In this episode, which is filmed in front of a live Adido audience, I talk about a recent experience where my client lost rankings. I share the process I went through to try and discover what the issue was.

Hopefully you can apply this process to your own experiences if you lose keyword rankings suddenly, or at least know what to try out.

This advice is aimed more at those who have completely lost rankings for a keyword, rather than small fluctuations (such as dropping 2 positions).

Retrace your steps

The first thing you should do if you lose rankings is to retrace your steps and review what had occured prior to this happening:

  1. On-page optimisation suggestions sent to client
  2. Client approved and uploaded suggestions
  3. Requested indexing of the amended page in Google Search Console
  4. Discovered page had disappeared

1. On-page optimisation suggestions

  • Has the whole website been de-indexed or just the page in question?
  • Was there anything wrong with the content optimised? - e.g. keyword stuffing / duplicate content
  • Dodgy links?

2. Content uploaded

  • Accidentally de-index page during upload? - check noindex tag, canonical implementation, robots.txt inclusion, sitemap exclusion, removal request error, 404 error?
  • Content changes when it was uploaded? - duplicates / hidden content?
  • Speak to the client to check other areas

3. Requested indexing

  • Manual penalities or security issues?
  • URL inspection tool test - indexable? errors? request indexing again.
  • Is sitemap still in Google Search Console?
  • Was there a known/reported algorithm update?
  • Is there a Google Search Console bug? Check support.google.com or reach out via Twitter.

Still can't find a definitive answer?

If you find you haven't solved the issue then there are a few other things you need to consider doing:

  • Share the findings of your investigation with your client / team so that you're all aware of the issue and the analysis done to try and resolve
  • Sadly you may have to be patient and check the rankings again in a few days, so sit tight
  • Keep an eye on websites like Search Engine Land to see if anyone finally reports a bug or algorithm updates that could explain the change
  • Rinse and repeat the analysis process and keep looking for answers in different tech checks, forums or industry news
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Meet the author ...

Tom Crewe

Head of SEO

Tom has a genuine drive to be a thought leader in SEO and puts his all into every campaign. He knows how to make the most out of your website and get you set up for search engine ...