Optimizing a website is a painstaking and frustrating job. The way search engines like Google rank websites against each other is complex, to say the least. There are countless variables that website owners must pay attention to, and these variables even change over time. With every update to the Google search engine algorithm, website owners scramble to optimize their pages to improve rankings and SEO practices.
When the rankings drop or start looking unstable, the first reaction for most people is to panic. With such a complex web that needs to be optimized, where do you even start? The good news is, there are a few common culprits for instability in website rankings. We’ll cover them below and explain what you must do to rectify the situation.
Improper keyword mapping
If you want to improve your website rankings, one of your top priorities should be proper keyword mapping. Each keyword must be classified by intent, relevance, and importance for your website. Segmenting them into groups and subgroups helps you improve efficiency when applying specific phrases in your content. Your goal is to associate every keyword you use with a particular page on the website and make sure that the content of the page is relevant to the keyword.
Websites that don’t practice proper keyword mapping have unstable rankings. The relevance of keywords is lost and search engines don’t trust the pages enough to rank them well. To stabilize rankings, you must restructure your website with keyword mapping in mind. This will improve your SEO dramatically and lead to progressively higher rankings.
Search engine crawling errors
To determine the value of your website and pages, search engines use automated crawler programs that analyze content. They combine their findings into an index in the search engine’s database, which is then used to rank websites.
If your website makes it difficult for crawlers to analyze data, they won’t get all of the relevant information, and the website won’t rank as well as it could.
Some common issues with crawling include an inability to download website URLs. This can happen due to a myriad of compatibility problems. If the website code is faulty, crawlers won’t have access to certain pages, effectively ignoring part of your content. In some cases, private pages that contain nothing relevant are scoured instead of the ones you want to showcase.
To resolve these issues, you have to perform an audit of your website. You can consult professionals to take care of the problem for you, or you can use a site-auditor on your own. Diagnose the issues and fix them so that your rankings can improve.
Weak internal linking
Another way search engines index your pages is with the help of internal linking. Crawlers go from page to page with ease by accessing relevant links. If your website doesn’t have an extensive web of interconnected pages, crawlers become less effective at their job. If links are broken or lead to pages that can’t be crawled, the website ranking may drop.
Keep in mind, internal linking schemes aren’t only relevant to search engines. Your users will also utilize them to reach pages that interest them. Proper linking helps increase organic traffic and conversions on your website as well.
Come up with an internal linking strategy that will connect every one of your relevant pages, whether they contain content or sales deals. Make sure that anchors are relevant to searches and contain specific keywords that can be connected to the resulting pages. This way, neither search engine crawlers nor users will be confused when going through your website.
Too much or too little change
It’s crucial that you update your web content on a regular basis. With new algorithm updates and changes rolling out, your website has to adapt and refresh itself from time to time. Not to mention, people will be looking for new content, which you have to provide to stay relevant. It’s a vital part of modern SEO.
However, don’t make sweeping changes all at once. Too many changes can prove to be a bad move when it comes to website rankings. If you decide to update every page on your website at the same time, search engines will need to index it first. They must determine whether the new content is more or less valuable than the previous iterations. This process can affect your ability to adapt content to improve rankings.
Try to take a gradual approach to make changes. With every new step, you can adapt your strategy and improve it as you receive results.
Wrong ranking targeting
Websites that have been online for a while need to adapt to changing search trends. The keywords that used to be trendy might have fallen out of fashion by now. Consider the search behaviours of your current audience and try to adapt this to your keyword strategy.
Just because a specialized keyword was popular online in the past doesn’t mean it’s useful for rankings right now. If there’s been an increase in laymen online that want to get to know a topic, you’ll have to use simpler terminology that ranks well. Account for people that use different forms of a question to research a topic. Keep in mind that Google’s algorithm is tailored to help laymen find things as well. Their natural comprehension system makes it easier to find specific information using plain language.
Analyze your search console data to see which keywords are trending. Try to apply them in a natural context and use as much layman-friendly language as you can. After all, not everyone looking for information is an industry professional.
Building a healthy web of links is a continuous process. Just because you’ve set up an internal or external link doesn’t mean it will last forever. Links can break or change for various reasons, many of which have nothing to do with your website.
If a website that you linked to changed the URL of their pages or replaced the links, you should make new ones. Add links to the updated pages, as they’ll likely serve the same function. If a link is broken or changed during a site overhaul, you can repair it or connect to the new link.
If there’s an unexplained link drop across your whole website or specific pages have link loss, you should investigate the issue and try to resolve it. Investing in link monitoring software is a good idea, as it will tell you everything that’s wrong with your current web of links. With the right software, you can improve content ranking with ease.
Google is constantly refining its algorithm to better interpret the wishes of users. Whenever an update rolls out, websites must do their best to adapt to the changes. Sites that don’t adapt tend to lose rankings over time.
If you want your site to avoid being crippled by the algorithm changes, you must overview the algorithm update and make changes that would benefit your SEO. The problem is that Google often demands cross-channel marketing and a higher presence in various forms of social media. Many website owners find it difficult to optimize their SEO, as they might lack the experience needed for marketing on specific social media channels.
To properly optimize your website for increased rankings, it helps to have a little outside help. Many websites enlist the help of professional SEO consultants to optimize every aspect of their digital marketing strategies. Those who specialize in SEO keep up with search engine algorithms religiously, meaning they can adapt any and all changes immediately to maximize website optimization.
The meta-information you provide on your website tells search engines what they can find on particular pages. The title tag, headers, and meta descriptions fall under this umbrella term. These elements must be optimized as well if you want to increase website rankings.
When providing your metadata, it helps to be consistent. Keep it descriptive, but don’t go into details, as you only have a limited number of characters to use.
You should also avoid using generic and meaningless terms that don’t rank well. Use specific title tags that include your main keyword. The meta descriptions should also include a limited number of keywords.
Using the same meta title multiple times is a common, but easily avoidable mistake. Not only does it confuse users and search engines, but it also makes your page compete against each other. Avoid this practice and work on your meta title variations.
Keeping up with the best SEO practices is no simple task. Website owners must be vigilant at all times, as the rankings of their websites depend on it. Some errors are easily rectified by anyone that has a rudimentary knowledge of creating websites, but others require a professional touch. If you’re stumped on the issue of lower rankings, you should check your website for any of the aforementioned examples.
The key to getting your website on top of search results is having a plan of action. Know what your priorities are and how you’re going to complete a particular task. Enlist expert help when necessary and make sure you do your due diligence when it comes to SEO research. Stay consistent and your website will shoot up the ranks to the top of SERP.