

I always say the best way to fix a serious ranking drop is to prevent one from happening.

Regular monitoring of your site via Search Console, Moz and/or other specialist SEO tools will help you detect issues before they become real problems. Periodic analysis of your website through a professional SEO audit is also recommended.

For the purposes of this article I’m going to safely assume you’ve already used Google Search Console (and/or other position monitoring tools) to determine that a ranking drop is really affecting you.


The following are 10 reasons your rankings may have diminished and actionable steps you can take to recover. Just remain calm and work through this list.

1. Low quality content

You’ve heard that content is king. It is still and always will be.

If you have poor quality content on some parts of your site, but not all, it can still impact your whole website’s rankings.

Conduct a content audit: Remove low quality content, meta duplication, and mirror pages for instance. Merge individual shallow pages into one helpful and valuable page. Update your site with engaging high quality content and you will see improvement.

2. Links will make or break your website

Your links can take you to the top of the rankings, the bottom, or worse case scenario– removed from the search engine results pages altogether. High quality natural links are easily defined by four attributes:

  1. Relevancy: Links to your site from theme related websites help the search engines determine that your website is a trusted site in its category.
  2. Recency: Recently acquired links have more weight. Google are looking to rank websites that are relevant right now.
  3. Authority: Simply put, the more trusted and relevant sites linking to your page, the more Page Authority that will be assigned to it.
  4. Editorial: Genuine editorial backlinks indicate an endorsement by one website of another because the content creator believes it’s relevant to their readers.

Unnatural links alert Google that you’re possibly not a trustworthy website. An unnatural link pointing to a website that’s not controlled by you needs to be cleaned up. Check your Google Search Console account and also check the Manual Actions section.

A lot of new links can also count against you if you’ve had problems in the past.

Lost links, especially high quality links, need immediate attention. Check your site’s lost links in the last three months through Ahrefs or Majestic. Find out who you lost the links from and why.

Can you reach out to the site owner who provided the links? Did it happen during a site update? Sometimes the website or pages may have disappeared. In any case, start rebuilding your high quality links ASAP.

3. Keyword strategy is outdated

Recently search queries have changed to more natural questions that users type or increasingly speak into the search engine.  ‘What is the best pillow for a stiff neck and shoulder?’ – for example.

Don’t only track generic keywords – the people looking for you are using new phrases and more keywords.  Your keyword strategy is probably outdated and it’s time for an update to a Longtail SEO strategy.

4. New or relaunched website

It doesn’t matter how much you prepare for your new design or relaunch, and that includes your new SEO strategy, you can expect your rankings to fluctuate.

Make sure your 301 redirect plan is foolproof. Your site is optimized, right? Don’t panic. Your rankings will recover, in a month or two, or perhaps even faster.

5. Competitors outranked you 

If you’re investing 5 hours a week into your SEO and your competitor is investing twice that, you’re moving down because your competitor moved up.

You need to act to stay competitive. You need to investigate what your competition is doing and learn from it. Keep an eye on their content tactics. Get creative and diversify your content marketing strategies to differentiate.

6. Web dev and your team are making changes to the website

I can’t tell you the number of times that web developers, working in isolation, have been accountable for rankings drops. Communicate with your web dev team that design related changes must be discussed with SEO’s. Make sure that no URLs are changed.  Ever.

It’s true, web developers do make mistakes.

That said, you, your team or an intern can easily make changes that cause mistakes; by adding or removing internal links, by updating site navigation, updating key pages that link to target pages, by updating anchor text (does it still include your target keyword?) and so many more.

Run Screaming Frog or a similar crawler on the new and old versions so you can compare.

Has someone uploaded images that are not optimized? Slow page load times will kill you.

Did you make changes to the affected pages recently? Making it less relevant to the target keywords?

Any single change to your website can be the hidden enemy until you discover it.

7. Poor-quality hosting

Have you switched to a low quality hosting company? Is it bogged down with thousands of other websites?  Are your visitors enjoying a speedy and satisfying experience? If not, search engines will drop you due to long load time. Not only do faster websites get better results, they get more conversions as well.  Invest in high quality hosting.

8. Not updating your website regularly.

Start a blog and set up a regular publishing schedule. Don’t make it about sales. Answer your customers frequently asked questions. Tell them about upcoming events. Provide value and help your potential customers. Read and respond to their comments; you’ll learn what else to blog about and they’ll get to know you.

9. Technical SEO Issues

Myriad technical details will swamp even the best intentioned SEO Manager. Design a checklist (or download one) that includes robots.txt first and foremost. Just one tiny typo and your site disappears.

In your checklist include rel=canonicals, nofollow links, meta robots, page titles, H1 tags, forgetting image tags, AJAX sites, hreflang, navigation links, internal-links, meta descriptions, shared hosting, https / SSL, failed plugins, site speed, and WordPress reading settings, to start.

10. The Google Dance

Thousands of PhDs and technicians are working on Google’s algorithm, updating it as much as 500 times a year. It nabs webmasters trying to manipulate search results. It ensures the highest relevancy of results for users.

However, this expert team is also continually testing possible variables and changing the search results. Sometimes that will affect your ranking.

Your SEO agency provides ranking reports and they may look completely different than what you’re seeing. Why? You’re on a different computer, maybe using different software. What changed? Google did. Expect SERP volatility.

Best practice? Read and follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Final Thoughts

You’ve worked hard on your SEO strategy, correct? It’s equally essential that you maintain it, just as you would your car, your home, your health. Be patient and invest in best practices. Long term rankings require long term work.



James Reynolds

Founder and Managing Director, SEO Sherpa

James Reynolds is the founder of Veravo which consists of two search engine marketing agencies; SEO Sherpa and Click Jam. He is also the host of the Traffic Jam Podcast. Reynolds is fanatical about all things search, social and content on the web. Visit his blog at and talk to him on Twitter at @FollowJames. Reynolds, a contributor to several leading publications, mentors startup companies in his free time to positively contribute to the MENA region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.


  1. Project Management Software


    Great article. I’ll try to use all your advice to regain my lostrankings back..

  2. Reply

    Hi Guest Blogger,

    Thanks for sharing this such wonderful post about Recovering lost ranking. So many people lost their website ranking after Google updates & so many people ask for latest technique to get back lost ranking.

    I really appreciate the final Thoughts, This is well said Be patient and invest in best practices Long term ! People should understand SEO it long turn process which give result but take time for a result.

  3. Reply

    This was a perfect post to come across today! Our site has been bouncing around and obviously that has caused us some concerns. I really liked the point about expanding our keyword analysis rather than outdated ideas and also considering how much time our competitors are putting into their rankings versus us.

    I think we need to kick it up a notch!
    Thank for a great post ~

  4. gaudensia


    I agree with the 10 step-by-step guidelines to follow on the improving the website ranking especially Keeping the website on regular update. Thank you for sharing.

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