Why did your search engine rankings drop? Most website owners who keep a close eye on their SEO performance ask this question. It can be incredibly frustrating when one week you are watching your search engine results rise, and a few days later you can barely locate your website pages using the same keyword phrase.
The truth is, ranking fluctuations are essential to Google’s algorithm, and they happen on a regular basis. However, this does not always mean you have to be taken by surprise each time Google updates its algorithm, and you see a fluctuation in rankings.
In order to protect your page rankings, we will first look into the factors that cause the volatility in the search engine results:
- Search engine algorithm updates: Any change in search algorithms can cause ranking to drop and rise for a few weeks after the rollout. In the case of Google, most of them are larger-scale algorithm updates such Panda and Penguin. However, many smaller updates go unannounced, which makes it harder to attribute dips or rises in rankings to a particular factor.
- Content updates: Adding or updating content on a ranking page is a good idea, but significant changes can affect your rankings as the search engines crawl your updated content. You may notice positive changes if the content becomes more relevant to a specific keyword, but be prepared to see a negative impact, as well.
- Technical issues: If you incorporate complicated code that slows down your website speed, you can see ranking dip from the lack of accessibility the crawlers have on your website. Also, some of the web hosting services may not give you a great uptime. A website that is down frequently may send a signal to Google that it is not a reliable place to be.
- Inbound link strategies: Link building strategies can cause a significant rise or drop in the ranking of a page. If you are implementing an outreach strategy to point to specific pages, the sudden flood of links can cause a quick rise in rankings. However, the loss of links pointing to your website can cause a drastic drop, as well.
- Strong competitors: SEO competition is intense, and no matter how effective your strategies are, your competitors can still pass you. In this case, the best you can do is to focus on good SEO tactics. By doing this, your overall rankings will stay up, while you might lose positions for some pages.
Things to note when rankings fluctuate
- There is more fluctuation in the lower-down results than in the higher results. However, even if you manage to get your page ranking up, there is still going to be a significant flux.
- When you first gain rankings in the top three places, you will notice more fluctuation than after you have been there for a continued period. It is unusual is to see a lot of fluctuation for a website that is ranking for a keyword in position two or three for months in a row. You may observe one or two position changes, but you are highly unlikely to see a significant drop.
- Even in the top five rankings, you can expect significant fluctuation when the topic or result is time-based. You can understand this by looking at the search results and seeing gray text that says “four hours ago” or “two days ago.” When you see similar gray text next to search results, you should expect fluctuation.
How to react to ranking fluctuations
You can do many things to minimize ranking changes. You must learn to implement the right tactics and to be patient enough to wait for those changes to take effect. If you are observing rankings on a daily or weekly basis, it is critical to look for an algorithm update or any other significant factor. Though ranking volatility is not likely to stabilize anytime soon, you can implement a few strategies to minimize major fluctuations:
- Internal linking: Using internal linking can help you leverage keyword targeting within your website. However, you must avoid using rich anchor text.
- Website speed: This factor focuses on user experience. If your website is loading slowly, the visitor will likely exit and try another result.
- Building links: One of the easiest ways to offset a drop in rankings is by building a lot of links. However, search engines will notice if your website is gaining links at an unnatural rate. This will set off red flags for further ranking drops. Building links to a variety of pages will help stabilize and improvise rankings. This strategy will contribute to the authority of your website and will boost keywords at a website-wide level.
- Updating your website: Simply refreshing and updating content on your website will help increase rankings at a page level. By updating text and images on your web pages, you can improve user experience as well as rankings.
So, next time your website’s rankings fluctuate, do not freak out. Google’s algorithms change all the time, resulting in minor or major fluctuations in search rankings. Do not let these changes affect your SEO goals. Your rankings are the most critical part of your SEO goals.