You’ve Dropped in the SERPs – Now What?
Creating high-quality content, implementing the right keywords and phrases, and then marketing that content through social media and your website may eventually help you reach the first search engine results page (SERP). You may even climb that page, moving closer to the coveted top slot. However, it’s also possible that something will happen to reduce your standing and drop your ranking in the SERPs. You could go to the bottom of the page, or even move several pages down in rank. What’s behind the dramatic decrease in page rank?
No Ranking Is Forever
Yes, it was a long, slow slog to the top of the SERPs. Congratulations for getting there in the first place. However, you cannot expect to remain in that position forever. In some cases, particularly very high competition industries, you might be dethroned in mere months, or even weeks. Even in industries with less competition, you will eventually see your ranking shift. It’s simply the nature of the game.
The Underlying Reasons for Your Drop
It’s tempting to think that your rank drop is probably dependent on Google penalising you for doing something wrong, but most of the time that’s not the case. Still, it is worth digging into the situation to find out if you’ve made a misstep somewhere with your content, or if there has been a significant algorithm update.
Old Content – Google focuses on content quality, originality, and veracity. If your content is old and outdated, then you’ll find yourself losing traction in the SERPs. Thankfully, this is one of the simplest causes to get around. The answer is simply to update your content so that it is no longer outdated. In some cases, that might mean scrapping significant chunks of your content and replacing it with new content, but if you have listicles and other long-form content, you may be able to get away with just updating those with new information.
Keywords – One reason for a drop in ranking could be that consumer search trends have changed. In this instance, you could be targeting keywords or phrases that are no longer used by your customers. As voice search becomes more and more popular, it becomes imperative that you use long tail keywords rather than focusing on short keywords and phrases.
Algorithm Updates – Google regularly updates their algorithm to provide better results for human searchers, and in some cases, these updates have major impacts on businesses around the world. A few examples of these include the Panda update, as well as Penguin, Pigeon and Hummingbird, all of which created seismic shifts in SERPs. If there has been such a change, you need to determine what it was aimed at and then figure out how that applies to your website’s content before getting back into Google’s good graces.
Increased Competition – One reason for you losing rank in the SERPs could be that you have new competitors on the market, or that your existing competitors have upped their content game. In fact, this is the most common reason for a company to decline in the SERPs. Take a long, hard look at the companies who are now outranking yours. What are they doing differently? What is their content like? What are they doing that you are not? Take inspiration from this so that you can give them a run for their money and possibly reclaim your ranking.
User Experience Problems – As Google continues to evolve, the search giant is focusing more and more on the quality of the experience that websites offer their users. If your website does not offer a good user experience, you’ll find your page rank dropping.
If you have a pretty high bounce rate, or your visitors tend to exit after staying only a few minutes, then getting them to spend more time browsing your pages can help. How do you do that though? Actually, there are several things you can do to improve the user experience and encourage longer visits.
First, take a look at your content (yes, content again). Does it offer real value? Does it answer key questions your visitors have? Is it written at an appropriate reading level without any industry jargon?
Next, consider the format of your content – do you have subheadings, bullet points, and the like to break it all up? Is the content broken up into scannable chunks?
You’ll also want to remove any pop-up windows your site might use. They can be very off-putting to visitors, and if they’re particularly obtrusive, your visitors will opt out quickly.
While the battle to rank well in the SERPs is one that you’ll fight continually, there are ways that you can regain lost position. Take a hard look at your site, your competitors, and even your audience, and make the changes you need.