If you have had any search engine optimisation done on your site in the past and you are still sitting pretty at the top of the search results for your main keywords, congratulations! Many websites at the moment have been badly effected by the recent updates to Googles algorithm during February – April.
Every SEO company out there has had a few customers that have seen negative drops and some more than others. There has been speculation flying around the SEO industry for months as to what the cause of these drops has been and many have claimed they have proof of exactly what happened. The fact is that for every person that proves they know why a sites rank dropped we can find 10 others that contradict their claims so nobody is 100% sure still what is causing these drops in sites rank.
There is however a general consensus building in the SEO industry as to what the most likely causes are and we’re on board with this theory ourselves.
In this post we will look at what we think are the most likely causes for the drops and the reasons and logic behind the thinking. We’ll also share one of our own case studies that shows a recovery from the drop experienced by one client and share how we recovered the rankings to the top 10 spots for most of the keywords.
Why Many websites Have Dropped in Rank on Google – The Answers
With the release of the latest version of Googles “Panda” algorithm and the newly dubbed “Penguin” algorithm it’s clear that something BIG has changed in the way Google is evaluating a sites position. Without going into all the possible causes out there and getting tangled up in the “but what about” scenarios we’re going to explain what WE think are the three main things you need moving forward to make sure Google falls in love with you again.
These are the common traits we see in sites affected by the latest changes and dropping in rank.
- Sites with narrow anchor text diversity – If a majority of the keywords pointing to your site are your main “money keywords” or the ones you want to rank for that is now looking very un-natural in Googles eyes. Think about it for a moment. If I’m going to link to you’re site from my blog I’m going to use something like “visit JOE BLOGS WEBSITE to get more information”. Not “MENS JEANS” necessarily all the time.
- Sites that have stagnated – If a site is not pumping out new content regularly or just recycling old content it’s of less value to Google. The big G want’s fresh relevant content to give the best results to it’s customers who are the people searching the web. A site that sells widgets that added 5 new products last year and never wrote a blog post is not fresh and there will be plenty of sites that Google deems more important.
- Sites who have suffered link loss – One major factor we’ve recently homed in on and seems consistent across sites that lost rank is that they have a large amount of links that are not live any more. When you have links built to your site they usually stay there for a long time if not indefinitely. Poor quality links tend to have a much shorter life span and are evidence of poor quality link building which is often done on a budget. This is just the way links have been built for years for companies with small budgets and now it seems these need to be replaced, and fast. Just to be clear, the belief here is NOT that sites are dropping in rank because they have lost links pointing to them. It IS because a large portion of their links have disappeared which tells Google that poor quality links/sites have been linking to it. Every site looses links but sites that build links naturally and in a quality way lose less and will be rewarded. It’s kind of like a filter to flag up bad link practices.
The Simple Way to Recover from Ranking Drops – Including Proof!
The good news is that now the dust has settled a little and everyone is seeing patterns emerging we can theorise as to what is causing the drops. The even better news is that it’s something that can be repaired and depending on a number of factors it can take just a matter of weeks and months to get back in Googles good books.
We’ll share one success story with you here but first we’ll take a look at what we think needs to be done to get sites out of these drops and what we’ve done to help our case study.
- Publish good quality content – Google and the Panda update has not been shy about it’s desire for all websites to give out quality content. This is now more relevant than ever and if you don’t have a blog and are not updating your site on a regular basis you need to be. Period. We don’t mean just writing 200 words every week to keep the homepage fresh. You need to be putting good quality writing out there with 500-1000 words in the article and make it useful. Bit like this one hopefully
If you don’t have a blog on your site any web design company can do that for you for less than £300 usually. If you’re struggling for content you can get it written for you fro around £10-£20 an article and it will be top quality. (Blatant plug alert) If you need help with this get in touch.
- Get a good diverse anchor text profile – This is probably the most important part you need to fix to help with your drop in rank. The majority of the links pointing to your site probably contain just a handful of anchor text or keywords. You probably don’t have many brand name or naked keywords either like YOUR COMPANY NAME or www.yourcompanyname.com and that is a big problem. This is easily overcome though by building links to your site, and from now on just make sure you DONT use any keywords. Just concentrate on getting links using your company name, url or generic keywords like “click here for more information” or “visit the website now”. By doing this you will be diluting the “over optimisation” of your anchor text and this will help moving forward by showing Google your link profile is natural. This is believed by the majority of SEOs out there at the moment to be one of the root causes for rank drops and focuses of the latest updates by Google.
- Replace lost links and concentrate on quality – Losing links has never been a major consideration in the past. Many links placed on blog networks, forums, blogrolls on peoples sites and other places have disappeared with the low quality sites they were put on. As an industry SEOs have simply made sure they replaced them and got more than were lost to stay ahead and move sites forward in rank. But what if Google is now looking at your site and saying “hey, these guys have lost 40% of their links in the last year. That looks odd to me!”. This is what we believe is now a contributing factor. When we look at the sites that have not been affected by recent drops they all have in common a link loss over time of less than 20% or so. The majority of sites losing rank are more in the 40-50% range. In short get links on quality sites that are not going to disappear quickly. No more blog networks, blog commenting or such. Directory links (the good kind), guest blogging, press releases and social media and bookmarking are all good and stable ways to achieve quality links that will stick.
Our Case Study and The Results
So as promised here is one case study from our portfolio of clients that has seen nothing but upward movement across the majority of keywords since the Panda and Penguin updates hit. We’re not giving out domains here but you can clearly see the up and down movement on the ranking chart. Dropping out of the top 100 and back to respectable positions.
The is site fairly young and was ranking in March-April outside the top 100 for it’s main keywords. Just when everyone was plummeting due to the new algorithm updates. The only activity done on the site has been to build links using a smattering of the main keywords and a large dollop of branded and naked anchor text. We don’t use any nasty black hat techniques like blasts to forums profiles or tons of blog comments on other peoples blogs. Just natural good quality link building.
No links have been removed from the site and we wouldn’t know which ones are harmful anyway (if in fact any are) as nobody has said outright any links are bad! Let alone anyone from Google.
Here are screenshots of the 5 main keywords for the site and you can see from the charts the upward move in May, stability returning and a good jump back to positions in June. Into the top 10 for 3 of the 6 keywords within weeks of being outside the top 100!
If your website has been negatively affected by recent changes to Googles algorithm or you are just looking for an SEO company to take your website forward we’re always happy to talk to new clients. We can help get new sites into top positions or recover rankings for sites that have suffered over the past month.