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Sudden Drop in SEO Ranking: What Should You Do?

by Ahsan Haq
November 24, 2022
Sudden Drop in SEO Ranking What Should You Do

A drop in your website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ranking is more common than you think. Many websites see sudden dips in their rankings on weekends, only to find that everything is back to normal come Monday.

There are many reasons why these drops happen. These include intentional website changes, mistakes or errors in your server or site configurations, lost links, and more. But the good news is: that they can all be managed.

If you just experienced a surprising drop in your SEO ranking, don't panic. This article will discuss some things you can do to find the root cause and remedy the issue.

Conditions That Lead to a Drop in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Rankings

Various situations can trigger a drop in SEO rankings. First, check whether any of the following applies to you.

You Just Made Changes to Your Website

Major website changes that don't come with the correct redirects are the most common explanation for a sudden drop in your ranking. Some examples include:

  • Adding new pages or plugins
  • Updating certain pages or plugins
  • Choosing a new site theme
  • Changing keywords, meta descriptions, or page titles; and
  • Migrating to a new server

Even minor changes can contribute to ranking drops. Adding new videos to a page, for example, can slow down loading time and drive visitors away. When this happens, Google will think that the page isn't useful, affecting its ranking.

Adding new links is another possible reason for the drop. Links help build page and site authority and are an important ranking signal. If Google thinks that you're manipulating your SERP position with new links, your site might get penalised. This is particularly important if you've been flagged in the past for suspicious SEO behaviour.

There Are Errors in Your Site or Server Configurations

Technical issues that stem from mistakes or errors in your website or server configurations can also explain a drop in rankings. For example, accidental modifications to the robots.txt file can result in your website or pages not getting indexed. Likewise, mistakes in canonical or index tags are also culpable.

Image from Google

Because of the importance of links, losing them can negatively affect your ranking. For example, if any of your website's authoritative pages (like your homepage) experienced structural changes that led to broken links, your ranking could drop.

The same thing applies if you've lost backlinks from important external sites. One example is when a site goes through an update, and all its previous links get accidentally removed. Or in some cases, the external link domains could have decided to link to a competitor or another website.

Your Competitor is Outranking You

Speaking of competitors, it's also possible to see a drop in ranking if your SEO is getting outperformed. For example, if other businesses in your niche recently made changes that improved their websites, you could get outranked for certain keywords.

Google Issued a Manual Penalty for Your Website

It's also important to check whether your website or pages have violated any of Google's guidelines. Manual penalties imposed by Google reviewers can change your site rankings, and sometimes they can result in de-indexing a website. There are several types of violations that lead to penalties, such as:

  • User-generated spam: Spammy comments posted by website users or visitors can affect your rankings.
  • Spammy outgoing links: Posting links on your website or pages that seem unnatural or forced is another red flag for Google.
  • Scraped content: If your site hosts content that has been scraped and posted by others and Google finds their content first, it can count against you.
  • Hacked website: A website that has been hacked will also see a drop in ranking. Google will want to protect visitors from accessing your site so it won't be as visible on its results pages.
Image from Google

Google Updated its Algorithms

Changes to Google's algorithms can also push some websites down or up. Its Medic update last 2018, for instance, largely affected websites that reportedly didn't meet their revamped Expertise-Authority-Trust guidelines. That's because these websites had a lot of negative reviews or customer complaints or sold unsafe products or services to consumers.

Other times, Google would roll out updates that affected how they show snippets on search engines. So some pages that meet their new requirements get more visibility, while others see a drop in their ranking.

User Search Behaviour Changed

Finally, your ranking for certain keywords may have dropped because people don't search for them anymore. For example, people frequently searched for "toilet paper" during the pandemic. In fact, the shortage prompted DIY efforts to make toilet paper and made the search query "how to make toilet paper" rise by 1300%.

Image from ContentKing

In contrast, theatre tickets stopped being a relevant search phrase. So businesses that sell these tickets would have seen their visibility reduced on Google.

What to Do if Your SEO Ranking Dropped

So, what do you do if any of the above applies to your situation? How can you fix the issue or prevent it from happening again?

Confirm Whether Your SEO Ranking Has Really Dropped

The first thing you need to do is to get proof that there was a drop in your SEO ranking. There are plenty of tools that you can use to verify this, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

With these tools, you can:

  • Check whether there was a drop in organic traffic to the pages you think were affected
  • Measure organic traffic data to the affected pages before and after the drop
  • See if the drop was evident in more than just one tool

If the numbers suggest that the drop in your SEO ranking is legitimate, proceed to the next steps.

Confirm the Reason Why There Was a Drop in Your SEO Ranking

Next, identify the root cause of the drop. Assess what's going on in your operations -- from your in-house SEO team to your web hosting provider.

Fix/Mitigate the Issue, Depending on the Root Cause

Once you've drilled down to the root cause of the drop in your SEO ranking, it's time to fix or lessen the damage.

Fixing manual penalties imposed by Google depends on the specific violation. For example, if you're getting spammy backlinks, you can disavow them to protect your site.

For intentional website changes, plan and execute them properly. For instance, if you make changes to any of the URLs of your site, make sure you set up redirects. And after you change any URL, make sure to check if it's working. Finally, if you change your page content, examine how you can improve keyword density naturally.


If you have server or site errors, examine server logs to check if you need to resolve technical issues. Similarly, you can check your Google Search Console and see if it has flagged any errors in your website or pages.

To fix the issue of lost links, try to reach out to publishers to see if you can recover lost backlinks to your site. Or, if it's an internal linking issue, check common locations like your top navigation, footer links, or suggested blog posts and make sure the links work.

Contact an SEO Expert to Help

Finally, asking an expert to fix issues is best if you are unsure of the problems. For example, you should involve an expert when dealing with thin content. Content that does not measure up against competitors is considered thin and requires expert skills to examine and fix. Another example is when you're consistently penalised by Google for resorting to unethical SEO practices.

Optimise Your SEO Ranking with iVersion

To ensure consistently ideal SEO rankings, partner with a trusted SEO agency like iVersion. Our team leverages various skill sets to help your business establish its authority, legitimacy, and quality through tailored solutions that best fit your context.

We also pride ourselves on providing only white-hat SEO solutions to ensure that your website stays compliant and valuable to search bots and human readers. Try our complimentary SEO audit and see how we can help improve your SEO ranking today.

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