Drops in Google Rankings are like the common cold – they simply won’t go away. There are so many factors that can affect your web presence, why is it so hard to focus on what matters? If your Google ranking drops, you need to know as quickly as possible what you could do to fix it as soon as possible. It’s not good if your site’s ranking drops gradually, as long as the traffic goes down with it. If you have a brand new site or you have been working on a site for a long time, you still need to watch out! An SEO expert can help but you need to know something about what is happening within the webmaster’s head.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why a WordPress website may be penalized by search engines.
14 Most Annoying Reasons Why Your Google Ranking Drops
- Site Load Time
Site load time is one of the most annoying reasons why your Google ranking drops and one of the top 3 reasons for losing customers.
The average site can lose 80% of their potential visitors if they don’t optimize for speed – and Google uses page load speed as a ranking factor!
Site speed is often overlooked by webmasters, but it’s an easy fix. Most sites can easily cut their load time by 30-40% just by following these steps:
- Host your site on a fast server with plenty of bandwidth, ideally in a data center that’s optimized for WordPress hosting.
- A popular plugin is W3 Total Cache, which can make a site load up to 50% faster.
- Reduce your site’s file size by optimizing images, compressing files, and using a content delivery network (CDN).
- Create a mobile-friendly version of your website using a responsive WordPress theme or some CSS tweaks to make sure Google knows you’re optimized for mobile users.”
- Site Maintenance
Site maintenance is one of the most annoying reasons why Google’s ranking drops. Depending on the level of importance, site maintenance may come in various forms. It usually comes with a loss in traffic, but to get that traffic back, you need to do some maintenance work.
The normal types of site maintenance include things like these:
- Broken links
- 404 errors
- Minor content changes
What this all boils down to is that if your site is not updated or maintained regularly, it’s going to be harder for people to find you when they perform searches. This will cause your traffic levels to drop, which is bad for business. But if you don’t pay attention to your site’s health and don’t do some maintenance work when you need to, then even more horrible things can happen.
- Hosting Problems
Hosting problems can be one of the most annoying reasons why your Google ranking drops.
Hosting problems are very common and occur when you have a website but it is not delivered properly. A lot of people experience hosting problems, which results in your website not being indexed or even worse – disappearing from the search engines entirely.
The main causes of hosting problems are:
- The web hosting company has gone down. The most common reason for hosting problems is this. It can be caused by technical issues, DDoS attacks, hacker attacks, hardware failure, or even human error. A simple power cut can also cause the server to crash.
- Your host has changed something on their end without telling you about it – causing errors on your site.
- Your host has had a hardware failure – this is more likely to happen with shared hosting accounts than managed WordPress hosting accounts’.
- The server you are using is overloaded, causing slow loading times or even downtime for your website.
- You have had repeated slow loading times or downtime over some time and Google has taken action against you as they deem it unnatural traffic due to your poor uptime record.
If you host your site on your server, it will make it much easier for you to maintain your site, which means you will be able to spot trouble before it causes too much damage. You should also know what kind of hosting plan or package you need to keep your business moving forward.
- Server issues
Most of the time server issues come from something you didn’t do. However, there are instances when you have little influence over external problems, particularly with large sites.
When I talk about server issues, I’m referring to two different things:
- Server outages, where the website just becomes inaccessible for some time.
- High bounce rates on your pages, which can look like “server issues” because the visitor only stays on the page for a short time before leaving.
The first step is to deal with the situation as soon as reasonably practicable. The second is not as clear-cut; it relies on Google’s understanding of what those high bounce rates mean and how they should be interpreted in context.
If the website has been down for only a few hours or even a day or two, there might be a chance of recovering from the negative effects on your Google rankings. But if the site has been down for several days (sometimes even weeks), it’s unlikely that you will recover from the loss of traffic and rankings.
- Website on-page issues
It is not uncommon for people to get caught up in the hype of search engine optimization, or SEO, and make some costly mistakes. Focusing on SEO without verifying that their sites are optimized is a frequent error made by website owners. To be sure, the higher your website appears in search engines, the more traffic it will get.
