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This week’s #searchdrop looks into the diagnosis of ranking dips, the impact of internal linking anchor text and Google’s beta testing on combining Search Console and Analytics data.

How to diagnose and fix a search rankings dip

When rankings changes suddenly and dramatically it’s often a cause for panic as it’s difficult to know immediately exactly what the problem is. Here’s a checklist of things to consider when this happens to you:

Why did this happen?

Your first port of call when diagnosing the loss of rankings should always be the ‘why’. If you’re able to quickly identify why this has happened you can tailor your approach accordingly. For example, dealing with an algorithm update is completely different to dealing with a de-indexed site.

  • Something’s changed on your site, like a new development release, an issue with your server etc. So check in with the development team and check releases, additions/removals, canonicals, redirects and robots.
  • Google has updated something (such as its algorithm) or there has been an update to the search results related to your site
  • Your market has changed. For example, a competitor releases some new content

What has been impacted by the drop?

A loss in rankings can be an isolated page, site section, site, or even an entire market (look at what happened to the payday loans industry). Therefore you need to also understand what areas of your site have been affected.

  • Which terms have been affected? Knowing this can isolate what’s changed on-site or in Google.
  • Did you drop whilst your competitors improved? This may highlight an issue on your site or investment by your competitor in their content and/or SEO.
  • Did your entire vertical change? This is likely related to an algorithm update and should warrant further research in the SEO industry.
  • Did a specific area of your site drop? This could help to isolate the problem and focus on what you need to change.

Finally, you should consider what tools you have to support your research into the drop. There are a variety of tools that can support you in your investigation in this article here.

Internal linking anchor text has little impact on SEO

During one of John Muller’s Webmaster Hangouts a question was posed asking about anchor text. Traditionally SEOs aim to include relevant keywords/synonyms in anchor text for pages they wish to rank. This, however, is apparently having little effect on the performance of a site.

When asked the question related to two pages covering the same topic linking to each other he focused on:

  • Ensuring the anchor text is useful to the user
  • Explaining that the context of the link is important e.g. a page about dogs linking to a page about dogs will have more value than another non dog related page
  • Suggested that the anchor text of a link being updated will not likely have a “visible effect” on search.

This is important to know as it highlights context as a contributing factor to the ranking of pages based on their internal linking, but it should be noted that anchor text and internal linking are parts of a wider web of ranking factor on a page. As such, in isolation they wouldn’t visibly affect your search efforts. These factors need to be tackled together.

See more about this webmaster hangout here.

Google is Beta testing one report for Search Console & Analytics Data

Google is currently notifying webmasters of a pending test on the ability to export analytics data and data from a connected search console property.

This sort of integrated report is great for:

  • Convenience – it’s quicker to grab more data from one place than from two.
  • Correlation – comparing the data side by side will allow site owners and webmaster alike to see related spikes and dips in performance with more ease.
  • Impact – you’ll be better able to monitor the performance of site changes you’ve made. For example, you can monitor the performance of a page following a change on the user and SERPS levels.

There’s still plenty unknown about the test, but on the face of it there can only be positives to come from being able to compare this data more easily. For more on this see here.