How to Diagnose the Cause of a Ranking Drop with @PamAnnMarketing #VCBuzz

How to Diagnose the Cause of a Ranking Drop with @PamAnnMarketing #VCBuzz

A drop in rankings is always every website owner’s nightmare.

But what if I tell you most of those are fixable, provided we know the cause.

So the first step is to… breathe. Then go on and figure out why your rankings have dropped.

Let’s discuss how!

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About @PamAnnMarketing

@PamAnnMarketing, M.B.A., is president of Pam Ann Marketing, LLC and founder of Stealth™ Search and Analytics.

She is widely recognized as an expert in search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and digital analytics.

Pam has been interviewed by publications such as Internet Retailer magazine and CBS Small Business Pulse.

She has been honored with several awards for her small business leadership and non-profit advocacy work

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I created an online store for the company I was working for & thought that “If you build it, they will come.”

I quickly learned that you can’t just put a website out there and expect it to magically get found.

So I taught myself how to drive traffic to websites (SEO, PPC, etc.)

Q2 What are most common causes of rankings drops?

Of course, algorithm changes are a very common cause, but actually, the most common causes I see are technical issues. For example, lack of proper redirects upon launch of a redesign, noindex upon launch of a site, etc.

Q3 What are the steps to diagnosing a ranking drop? And what happens next? How to create a plan to get those rankings back?

First of all, don’t make ANY assumptions. It’s all too easy to blame a mysterious algorithm update instead of putting in work to either verify that or find the real cause.

Start digging into every possibility OTHER than algorithm update. Interview the developers to find out about recent site edits, check redirects, check robots.txt, noindex, etc.

Basically, do a full technical audit. If the audit reveals no major technical issues, then start using various data sources (more than 1) to find solid evidence of algo impact.

I approach these things as if I was on a witness stand in a court of law. Until I find enough proof that I would testify under oath is solid evidence, I don’t conclude anything.

Q4 What if a drop is more of a casual decline (which is something I see a lot these days)? Is diagnosing and fixing it any difficult?

That certainly does make things a bit more difficult.

But my approach remains the same. Resist the urge to jump to conclusions. Just dig, dig, dig until you find solid evidence of a cause.

Excellent point. Always check to see if it’s sitewide or isolated to a single section (or several sections).

It may take longer in the case of gradual declines, but the cause can still be dug up with enough time and stubbornness.

Q5 What are your favorite SEO tools helping in diagnosing a ranking drop?

Search Console, Google Analytics, Screaming Frog, SEMRush, Wayback Machine.

I think that’s an important distinction to keep in mind as well – just because traffic dropped, doesn’t mean rankings did.

A traffic drop can be due to tracking script removal/issues, seasonality, etc. Not always related to rankings drop, and vice versa.

Similarly, a rankings drop doesn’t always result in lost traffic or lost conversions. Losing low traffic or low quality keywords isn’t always an emergency.

Our previous SEO and position analysis chats:


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