A drop in SEO rankings can take a toll on the viability of your online business. In order to minimize the damages and make a quick recovery, it’s important to understand the key factors that influence your standing with major search engine.

1. Google algorithm updates

The infamous Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates took a devastating toll on many websites that had spent years building momentum and solidifying Page 1 status.

While it’s impossible to predict when Google will hit us with another algorithm update, it’s important to become familiar with all current updates, and understand what is expected in terms of standards and best practices.

2. Negative SEO attacks

The brutally competitive nature of online business prompts many to partake in sabotaging their competitors by sending thousands of spammy links their websites. This is called negative SEO and unfortunately can only be remedied after it happens.

Google’s disavow links tool is currently the most expedient way to clean up your backlink profile. In the event of an attack, we recommend contacting Google’s support team immediately.

3. Blackhat SEO practices

Search engines have put a lot of energy into thwarting black hat tactics that attempt to cheat the system. The days of cloaking, paid links, keyword stuffing and growth hacking are numbered, as Google has been handing out stiff penalties to offenders.

While it’s true that some websites still get away with black hat practices, they are simply not worth risking your entire online reputation for.

4. Website technical issues

Technical glitches like slow page load speeds, 404 errors and server issues send signals to search engines that your site is not 100% trustworthy.

Remember, the likes of Google want searchers to have pleasant experiences, and sites that are rendered unusable due to substandard development will often be penalized.

5. Weak on-site SEO implementation

Google rewards web pages with strong relevance to search queries. This means title tags, heading tags and body copy must be correctly formatted and contain an acceptable blend of keywords.

It’s also important to remember that Google ranks web pages, not websites. This means you should have dedicated landing pages for each of your products or services, and each page should be structured to strengthen relevance to related searches.

6. Market fluctuations

One of the most forgotten variables in search engine optimization is the tendency for any given market to experience ups and downs. Even if you’re doing everything right in terms of your SEO strategy, it will not be effective if there is not enough search volume in your industry.

Google trends is a great way to keep up with fluctuations in search volume related to industry related keywords.

7. Fallout from a website redesign

Often, inexperienced website design companies redesign websites without considering the potential impacts on SEO rankings.

While it’s natural for a new website to experience a slight dip, major catastrophe can be mitigated by implementing 301 redirects to new URLs and ensuring that highly ranking pages carry over a similar structure (content, keyword density, etc.).

8. New domain

Opting for a new domain name can have major impacts on SEO rankings. While Google no longer places importance on keywords within a domain name, it does place extremely high value on domain age.

This means the longer your domain has been active, the more authority it has. A brand new domain will need to regain trust and may take years to build the same level of credibility.

9. Over optimization

While thorough on-site optimization is a top level requirement for maintaining search rankings, it’s important to not over optimize. Keyword stuffing, too much tweaking of title tags and cramming thousands of words on every page, for example, can look spammy to Google.

Be natural and remember that web pages should be created for people, not robots. A great user experience always trumps a site built for web spiders.

10. Competitors are stepping up their game

If you operate in a competitive industry, your competitors are probably paying attention to your online presence. You should keep up to date on who your true online competitors are, and attempt to learn what you can from their successes, and their failures.

Remember, anyone receiving traffic that could otherwise be going to your website is a competitor (even if you don’t consider them an offline competitor).

by Fuze May 20, 2014