If you’ve been performing search marketing for any amount of time in competitive spaces, you’ve had this conversation before.
The tone of this conversation is typically set by the relationship you have with your client. If you’ve spent the time explaining to them that success should be measured by the traffic that arrives at their site through other means that you are promoting, than this shouldn’t be too painful.
Also, the amount of the rankings drop is critical as well. Anytime a client drops from #1 to anything else, it’s a big deal.
Things to look for:
- Has the entire site been hit with a penalty in the rankings?
- Have only certain terms been impacted?
- Are any other rankings of theirs still in place?
- Have any code changes been made to the site?
- Has the content of the destination page been updated?
Also check your other client rankings. If you have been doing similar efforts on other clients and they all suffer the same, then that tells you that your linking strategy needs to change.
The last (and most obvious) thing is that the competition that saw you at #1 responded to the challenge and began a more aggressive seo effort to get those top rankings. I always tell the clients that reach that top spot to expect this, yet while they are basking in the glory of the top spot, they forget that they were once looking up and earned the top spot by being more aggressive than the site that was occupying the top spot. What goes around comes around…
So, when that panicked message comes in, those are some things to ckeck out before resorting to the oldest fallback in seo: “Well, Google updated their algorithm and now we’ll have to do some new/other methods to regain those rankings.”