SEO erosion: My guide against falling results in Google

In the dynamic world of search engine optimization, staying high in search results is a constant challenge. With the rise of new technologies and constant updates to search algorithms, companies and SEO professionals are facing a phenomenon called “SEO erosion. This erosion can occur gradually and go unnoticed until a website’s visibility and effectiveness are significantly reduced. Understanding SEO erosion and learning to recognize the causes is crucial to developing effective strategies that minimize the impact and strengthen a website’s online presence.

What is SEO erosion?

SEO erosion refers to the gradual loss of search engine rankings and organic Web traffic, often due to outdated or ineffective SEO practices, changes in search algorithms, or technical problems on Web sites. This phenomenon occurs when a website is no longer able to compete with newer or more optimized websites, resulting in a drop in visibility and relevance in search engines such as Google.

Importance of the topic

The importance of SEO erosion lies in the fact that it can have a significant impact on a company’s online visibility and success. Websites suffering from SEO erosion can experience a significant drop in web traffic, which directly affects lead generation, conversions and ultimately sales. Moreover, recovering lost rankings can be a time-consuming and costly undertaking. Therefore, it is essential for companies and SEO specialists to understand and proactively manage this phenomenon.

SEO erosion and what you can do about it in a nutshell

No time for a long article? No problem. Watch the video below for a summary of this article.

SEO erosion and what you can do about it (video).

Causes of SEO erosion

In practice, I see many different causes of SEO erosion. From competitors investing just a little more in the SEO to simply stopping writing content. There are many possible causes underlying this.

Changes in search algorithms

One of the primary causes of SEO erosion is the continuous evolution of search algorithms. Search engines such as Google make regular updates to provide users with more relevant and high-quality search results. These updates can range from minor tweaks to major overhauls that drastically change the way search results are ranked. Websites that do not adapt quickly enough to these changes, or that are built on outdated optimization strategies, may see their rankings fall.

Outdated SEO practices

SEO is not a static field; what works today may be obsolete tomorrow. Common outdated practices such as keyword stuffing, excessive link exchange, or ignoring mobile optimization, can lead to SEO erosion. Once considered effective, these techniques are now seen by search engines as manipulative or irrelevant. Keeping up with the latest SEO trends and best practices is essential to staying relevant and visible in search engines.

Technical problems on websites

Technical problems on a website can also contribute to SEO erosion. This includes things like slow load times, poor mobile responsiveness, broken links, and errors in the sitemap or robot.txt files. These problems can negatively affect not only the user experience, but also the way search engines index and rank the site. Regular technical maintenance and optimization are necessary to ensure that a website meets current SEO standards.

Symptoms of SEO erosion

SEO erosion manifests itself in several ways, all of which can affect a website’s performance. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial to taking timely action.

Decline in search rankings

One of the most obvious signs of SEO erosion is a decline in search rankings. If a website that previously appeared on the first page of search results suddenly drops to lower positions or to the second page and beyond, this may indicate SEO erosion. This symptom requires immediate attention, as most users rarely look past the first page of search results.

Reduced website traffic

A direct consequence of lower rankings is a decrease in organic search traffic. Less visibility in search results means fewer clicks and visitors. This drop in traffic can be analyzed using Web analytics tools, which can show a marked decrease in user sessions and unique visitors over a period of time.

Lower conversion rates

An indirect symptom of SEO erosion can be a decline in conversion rates. If the quality of traffic reaching a Web site declines, fewer visitors are likely to take actions that are valuable to the business, such as filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase.

Impact of SEO erosion

The effects of SEO erosion extend beyond website performance; they can have a significant impact on overall business operations.

On companies

For businesses, SEO erosion can lead to a reduced online presence, resulting in less brand awareness and less trust from potential customers. This can be especially damaging for small and medium-sized businesses that rely heavily on online visibility to compete with larger players.

On online visibility

A company’s online visibility is crucial in the digital age. SEO erosion can lead to a reduced presence in search results, meaning the company is less likely to be found by potential customers. This can also lead to reduced authority in the industry, as the website is less likely to be seen as a reliable source of information or services.

On revenue

The ultimate impact of SEO erosion is often financial. A drop in website traffic and conversions can directly lead to lower sales and revenue. For many businesses, online sales are an important part of their revenue stream, and a reduction in them can have significant financial consequences. This highlights the importance of maintaining a strong SEO strategy to ensure a company’s online health and profitability.


SEO erosion poses a significant threat to businesses’ online visibility and success. Timely recognition of symptoms such as falling search rankings, declining traffic, and lower conversions is essential. To reduce the impact, continuous adaptation and updating of SEO strategies is necessary. A proactive approach and following the latest trends and best practices in SEO are crucial to maintaining a strong online presence and ensuring future success.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 27 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 27 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.