Factors That Cause the Website Ranking to Go Down

Did you know that there are over 200+ factors that search engines use to rank your website?
Of all, the search engine giant Google has defined its search quality rater guidelines on their official website and keeps updating it often.
These factors are constantly evolving. However, not all of them are as significant as others when it comes to the website ranking going down. That’s why it’s vital to get an SEO audit done regularly to ensure that your practices are up to date.
That being said, there are a few constant factors that play a major role in website ranking. So, whether you just launched your website or you’re looking to improve your existing website ranking - here are 15 factors that you must be aware of and implement today!

Website Ranking Factor #1 - Manual Penalty

If you’re a webmaster, then you already know what a manual penalty is, and you probably dread its impact on your declining website ranking. However, for those who are new to this ranking factor - a manual penalty is when a Google employee in a particular department (e.g., Webspam Team or Search Quality) has taken action against a website.
The webspam team is created in 2017 to find and penalize websites that are trying to manipulate search ranking signals and benefit from them.
The employee has manually reviewed the website, and if they suspect the website to violate their guidelines - they issue a manual penalty.
When you log in to your Webmaster Tools and find you have a notification - the first thing you must do is find out why you have been given the manual penalty because it will cause your website ranking to drop drastically. Address the concerning penalty and submit your website for reconsideration to start to show up in the search engine again.

Website Ranking Factor #2 - Algorithmic Penalty

As the name suggests, these penalties are given by the algorithm that regularly checks websites against the search engine’s guidelines or rules.
Suppose it finds that your website has violated any of the guidelines or specific metrics. In that case, it will automatically penalize your website, causing it to drop in rankings and impact the findability and visibility in the SERPs.
In fact, when Google started Google started algorithm updates with Panda and Penguin, a huge number of websites were penalized and were hit down in SERP rankings.
Before you make your SEO strategy or begin the content curation process, it’s important to research the three main algorithms that monitor websites, namely:

  • Panda - the algorithm that keeps low-quality content from appearing in the top results on SERP.
  • Penguin - It sifts through spam or un-aligned links on your website. If it finds too many paid-for backlinks, spam links, or too many links to a website with no relation to your content, it will penalize your website.
  • Pirate - If a website has too much copyright infringement, this algorithm will penalize it by decreasing your rankings.

Website Ranking Factor #3 - Google Algorithm Changes

As we mentioned in the intro, algorithms change, and with these updates come a fresh set of rules, which could mean that your website needs to adapt to be up to date with any changes that might affect the website ranking.
Google keeps rolling out giant algorithm updates often to penalize sites that use illegal tactics to rank high on SERPs.
Sometimes an algorithm change might mean that your once high-ranking website could violate its new set of rules - causing the website to go down in rank.
Algorithms like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pirate, etc., all play a significant part in your website's ranking factor. Therefore, it is imperative to do an SEO audit with a reputed SEO solutions firm regularly, as they are the ones who are on the pulse of any changes to these algorithms. They can help your website navigate the changing climate of the digital space and keep your website from dropping in ranks.

Website Ranking Factor #4 - Lost Some High-Quality Backlinks

Make sure your website has targeted and valuable backlinks. This will help your website ranking to increase. These backlinks act as a “vote,” giving your website the credibility it requires for search engines to validate your website and rank it higher on their search.
Sometimes you can lose high-quality backlinks, which causes a drop in your website ranking. This typically happens when, over time, you make changes to your URL and website, which causing external websites to get a broken link.
The lost links can be checked from the SEO tool or free from Ubersuggest backlink analysis.
Link reclamation is a technique that most people implement when they see a loss in high-quality backlinks. Essentially this process is the finding and fixing of the backlinks that have been lost. It’s the most effective way to improve a website’s backlink profile and help it increase in ranks.

Related : Legit Ways to Earn Backlinks to Your Site

Website Ranking Factor #5 - Google Dance

Unlike the name suggests, this isn’t a team-building activity held by Google. Rather it refers to the volatile fluctuation in your website ranking that can last up to 3-5 days, where your website might see multiple jumps or drop in ranks.
Sometimes, it’s also referred to as SERP dance. Here’s a graphical representation of a case study on Google dance done by the SERP firm.
This dance usually happens when Google is implementing an update to their cache of all indexed pages. In the past, this used to happen about 10 times a year, and erratic ranking jumps would occur from one minute to the next. However, these Google dances are no longer as frequent or as intense. Therefore, your website ranking shouldn’t be greatly impacted by it. Sometimes it can be the cause of a sudden website ranking drop, but this only happens while Google determines what rank your website is best suited for on its index.

