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How Have You Handled Changes in Google Ranking?

7:56 am on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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1. Don't panic. Many times these things correct themselves.
Google has a history of implementing algo changes then tweaking them over the course of several weeks up to a month. It is not uncommon to see SERP positions change dramatically for a month or longer then restore your site to it's former spot.

I have personally experienced such downturns on my own sites and those of clients. Most times the rankings return.

2. Sometimes the rankings do not return :(
If you have waited at least a month and your positions have not corrected, then it may be time to tweak your site. The best approach is to review the new SERPs and if they are fairly relevant then review the newly ranking sites, particularly on-page factors, to see if there is a difference between what your pages look like and what theirs do. If you see an obvious change, then try tweaking a few pages to bring your site into balance with what Google seems to be looking for.

3. Sometimes a ranking loss needs a second opinion
Webmasters can sometimes be blind to what is wrong with their site. I have been guilty of this myself. I let someone else review one of my sites and was surprised when they picked out a section that they thought could be improved. It was a revelatory moment for me because I realized that I was not as 100% objective as I had aspired to be. An objective review by someone else can result in fresh ideas for correcting issues you may have overlooked. Take a look at the excellent dropped site checklist discussion [webmasterworld.com] for ideas on how to diagnose these issues.

What are your experiences with ranking changes, how did you handle it?
9:00 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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exactly. i think people tend to panic really quickly, and I for one am one of those people. Of all the site I managed roughly 30 or so, only 2 were really badly effected, BUT all it's actually done is picked up on issues that were always there before, but Google obviously has now put bigger penalities for these things.

what i do struggle with though, is the lack of information in terms of why other sites rank better than you when they have 0 SEO. and even after a massive update, they still rank higher, yet still have nothing... I think the lack of communicating to users (even if it's via a webmaster console message) is really something they should work on...
10:45 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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1. Don't panic. Many times these things correct themselves.

Yep, I do exactly that... nothing. Long gone are the days when I thought "it was me". Now I just let it ride the storm. I rarely get hit, and if I do, it is for the odd keyword/phrase.
11:10 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I also haven't panicked. I can't afford to because I really wouldn't know how to react. I've learned a lot past year. I also have the luxury of having more than 1 site. This past March 15, a site of mine disappeared and I did nothing. It came back stronger than ever. It also disappeared again June 2, and I searched until kingdom come yesterday in webmasterworld for penalties. Then I remembered to relax because I did not do anything wrong. So I wait. My site has a 50-60% bounce rate and that is pretty good., people spend more than a minute on it. I'm patient when it comes to Google. But I'll never trust an Algo. It's why my eyes are tired reading books and my fingertips endlessly typing “quality content.”
11:23 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Some suggestions:

-- Check to see if the site might have been hacked.

-- Check the Diagnostics section of Webmaster Tools for possible problems

-- Re-check robots.txt and htaccess
3:33 pm on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I put my head down and keep working on things that will make me money. When I add up all the hours I've wasted in the last 7-8 years trying to figure out Google changes, I'd probably have at least 20 more sites or 500 more pages of good content out there bringing in traffic and money.

We're all at Google's mercy, when you get right down to it, as long as we rely to any great extent on organic search traffic. Any changes you make today to counter something new Google has done might be the very thing that wrecks your rankings the next time they tweak. So I focus on producing high quality content that helps my visitors, getting links where I can, and moving forward. Any other course of action for me (as a small operation) turns out to be wheel spinning and unproductive in the long run.

4:32 pm on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Number 1, Definitely...

Sometimes I wonder how many people compound the issue by 'fixing things' when it's not something they did to remove themselves from the results, or the top of the results anyway?

So much of what Google does is becoming pattern based it's not even funny, and since I've read they compare the current version of pages to the previous version(s) they spidered, all those little changes people make are 'noticed' and I think they might actually compound the issues rather than alleviating or solving the problem. Little 'algo chasing changes' IMO scream SEO & attempted manipulation...

As in most things 'search' there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and there are probably some who are successful with it, but I think some do themselves more harm than good by 'chasing the algo', because if the results are really as bad as people say, then G will make a change again, and the people changing their sites to chase what they are doing are left chasing some more to try and figure out what to change next, or change back, or change again and it seems the cycle would likely perpetuate.

* Obviously, if there's something 'spammy' on the site it needs to be changed, removed, fixed, but that's different IMO.

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