How a drop in rankings is like a broken heart

You know the feeling, you are in the throes of devotion, every colour seems brighter, each day seems more beautiful, you find yourself wrapped in an ambrosia of infatuation, yes thats what happens when your website starts to rank #1 . Being in love can elicit similar emotions, maybe slightly less intense (I am a true geek aren’t I). I have been lucky enough to experience the full range of emotions when it comes to caring deeply for that someone special, unfortunately I have also had the heartbreak that comes when something so fantastic ends abruptly. It got me thinking about when the big G had a major algorithm shift and my site disappeared from the front page of the rankings, I had a feeling similar to the heartbreak that I had previously endured.

Broken heart

Photo by TimOve via Creative Commons

Now I know that having your heart broken and your website’s rankings battered are two different things however they do have similar results. Denial is one of the first emotions that come to mind. “It can’t be over, it just can’t, maybe I am logged in and my personal search history is clouding the results, no that’s not happening, maybe my host has been down or I didn’t pay my account, nope not that either, oh wait let me log into webmaster tools and see if I have a message indicating some kind of penalty, wrong again, wait I remember I was messing with my robots.txt file, did I accidentally put a disallow all? Not that either”
Anger is probably the next emotion you are going to feel. “You dumped me out of the rankings? You can’t do that, I get almost 100 visitors a day, you can’t just take me out of the first page ranking results, don’t you know who I am? I am going to march all the way to Mountain View and open a can of whoop a@$. Fine, two can play that game, you want to play hardball I’ll play hard ball, im going to stop spending my $100 a month on PPC, see how you like it ”
Next up is normally bargaining “Im really sorry and contrite, maybe we can make a deal? How about I increase my spending to $200 a month and I will send Larry, Sergey and Matt a fruit basket every week for a year, come on Matt I love cats too, icanhascheezburger is my favourite site. Wait I know, I will submit a re-inclusion request, maybe that will do it, come on if you put me back in the first 3 results I will only create unique content, will never spam, no more white text on white background, I will be good, just help me out here, PURTY PLEASE.”
Now what? Bring out the ice cream and start to weep. Grief is the next emotion and it’s incredibly powerful. Waves of it can crash over you, making melancholy your usual state of being. Analysis of what you could have done wrong also occurs. “Was my content to similar to my competitor? Were my title tags too similar on my site? Did the search engines find out that my one link from a pagerank 4 site was actually bought? Should I have double checked my host to ensure that no banned I.P addresses were hosted by them? I knew I should have varied my anchor text, stoopid stoopid Marc.”
The last stage is acceptance. This is possibly the most important stage to handle correctly. “So what? I never really like that site anyway, come on a site on the latest poodle fashion and hair trends was so 2008 and was never really going to take off, the measly 5 bucks a month I was getting from Adsense, pffff who needs it, I am going to build a bigger site, a better site, one with all the best SEO practices around, this site is going to be great, the best ever, me and this site are going to be together forever”
So in alot of ways a broken heart and a site at the top ranking can make you feel a similar way. Of course true heartbreak can be devastating and very difficult to get over. However the moral of the story is the same, you need to deal with your emotions, get over it and get back on the horse and get out there, planning new sites, applying the best search engine optimisation techniques on your other sites, come back better stronger and happier.
Have a good weekend everyone.

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0 Replies to “How a drop in rankings is like a broken heart”

Love the post – it happens to the best of us.
Perhaps you could try baking Google a cake shaped like the internet:

How a drop in rankings is like a broken heart

Kudos for a great SEO article – Trackback from SEOKudos

Marc, I loved this article, it captures exactly the way one feels when the rankings drop or vanish from the big G. You capture it so well.
Keep up the excellent blog posts.


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