What is it?
An SEO Freeze occurs when your website is crawled, indexed, and ranked for specific results below the first page, but is not seeing any aggregate change in ranking for 14 days.
SEO Freeze’s only occur for websites that are ranked below the 10th position, or beyond the first page of a Search Engine. A Freeze will include up & down fluctuations between two stable points, but the overall growth is 0. In terms of SEO, a Freeze will cause your content, if left in a Freeze of greater than 14 days, to not be able to rank any higher for content.
The reason this occurs is if your site has constantly been ranked between two specific values, it will take a significant “shake” of the system to raise your value. The shake can include anything from a massive surge in backlinks, traffic, or technical optimisation.
For our client above, who have agreed to share their information for this article, fell into a Freeze. As above, the content hit a peak on the 10th of January, and then began to stably fluctuate between the positions 11 and 18. What they didn’t realise that without optimisation, or content growth, they quickly fell into a Freeze. As the “Content Stall” began on the 25th, by the 9th their organic reach would begin to very quickly suffer, and after that the rankings began to sink steadily.
How does it happen?
SEO Freezes occur when content is kept at a stable ranking for specific keywords for an extended period of time. Google’s RankBrain Algorithm has learned how to relevantly rank content for specific queries, and if your content is ranked stably in a specific range, you will begin to fall in a Freeze.
While stability is important for Search Engines, it is only crucial for the first page. Therefore, being on the first page with stability will never cause you to go into an SEO Freeze, but actually only improve your DA and your reliability with Google. Of course this depends on a series of factors, such as User Time on Site, backlink growth, Content relevancy, and Local SEO!
If Google has consistently ranked your information between two specific ranges for 14 days, then you may quickly find yourself not growing beyond that, or falling into a decline. The horrible thing about an SEO Freeze, is that your rankings are very difficult to pull up, but can fall just as quickly as they could before. This means it’s a lose-lose situation, where your ranking doesn’t improve, but it is also still very sensitive to Search Engine preference and user interaction.
It is very important, therefore, to be able to monitor your rankings frequently and ensure that if it does seem like you have been stagnant for 10 days, to take action before your domain suffers a Freeze.
How do you “unfreeze?”
If your rankings haven’t changed for 14 days, and you believe your SEO has been Frozen, it’s important to shake your site in order to provide Google with a fresh consideration of your site, and drive up engagement from users. These are extensive measures in order to unfreeze your site and provide continual growth.
The first method: Technical SEO. Technical SEO involves optimising the way Search Engines interact with your website. This involves removing indexing penalties, providing Structured Data Markup, and making Google crawling very easy and simple. Technical Optimisations can be quick, taking only 14 days to fully complete a domain. This enables you to quickly get back on your feet and resume ranking growth.
The second method: Paid SEM. Search Engine Marketing will enable you to get a broad variety of users to your website quickly, and indicate to Google that your website has a fresh look, design, or a new value to be added to their index. Google will take this in a positive light, and most likely pull your ranking up for a week or two in order to test the market acceptance of your site. If your ranking improves, you will quickly start getting a lot more organic traffic in Google’s attempt to see if people like the content on your site. If the content is not satisfactory, and people leave your site quickly or without making any interactions (known as Time on Site and Bounce Rate), then your rank will be decreased lower than it was during your Freeze Period.
The final method: Website Overhaul. This is the most expensive, and time consuming method, with the lowest guarantee of results. This method involves fully optimising the design, content, structure, and often the programming of your site. This method significantly improves your user experience on your site, but will not make a huge difference to Search Engines, and thus potentially not be the best method of getting out of a Freeze. Improved user Time on Site and a reduce Bounce Rate will definitely help SEO, but the problem remains that you still have to get them onto your site, in order to prove that. That’s where Paid SEM, and Technical SEO, the options above would be superior options.