Website Ranking Factor #7 - Server Issues

Slow loading speeds, traffic overload, failure of hardware or software, and the most severe factor - a server crash - can immediately cause your website ranking to drop.
Server issues, like a full crash, can not only lower a website’s ranking but can break it altogether. Therefore, it is important to secure your website’s future by having a reliable server hosting and monitoring company. It is their job to make sure your website doesn’t suffer from server issues, thereby causing it to drop in ranks.

Website Ranking Factor #8 - This Site May Be Hacked Warning

The ‘This site may be hacked’ warning comes up when Google suspects your website of having too many spam links or having malware planted on the site. So, if you’ve suddenly experienced a huge decline in website ranking, it could be related to this common Google warning.
To rectify this issue, ensure that you do not have an overwhelming amount of spam links on your website. Plus, you will need to scan and remove the malware from your website in the case of a hack. Only then can you appeal with the Google Search Console and get the notice lifted.

Website Ranking Factor #9 - Evolving Keywords

Older websites that have not done regular updates to keywords or SEO could observe declining website ranks. People are more tech-savvy today than there were years ago. Therefore, their use of search engines and keywords has evolved.
‘Natural language comprehension and ‘sentence keyword recognition (as opposed to just a single keyword) is something engineers at Google have improved upon, thereby allowing people to find results more organically. Keeping this in mind, your website would rank higher if its content was in plain language.
Hiring an SEO firm would help antiquated websites to improve their ranking.

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Website Ranking Factor #10 - Outdated Searches

Like how we prefer the daily news to be current and up to date - fresh content specific to your niche will typically rank higher. Google often prefers to show results based on user behavior.
For example, if there is a new technology or product in your niche, and all your competitors are uploading that information on their website - they will rank higher. Google may decide to bring up newer results first; therefore, static content will be pushed further down.
Ensure your website and its content are always current, and check on Google Trends to explain any discrepancies you may notice with your ranking.

Website Ranking Factor #11 - Wrong Keywords

It’s possible that your website isn’t focusing on the right keywords for its users. When creating your list of keywords, it’s important to factor in ‘user intent.’ Often Google changes the way it understands your site’s keywords and intent, and that can cause a drop in the website’s rank.
For example, if you have a web page trying to help real estate agencies but using general keywords, you do not intend to target the right audience. Hence, using tools like free Moz KW explorer helps you avoid using the wrong keywords.
An easy way to rectify this drop is to identify your user and website’s intent - service intent, information intent, transactional intent (i.e., selling a product), etc. Accordingly, add in keywords that match this intent. In turn, Google will recognize these changes, and you should see an increase in website ranking.

Related : Frequently Asked Questions about Keywords & SEO

Website Ranking Factor #12 - Poor Metadata

If your metadata is written poorly or is irrelevant to your main content, then you might be missing out on traffic and therefore falling in ranks. These snippets of text should be easy-to-understand, engaging, and make users click-through to your website.
Metadata is one of the crucial ranking factors suggested by search engines. So, it’s time to revisit all web pages (using mozbar extension) to add it if you’ve missed it prior.
Think of them as the bio line of any good Instagram profile - the small bits of text that give you descriptive, structural, and administrative information in a concise manner.
Relevant and interesting data serves many purposes. However, the biggest being that users will want to click-through to your website, which will increase your ranking.

Website Ranking Factor #13 - Competition from Other Websites

Are you wondering why your competitor is ranking higher than you?
There are many reasons why competitor pages rank higher on Google; specifically, there are four main reasons that we can determine. They are - Relevance, Reputation, Content, and Age.
Instead of focusing on your competitor's website, focus on improving your website.
Hire a consulting firm or ensure that your website has relevant keyword-infused content, reputed backlinks, positive online reviews, a great user-friendly experience, and a strong offsite presence (i.e., social media and Google My Business).
Focusing on these things will help you gain rank in the SERPs.

