Why Your Search Rankings Fluctuate
September 2, 2015
"But...I was on the first page yesterday!"
This is commonly exclaimed among business owners when checking into their search engine rankings. Most don't understand how they lose position for an important keyword, especially if they have held a top spot for a long time. They're also usually blissfully unaware of:
- The massive volume of factors playing a role in their current rankings
- How they got their rankings in the first place
- How often rankings change
To the untrained eye, changes in search performance seem to happen out of nowhere and for no reason — but there's a meticulous method behind the search madness.
Pay close attention and you'll notice that search rankings are in a constant state of flux. It's an ever-changing puzzle with pieces being continuously manipulated, removed, and replaced by outside forces (businesses and consumers) and inside forces (search engines and search algorithms).
When you see a shift in your rankings, the reason will typically boil down to a combination of 4 factors coming into play:
1. You made changes
Updating to a mobile site. Publishing a new blog article. Adding your profile to Google My Business. Posting to social media.
Things you do daily as a business owner in the digital age have a major impact on search rankings. By creating new content for your web presence on a regular basis, you are signaling to search engines that you're an authority, you're reliable, and you're an expert in your field with a reputation to be trusted.
2. Google made changes
Google is the King of Search. And when they speak, every other search engine listens.
They're the industry standard and it's a well-deserved position: they currently generate approximately 70% of total search traffic. But how they achieved search dominance is their excellent user experience, which they're constantly tweaking to give their customers the simplest, most intuitive search journey available.
These tweaks come in the form of algorithm updates. Google does multiple of these every year to provide searchers with the most relevant content for their needs.
Since Google is the leader of the pack, Bing and other smaller search engines tend to follow suit and copy their updates. Changes to core search algorithms, big or small, may be the reason behind changing rankings — especially if you don't update your site to match Google's expectations.
3. Competitors made changes
It's scary, but it's true: your competition may be paying as much attention to SEO as you are.
They're publishing the same content as you — blog articles, social media posts, local directory updates, and perhaps more if they've hired a professional.
Your rankings may have dropped not because of anything you're doing wrong, but because other businesses are doing it better.
4. Searchers made changes
Search engine users are always altering how they find what they need in the digital world. It may be the terminology they use when searching for your services, the platform they use for business discovery, or the device they choose to search with.
Recently, the rise of searches on mobile devices with GPS have given greater importance to local search. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, have also become more useful as consumers are using them more often for finding businesses and researching brands.
Search behavior is an important factor to monitor and track, because new technology is always changing how users interact with online content.
Need help managing & improving your rankings?
Our SEO specialists will keep on top of everything — including algorithm changes, new techniques and technology, evolving ranking signals, and the always-shifting competitive landscape — so you don't have to.
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