Your Digital Lab | Common Reasons your Google Rankings have dropped
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Common Reasons your Google Rankings have dropped

For any company, watching their Google Rankings steadily drop over the course of a few months can be a frustrating and confusing process. Often, without any noticeable change, a company site can fall from a great position with high ranking to a lower spot with fewer available clicks, leaving a lot of unanswered questions behind.

Monitoring your Google Ranking and tracking your process over a period of time can help you to build up a better picture of how the rankings can change – however there might be other reasons why your ranking has fallen recently.

Improved Competitor SEO

Whether through an agency or in-house, if a competitor site has recently improved a vast amount of their SEO, your site can suddenly fall by comparison. From updating existing metadata to a full-site sweep of broken links and outdated content, a sudden shift for a site – even on that was pages away from your site – can push yours further down the listings.

Should this happen, it’s definitely worth taking a look at their newly changed SEO and trying to identify any adoptable changes you could implement within your own site. Although most SEO data is internal, there are still certain changes you can track and monitor to help draw some optimising inspiration. If they’ve used an agency to improve their ranking, perhaps there’s an opportunity for you to work with your own SEO agency to help your site to meet their level.

Lost or Broken Links

For many cases, a website’s SEO ranking can be dependant on its links through other highly ranking pages. However, when these sites drop in their rankings, delete these links or simply refresh their content, your site can suffer the consequences.


In these cases, it’s typically difficult to re-establish that link-build again, especially if the site has already decreased in their own ranking. In some large-scale link building efforts, it can even be hard to detect which site in particular has caused such a decline, if many highly-ranking sites are in the process of updating or changing their content. It’s always worth keeping an eye on your links and backlinks and checking in on them every once in a while to monitor their progress. In many cases, the highly ranking site may not have even noticed your link has stopped working, so a quick reminder to them could get you back up and running in a number of days. However, if your link is gone for good, this offers up an opportunity to strive for even better link connections with higher ranking sites and directories.

Google Penalties

Receiving a Google Penalty is usually a pretty good indicator that your site SEO is going to be dropping pretty soon after. However, for some businesses, these penalties are confusing and difficult to understand without a detailed understanding of the initial offence.

Whilst educating yourself on the different variations of Google Penalties can help you better prepare for any future offences, it’s always worth having a scan through your content to make sure that everything is typically up to scratch. This means no undisclosed redirects, keyword stuffing or shallow pages – as these can all cause Google to award a penalty to your site.

Sabotaging/Negative SEO

Whilst these cases are rare, in some instances a site’s Google Ranking may drop due to an onslaught of Negative SEO from a competitor or unhappy user.

Negative SEO refers to the practice of unethical and potentially harmful actions throughout your site, such as spamming your pages with inappropriate links, redistributing your content or even hacking your website. These users and hackers can cause mass redirects from your site with irrelevant keywords, duplicate page content or fake back links to negatively influence your Google Ranking.

In these instances, your very first move should be to increase the security of your site – protecting yourself against further attacks. Then a full site scan should be able to help you find the weak spot in your existing security, as well as flagging the negative areas which have been affected. There are a variety of solutions, plugins and actions you can take against these hacks, however, the sooner you act to restore your site back to full capacity, the faster your Google Ranking should increase again.

Algorithm Changes and Fluctuations

You might have heard the terms ‘Google Panda’ and ‘Google Penguin’ floating around typical SEO spheres, as major algorithm changes and updates such as these can all shift your Google Ranking.

As Google rolls out new algorithms, often sites on the first page of listings can feel the negative impact, with their ranking falling or declining alongside other popular URLs. Often these algorithm changes are put in place to remove dead links, harmful sites and negative content from search listings and in many cases the changes made are temporary. However if your site’s SEO has been permanently affected due to one of these algorithm changes, it’s worth taking a quick look at your own site and investigating anything the upgrade could have spotted that might have decreased your ranking.

Unfortunately there’s no real way to protect your site against Google-wide algorithm changes, but by keeping all of your SEO clean and up to date you can hopefully prevent against any serious declines in future. Keeping abreast of future Google updates can also help to prepare you for a shift, avoiding any panic or concern later down the line.

It can always feel incredibly disheartening when your website takes a hit through Google Rankings, especially when you work so hard to keep your SEO up to scratch. In many cases however, there is a simple answer or solution to help boost your site back up to the top again. By monitoring any changes from your competitors, users and service providers, you can better prepare for these declines in future.