It’s a bit of a shock when you walk in one morning after a day off, open your laptop and find a hundred emails from your sales guys asking where all the leads have gone.

As a marketing expert, you’ve done absolutely everything right and your Google rankings have been riding high. You’ve had leads coming in left right and centre, but suddenly, it’s all gone wrong.

We know, we hear it a lot.

Google’s been doing a lot of updates recently, and it’s no surprise that many people are suffering because they’ve relied on old techniques for too long.

Well, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to worry. Well, maybe. You might have to worry, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Why Google updates things

Google makes hundreds, if not thousands of updates each year in an attempt to ensure that the best results appear when people search, so obviously there are going to be winners and losers, but being a loser can be quite a tough pill to swallow.

The thing to bear in mind is that Google isn’t out there to intentionally punish websites (or your business) even if it seems that way sometimes.

No, it’s trying to constantly improve the results it gives to people when they’re searching for a particular item, service or for information.

The way they do this can often seem controversial, I mean, who’s position is it to say what a good result is, but they have a lot of data that they’re crunching constantly in order to try to work that out.

Monitoring all the time

The best way to think about this is by considering how people search and what sort of results they’re getting.

If you were to search for “used cars” and you got a set of results, Google is monitoring how you interact with those results and measuring the amount of time you spend on the pages, what you do when you get there and what you do next.

It monitors the keywords you’re using. Not just the initial words and phrases, but what you did next and the results you got that time and again, the pages you visited.

Over time, it gets a view of what sort of things you click on and how the results work for you.

Your search results are probably very personalised.

You’ll notice this if you have your own website and you search for it. For you, it probably appears in the number one position all the time and that’s because Google has learned that it’s yours and that you spend a lot of time there.

So what can go wrong?

There are two big causes of a drastic ranking change: manual or algorithmic.

Either of these can have a profound effect on your ranking, but if it’s a negative effect, the way you solve the problem is drastically different depending on which has caused the change.

So, let’s look at each one separately.

Algorithmic

With this one, you wake up one morning to find your rankings have dropped or improved and it’s because Google’s decided it’s changing the way it’s doing things.

The first thing you can do is to check for SEO volatility, and you can do this here: https://www.callowaygreen.co.uk/search-engine-update-tracker/

That graph is normally all low-level in the green area, if it’s heading up into amber or red, something’s up and if your ranking has been affected, then it’s likely that you’ve been caught up in it.

Don’t panic, it might be temporary. Sit back, wait for the dust to settle.

The important thing here is not to start making wholesale changes.

Very often an update will take a few days to roll out, and time after time we see huge drops one day (phone rings, panicky client), the next the rankings are better than ever.

So hang tight. If you start making changes then you might just make things a whole lot worse.

Manual

This is a bit trickier.

If you notice your rankings have gone south, and the volatility tracker shows everything else is pretty tame, i.e. no big updates, then you need to take a look elsewhere.

Take a look at Search Console. This is where you can see all issues affecting your website (assuming it’s installed), if you don’t know what this is about, talk to your developer.

When you log in, there might be a big fat warning at the top of the screen stating that your site has been affected by a manual penalty.

Essentially, someone (yes, a person) at Google has noticed something up with your site.

It could be a virus infection, errors, or something that you’ve been doing to try to fool Google.

It will tell you pretty clearly what’s gone on, and you then need to decide what to do next.

Fixing the problem

OK, so how do we return to normality?

Well, if it’s algorithmic, you’ll need to consider what work you were doing on your site and look to improve things to better fit with Google’s terms.

It might be that you don’t have very good content, or that your site has errors. Whatever the issue, it’s up to you to find them out, Google won’t tell you explicitly what’s wrong.

If it’s manual, then they will tell you, and they’ll give you some pointers as to how to fix it, but at the end of the day, you’ve got some work to do.

You could call us (we’ll help!), but before doing that, you might want to download a swanky new e-book we’ve created that covers everything that could go wrong, with some explanations on how to fix it all.

Simply click below to get hold of it!