A decent number of affiliate marketers understand the power of investing in SEO. They rely on different search optimization techniques to help them build a powerful niche website, generate the right type of traffic, and move products at a much faster and successful rate.

For guys like Matthew Woodward, SEO and affiliate marketing go well together like spaghetti and meatballs. For a lot of other affiliate marketing pros, these two practices don’t really mix that well together. For them, they are as compatible as toothpaste and orange juice.  

That is because most of these affiliate marketers enter the SEO game with the goal of grabbing some quick wins and tricking Google into awarding them with top rankings for their most important keywords.

If you have relevant experience in doing SEO, you’re probably aware of the fallacy behind this specific approach.

There are No Shortcuts in SEO and There is No Lasting Solution

Google is constantly updating its algorithm. The people behind this search engine are doing their best to make sure that the game can’t be rigged.

In order to stay relevant online and actually get on Google’s good side, affiliates need to keep a close eye on what’s going on with the world’s most popular engine and update their SEO playbooks accordingly to the latest trends in search engine optimization.

Investing in dated techniques that are no longer on Google’s approved list is not something you really want to do.

SEO is a complex practice that can easily turn on you if you’re not careful. Regardless of how diligently you work on your site – you could still experience a loss in rankings. These losses can be caused by literally anything. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Linking to bad sites
  • Redirect fails
  • Technical, on-page issues
  • Search engine penalties
  • Slow page load speed
  • Sudden changes in search performance

Pinpointing the specific reasons why the change in rankings has occurred can sometimes be easy, but often quite difficult. The reasons aren’t always that obvious, which makes it extremely hard for most people to reclaim their positions.

In order to make sure that you don’t lose a lot of time and nerves figuring out how to bounce back from a sudden rankings drop, we at Multilotto have created this step-by-action plan on how to quickly locate your ranking-related problems and fix them before you can say “search engine optimization”:

1. Check for Algorithm Updates

Before you go down the rabbit hole and start checking literally every detail on your site, the first thing you need to do is check if Google did something to its search engine algorithm.

Google’s algorithm changes are extremely easy to detect. They usually happen overnight and they are accompanied by a lot of press. Google almost always announces its changes on their official blog. So, when you see that your site has noticeably dropped in Google’s SERP for more than a couple of queries at the same time, this usually means to you have been penalized and that you should jump right on the company’s blog to see what changes have been made to the algorithm.

By looking at the site you, will easily determine if you’ve been given a manual or an automatic penalty. If there is no big announcement on Google’s blog, that usually means that you got stuck with the latter. Automatic penalties come with Google updates, while the manual ones are manually awarded by people who work at Google.

Manual penalties can usually be traced to malicious behavior. You probably kept doing something that Google doesn’t approve, so someone from the company decided to penalize you.

2. Manual Penalty

Recovering from a manual penalty is never an easy process. In order to get to the root of your problem and figure out why you got penalized in the first place (if you don’t already know), you need to open your Webmaster Tools and search for messages that explain why you are experiencing a certain drop in traffic.

For affiliate marketers, the scenario usually looks like this: unnatural links or other on-page problems.

Unnatural linking is something that often happens in this industry. A lot of affiliate marketers tend to overstuff their linking portfolios with everything they got in order to get some organic traffic flowing on their site. Most of them tend to get carried away, so they go chasing links wherever they can, which usually backfires.

Be this the case or not, you need to investigate your site, find the source of your problem, and remove it. Once you do that, once you remove the thing that got you blacklisted, you need to submit a reconsideration request and wait until the guys at Google review your case and restore your rankings. It usually takes them a couple of days to do so.

However, instead of fixing these kinds of errors, you should learn more about approved SEO practices and use them instead of the old tricks that got you in trouble.

There are numerous online blogs like SEJ, SEO Roundtable, Search Engine Land, and MOZ that write about SEO and how to properly optimize your website.

3. Disappearance of Links

If you notice a drop of rankings and you see that it has nothing to do with any algorithm update and manual penalties, the next thing you should do is analyze your links. Do you notice any weird site-wide link rank activity? What’s the status of your backlinks? Are all of your pages up and running? What about pages linking to those pages?

Finding answers to these questions can be a living nightmare if you don’t have proper tools at your disposal. For link analysis, we at Multilotto usually use tools like Screaming Frog and Ahrefs.

Once we notice that something is off, we check the status of our links for the last 90 days and look through them, 1 by 1. We try to figure out if certain pages got eliminated and if they did – why this happened. Once we locate the problem, we can start reclaiming those lost links.

As mentioned above, this specific issue can be caused by unnatural linking. So, as before, open up your Webmaster Tools and start looking for clues.

4. Tech-Related Problems

If the root of your problems has nothing to do with the things written above, then maybe you’re experiencing some basic technical issues. Maybe someone changed the URL of your pages by accident, maybe Google stopped seeing and indexing your content, or maybe even your site in total isn’t working properly. Maybe it’s your hosting service? Maybe the page load speed is so bad that it makes it nearly impossible to visit your site.

Even though these seem like really dumb problems, they are usually seen as the most manageable ones. They can easily be fixed. Applying simple 301 redirects or getting a better hosting provider is a lot simpler than recovering from a manual penalty that was awarded for malicious behavior.

5. Internal Linking Diagnosis

If none of the above tests do the trick, it’s time to go through your internal links.

In this stage, you should focus on the link equity flow through your pages and keep a close eye to any sudden changes. Your goal here is to go through the pages and see if something has mysteriously disappeared from your site and is now messing with your flow.

Top navigation, side navigation, footer, suggested pages and posts – these are the starting points. Once you finish looking at these pages, it’s time to dig deeper and double-check other site locations for possible errors.

Again, Screaming Frog can help you here. Compare an older version of your site with the new one and look for navigation changes that could have created havoc.

Over to You

Thank you for taking the time to read this article in its entirety. I hope these tips helped you understand why drops in rankings occur and what steps to take to reclaim lost positions.

However, apart from the mentioned causes in this article, a drop in ranking can also be caused by your competition. It’s extremely possible that your competitors have outplayed you in this SEO game. Maybe they created tons of quality links and improved their CTRs in a very short period of time. It’s quite possible. So, before you click the panic button, be sure to check what your competitors are doing.