March 4, 2024

How Do You Diagnose A Drop In Keyword Rankings?

When you’ve dedicated time and effort to thorough keyword research and optimisations, it can feel discouraging to review your progress and notice a notable drop in keyword rankings. It can be confusing to establish what might have gone wrong or what external factors may have influenced the situation, making it challenging to pinpoint the cause. So, how can you effectively diagnose a decline in keyword rankings?

A technical issue on the back end, a UX analysis of your website, and monitoring your competitors are all ways to identify why your keywords have dropped. You can better understand any changes that could impact your ranking by being vigilant and monitoring your performance frequently.

To find out the 5 main reasons why keyword rankings drop, how to recover, and why keywords fluctuate – continue reading.

Why Do Keyword Rankings Drop?

Why do keyword rankings drop? Wildcat Digital helps you to diagnose a drop in keyword rankings.

Many factors can cause keyword rankings to drop. Minor fluctuations in keyword rankings, typically within a range of 1 to 5 positions, are considered normal and not cause for alarm. However, substantial drops in keyword positions, spanning 10 to 30 places, call for closer attention and concern. So, why do keyword rankings drop? 

Google Algorithm Update

A Google algorithm update is carried out to improve results and keep users satisfied with the results that show up on Google SERPs (search engine result pages). Therefore, Google will often update or tweak its algorithm to change what the SERP shows. For example, Google can decide that they want to prioritise SERP results from websites that have a certain amount of reviews. This would therefore impact the keyword rankings of smaller businesses that have not received a lot of reviews yet. 

Changes Competitors Have Made

When you carry out keyword research and identify missing or weak keywords, you consistently monitor your competitors. Therefore, if your competitors make changes that go unnoticed by you, your keyword rankings will inevitably decline. Ultimately, nothing may be wrong with your website, it might just be that your competitors improved theirs. This is where you would evaluate your website and take a look at what could be improved, for instance: 

Technical Issues

Another reason why your keyword rankings can drop is because of technical issues. If there are technical problems with your site, Google will not be able to crawl and index it smoothly. You should double-check that search engines are still crawling and indexing your site. Check for changes in your canonical URLs, robots.txt, meta robots tag, and HTTP status codes

Recent Website Changes

Making changes to your website, such as a redesign, will inevitably affect your rankings. Even a minor oversight could lead to significant repercussions for your SEO performance, potentially resulting in a noticeable decline in keyword rankings. Therefore, it’s reasonable to anticipate drops in Google rankings following major overhauls like altering the URL structure or migrating the website.

User Behaviour Changes

Simply put, if a website fails to meet user expectations, their behavior will indicate it. For example, if visitors quickly return to Google after only briefly viewing your page for a few seconds, it implies they didn’t find what they were looking for, impacting user experience (UX). Consequently, such pages are unlikely to maintain high rankings over time. 

Why Do Keyword Rankings Fluctuate?

As mentioned above, keyword rankings can fluctuate for various reasons. These fluctuations may stem from changes in user behavior, algorithm changes, or technical issues. While it’s often challenging to pinpoint an exact cause, it underscores the significance of understanding quality SEO practices. Understanding the importance of SEO for your business and choosing the right SEO agency is crucial. By doing so, you ensure the application of best practices and utilise the expertise of professionals to address issues efficiently.

What Do You Check First When You See A Drop In Keyword Rankings?

There are a few things you can check when you see a drop in your rankings, this includes:

How Do You Recover When Serp Rankings Suddenly Drop?

Recovering from a sudden drop in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings requires a systematic approach. First, conduct a thorough analysis to identify potential causes such as algorithm updates, technical issues, or changes in competitors’ strategies. As soon as the root cause is identified, correct it as soon as possible.

Additionally, focus on enhancing user experience and engagement metrics, such as reducing page load times and improving mobile responsiveness. Continuously monitor rankings, adapt strategies accordingly, and stay informed about industry trends to maintain long-term visibility and competitiveness in search engine results.

SEO Services at Wildcat Digital

Struggling to maintain your keyword rankings? At Wildcat Digital we have a reputation for high-quality content through our award-winning services. To get in touch, fill out our contact form and a member of our team will be happy to help.

Post by

Emily Fletcher

Will Hitchmough


Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

Senior SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

Rich Ayre

Head of Growth

Rich joined us in May 2024 to head up our growth team. With years of experience helping other agencies to grow, Rich joins us at an exciting time as Wildcat is working on a five-year plan to become one of the biggest agencies in the UK.

Outside of work, Rich is a father to three children, which keeps him very busy! He’s also recently started running again to keep fit and loves a bit of DIY.

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