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How to Diagnose Page Ranking Declines: Ask An SEO

Even the most experienced SEO professionals can struggle to diagnose declines in a website's rank and traffic. Here are a few factors to check out.

How to Diagnose Page Ranking Declines: Ask An SEO

Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from Hemlata in Delhi. Hemlata asks:

“My website is losing home page rankings but internal pages are ranking well. What could be the reason for this?”

When a page on a site starts to lose significant rankings or traffic, it’s typically all hands on deck.

The first step most SEO professionals take is an analysis of why a page is seeing declines.

The problem is that there are literally thousands of reasons a page can see declines, and even the most experienced, smartest SEO pro sometimes has trouble diagnosing exactly what’s happening.

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This process can be even more frustrating when some pages of a site are seeing declines, while others are seeing increases.

Look at the Big Picture

It’s important to understand the big picture of your SEO efforts, especially when your site is in flux.

If your homepage is seeing declines, but your interior pages are seeing increases – this may not be a big deal if your overall leads and traffic are steadily increasing.

Understand your site’s goals and objectives when it comes to SEO.

If you don’t have overall goals, you can get pulled down rabbit trails trying to fix things that aren’t broken, which will harm your site overall in the long run.

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What Are the Losses?

Even you can’t identify the cause of a page’s decline, you should be able to see where the decline is coming from.

If you’ve been tracking rankings and have analytics set up, you should be able to see what keywords are experiencing ranking declines.

If you can’t see any ranking declines for your home page, you need to look at the types of traffic that are declining.

Sometimes a page can have technical issues that cause it to decline in the SERPs.

This is particularly true when it comes to the mobile version of a site.

Also, searcher behavior can have an impact on traffic to specific pages.

If your page is targeting keywords that are seeing a decline in overall search volume, the traffic is going to be down.

The best thing you can do when search volume is down is work to create overall interest, which isn’t necessarily done in the search engine result pages.

Check Your Links

For most websites, the home page is where most of the links from other websites are pointed to.

But sometimes, internal pages – particularly pages of interest – can garner more links than the homepage.

In these cases, it isn’t uncommon for an interior page or blog post to outrank a home page for many terms.

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There isn’t anything wrong with interior pages outranking a home page.

In fact, it can be quite beneficial for some businesses.

The key is to make sure that the interior pages have a clear path to conversion for visitors that are initially exposed to your site through them.

Work to make your interior pages relevant for new visitors, and make it easy for those visitors to convert.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons why an interior page might outrank a home page.

But in the end, it may not matter.

If you are worried about lost rankings, check your links, content, technical SEO, and competition to see why they are ranking instead of you.

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If you are just seeing an audience behavior shift to interior pages – adapt and make your interior pages convert.

More Resources:


Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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Tony Wright

CEO at WrightIMC

I am a 19-year veteran of the digital marketing world with previous experience in journalism, public relations and advertising. I've ... [Read full bio]

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