Don’t Panic Mr Webmaster – Examine The Facts First
Most of us have all been there at some stage, your highly ranking site has lost a load of sales or enquiries and when you check your Google Analytics account you see the downward red arrow of fear and worry and you then break out into a cold sweat and start to panic. The good news is that most of the time the panic is unwarranted and once you have done a few basic checks you can then start to put your worries to bed and start to concentrate on regaining those rankings.
It is important to remember that unless you have done something really, really bad and against Google Webmaster guidelines then it is very unlikely that you have been kicked out of the engine or “de-indexed”. Although it can cause a lot of worry, especially if you are seeing a drop in sales, you do need to take a logical and calmed approach and really sit back to discover exactly what is going on.
Below, we look at our steps to making sure your site is ok and has not been “dropped” or “de-indexed” by Google.
Check Your Webmasters Account – If you don’t have a Google Webmasters account then you really should get one. All three of the search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing have this facility, so make sure you sign up to all of them. If anything happens to your site then you will be notified, things like hacking, unsafe pages and anything else that could lead to site problems. If your site has been hacked then Google will display the “This Site Could Harm Your Computer” on your ranking listing, and only someone who was slightly short of intelligence would then click onto your site, explaining the drop in traffic.
Check Your URL In Google – The quickest way to see if you have been totally dropped from Google is to head to the Google site and search for “yourwebsite.com” and see what happens. If you see results, you have not been de-indexed so you can wipe this worry away, but it can also show you if any pages have been dropped for whatever reason, allowing you to find the source of the problem.
Check Your Website – Have a quick look through your site and see if you notice any problems. Are the pages taking too long to load? Have you got any broken links that are hampering the spiders? Is your code causing problems when displaying the information? There are literally a hundred things or more that could be affecting ranking when it comes to losing traffic, so make sure you have a good look through the site and try to identify any issues.
Think About Any Changes – Many ranking and traffic drops happen after webmasters and site owners change things which really didn’t need to be changed. For instance, if you have changed our page titles, this can cause major issues as Google will then need to pretty much re-rank the page according to the new information. Also, if you have moved your site or gone onto a CMS, maybe the pages haven’t been changed accordingly and this will also have a dramatic affect on your traffic.
Study Your Analytics – Once you have done all of the above, it is then time to log back into your analytics and study them in massive detail. Look at the traffic per page to find out if you have dropped for certain pages and also look at the keywords compared to when you were doing better. This can really help you to identify where you have suffered the fall in traffic and can then help you to understand what has gone wrong and how you can go about fixing it.
Sit Back And Have A Ponder – You do also need to think about any outside factors that could be affecting your traffic. For example, in August, most people’s traffic drops dramatically as people take holidays and there are many examples of things like this that can see a drop in traffic, things like Christmas and other holiday periods and time sensitive events etc.