What to do when your rankings have dropped off.

Here’s a sad truth about SEO: if you achieve a top ranking, it may not keep its position forever. There are billions of web pages competing for top positions in Google. New sites are being created every day. It requires an ongoing effort to keep pages ranking high.

If your rankings have dropped off from the top position, and are slowly moving their way down the search results, it’s likely your competitors have simply acquired more links or more social activity. Use Open Site Explorer to spy on competitors, find out how many backlinks they have, how much social media activity they have, and set these amounts as your target to build your rankings back up.

Next, it’s time to start a link building campaign with the targeted keywords as outlined in the chapter on link building. If you are worried that you may have been penalized by the recent updates to Google, such as the Penguin update or the Panda update, read the next section for common recovery steps.

What to do when your site has been penalized by a Penguin update.

ZThe recent updates to Google have many site owners worried. The media circus are partly to blame for this, but the controversy surrounding the Panda and Penguin updates created the misconception that most traffic issues are caused by these updates. The real truth—these updates have affected a fraction of sites and these site owners are a very loud minority.

In most cases, if your rankings have dropped off, your competitors have simply acquired more ‘SEO Juice’ to their pages, and it’s time to pick up your game. If your pages have moved down a few positions, refer to the above section on the steps to recovery.

If your rankings have completely disappeared from Google’s top-30, and they were previously ranking in the top-10, then it is possible you may have been penalized from Google’s Penguin update. Follow the below steps to confirm if this was the case and follow the recommended steps to make a recovery. Read on with caution. Penalties from the Panda and Penguin updates are difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to heal. If you are out of your depth, you may need to seek professional help to make a speedy recovery.

Check Google Webmaster Tools.

Any site owners that have had a manual penalty imposed on Google will receive a notice like the one below. Log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account to see if you have received a notice like one of the examples below: ‘Google Webmaster tools notice of detected unnatural links to….’ We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines….’ If you have witnessed the above message in Google Webmaster tools, Google has placed a manual penalty on your site as a result of the new Google updates. If you do not see the above message, then it is unlikely you have received a manual penalty from Google

Last word

Use Open Site Explorer, and Majestic SEO and look at the links pointing to the page you suspect may have been penalized. Do the same for the competing pages that are currently ranking in the top position for your keywords. Look for the indicators below to confirm if your site has been penalized by the Google updates.

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