SEO Trends
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How to predict a Google penalty or sudden drop in Ranks

This article was updated on August 6th, 2020 at 05:58 am

On SEO forums, you find this question pop up many a times – “Why did my website suddenly drop in ranks? I did nothing problematic recently.”

Within the question itself lies the answer. There was a sudden drop in Google ranks and this was caused by something you did well in advance if not recently.

And significantly enough, 90% of the cases have connections with wrong or black hat SEO techniques. Well, let us say “greyhat”, to make it clear. But even then, predicting a Google penalty is comparatively easy.

How to predict a sudden drop in Google Ranks?

– Check your backlink history

Many of the times, the penalty would have something to do with what you did months ago, like a shady link building campaign you signed. It would have been done months ago, but the results come only 4-6 months later. So, check your backlink history, and if you find unnatural rise in the number of backlinks suddenly over a period of time, be cautious. A rank-drop is most likely around the corner.
Tool to check backlink historical data: Majestic SEO.

– Check your link quality

It would also be a good idea to stay on top of your backlinks data. Mine it out regularly and make sure you have data month on month. Also, keep checking it for shady stuff. Like forums, blogs built exclusively for link building, adult stuff etc. Or even completely irrelevant websites. You do not want to accumulate on those. If you find a pattern in your backlink quality, make sure you remove those shady links by contacting the webmaster.

– Keep a check on comment spam

Most of the Content Management Systems today are equipped with powerful anti-spam plugins but even then, others can harm you if you don’t stay on top of it. Be alert whenever you receive a large and unnatural amount of comment spam. It might mean that your link has been plugged into one of those spam repositories and people are following you from there. Trace out the source and take it down. If they accumulate without proper cleanup, you can expect some negative points accumulating on the website as well.

– Keep your website health checked regularly

Google has given us a wonderful tool, the Webmasters Tool, make sure you read all the messages that pop in there and look out for any warning signs shown. Google Webmaster’s Tool detects problems with the site early enough and alerts you so that you can fix it. There can be even issues with your site like wrong Meta info, wrong crawling permissions etc. If any of it pop at all, make sure you attend and fix them off well in advance.


Staying on top of the SEO historical data for your website is very essential to predict a rank drop. All you have to do is be cautious of any unnatural patterns emerging in your data. Even sudden overnight increase in ranks also have to seen with caution as any undeserved increased may be detected and pulled off later by bots. So know what you’re doing in your SEO efforts, and have control over everything as much as possible. Any loose ends might mean trouble.

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