Why Your Website SEO Suddenly Took a Dive

Your SEO is Perfect, So What the Heck?

 
You’ve set up your site correctly, structured the content for usability and conversion, and have optimized your SEO from page URLs, title tags, headings, and the text itself. Your meta descriptions are on point, and you’ve interlinked your pages wherever it made sense. The site’s been indexed and crawled by Google, and you’re now in “maintenance mode,” continually optimizing the site, checking your backlink profile and traffic, and are feeling good about your SEO efforts.
 
Then, out of the blue, something happens. It’s every business owner or marketer’s nightmare. Traffic plummets, calls from the website stop, and leads are no longer rolling in. What happened? In some cases, it could be an SEO mishap that you never anticipated.
 
While there are many different issues that could arise, some of the first things you should look for include:

• Sitewide de-indexing
• How your CMS (or content management system) affects your rankings
• Hijacked backlinks
 
You can address all of these issues by keeping a close eye on your website and evaluating what might have gone wrong if you see it take a sudden turn for the worse. Below are the signs to look for, and what can be done if your site is hit by one of these issues:
 

Sitewide de-indexing

One day, your site is showing up nicely in the SERPs, and the next day, it vanishes, as if it never existed in the first place. The entire site is no longer indexed in Google.
 
How did this happen? There are several reasons why Google might de-index a site, including:

• Cloaked pages
• Little-to-no original content
• Duplicate content
• Unnatural link schemes or hidden links
• Scams or malicious behavior on site pages
• Misleading or incorrectly structured content
• Keyword stuffing
 
There are also ways on the development side that your site could accidentally be “blocked” from being indexed by Google, including:
Blocking the site from being crawled by using a robots.txt disallow all. This sometimes happens when webmasters are making major URL changes. When trying to keep individual pages from being crawled, you can accidentally end up with various 301 redirects being killed.
 
Another way pages get de-indexed is through an error with a no-index tag. This can easily happen when the developer is trying to keep certain pages from being indexed, and accidentally ends up adding the no-index tag to all of the pages. You can spend weeks trying to figure out why your pages are not being found on Google, only to discover it’s a simple no-index tag.
 
To avoid this, make sure that your developer checks all pages to make sure the site can be crawled and indexed. Once you’ve made sure that’s been done, try to follow Google’s best-practices at all times. There are no shortcuts to ranking a site, so avoid “spammy” tactics like the plague. Instead, focus on “white-hat” SEO, take your time and do it right, and you’ll be able to rest easier knowing your site is as healthy as it can be.
 

CMS and ranking

Your content management system is supposed to work for you, but occasionally can work against you if not implemented correctly. One way that your CMS can mess with your search engine rankings is through the website’s theme.
 
Some WordPress themes don’t allow for title tags, which will make the site impossible to rank. Sometimes widgets and other add-ons can break the internal linking – killing your ranking.
 
Be sure to implement a theme and CMS that is set up for optimization. Don’t add too many plugins to save time, since they’ll just slow down the site.
 

Hijacked backlinks

Particularly competitive verticals, your competitors can also be a threat to your SEO. Some hostile actors (competitors, corrupt agencies, or even ex-employees) could attempt to harm your site and your efforts by hijacking your backlinks.
 
One of the most common methods of “negative SEO” is to send “spammy” backlinks to your website to harm your healthy backlink profile. This might include buying a ton of low-quality links and sending them right away, showing an unnatural link velocity, which Google doesn’t like to see.
 
Another, similar method is to buy and send links to your site that are ultra-low-quality, like links from online gambling or adult-oriented websites.
 
Fortunately, negative SEO tactics like this can be dealt with. It’s crucial to be aware of what sites are linking to yours, and to check your backlinks regularly. Simply run a report using SEO tools like AHREFs, Majestic, or others (there are tons of great options out there), and identify any harmful links pointing to your site. To remove them, you can either:

• Contact the site’s webmaster and request that the link to your site be removed
• If direct efforts don’t work, collect all of the backlinks you’d like removed, put them in Google’s preferred disavow format, and submit them to Google.
 
In this case, vigilance is key. While you can’t stop someone from linking to your site (or someone maliciously buying links to send to your site), you can get them removed by Google if the links are suspect.
 

Need help managing your SEO efforts?

At StraightFire Digital Marketing, our team of SEO experts understand the frustration and anxiety that an SEO dive can cause. We deal with these issues with a two-pronged approach: 1) Do things the right way upfront to hopefully prevent issues from arising; 2) If something happens, we’ll identify the root cause right away and address it.
 
With some investigation and strategic efforts, we can recover your rankings and get your site healthy again. Want to know more about how we can help you with your SEO efforts? Contact us online at www.straighfiremarketing.com or give us a call at 619-272-6964 today.

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