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Search Rankings Go Down As Well As Up [ANALYSIS]

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Most people trying to make money online rely at least partly on ranking well in relevant search terms. The site that has the top spot usually gets about 40% of the traffic relating to that specific search term, and if you’re not on page one or at least page two, you probably won’t get much traffic from it. Ideally other visitors should arrive through social media, paid advertising (optional!), links from other sites, and even directly when they’ve learned about your brand offline, but organic search is still the biggest source of income for many bloggers and online shops.

Search Engine Rankings

SEO is the process that will help a site rank well for relevant, valuable search terms. There are thousands of details to consider but the basic idea is that if you build a great site, fill it with relevant, interesting, and useful content, and build links with other quality websites, your authority will go up, you’ll rise through the ranks towards the top of the first page on Google, Bing, and the other search engines, get more visitors and make more money.

So far, so good. But it doesn’t always work that way. SEO experts and pro bloggers usually keep a close eye on their rankings, and sometimes what they find isn’t a reward for all that hard work. Rankings can go down as well as up.

Google Dance & your Competitors

There are many reasons a website could lose ground in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In most cases, it’s a temporary blip and nothing to worry about. Google makes about 400 algorithmic changes a year, some small and some colossal. The resulting pattern of shifting rankings is called the ‘Google dance’, and it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Unless a site completely dominates a particular search term, a little bit of up and down is quite normal. If you lose a position or two on your favorite search keyword, don’t worry about it. Keep working and you’ll probably go back up soon enough.

Your competitors may be looking at SEO too. Even if they aren’t, they’ll be adding new content, building the occasional new link, and making changes to their websites. All those things can shift their ranking up and push yours down. If someone else is suddenly doing very well and pushing your pages off the top spots, take a good look at them. What changes have they made recently? They might be using a strategy you could adopt too.

Most blogs and commercial websites will go through their whole lifespan without a serious and sudden drop in search rankings, but they do sometimes happen. The most recent major shakeup saw thousands of affiliate marketers suffer huge losses- one of my sites was among the losers.

Google’s Farmer/Panda Update

Google’s Farmer/Panda update completely changed the playing field for plenty of legitimate websites as well as the content farms it was meant to target. A lot of people lost rankings, traffic, and income, and the true impact of this algorithm change hasn’t really been explored yet.

However, Farmer/Panda only affected a relatively small number of sites operating in a fairly specific way. Usually, if a site experiences a sudden and severe drop it’s a private problem, not a global policy change. The first thing to do if your rankings crash is to find out. Ask friends and colleagues with similar sites what they’re seeing, keeping in mind that algorithm changes roll out gradually, so sites in the US and the UK may not see them at the same time. Check out the SEO forums for news of major updates and see if the official Google Blog has anything to say. It usually doesn’t take long for bloggers both at Google and elsewhere to respond to an algorithm shift.

If it looks like you’re on your own, it’s time to think back over recent action. Have you been involved in less-than-ethical SEO or bought a bunch of links? If so, you could be finding yourself in JC Penney’s position, being punished for black hat activities. In this case, the best thing to do is own up, get rid of the links or shady on-site tricks, and keep to legitimate SEO in the future. If you think you’re innocent and can’t find evidence for an algorithm change, contact Google and say so.

In most cases, drops in rankings are small and perfectly natural- nothing but bumps on the road. Even if they’re not so small, don’t panic. There is always plenty you can do to lift your site back up and start gaining ground again.

This article is written by Jess Spate. She is an SEO professional, a mathematician, and an online entrepreneur. Among others, she represents Marriott timeshare points resale consultants and companies that buy Wyndham timeshare units. If you wish to write for us, kindly check this.


By

Jess Spate is an SEO professional based in Cardiff, UK. She has a background in mathematics and data analysis, and a strong interest in the more technical, quantitative aspects of SEO.

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    14 Comments

    • Anoop Menon

      Create some good quality web 2.0’s targeting the brand keyword.

    • Tommie Cassell

      I've read the official statement from Google which says that Panda 2 algorithm will go live soon, which will as well influence different than English languages and will go worldwide. Since March, I gained much more top 10 Google search positions, as top positions become better and do not contain a lot of web directories, auto-blogs and replicate articles. I believe thats why, all around webmaster's and SEO user discussion forums it was before called "farmer update".

    • Kavya Hari

      High Ranking is one of the superior source of income to all the blogger 🙂 But, Google panda plays a major role now. And, it has a lot od disadvantages in it 🙁

    • Satish

      Damn, some of my posts are going up and down. and also some guys have copied my post in 20 sites. and now google bans my post from search 🙁 why is this happening 🙁 dude any idea about the panda update 🙁 how to save our ass ?

    • chandan

      I completely agree with it. After google panda update I seen lots of fluctuation in google ranking. Ranking do not stable, if one day I get keyword ranking on first page, next day the keyword not even seen within 100.

    • Steve

      I didn't see major change from the Panda update which is good although much of my article marketing has become more difficult as the sites are looking for better content. HubPages wants me to update 20 of my pages although my overall rating is in the top 80s.

    • Vijayraj Reddy

      my traffic is increasing after panda update….

    • Dan - BankVibe

      Good coverage! Google's panda was primarily targeted at reducing the reach of spammy type sites that collect content (steal content) from other sites in a related niche.

      If you're just starting to build your SEO strategy I'd recommend heavily incorporating facebook into your site as it seems this may play a greater importance in SERP results in the near future. Consider twitter as well…but facebook should be a heavier priority.

    • TrafficColeman

      Yes it is a up hill battle for the top ranking for a keyword, but never do things that will get your site penalized. This will be the down fall you will not get back up with.

      “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Kira | Best SEO Blogging

      I loved this very insightful and opinionated update. I think the algorithm changes, Google Dances, and the alexa rankings were all favorable to me since last month. I get an increase with my PR and rank higher in Alexa – from millions to thousands in just a couple of weeks.

    • Zone Android

      I don't understand how google rank out website and how to get a higher ranking, it's complicated.

    • Cool Boy @ Business Ideas

      I agree with abundance of websites providing the same content with different wordings but same keywords propels Google to rank websites with different criteria

    • Usman

      I agree the search engine rankings fluctuate a lot during the 12 months cycle

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