Have you noticed a sudden or steady drop in your search engine keyword rankings for certain pages? Stop focusing on the question “Why is my website not ranking on Google?” and instead start searching for expert tactics on “how to rank my website on the search engine results pages.”
If your web pages aren’t performing well on the search engine results pages (SERPs), your online visibility can be hit severely within a few days, weeks or even months. This means less organic traffic will find and visit your site. And you know what happens after: your sales also suffer.
You must act quickly to improve your search engine optimization strategy or SEO strategy once you notice the first signs of overall or local SEO ranking drops. This article will walk you through the reasons for the decline and back them up with concrete tips on how to improve Google Search ranking potential. We also stress the importance of setting aside time to track and monitor keyword rankings.
9 Reasons Your Website Ranking has Dropped and Ways To Get Back to the Top
Reason 1: Some Important Pages Have NoIndex Tags
When you track keyword rankings and learn that some valuable pages are not at all visible in search results, you might have let slip a “noindex” tag in the pages’ <head> section. This meta tag tells Google or any search engine web crawler to skip indexing a page. Without crawling and indexing, your pages won’t have any SERPs ranking opportunities.
First, let’s look at possible causes of this issue. The “noindex” tag could be added to certain pages during development and be left there by mistake when the pages go live. Some content management systems (CMS) like WordPress also have an option for preventing search engines from indexing pages, such as those containing sensitive information and shopping carts.
How to fix it: Enhance the SEO rankings of affected pages by removing the “noindex” tag. Verify that the “noindex” error exists by checking the Coverage report on Google Search Console. If you have a fairly new website without sufficient Search Console data, try tools that crawl your site and show the pages affected by this Google search ranking error.
Reason 2: Googlebot Can’t Crawl Certain Pages
Robots.txt is a text file containing instructions for web crawlers, including Googlebot. It blocks or allows access to your pages. So, for example, if it contains a rule for blocking Googlebot from crawling specific pages, the search giant won’t be able to discover said pages. This may affect SERPs ranking and visibility.
How to fix it: Make sure search engine bots are allowed to access critical pages, e.g., https://example.com/blog. If you’re not sure where to find robots.txt, here’s a practical tip on how to improve Google Search ranking: leave the fixing to the experts. This should help you avoid major technical SEO mistakes as they understand the scope and limitations of a robots.txt file.
Reason 3: You Lack High-Quality External Links
Pay attention to your backlinks. They exist to enhance your online visibility (read: how to improve Google Search ranking).
According to studies, backlinks, the links found in other sites that point back to your pages, are a critical Google ranking/local SEO ranking factor. Having a reputable site refer to your page in their content boosts your credibility, helping Google determine how relevant that page is to a keyword or user query.
In short, backlinks or external links can affect your SERPs rank. If you have zero, excessive or spammy backlinks, your search result position is compromised.
How to fix it: Monitor keyword rankings and audit your link profile using tools like Ahrefs, Sitechecker and SEMrush. You can check details like the sites linking to your pages, their domain authority and anchor texts. Also, you can discover suspicious links and link loss – so you won’t have to wonder, “Why is my website not ranking on Google?”
If your problem is due to a thin link profile, read more on how you can improve your overall link building strategy or include link-building in your online marketing efforts.
Reason 4: Search Intent Isn’t Prioritized
Here’s another likely reason if you’ve been scratching your head and asking, “Why is my website not ranking on Google?” You may have crafted content for a popular keyword — a keyword that’s frequently searched by your target users — but it does not satisfy users’ search intent. What does this mean?
Let’s say you’re in the real estate industry and prioritized a popular keyword like “how to buy a home in City X.” You decided to integrate this keyword into your sales page. In the copy, you simply mentioned that your property consultants could help readers buy a home and proceeded to list your housing options. Meanwhile, your competitors wrote blog posts that enumerated deciding factors before providing a list of housing options. And they ranked at the top of SERPs for that. That’s because they aligned their content with the intent of the target audience, which was still in the Awareness/Interest stage of the buying process.
How to fix it: Use tools like BuzzSumo or SEMrush to track keyword rankings and top performers. Analyze the articles, their structure and content and update your page or create a new piece of content accordingly. If you’re going toe-to-toe with main competitors, make it a point to enhance your search engine optimization strategy.
Reason 5: You Have Duplicate Content
Duplicate content may appear on a website or across websites. When two URLs have essentially the same content or lead to the same page, Google chooses only one version to show to users: the canonical version, also known as the master copy or source URL. When you add the canonical tag, you’re telling Google which copy to display in the SEO keyword rankings.