You must understand what on-page factors are and how they affect your website’s ranking. If you are not familiar with on-page factors, here is some background information about some of the most important on-page factors.
So, what are the most frequent problems on-page? The ones I’ve seen most often are:
- Not using H1 tags on all pages
- Not having a unique title tag per page
- Using Flash for navigation or advertisements
- Using excessive amounts of keywords in the body text of the page
- Using several Meta description tags on the same page
- Using excessive amounts of keywords in Meta description tags
- Not using alt tags for pictures or image links
- You don’t have a sitemap.xml file in your site’s root directory
- Wrong keywords
Wrong keywords can be a problem for small businesses and eCommerce websites. Keywords are the one word or phrase that is targeting your product and services and when you enter them into a search engine it will result in your website ranking on the first page.
Blindly using the default suggested keywords can hurt your website ranking because there is a high possibility that these keywords don’t match your content and products. If you’re wondering what this means for your site, it’s wise to take action now before your site takes a hit. Here are some things that can help:
- Eliminate any duplicate or low-quality content on your site that doesn’t do anything for your users
- Focus only on high-quality content
- Create good original content
- Add more relevant content
- Keep track of your keywords
- Be sure you always use relevant keywords
- The optimization on your HTTPS site is sloppy
Google’s ranking algorithm is a black box. We have no idea how to evaluate Google’s ranking factors, so we have no way of knowing if there are specific search result manipulation methods that would be effective.
However, based on the patterns we observe in the search results, we can make some informed predictions. And one of the most interesting things about HTTPS sites is that all of them are ranked not only by their content but by the content of any page they link to. If you Google for this error message, then you will find out that it is because of two reasons.
- The server is using an old version SSL protocol that is no longer secure. A secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate is not installed on the server. There are many possible alternatives to these issues. You just need to set aside some time and do some online study to learn them.
- The performance of your HTTPS site may be influenced by several variables. You must choose only the best way to do it regarding your website needs and resources available to fix it.
- Off-page negative SEO
A lot of people are confused with on-page and off-page SEO. The difference is on-page SEO is link building you do on your website on your content, on-page or your blog posts or guest posts, or on pretty much anything on your website. Off-page SEO is link building that you do for other websites.
Website owners are often confused about how to build off-page rank for their site. Many feel that the only way to build off-page rank is to build links for other sites. However, negative SEO can be used to remove good links from sites that are not associated with yours. That’s why it’s important to understand how negative SEO works so you can figure out if it has affected you.
Negative SEO is the process of affecting the ranking of a website by adding bad links pointing to it or removing good ones. A few ways this can be done are by adding spam comments on blogs, forum profiles, and other websites about your site, adding spam pages with bad content about your site, and using black hat techniques like keyword stuffing for your domain name.
- Blocked website
Search engines may ban your website for a variety of reasons. “Dynamic content” is one of the most vexing causes.
Search engines scan your web pages to determine how recent your material is. If you have a lot of dynamic content on your site, search engine crawlers will think that this site is not so reliable and it’s not worth showing it in results.
So what is dynamic content? Dynamic content is a kind of content that can be generated or changed without visiting the website by just using a special code to create content based on certain conditions. Let me give you some examples:
- Weather Forecast: It’s just an example. If you have a weather forecast page and it shows the weather for the next 10 days and if you want to change something on this page (let’s say temperature), without visiting this page you can write a special code and change temperature by adding or removing one degree. So weather forecast page has dynamic content.
- Generate Your AdSense Ads: If you use AdSense as your main source of income, then you probably know that Google AdSense allows you to generate ads automatically without visiting your website using special codes.
- Lost backlinks
The main thing in Backlink Exchange is that you have to have something valuable to get something valuable in return. That’s the only way to build a sustainable long-term business with backlinks. The problem is that Google Penguin and other similar updates are constantly checking if you have lost backlinks and demoting you in search results. So if you don’t check and add them again, you will lose traffic and lower your search engine rankings.
