Whether your organic search rankings are in free fall or you observe a minor position loss on a secondary keyword, no one likes to see a drop.
Though fluctuations are inevitable, especially in the face of Google’s rolling real-time algorithm updates, it’s never good news when your search rankings start trending in the wrong direction.
How can you keep a dip from becoming a nosedive into organic search obscurity?
Proactive, attentive troubleshooting can help rescue your rankings and get the needle moving in the right direction.
This 10-step process will help you identify the source of any issues so you can resolve them and get your SEO back on track.
Step 1: Check the ABCs of Your Site
In deploying and monitoring keyword performance, it can be all too easy to focus on advanced strategies while underestimating the importance of the ABCs of on-page SEO.
Why stress about anchor text ratio, link velocity, or citation optimization, when the answer to your rankings problem could be an easy fix directly on your site?
Does your site return a 200 status code?
200-series status codes indicate that your site can be communicated with successfully. The standard 200 OK status code indicates a successful HTTP request.
Use a free tool like HTTP Status Code Checker to confirm that your site is returning a successful request. If not, you can troubleshoot based on the failed status code, like 404 (page not found) or 410 (page permanently removed).
Can bots crawl your site?
Robots.txt is a text file located in the top-level directory of your web server that instructs bots on how to interact with your website. Within the file, you can set inclusions and exclusions to your heart’s content, for instance disallowing bots from crawling a dev site or indexing duplicate pages.
Have you accidentally set the restrictions too tightly, preventing search bots from crawling any of your main pages? Double check the robots.txt file using Google’s free Robots Testing Tool – if you spot anything amiss, upload a more permissive file to the server.
Step 2: Check SEO Basics
While basic SEO elements are declining in importance as a search engine ranking factor, they still have an influence. Check that basics like title tags, meta descriptions, and headings aren’t holding back your rankings.
Do you have optimized home page title and meta tags, and do they display correctly in search results?
Your home page’s title tag represents a massive yet simple opportunity to tell search bots what your page is about. If it’s generic, or if it’s failing to pull properly, it can affect your rankings.
While its companion meta description doesn’t directly affect SEO, a relevant, persuasive meta can improve click-through rates.