My Rankings Plummeted Overnight. What Happened?

Description: It's every webmaster's worst nightmare, yet it happens to more people than you might think. Here are some suggestions as to why this can happen.

One day you're on page one of Google and the next day you're languishing on page fifty - if you're lucky. It's small wonder that some people panic when this happens to them and start changing everything in sight to try and rectify the problem.

But if this should happen to you the best thing you can do is to hang fire, don't panic and definitely don't change anything. There are a lot of sites that experience an unexplained drop like this and then find in a day or two that they are back to where they were. Unfortunately sudden drops in ranking do happen and they are not always explained.

Having said that there are reasons why it can happen. Small tweaks to the html in your site or to the tags can cause a drop. Check your positioning on different search engines as well, because they all have slightly different methods of ranking sites and you may find that while you have dropped like a stone on Google, other search engines such as Yahoo and MSN may still be ranking you very highly. If this is the case then the drop could well be temporary, but keep an eye on the other search engines over the next few days just to make sure.

Another reason for a sharp drop in rankings occurring is when people find your listing in the search results and attempt to visit your site, only to receive a 404 error message in return. If the search engine spiders pick up on this - even if it's only a temporary situation - it can prompt them to drop your ranking as a result.

While most people who employ black hat SEO techniques to get ranked higher expect to be punished sooner or later by experiencing a severe drop in ranking (or being banned altogether), some people inadvertently use techniques that they shouldn't touch with a bargepole.

This is why it's worth taking a look at your site to see whether you have done anything you shouldn't have. Have you relied on link farms to generate some incoming links? Have you overdone the keywords in your content? Do you have very little in the way of content at all?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you may well have found the reason for your change in circumstances. The route to take here is clear - refrain from doing anything for a few days to see if you regain your position and if not, start examining your site to see where the red flags are.

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