The other day I got a call from a frantic in-house SEO because they are quickly loosing organic traffic and their pages fell out of the SERPs. "What do we need to do?" asked my friend. We talked through the basic analysis to do in her moment of crisis.
What to do when you fall out of Google SERPS:
- Gather your referring traffic by day for the search engine that has dropped you from favor. This will give you insights into when the issue started and how rapidly your traffic is falling. It's especially important if you don't monitor SEO traffic on a daily basis.
- Gather your bot crawl data, by day so that you can understand if the bot traffic has become irregular in the same timeframe. Perhaps they're getting stuck in the code somewhere.
- Identify which pages seem impacted. Is it the entire site? Or, is it a specific subdirectory? It's much better if it is only a subdirectory.
- Check to see if your pages have actually disappeared from the index, or just fallen in rankings? I've seen rankings for some keywords fall 100+ positions, that is something completely different than falling out of the index.
- Gather all the changes you launched on the site in the last 30-90 days and look for anything that could have impacted SEO, including links to pages that have disappeared. If you aren't a strong SEO with technical expertise, than gather this for a consultant to review.
- If there was a recent redesign, verify the URL didn't change. Don't ask the developer, you as the SEO need to check for yourself. I've seen IT swear it didn't change, yet research found it did. When in doubt, go to the Wayback Machine and find a page that links to the page(s) that have
- Mine the
search engine's webmaster tools, such as Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google
Webmaster Central for anything unusual or suspicious. Look for error codes, excessive
duplicate content and links found. Google's Webmaster Central also has a
place for messages. I haven't heard of anyone getting a message, but it's
- Make sure the page is not in the robots.txt (it has happened to big brands before), and also make sure that a robots "noindex" wasn't added
to the page.
- If you
do all of the above and still can't figure it out, it might by time to
reach out to an expert consultant for analysis. Emergency SEO analysis isn't cheap, so
decide what you're willing to spend to save your SEO efforts – a few hundred dollars won't cut it. A few thousand dollars will get you started,
but it could take more than that depending on the issues.
- If you don't have someone to reach out to, contact me at jessicabowman [at] gmail dot com and I will connect you with people I trust for Emergency SEO analysis. They aren't cheap, but they're good.
What additional advice do you
have for someone reading this post in a moment of frenzy?
They will thank you immensely for the advice!