What should you do if your website positions decrease despite the cooperation with an SEO agency? Is it possible to cause havoc by implementing seemingly insignificant website modifications? Can an SSL certificate do more harm than good? What potential changes on the website may have a negative impact on your rankings during SEO cooperation? Keep reading!
Why did we decide to write this article?
Running a website requires implementing various changes that are either almost unnoticeable or life-changing. After all, sometimes you need to add a subpage, remove a service, change a product description or its availability.
But how to do it without decreasing your positions in the search results?
We realize that SEO can sound all Greek to you, therefore, we want to share our knowledge to help you understand the situation and to facilitate yourcooperation with the SEO agency.
In this entry, we’ll tell you what to watch out for, what modifications you can implement on your own, and what should be consulted with an SEO specialist. We’ll explain not only how to responsibly carry out activities on the website, but also (or maybe even primarily) why exactly you should follow specific guidelines.
Don't Do This without Consultation
Seemingly small actions can have a huge impact on SEO. It's good to be aware that minor tweaks within your site can either boost your search engine rankings or deteriorate your positions. There are certain activities that always require consultation with your SEO agency. What are they?
Changing the page title, URL, or H1 header. All these aspects are elements of on-site SEO that are really important for the final position of the website in the search results. These decisions are the responsibility of SEO specialists optimizing your website, therefore any unauthorized modifications are extremely risky and may negatively affect the effectiveness of the SEO process. If you have any doubts concerning the form of your website title or headers, talk them through with the SEO specialist. Keep in mind that lack of redirects can be an additional problem - not every CMS creates them automatically, so changing a URL often ends in a 404 error, which may lead to a decrease in traffic.
Migrations, CMS modifications, domain changes. Everything that involves content and global changes within the site must be consulted with the SEO specialist beforehand to avoid really significant consequences, such as sudden drops in traffic or problems with redirects. The support of the SEO specialist in this field is essential.
Deleting page elements or entire pages that are or were important to the business. As a rule of thumb, the decision to remove any subpages should be your last resort. There are also other solutions - if a given product from your offer isn’t available anymore, mark it as unavailable and offer the user other options instead of deleting the subpage that generates traffic.
Template change. Although it might seem to you that changing your website’s template is a truly cosmetic modification, it might have a huge impact on SEO. A new layout may have a negative influence on the page loading time, significantly increase its weight or not support some of the already implemented functionalities (e.g. not display category descriptions properly). Therefore, before you decide to revolutionize the page, ask the SEO specialist you cooperate with what they think about a given template or whether they have any suggestions.
Links from low-quality sources. In fact, you should know that it’s not an acceptable practice even without consulting it with the SEO specialist. You simply shouldn’t obtain such backlinks, regardless of the content on your website. When it comes to link building, it's best to choose quality links. Otherwise, they'll only decrease your positions.
Changing important website elements such as menu or footer. Here, the situation is similar to the example with a template. Although it seems to be solely a visual modification, it may have a huge impact on the SEO process, as it informs Google robots about your page content and creates an internal link network. That’s why all the changes in this respect should be discussed with the SEO specialist.
An exemplary footer of one of our clients (Code & Pepper) before the optimization.
And after the optimization. There is a huge difference in the number of links and nofollow attributes.
Installing an SSL certificate. Although an SSL certificate is a must-have for every website, implementing it on one’s own can cause havoc in terms of SEO. Encryption changes the protocol (from HTTP to HTTPS), so your site's address is also modified. An SEO specialist will take care of any redirects, verify the new address in Google Search Console and make sure that your SSL certificate is installed correctly.
Hiding text / deleting text from the page / deleting text from the mobile version. Google evaluates the value of your website, in large part, based on its content. Removing or hiding content on your site all of a sudden never ends well, so implement changes carefully and only after consulting your SEO specialist.
These are the Steps We Can Guide You Through
An SEO agency can but doesn’t have to create your category descriptions, product descriptions, service descriptions, or blog articles. If you want to engage your employees in the process more, encourage them to write texts. Just ask the SEO agency you cooperate with for relevant guidelines (such as the volume of text or the number of headers) and keywords.
Completing alt texts. Alternative descriptions make it easier for Google robots to interpret the content of the graphic. Moreover, they’re displayed if your images don’t load and are helpful for visually impaired users. Alt elements should describe what’s in the graphic and include a keyword important for a given subpage. After receiving proper guidelines, feel free to complete alternative texts by yourself, in case of any doubts, consult the SEO specialist.