Now here’s the thing: If you don’t add the canonical tag to a page URL, the search giant will display what it deems the canonical version of the content in question. The page in the Google ranking may not be the one you want to rank.
How to fix it: You may remove the duplicate content. But in a case where you have multiple URLs, such as for certain products, you should add the rel=canonical attribute to the <head> section of the master copy and duplicate pages.
Here’s how the canonical tag is used in both instances:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://example.com />
Reason 6: You Got Penalized By Google
It’s rarely the case, but a sudden drop in SERPs ranking may be caused by a manual Google penalty. So unless you did something drastic to manipulate SEO rankings, like spamming or hiding text/stuffing keywords, you’re good.
Google will alert you if you do get a hit. Go to Google Search Console to check the issue. Under Security and Manual Actions, you will find the penalty, its description and all affected pages.
How to fix it: It’d be too long to go over all the manual actions, but we have already covered the ground for you in this article about Google penalties. We suggest you search for the penalty and apply the corresponding fix to all pages involved. Your Google ranking may not return to past levels (quickly) after recovery because, minus the quality issue, the SERPs rank algorithm will evaluate your pages anew.
From time to time, Google rolls out algorithm updates, so it pays to track keyword rankings not only in the wake of such changes. Recent ones (Panda, Penguin. etc.) check for content quality and unnatural links. Your SERPs position can dip significantly and impact your organic traffic and search engine keyword rankings.
How to fix it: Go for in-depth, well-written and overall high-value articles or copy (Panda). As for unnatural links, the issue ties to low-quality and spammy backlinks. Google may also find the acquisition of tons of links in a short time period suspicious. After replacing poor-quality content and removing problematic backlinks, wait for Google to recrawl your site or pages and your SERPs rank performance to turn around.
Reason 7: You’re Not Optimizing for Your Location
Did you notice that local SEO ranking is different from user to user? This is because Google factors in their location, among other things. If you’re a franchise or multi-location business, it’s critical to target the right location-based keywords or bid for them in search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
How to fix it: As we said, target the keyword that applies to your franchise subunit or business branch. You should also amp up your local and franchise SEO strategy by leveraging local listings.
Reason 8: Your Site Is Not Updated for Page Experience (Core Web Vitals)
Page Experience comprises Google’s latest array of ranking signals, including the Core Web Vitals, which focus on page load speed, visual stability and interactivity. The new guidelines for SEO keyword rankings launched in June 2021. It takes several weeks or more to set Page Experience optimization in motion and around four weeks to see its impact.
How to fix it: If you have not audited your site or updated your SEO strategy, there’s no time to waste. Read our Step-by-Step Google Page Experience and Core Web Vitals Guide for complete information. To catch up, you could also partner with an internet marketing agency that can monitor keyword rankings and apply the update at the same time.
Reason 9: Your Website Is Fresh Off the Press
Some might find this obvious, but others might still be confused about search engine keyword rankings or lack an SEO strategy for their brand-new site. Do note that it takes time for your pages to rank and reach the top of the SERPs. From the moment your website goes live, give Google some time to crawl it. Also, consider factors like content quality, user experience (UX), security and even presence on listings like Google My Business (GMB) and how they affect when your SEO services kick in. It could be at least a couple of months or four months to a year. Some pages may rise quickly in the SEO keyword rankings, while others may get there later, depending on your search engine optimization strategy.
How to fix it: “How to rank my website then?” you ask. First, submit your sitemap to Google if you haven’t done so yet. Use any of the formats supported by Google, such as XML, text and RSS, mRSS and Atom 1.0.
On Google Search Console, click Sitemaps under Index and enter your sitemap URL.
If you hired a digital marketing agency for strategy development, your site should be optimized before launch. It’s up to your agency or in-house team to manage the moving parts like on-page optimization, link building, technical SEO and local SEO.
Fix It With a Reliable Partner
After reading this article, you should know the answer to “how to rank my website.” Of course, the implementation is much more complicated. But we hope you have an idea on how it’s done and how to get started.
If you’re pressed for time or would rather hand the complicated parts to professionals, these are some of the benefits that await you: no guesswork regarding errors, proper prioritization and improved optimization. Combining all these leads to positive results and cost-effective management of your page rankings.
At Thrive, we have helped clients maximize their time, effort and money by delivering sustainable search engine optimization efforts. Our team of SEO strategists tracks keyword rankings and detects issues strategically. We respond, mitigate risks and render solutions proactively.
Start putting all the lessons you’ve learned here in action. Send us a message or call 866-908-4748 to talk with our experts.