Blog: SEO
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Did Your Keyword Rankings Drop? Rethinking The Ranking Algorithm

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John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

When your rankings suddenly drop in Google, do you immediately think it was an algorithm change?

Or that you got a Google penalty?

The reality is, Google is starting to figure out what the majority of people want to find when they type in a given search query.

This is why the Google representatives say every time there is a Broad Core Update to the ranking algorithm, that you need to focus on “better content”.

That’s part of the story, as you should also take a look at what types of content are ranking for a given keyword phrase, That’s a big clue hidden in plain sight.

We should stop thinking of ranking drops as “algorithm fluctuation” or “heavy algorithm weather” or “Google penalizing your website”.

Instead, we should analyze what types of pages Google is rewarding for certain keywords. Pay specifically close attention to patterns in search intent and task completion.

Work toward “better fit content” for a given keyword phrase, instead of worrying about a “Google penalty”. The following video explains more.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

3 comments on “Did Your Keyword Rankings Drop? Rethinking The Ranking Algorithm

    1. Hi Analog:

      From people I’ve talked to that had negative SEO attacks, and observing what happens when people have so-called toxic links in 2019-2020, I don’t think anyone should be using the disavow file unless they purposely built black hat links and have already tried everything else. The disavow is essentially an admission of guilt to being a black hat spammer. This is why Google is making it more difficult to submit a disavow file.

      Did negative SEO from crappy links work in the past? I know some people that were affected by it about six years ago, but their site was still about a year old, no more than that. Their link profile at the time was pretty decent, and they probably could have rode it out and recovered without disavowing, but they ended up scrapping that project instead. A shame.

      I know for a certainty there are still small businesses getting “toxic” links from incompetent and/or black-hat SEO companies. When these sorts of links are the only links you have, then for sure your SEO is going to perform awful.

      The remedy to any attempted negative SEO via toxic links is to build up a strong link profile, and have the other parts of your SEO in line with what a quality site would do (original content on each page, good design, promote site in places Google expects to see it promoted).

      If a site isn’t ranking, it is easy to blame “toxic” links, but that’s often not the case. If you are in a very competitive vertical, it can make a difference (in a bad way). But do not disavow links.


  1. Thank you for this prompt reply! I totally agree with you that it’s a hard decision of making use the disavow, but let give you a scenario.

    A one year old website is in the process of link-building (around 3-4 new links per week since it was 3 months old) and has some nice keywords ranking between position 5-15, 2 of them for homepage and 3 other keywords (one per 3 landing pages). Now for the last 40 days, some strange* backlinks appeared, mostly on those landing pages and those pages are now not in top 100 anymore. Should you disavow or not? Keep in mind that those landing pages are seasonable and you don’t have much time to fight back.

    *Strange backlinks: 1) Some domains parked on GoDaddy, that for some reason they are linking back and when you try to open them they just give you a blank page. 2) Some domains that it appears to link back via images, but when you open the link, it redirects to football betting pages.

    Now what is better? Ignore the “toxic” links and move one with a big chance of 95% loosing the year’s train? Or disavow them because they count more than the 50% of your back-link profile?

    Thank you

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