Have you ever had your organic traffic completely bottom out overnight or saw that your rankings all fell off a cliff? Don’t worry, it’s happened to all of us. That’s what we’re talking about today on Marketing in 10, what to do when SEO goes wrong.
Hey, everybody. It’s Jim Lastinger I hope you’re doing well. Today we’re talking about SEO and specifically what to do when something goes wrong. Whether that means a big drop in traffic, or a drop in rankings, Google algorithm update, or a spam notice from Google, or maybe even someone’s hacked your site, whatever the case may be. The very first thing you should do is to just stay calm, the world isn’t going to end overnight. Almost every time I’ve come across an issue like this, it’s either been something temporary or something correctable. So the big takeaway is that if this is something that’s not temporary, it’s something you’ll be able to fix, so don’t worry too much. So let’s take these possibilities one by one and talk through them. So, first of all, let’s talk about a big drop in organic traffic. So if you see a large drop in traffic, that means you’re actively tracking your organic traffic, which is a very good thing. And if you’re tracking your traffic, then you’ll likely have a good idea of what you should be getting on a daily basis.
So if one day your traffic happens to be way below what you normally would expect, that’s naturally going to be a bit concerning to you, but what you want to do is be patient and see if the trend holds for three or more days. If traffic rebounds then you’re okay, if it still remains low then it’s time to start doing some digging. So I would start with Google Search Console and see if you can tell where the difference is coming from. It could be that a page isn’t working or a particular group of keywords isn’t being ranked as high. You’ll be able to figure it out with Search Console. You should be able to do a date comparison report or something like that and figure out whether the traffic decline is due to search queries or if it’s something to do with more isolated to one or two landing pages.
Next, let’s talk about a drop in rankings. So unless you have an SEO tool running that tracks your rankings, most of them do it on a daily basis, then you’ll need to rely on the Google Search Console for this. So you need to figure out if all of your rankings have declined or if it’s just for a few keywords, you need to figure out if it’s limited to one or more landing pages. So, thinking through these types of issues will help you to understand the root cause. If all of your rankings have declined, then there could have been an algorithm update, and we’ll talk about that in a minute, or maybe you’ve lost some major backlinks or your overall link profile has changed, maybe something’s wrong with your site, it’s loading slower than usual. But digging through your Search Console will help you figure out this one as well.
So next up is the most dreaded SEO problem of all, which is a search algorithm update. So these are problematic because you usually aren’t warned ahead of time when a big change is going to drop and you don’t usually know exactly what has changed. So if you notice a huge fluctuation in your traffic or rankings, then you’ll want to check the SEO blogs to see if they have any news about a new algorithm launching. I’ll put some links to some of my favorites in the show notes, but I like to look at the MozCast and Search Engine Journal specifically. Algorithm updates over the last few years have largely been focused on improving the quality of search results, which they should be. So the sites that tend to get rewarded in these updates are the ones that do everything the right way, have high quality content, get quality backlinks, their writers have expertise and authority, that sort of thing. So make sure this is how you approach your SEO, and you’ll usually be good to go and don’t have to worry about algorithm updates as much.
The last two issues are largely the same. So having your website hacked and getting a notice from the spam team, really the approach is similar there. So these are both serious issues but you can definitely recover from them. So the key here is to solve the issue first and then worry about recovering your SEO. So if you’ve been hacked, get everything fixed and get your site secure, make sure there’s nothing on the site that hackers have placed there, so no content available on your site that you didn’t put there. And once everything is good to go, you can go through the process to get your site reviewed again by Google. And I’ll put a link in the show notes to how I’ve handled this issue on the Google ad side. Which is largely the same process and you have to go through the SEO side before you can do the Google ad side. So the same advice applies there.
So if you’ve gotten a manual action or a penalty from Google, then you should immediately start working on the issues that they identified to you. So if you have some less than great backlink building processes, then you’ll want to see if you can get those backlinks taken down or disavowed. If you’ve been putting up spammy content or something like that, just take it down. There are lots of great articles out there that talk about all of these different types of manual actions and what to do in each of those cases. So if you follow those steps, you’ll be well on your way to redeeming yourself and your website in Google’s eyes.
If you have any questions about any of this or need any help with your SEO strategy, then feel free to reach out to me. The best way to do that is to visit my agency site at deepfieldinc.com and start a chat.
That’s it for today. Talk to you soon. See you.