Google comes up with some weird and wonderful terms for dropping a website’s rankings suddenly, but it is no laughing matter. There are a number of less-than-normal reasons a sudden drop can happen and knowing the potential reasons may help you to fix it, or to understand why you will not be able to.
The first one that springs to mind is that it has been affected by yet another search engine algorithm change. Search engines have a policy of continuously updating their specific algorithms to ensure that the top ranking websites on their results pages deserve to be there. Even if your site is ok, the effect can be similar when a site you normally get links from is affected by an algorithm change, your links will dry up and your ranking will be lowered.
Google Panda is another big culprit, with Panda update 2.4 just having rolled out. Panda is actually used as a filter, designed by Google to penalise poor quality content, such as that found on content farm websites. The original Panda in February 2011 caused havoc for these sites and earned it the nickname of ‘Farmer’. Being ‘Pandified,’ as it has come to be known, will cause your site to be flagged and lower your ranking inn the SERPs.
Moving swiftly on, if your website is relatively new, it may have enjoyed an unrealistically high ranking for a period of time, which could be anything from 48 hours to two months, this phenomenon has been termed the Google Honeymoon. At the end of the honeymoon period, the site will drop to its ‘natural’ position in the SERPs.
Alternatively, at the end of a honeymoon, you may even find yourself in the Google Sandbox. There are some who do not believe that the sandbox exists, but those who do describe it as a filter which appears to pick on nearly all new websites and put them on some sort of initiation or probationary period until they have proved themselves. An affected website will still show in the SERPs, but will not obtain a good ranking irrespective of the quality of its content and inbound links.
The term Google Dance is used to explain what sometimes occurs when Google’s index update is carried out, approximately once a month. Moving from the old index to the new one actually takes several days and during this period websites may appear to ‘dance’ around in the rankings, albeit up or down. Luckily, this is only temporary and a website affected in this way will naturally return to its correct position in the SERPs in due course.
Above are some of the less likely reasons for a website to drop unexpectedly in the SERP rankings. It must be stressed that there are many others including: duplicate content, Robot.txt file issues, broken links, malware, server issues and ‘bad practice’ penalties, all of which can easily be avoided by religiously checking the functionality of your website, updating improving website content, carrying out regular website housekeeping and adhering rigidly to White Hat, organic SEO practices only.