This can be an issue if:
- You’ve changed your domain name or URL structure
- You’ve moved your content to another website or redirected it to another URL
- You’ve removed pages from your site or relocated them to a new place
The only way to protect is to be proactive and to create such relationships with other sites that they feel obliged to link back to you even if you suddenly stop communicating with them.
- Geolocation fluctuations
This problem is probably the most common cause of sudden drops in rankings. It refers to the fact that Google calculates the location of visitors by using their IP address and the location of the server hosting your website. If these two locations do not match, Google will think that most of your visitors come from a different country than expected and may lower the ranking accordingly. This can happen if you move your site or hosting provider or if you have updated the settings on the server hosting your site without telling Google about it. Always keep Google updated about changes to server location and IP address so they can recalculate visitor location correctly.
- Spammy or Duplicate Content
“Duplicate content, or content that represents a substantial portion of another site’s content, is a concern because it can be used to manipulate search engine rankings. Creating duplicate pages can also confuse users and create a poor user experience.”
Google does not like to rank pages with low-quality content, which is considered spammy. So, if you are targeting to rank your website or blog in Google SERPs, then you should avoid creating spammy content. However, some duplicate contents are genuine but Google’s algorithm considers them as spammy.
What’s the difference between spam and duplicate content?
Spammy websites create sites with very little unique text, preferring to fill their pages with keywords. Often these keywords are unrelated to the page topic. Spam websites also employ deception to get you to visit their site. A website with some sort of uniqueness is more likely to be seen as OK by Google.
Duplicate text is often used in conjunction with keyword stuffing. Some spammers will paste the same content on hundreds of different websites. The team at Search Engine Journal has compiled a list of five steps to follow to evaluate your site’s potential risk
- Audit your site for any instances of spammy or duplicate content
- Remove any instances of cross-link buying
- Make sure you’re not using manipulative anchor text
- Look into cloaking
13. Not adhering to the Core Web Vitals
The Core Web Vitals are the key components to having a fully optimized website for search engines. You’ll be on your way to obtaining more visitors and higher conversions if you follow these guidelines. The most essential components of the Core Web Vitals are as follows:
Let’s suppose you own an online shoe store. If you use the word “shoes” in your title tag, you are using your target keyword, which is shoes. You would also want to use shoe-related terms in your meta description and your header tags. This way when someone is searching for a pair of shoes online, they will find your website and click through to make a purchase. This is how you use search engines to get organic traffic.
The Core Web Vitals are the most essential components of a web page, as you may know. Here are a few examples:
- Keywords found in your title tag
- Keywords in the URL
- The first sentence in the page body content
- The first image ALT text
- Keywords in the H1, H2, and H3 header tags
- Keywords in the table of contents (if present)
These elements are known as ranking factors because Google uses them to rank web pages for search engine results pages (SERPs). More importantly, if you optimize these elements on your web pages, they can help your site climb higher in SERPs, which translates into traffic and revenue increases for your business. Adhering to these factors is vital if you want your web pages to achieve their full potential and to compete with other sites on similar topics.
- Unnatural links from other websites
If you see your website’s Google ranking drop, one of the things you should check is whether you’ve lost any unnatural links.
Google’s ranking algorithms are getting ever-better at detecting unnatural links. This means that if you’ve lost any, they’ll be more likely to punish you for them. And because the punishment is an algorithmic one, it doesn’t matter how many other great links your site has. You could have 99% natural links and 1% unnatural ones, and if even a single unnatural link is detected, your overall site quality will take a hit.
The solution is to check whether you’ve lost any unnatural links. If you have, remove them as quickly as possible – or at least disavow them, so that Google doesn’t treat them as suspicious.
There are three main types of unnatural connections:
- Links from third-party websites that you don’t control
- Links from pages on the same site as yours
- Links from spammy sources
Set Your Site To Rank First
The fact is that today, with so many websites online, there are so many competitors out there looking to rank for the same keywords. The basic concept behind Search Engine Optimization is to pick up keywords that are relevant to your site and use them frequently in your website content so that you rank high in the search engines for those keywords. It’s also important to remember that there are many other factors besides keywords that affect which sites appear at the top of the search engine rankings list, including link popularity, social media feeds, and more.