As Google continues to strengthen its footing in the search engine market — 90% of all searches are performed on it — it’s important for business owners to optimize their website for Google. Even if your business’s website ranks at the top of Google now, however, its rankings may change over time. There are a few common reasons for lower Google rankings, some of which include the following.

#1) Competitors Performing SEO

Maybe your lower Google search rankings are the result of competitors performing search engine optimization (SEO) on their websites. If you neglect to publish high-quality content and build authoritative backlinks to your website, competitors may use this opportunity to outrank you by performing their own SEO. As their websites’ search rankings increase, your rankings may fall as a result. This is why it’s important to make SEO a continuous, ongoing process as part of your business’s overall digital marketing strategy.

#2) Algorithm Update

Another possible reason your website’s Google rankings have dropped is an algorithm update. Google updates its algorithm hundreds of times per year. While most of these updates are small, some are more significant. It’s these larger updates that can disrupt the search results and cause fluctuating rankings. You can see a list of all known updates Google has made to its ranking algorithm by visiting Moz.

#3) Google Penalty

Hopefully, this isn’t the cause of your website’s lower rankings, but it’s still something that you need to consider. Google has been known to penalize websites for engaging in black-hat and other manipulative SEO practices. Paid backlinks, for example, can trigger a Google penalty. The Mountain View company has become particularly adept at identifying which backlinks are organic (natural) and which ones are paid. And while purchasing backlinks may offer an initial improvement in your website’s Google rankings, the search engine giant will eventually discover this and lower your rankings as a result. To see if you’ve been hit with a Google penalty, add your website to Google Search Console and check your messages.

#4) Fewer Backlinks

Your website’s backlink portfolio will affect its search rankings on Google. Unfortunately, there are times when a website may remove a backlink pointing to your site. And if the backlink was on an authoritative, relevant website, losing it may result in lower search rankings. Keep an eye on your website’s backlinks to see where exactly they are located.

#5) Major Site Redesign

Redesigning your website may cause its Google rankings to tank. This is especially true when changing the URLs of your web pages. Unless you use a 301 redirect code or canonical URLs, you may lose the rankings for any changed URLs. Check out this Google article for assistance on how to update your website’s URLs during a major redesign.