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The first thing people do when they realise that their Google positions have dropped, is panic. Checking frantically and only seeing themselves on the 3rd page or lower while their competitors are living it up on the front page, the horror sets in and with it a kind of mist descends.

“What did I do wrong? Let me change this, and this, and this, ooh I must need more links, and I’d better write some articles.” It’s easy to start running round like a headless chicken and doing everything to fix the problem.

STOP!

Firstly, stop panicking. The drop may not be permanent, and there will be a way to fix it in most cases.

So, where should we start?

1) Have you changed anything recently? Updated the site, changed any title or meta tags, added extra content, deleted pages, moved things around? This is one of the reasons that we recommend only changing one thing at a time on a site an then waiting to see what results it has.

2) Have you done anything wrong? Bought dodgy linking packages, spammed on forums, overstuffed your keyphrases? There are often things that may seem like a good idea at the time, but turn out to be bad for your site. Buying 10,000 links for $50 may seem like a shortcut to great Google listings, but it isn’t and can get you penalised.

3) Is it a newish domain? Often a few months after a site launches it gets put into what is known as the Google ‘sandbox’ where it drops considerably for a while before hopefully climbing its way back up the rankings. The only thing you can do here is wait it out, and carry on building great content.

4) Have you changed the way the pages are laid out? Sometimes the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the right one – completely changing the layout of your site can have a negative effect and can see you lose positions for a while. We’re not saying your site has to stay the same forever, but it does help if the navigation and page names stay in the right place.

The most important thing is to remember that as long as what you’ve done is in the realms of white hat optimisation, and you’ve not enlisted and black hat spammy techniques, the chances are that your Google positions are salveageable.

Just don’t panic, think through what’s changed recently and act accordingly, undoing the changes if necessary. Above all, don’t have a knee jerk reaction – think it through logically and work through step by step to fix what you can.

If your Google positions have dropped and you really don’t know why, drop us a line to claire@marketingbyweb.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

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Beth is a member of our SEO team and works as a Search Marketing Executive. Her role is to write creative copy and help clients optimise their website.

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