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The curious case of a website’s Google rankings plummeting without any warning is something SEO specialists worldwide have definitely encountered in their field, one way or another. What many clients and people misunderstand is that the search landscape can be erratic and unpredictable, as it constantly evolves. Though SEO specialists always endeavor to adapt accordingly, not all are able to do so at the same rate. This can sometimes result in challenging issues for webmasters and website owners.
Rankings may take a dive for a number of reasons. For one, it could be because Google has penalised your website, or you may have on-page issues that need immediate resolution. A surge in new links directing to your website can also be a probable cause, especially if Google detects the links are coming from untrustworthy websites, or if the links lack diversity. In other cases, your rankings may have plunged simply because a competitor outranked you.
The usual major catalyst behind drops in rankings, however, is the constant algorithm changes that Google implements throughout the year. While some algorithm changes barely cause a ripple in the SEO sphere, some could be as catastrophic as a tsunami, taking down almost everything in its path. Such Google algorithm updates include Google Penguin and Google Panda, which we will discuss in more detail later on.
Regardless of the culprit behind your drop in rankings, it is important to remember that, in SEO, what works today is not guaranteed to work tomorrow, thus the need to evolve along with the changes.
First, understand that recovering your Google rankings is possible, though it will be a daunting and arduous process, whether you did the optimisation of your website personally or you leveraged the expertise of an SEO company. Second, note that websites have different paces in recovering their lost rankings – some websites bounce back swiftly, while others require a longer recovery period. Regardless of the case, it is important to have a sound and robust recovery strategy in place, as well as to have realistic expectations.
SEO professionals start by meticulously dissecting the anatomy of your website, with particular focus given on the links leading to your website. If you are new to SEO, remember that these links are called “backlinks,” and they play a crucial role in Google’s algorithm, and hence, your website rankings. As mentioned earlier, these backlinks can be the main reason why your website is no longer ranking on the first page of SERPs. In recent years, Google has fortified its techniques in weeding out websites that are ranking without any merit, as these do not offer real value to online users. These websites include low-quality websites and those with spammy backlinks.
The road to recovering a website’s rankings is paved with a huge amount of work to uncover the issues responsible for the drop and to formulate the appropriate strategy and actions to resolve these problems. As much as SEO specialists like us want to, we cannot just push a button to recover rankings. Though we have handled cases in the past, where a website was able to recover in a short period of time, there are also those that demand more time and effort. The sure thing is there should be collaborative effort between the SEO company and the website owner to implement the necessary adjustments. It can be as simple as overhauling the website content, or something more drastic as starting from scratch.
In the second installment of this blog series, we will be focusing on two of the major updates Google has released in the last few years. Even though many consider these changes as Death Stars posing great threat to the stability of the SEO universe, these are actually designed by Google to help improve user experience and encourage websites to provide a better service and higher value to their online visitors.