Creating the menu structure and product/category names. These actions require a specific plan, but once you get the right instructions from your SEO specialist, you can implement the changes on your own. It’s worth keeping in mind that the menu structure which seems logical for you doesn’t have to be logical for Google robots. That’s why the opinion of the SEO specialist is extremely important here.
Important: If you’re planning website migration or you want to create a new page, don’t do it on your own. Your SEO specialist will be happy to give you a handful of tips on how to run the process smoothly and what to pay special attention to. You’ll also get SEO guidelines that will help the developer manage the new version of your website.
You Can Do This Yourself!
There are a few business elements that may support the SEO process, that you can do on your own. Usually, these will be marketing activities such as:
Being active on social media. Organic traffic isn’t everything and it’s best to be active on different channels. The more effectively you encourage users to convert (buy a product, use a service, fill out a contact form, etc.), the more you’ll benefit from the traffic gained through SEO activities. Want to learn more? Check out our entry: How to build an engaged online community that supports your SEO and business?
We’re present on social media and we write about it too :)
Branding and PR activities. Even an online store that ranks high in the search results won’t encourage customers to finalize transactions if no one knows this store. We've already discussed the impact of PR on SEO - check it out if you want to learn how PR helps reduce publishing costs.
Cooperation with other entities. It's hard to find a more effective and natural form of SEO-friendly link acquisition than partnerships with other companies. They can take many forms, including guest blogging or link exchanges. You can start partnerships or create content on your own, but if you aren’t sure whether it’s worth cooperating with a given website, consult it with your SEO agency.
What Results Can You Expect from SEO Activities?
SEO is a process that can be split into smaller parts. At Delante we have made a simple division into threestages.
About a month after starting cooperation with an SEO agency you can expect an increase in the visibility of your website, which is measured by the increase of page impressions and the number of phrases in TOP10 and TOP50.
Stage two is the increase in organic traffic. Most often we observe it from about the 4th month of cooperation. It's worth noting that - as you can see in the chart below - the previous stage is still going on, it doesn't end with the beginning of the next one. Each of our subsequent activities stems from the previous ones. During the first stage, you may have noticed an increase in visibility, which contributed to the growth of organic traffic, which in turn will allow you to achieve the expected increase in sales (in the third stage).By making changes to your site that are not authorized by SEO specialists, you may accidentally disrupt this process, leading to a decrease in visibility. You can easily imagine what will happen next because in this case decreased visibility will have a negative impact on organic traffic and sales.
Why May Your Website Visibility Decrease?
Implementing changes within the site without consulting an SEO agency isn't the only possible reason for a decrease in your visibility. It's worth taking into account aspects such as:
Testing new solutions. Marketing activities (including SEO) can be a bit risky. If there is a chance to test new solutions, which can bring positive effects, it's usually worth doing it. However, it may happen that a given change - even with full SEO competencies of the person introducing it - turns out to be ineffective or even unprofitable for a given site, which causes fluctuations in visibility, positions, and traffic.
Deleting products or services. Changes in an offer are a common cause of decreased visibility - why? One of the reasons is that if a given item generated some traffic and was displayed for valuable keywords, your website would be affected if you delete them.
Activities performed by your market rivals. It’s worth monitoring who ranks higher in the search results. If you do so, you may notice that one of your competitors has recently started SEO activities or advertising campaigns (e.g. Google Ads) and is optimizing the website for similar phrases. In this case, a decrease in rankings and traffic will be a natural - but not impossible to prevent - consequence.
Google updates. Usually, a few times a year the SEO world faces the consequences of important Google updates. One way to check if you've missed an update is to track data from relevant tools.
An exemplary tool for checking changes in positions within the SERPs - RankRanger
Deleting/hiding website content. As already mentioned in the first point, content is extremely important to Google - managing it incorrectly often leads to unwanted complications.
Keyword cannibalization. If your website has at least two subpages optimized for the same keywords, they'll compete with each other in the search results, which will manifest itself in lower positions of one or even all of them. That's why it's so important to choose appropriate phrases that are distinctive, even when the products are very similar.
You already know what changes you can make to your website on your own, and which ones should be handled by SEO specialists. Proper communication is the cornerstone of every cooperation, so don’t be afraid to ask what you can do to support the SEO process, and why certain things work the way they do. It’s always better to write a few emails or make phone calls than to struggle for months to rebuild traffic after implementing unwanted changes.
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