Google’s Danny Sullivan Provides 5-Step Plan To Diagnose Ranking Drops

Feb 15, 2024 | SEO News Feeds | 0 comments

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Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, recently offered guidance on how to diagnose ranking declines.

Sullivan provided the advice on X (formerly Twitter) to Wesley Copeland, owner of a gaming news website, who sought help after seeing a significant drop in traffic from Google searches.

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According to Copeland’s post, he’s been struggling to understand why his website’s status as the go-to source for Steam Deck guides has changed. He stated:

“Hey Danny! Any chance you could take a look at my site, please? We used to be the go-to for guides on Steam Deck but got hit pretty badly and I’m a bit lost as to why.”

A Five-Step Plan To Recovery

Sullivan recommended several steps to diagnose and address potential issues with the website’s performance:

  1. First, use Google Search Console to compare the site’s metrics over the past six months versus the prior period.
  2. Next, sort the Queries report by click change to identify notable decreases.
  3. Check if the site still ranks highly for those terms.
  4. If so, the content quality and SEO may not be the problem.
  5. Recognize that Google’s ranking algorithms evolve continually, so some volatility is expected.

“If you’re still ranking in the top results, there’s probably nothing fundamental you have to correct,” Sullivan assured.

He elaborated that changes in traffic could be due to Google’s systems finding other content that could be deemed more useful at the time.

I would suggest:

1) Go to Search Console, select Search Results from Performance
2) Date range, Compare last six months to previous period
3) Sort the Queries report by Clicks Difference
4) Look at some of the top queries where clicks dropped the most
5) See if you’re still in…

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 14, 2024

Implications & Insights For SEO Professionals

Sullivan’s advice highlights the importance for SEO professionals to regularly analyze performance using tools like Google Search Console. His recommended approach can provide insights into traffic changes and identify areas to potentially optimize.

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High search rankings require aligning with Google’s evolving ranking criteria. Google continually improves its algorithms to deliver the most relevant content to users. Therefore, search ranking fluctuations are expected.

Final Words

Copeland’s experience demonstrates the volatile nature of SEO, demonstrating that even well-established websites can be impacted by changes to Google’s ranking priorities.

Sullivan’s final words offer a mix of assurance and the reality of SEO:

“But you probably don’t have any fundamental issues, and it might be the mix of how we show content could change to help you over time.”

The conversation between Copeland and Sullivan is a lesson in staying vigilant and responsive to the ever-evolving demands of Google’s algorithms.


What strategies should SEO professionals employ to adapt to ranking fluctuations?

  • Regularly monitor website performance data through Google Search Console to detect trends or changes in traffic.
  • Keep informed about updates to Google’s ranking algorithms and adapt SEO tactics accordingly.
  • Focus on creating content aligning with current Google relevancy and usefulness standards.
  • Remain vigilant and prepared to make optimizations as market conditions and ranking criteria evolve.

What insight does the interaction between Wesley Copeland and Danny Sullivan give to SEO marketers?

  • It underscores the unpredictable nature of SEO, indicating that even popular websites can experience shifts due to ranking algorithm updates.
  • The guidance confirms the necessity of maintaining a proactive approach to SEO, particularly in evaluating performance metrics.
  • It highlights that, while traffic declines can be worrying, they don’t always signal fundamental issues with the content or SEO practices.

Featured Image: Who is Danny/Shutterstock

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