There are a lot of things to know when if comes to understanding SEO, and I can’t go over everything in a single post.
However what I will be discussing in this post, are the reasons why you might experience a drop in rankings in Google and what you can do about it. If you want some more detailed instructions on SEO, I recently did a post on this here: Increase Google Rankings.
I receive a substantial amount of email from my subscribers, and unfortunately I can’t reply to all of them, apologies if you fall into that category, however one question I get asked a lot is, why sometimes Google rankings drop suddenly?
People email me extremely worried that they have done something wrong and that the big scary Google monster has caught them and is now penalizing their affiliate marketing sites with a drop in rankings.
Of course Google can and do penalize sites all the time, but from my experience it’s not for common things that marketers like you and I would be doing.
The email questions I get go something like this: “Matt I have just built some links yesterday doing XYZ and now today my site is nowhere in Google, help!!! What have I done…please help me!!”
You might think I’m exagerating with that example, but believe me I’m not.
Anyway it’s never a nice feeling when you check your Google rankings, only to see your site has experienced some form of a drop. So now let me explain to you what I have come to realize about drops in Google rankings and the reasons for them.
If you have a new site, with no trust with Google yet, then not only can it take some time to show up in the first 10 pages of Google, but it can also go through what’s known as a “Google Dance”
A Google Dance, is simply where your site can bounce around in Google. I’ve had sites go from page 1 to nowhere and back again in the space of a few days. When I first experienced this, many years ago now, I was amazed, it felt like an emotional roler coaster ride!
However before I discuss the reason why this happens, the good news is that most (not all) Google Dances don’t last that long, usually a few days to a few weeks.
As I mentioned above the age of your domain plays a huge role. The older your domain, the more Google trust it and the more stable it will be.
When it comes to building backlinks to your sites, I’m with the popular opinion that the links you build to your sites won’t cause any form of penalty in most cases (I’ll explain more on this soon).
For example if you get backlinks from a site that was selling Viagra, just because the link to your site is coming from a site that some people would consider dodgy, it isn’t going to hurt you.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if this kind of link did hurt your sites rankings, the internet would become a free for all, and everyone would point these kind of links to their competitors in order to get them out of the way. In fact it would create a whole industry of “dodgy links sales” who’s service would be to get your competition out of your way. This would be anarchy and it just doesn’t work like this.
However Google does still occassionally penalize sites for their backlink activity, and it’s obvious to them that you have paid for backlinks. The best example for this was when Google Japan got penalized by Google.com for paying bloggers to write blogs posts about a new widget of theirs.
Matt Cutts, who is the head of Google’s anti-spam department, quoted this in regard to the matter: “Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.”
So you can see that Google doesn’t like people buying links at all, but this example was a very big issue, as it was Google breaking it’s own rules, so they really had to act on this one, in order to uphold their reputation.
I have never experienced this myself and I highly doubt small time internet marketers like me and you will ever have to worry about this.
There are however things that you should not do to your own site that Google doesn’t like, such as over stuffing keywords into your articles, or disguishing links in your sites as the same color as your background etc…these are Black Hat On Page SEO examples, and these are things that may get your site dropped by Google.
One other important thing to understanding SEO and backlinking, is the concept of Link Velocity. This is simply the speed at which you build your backlinks. It actually doesn’t matter if you build a million links a week, what does matter is if you don’t build a million the next week and instead build 10.
This looks very inconsistant and Google may give your site a drop in rankings if they see this kind of activity happening. I have built many sites and been much more aggressive in the beginning with my link building, mainly because I am not that patient, and then after the initial first month I have dropped off on the link building. The result was that nothing changed, no drop at all!
The reason I tell you this is that from my experience the velocity of link building that you would have to change needs to be quite substantial, and is probably more noticeable on a new domain. Think about a high page rank site that all of a sudden had some breaking news about a famous person or politician. The site would experience a pretty large surge of backlinks in a short space of time, and I doubt Google would penalize this.
So to summarize this post, backlinks will very rarely hurt your site and when considering how fast you build links, just try and be as conistant as you can, but don’t worry too much if you can’t keep up the initial blast you give your site, just make sure you have some low level of maintainence link building going on to ensure you secure your spot.
Lastly the Google dance happens to everyone, it’s quite a normal part of understanding seo so don’t hit the panic button if it happens to you. Just carry on building links and it will settle down, and perhaps practice some Tango moves with good old Google!