“OMG Our Search Engine Rankings Have Died!!”
First off, it isn’t funny, at all. It’s totally traumatic.
If you’ve enjoyed months or years of traffic for keywords relevant to your business and it’s switched off overnight, then it’s truly going to impact you and your business. You have bills to pay, staff salaries to maintain and the loss of traffic is often truly devastating.
Second, they were never really yours anyway. They were always going to be subject to the actions and whims of another for profit entity.
Unfortunately, when it comes to dumb algorithms, there’s little kindness involved. If your website hits the thresholds that say rank this domain lower then you need to take action to reverse those aspects that may be contributing to your misfortune.
The search engine guidelines set out what is and what isn’t acceptable. Hidden text, spammy links, keyword stuffing being 3 top level well known no no’s. There are however a myriad of other no no’s which are often fuzzy and hard to pin down. We need to understand that ultimately, search engines (generally) don’t earn money from sites that use effective SEO so it’s no surprise that they’d make it all a little bit of a minefield. It’s easy to say “Make the best site for your users” but with only 10 spots available to have for each query, it’s understandable that companies and site owners will push the envelop a little to get ahead. It’s this process that often trips folks up which can often lead to ranking catastrophes. FUD is a powerful tool in dissuading the allocation of marketing budget
It’s important to differentiate between penalties and algorithmic shifts of course. Penalties are manually applied whereas algorithmic shifts like Penguin and Panda are changes to the way pages are scored.
What to do if your search rankings have disappeared overnight?
If you know what you are doing then it’s pretty academic. Why are you even here reading this?
If you don’t know what you are doing then don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.
You. Will. Drive. Yourself. Mad.
Employ an experienced seo specialist to look at the situation for you.
Algorithmic Search Engine Penalties
They should know if there has been a recent major algorithm change and will look at your website analytics to see if your traffic fall coincides with an algorithm change. If it does, then it’s usually either due to a Penguin or a Panda update.
If your website has been affected by Panda, then it is perceived to have a page quality issue. These might be due to spammy or thin content issues, or machine generated content that is considered to be of low quality.
Your appointed specialist should be able to honestly appraise your site and be frank enough to tell you that it’s lacking in quality.
If your website has been affected by Penguin, then you have a so called back link quality issue.
A backlink quality issue relates to the quantity and quality of the number of links to your website.
Sites that have acquired many links at once for example might be seen to be manipulating their link profile. Sites with lots of so called ‘money’ keywords in their anchor text might be another.
In the circumstances outlined; you’ll need to begin the process of fixing your sites on and off site issues.
The good news is that your appointed specialist will be able to help identify these and help you with a way forward, the bad news is that you’ll often have to wait until the algo has updated or refreshed before your site reappears for your keywords. Even then, there are no guarantees as with penguin for example, the link cleaning process may even remove links that offered value whilst retaining those that hamper. It’s critical therefore, to ensure that you use someone who has experience with these and the tools that help identify them
Manual Search Engine Penalties
In some cases, websites receive so called ‘Manual‘ penalties. These are applied by search engineers for what would be in their view egregious manipulation of the algorithm. There have been many cases of these over the years for all manner of organisations. They are a good PR tool for search engines as they send out the message that they are watching for exploitation of their resource and will punish those who try it on.
The good news is that you can clean things up and submit a re-inclusion requests whereby a search engine will review what you’ve done and reinstate your domain in search. The not so good news is that they may refuse it and ask you to try harder.
A friendly suggestion on the way forward
Finally, regardless of whether you have or have not had an issue; perhaps it’s time to take a long hard look at what you do and really ask yourself some honest questions around your content marketing efforts.
The web is only going to get more competitive, to rely on big profit driven corporations for non paid for sustenance is a little bit mad really.
The proliferation of platforms that are taking market share will only continue to grow. People are using an ever increasing level of device and apps to access information. Desktop PC’s, Laptops, Phones, Tablets, Phablets, Watches, TV’s – Search engines are cannibalising content to keep users on site, social media platforms are doing the same pulling folks away from search engines in the process, maybe it’s time to act like search engines didn’t exist even; become the destination for your niche, be the best.
Talk about your friends and help them in to the bargain!
Today I was flicking through the blogosphere in search of a little inspiration. It’s hard at times to release the old creative juices, it can get a little tiring.
I didn’t want to complain about a service or talk about the launch of some new product or service, or reference a blogger with a cool idea that I liked, or take a good look at a google algo aspect or even point to some a-lister in the hope of some little mention or other.
Its funny how I just did all those things, but yet by reading these people today I was able to arrive at the point of where I am right now. An aspect of the beauty of how things are created is how things can just pop into your head like a little light brightening a darkened room- ping!
So, here is the idea.
This is what I don’t want to do.
I don’t want to review or look at a blog. Blog software is pretty standard with lots of tools that you can plugin and play with, I just don’t really want to look at tagging and hacking themes and generally dealing with all that stuff that so many others talk about so eloquently already.
No, what I’d like to do is look at something a little different. A standard ‘ordinary’ hand built website made by some random person out there who for whatever reason decided to build something from the ground up. They might be a friend of a blogger, or a business associate or just some resource that people need to know about yet just doesn’t show up in the serps for what they should or at least could.
Lots of sites out there merit a place in a kw related SERP somewhere. Yet an ever increasing reality is that the competition for available slots gets increasingly more competitive.
Whilst a site might have great content, its very design and layout and accessibility to spiders and indexers may inhibit its ability to perform how it ideally could.
In many ways basic SEO can help these sites perform so much better. Be it via original title tags for each page, better structured content, better copy, a few more links, better internal navigational structure, inaccessible flash, over use of graphics, a little PR…the list could go on.
There is a little difficulty with this request as most of the people who read the stuff I gab on about are either SEO’s, bloggers or savvy shrewd marketers, but I know that this isn’t entirely the case either so, we shall see.
Whats in this for me I hear you ask..
There’s lots in it for you.
Straight away it gives you a new idea to write about.
What better way to spend a Sunday or whenever, than helping someone you like or admire even?
Ok sure I can think of a few selfish alternatives, but hey – isn’t there just a bit of appeal in a “give out a little love and get it back tenfold” mindset? Giving beats receiving every single time.
What should you do?
You can write about a site that you think is really cool, or a site that you use daily that isn’t mainstream and that people should know about. It could be one of your own sites, or it could be a site of a friend or a relative even. By writing about them you will be raising an awareness and giving them some all important link juice too.
If you’d like me to consider the site for a review then all you gotta do is link back to this post and hopefully I’ll pick it up and have a little look. In an ideal world you’d choose one of these sets of phraseology, “Rob is offering the chance for some Free SEO Advice ” or “Rob is offering a website review“, but I’m cool with a rob or a yackyack or a click here even!
I’ll let things run for a week or two and select a site that I feel could do with a little help, I’ll then write up a few words offering suggestions and ideas for improvement and forward it to the blogger who wrote about them. I can’t help everyone so please, dont be offended or narked if I don’t pick you, its nothing personal. 🙂
If you participate then great have fun with it, I look forward to seeing you pop up in the blogosphere.