Common problem I see around the internet on most discussion boards. Someone will have a website that is ranking where they want it to then suddenly they go from page 1 to page 26 overnight.
Never build a business solely on organic Google rankings. Ranking in Google is always a bonus, you need to understand that it is one of those things that can disappear overnight, however I have devised a list of reasons why it probably happened, and what you can do to recover.
1.) Low quality content. Understand that low quality content can go through the system for a period of time then suddenly catch up to you. I have made low quality sites using RSS feeders from other sites, gone for years ranking front page of Google, then crashed overnight. The only thing I was surprised about was the fact that I managed to get away with it for so long. Take a good long hard look at your site, is it really a good site with awesome content or are you just being a little biased?
2.) Duplicate Content. Google like original content and so do I. If everyone could get away with plagiarising other people’s content and putting it up on their own websites then the foundations of the internet would crash. Maybe you are in the situation where you outsourced content writing to a writer and they took shortcuts and took other sites content. You can check if content is unique or not by visiting www.copyscape.com
3.) You stopped updating your site. I am guilty of this myself, the moments where I don’t update my site is when my rankings start to slide. Update your site as often as your competitors do. Stake site = stale rankings!
4.) High Bounce Rates. Google monitors how often it sends people to your site. Do those same people hit the back button and repeat the same searches again? Google isn’t going to rank your site if it has no trust in you. Create a good site with high engagement so Google will want to send more people to your site. If you referred your friends to a restaurant only for them to come back the next day and tell you that they hated the food. Do you think you’re going to recommend people to that restaurant again? Probably not, now you understand how Google rankings work a little more. Get on top of it, use Google analytics to track bounce rates and site engagement.
5.) Your website has no buzz to it. The more buzz your site has the more links it’s going to generate. The more social mentions and tweets people will be directing your way. You can create buzz by having competitions or writing really cool stuff that people are going to want to refer their friends to. Buzz sites are the ones that surge through the rankings overnight. Create enough buzz and that will be you. Plus your no longer relying on Google as a means of traffic.
6.) Too many ads. Website A has awesome content with no ads. Website B has awesome content with 20 ads. Google will rank those with a good text to ad ratio. Too many ads and I’m afraid you risk losing rank. Yes there has been some controversy in recent years regarding website with Google adsense ads on their site getting ranking over those that don’t because the sites that do have it make more money for Google. I personally have never witnessed any correlation between sites with Google adsense and higher organic rankings.
The good news is that you can recover your lost rankings. If you ranked before, there’s nothing standing in your way from ranking again.