Has your site’s organic visibility dropped? It can be rather daunting if this happens, and it’s a nightmare figuring out what the cause is. Tom Williams is here to ease the pain with a list of 10 things to check before anything else.

1. Site Changes

Have there been any recent site changes that may have caused the drop?

This could be anything from changes to the content or technical changes such as mega menu additions or removal of pages. If there were any changes, there is a likelihood that these have contributed to the decline in organic visibility.

2. Check Google Search Console for Warnings or Changes

Log in to Google’s Search Console to check for any warnings that have been issued or changes that have occurred.

You may have received a manual penalty from Google or an ‘Unnatural Links’ notification, for example. Also check the Crawl Errors section for an increase in ‘Not Found’ errors.

3. Check the Robots.txt File

There may have been an unexpected addition to the robots.txt file which can block Google’s crawlers from accessing specific pages on the site or in some cases a whole website.

If Google’s crawlers can’t access your website, they won’t be able to index your pages and your site will drop out of the index.

4. Internal Linking

Internal linking is a big ranking factor. If a number of new pages are added to the main navigation of a website, this will dilute the PageRank being passed to existing pages that are currently ranking well.

Having to now share the PageRank between more pages will give each one less strength than before and could be the cause of the organic visibility loss you have seen.

5. Page Load Time / Site Downtime

Has your site experienced a large amount of downtime recently?

Using Google Analytics and Pingdom, establish whether your website has a load time above 2 seconds or whether it’s suffering from continuous downtime.

Google will penalise a website for slow load times or continuous downtime as it provides poor user experience.

6. Indexation Check

Are all pages of your website still being indexed?

It may be the case that certain pages have been dropped from the index. Ensure that a ‘Meta No-Index’ tag hasn’t been added to any pages on the website as this would be telling Google not to index the pages where this had been applied. 

7. Keyword Usage

How are the keywords used on the page?

There could be excessive keywords used within the copy (keyword stuffing, which can lead to penalisation) or certain keywords may have been recently removed.

8. Content Cannibalisation

There may be evidence of content cannibalisation occurring on the site.

This occurs when new pages are created that contain similar content to other pages on the site. If there are links pointing to these new pages from the intended ranking pages, this places some of the focus on the new page as well as the current page that ranks.

As a result, Google will get confused about which page should be ranking, hindering your current ranking.

9. Thin / Duplicate Content

Is your website suffering from duplicate content?

You may have been penalised by the Google algorithm named ‘Panda’ that targets thin/duplicate content. You can find duplicate content on your website by taking snippets of content from various pages and searching this in Google, encapsulating the copy in quotation marks.

Any duplicate content will need to be rewritten. 

10. Backlink Additions & Losses

Backlinks are another important ranking factor. Using various backlink intelligence tools, establish whether there have been any backlink losses or additions that could result in visibility drops.

Thanks for reading and I hope you feel more confident when tackling a drop in organic visibility!

Have you seen your organic rankings drop but are not sure what action to take? Contact our Technical SEO team today to find out more.

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About the author:

Tom joined ClickThrough in 2011. Since then, he has developed an expertise in the technical side of search engine optimisation. He’s Google Analytics-qualified, and in his current role as digital and technical Executive, carries out monthly SEO activities and provides technical consultancy for several of the company’s largest accounts.