Website Ranking Factor #14 - Bad User Experience

The number one thing that drives your rank up is traffic, and if your users are not thrilled with their experience on your website, chances are your ranking will drop.
For example, Google lets the users perform mobile-friendly tests directly in SERPs, unlike before the users were supposed to go to their mobile-friendly test page.
When designing your website's flow and look, ensure you use the best website design firm to create your website. Don’t stop there; after the launch of your website, create a maintenance plan with the firm so that your website remains optimized and efficient.
A well-oiled website, one that is expertly coded with a smooth flow, engaging content, striking visuals, and has reputable backlinks, is one that users keep coming back to, which helps with the overall rank website.

Website Ranking Factor #15 - Not Optimized for Mobile

Are you still seeing a drop in your website rank?
Then it’s time to look at whether it’s mobile-friendly. More and more users are beginning to use their mobile devices to access information. Therefore, having a website that is easy-to-use and visually appealing on mobile is vital. Even if a small portion of your traffic comes from mobile, your rank will improve due to increased search visibility, user experience, lead generation, and brand identity.
Additionally, since 2015’s ‘mobilegeddon,’ Google has favored mobile-optimized sites in their search results. So, don’t miss out on this opportunity to rank higher. Get your website mobile-optimized today!

Top Tools to Check Your Keyword Rankings

Now that you know the 15 factors that cause your website ranking to go down. Let’s take a look at how to check how your keywords rank using easy-to-use tools.

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the most popular keyword ranking tools because of its many features. However, in particular, it stands out - it automatically identifies what keyword is making your website rank on search engines, and you can further specify the ranking based on the country, making it an excellent location-specific ranking tool.
Additionally, you can track your competitor’s website as well - to keep an eye out for future changes to your and their website ranking. They have four packages; the most economical one starts at 99 USD/month.

2. SERPwatcher

SERPwatcher is an easy-to-use and comprehensive tool to track website rankings, keyword analysis, traffic, and other metrics.
A key feature is their ‘dominance index’ which, as the blog, Mangool states, ‘The dominance index is an aggregated metric that represents your unique share of the whole possible organic traffic based on current keyword positions and weights (search volumes) of the keywords in a rank tracking tool we recently launched.’ Try SERPWatcher for free for 10-days or opt for one of their three packages that start from 49 USD/ month.

3. SEMrush

This keyword ranking tool allows you to manually add websites or start a project to track the keyword performance, website ranking, competitor keywords, etc.
Additionally, SEMrush’s ‘position tracking tool’ makes it easy for you to track your website’s ranking for specific keywords. It also supports Google, so you can see how your website is doing on the world's most popular search engine. They offer a 14-day free trial, and packages start at 99 USD/month.

4. Moz Rank Tracker

This tool is efficient at tracking your keyword performance, but it also tracks your website's overall visibility.
Moz Rank Tracker makes it easy for you to create a PDF report using the data it displays for your presentation - you can also replace its logo with yours to make the report fit your branding. Their key stats, such as ‘search visibility score’ or ‘website rank,’ are easy-to-understand and visible, making it ideal for meetings.
They also have an SEO toolbar for Google Chrome, making it user-friendly and accessible. They have a 30-day free trial plan, after which you can select from one of their four packages, starting at 99 USD/month.

5. SEOprofiler

Like the other tools, SEOprofiler is also a complete website promotion tool that enables a user to check keyword performance, website ranking, backlink tracking, etc.
A neat feature of SEOprofiler is that it gives very detailed reports along with actionable tips - this can help you make quicker decisions. They also give you alerts for which keywords you should focus on and daily updates on metrics to understand how your rankings influence traffic.
They offer a 30 day trial with a money-back guarantee, plus, there are four packages, and the most economical one starts at 69.95 USD/month.

6. AccuRanker

If you're new to all this and want a simple way to check your keyword performance without having to subscribe or pay monthly packages, then, AccuRanker is for you.
All you need to do is go to their website - type in your domain name, the keyword you want to inquire about - and it’ll show you the position of that keyword on Google. Simple! Just like the other tools we mentioned above, they too have packages and features that will come in handy, but if you just want to run a fast, simple check - they’re the ones to go to.
There you have it! Fifteen factors affect website ranking and six keyword ranking tools to help you understand your website's performance.
Algorithms, new rules, penalties, user search intent, website design trends, etc. - all these factors change on a monthly, something daily basis, stay ahead of the game with a reputed IT firm, who will be able to steer your website to success, through the digital world. Happy ranking!
Avoid these factors at all costs to save your website from getting hammered. Get in touch with our experts to know more!

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Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.