Does this sound like you?
“We redid our website and our organic search traffic plummeted.
We have been losing organic search traffic continually for months.
We have lost rankings for key positions in Google.”
If I had a nickel for every time one of our clients said this to us, I would have at least $4.60. It happens a lot, and it is not just you. We see it a lot. Here are a lot of common reasons this has happened to you and how to correct it.
If You Redesigned/Replatformed Your Site
A lot of times when you redo your site, you change the URL structure: i.e., domain.com/search=?4322 becomes domain.com/base-ball-cards, all of the links that pointed to the “search=?4322” web pages are now 404 errors, and Google drops you like a bad habit because all of those links you acquired naturally all went away. To fix it, all you have to do is get Ahrefs, find the broken backlinks, and 301 redirect them to their new pages.
If your organic search dropped off the face of the Earth, check your source code and make sure your pages are indexed. We have seen some web development companies put “no-follow” in the robots.txt file when building it, later forgetting to take it off.
If you removed a bunch of categories, removed body text, or forgot to move over your meta text, those are also issues we generally see, and you will want to correct them.
If You Have Been Losing Traffic Continually for Months
There could be a thousand reasons why, but here are our main reasons why. First, go into SEMRush and identify when you started the decline in organic search traffic—or you can use Google Analytics. Once the date is identified, go to https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change#2012. You can find the Google update that most likely affected you. Once you know which it is, we can work to fix it.
There are two main Google updates: Panda and Penguin. Panda goes after on-page optimization, or stuff on your website. Penguin goes after external factors; i.e., backlinks. If you have an issue with one or the other, I have them split below. Please note, Penguin issues are generally large spikes, whereas Panda issues are generally longer downward decreases, in our professional opinion and experience.
For Penguin, you want to perform a backlink audit and disavow any bad backlinks you have. I suggest using Majestic SEO (best for historical links), Ahrefs (most encompassing), and Google Webmaster Tools. Gather all three into one list and categorize them together. Go through all of the links, and then delete all of the good ones you would “be proud to show your mother.” If they look spammy, are in a different language, or have nothing to do with you, keep them, and then disavow them in the Google disavow tool. Also, in Ahrefs backlinks, look at your anchor text ratios. If you have a really bad number of exact match anchor texts (over 5%), then disavow the links or change the anchor text to even it out. Penguin has blasted sites that abused exact match anchor text. If you are wondering what exact match anchor text means, I try to rank for “Black Cat,” so I make the text in my hyperlink “Black Cat.”
For Panda, generally people are over-optimized. They might have a title that says, “Flag – Flags – New Flags for Sale.” You can see how Google would not want that, right? The resolution for this is a massive under-optimization effort. Basically, go through and make all of your content friendly for the user, and try not to include so many keywords. My rule of thumb is one keyword per line item.
If You Lost Key Rankings for Key Position
I know this is hard. Your favorite keyword ranking has now gone down. That is the world of Google. It is very competitive, and with your loss someone else made a gain. To get back up there, you need to one-up your competition or competitors. Look at what they do. Do they have better content? Better products? What are they doing that you are not? A lot of times, it could be their social media following, or that they have better backlinks. I generally see what everyone does in the top 3, and then mimic what they do. It is a good opportunity to use Ahrefs, take their backlinks, and try to replicate very similar ones.
Latest posts by Ron Dod (see all)
- Common SEO Problems With E-Commerce Site Launches - April 7, 2016
- How SEO and PPC Can Work Together to Maximize ROI - March 8, 2016
- Using SEO Research to Discover Why Organic Rankings Dropped - February 18, 2016
- New Ways to Use the SEO Tools in Your Toolbox - February 3, 2016