Why does my Google ranking keep changing?
If you have ever stared at your Google Analytics account in desperation after yet-another keyword fluctuation, this article is for you.
We will discuss 12 reasons why your Google ranking keeps changing, as well as offer solutions to keep your hard-earned rankings as stable as possible.
Why Does My Google Ranking Keep Changing?
1. Natural fluctuations
The lower your search engine ranking, the more volatility there will be.
You have a lot of competition with only a few “points” on your side, so minor changes, such as publishing new content on your site, will have a much larger impact.
It’s completely normal but, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can really do about these fluctuations except strive for a higher ranking.
When you’re at the number one position, you’ll remain stable in the top few results for your keywords regardless of fluctuations.
2. Google algorithm changes
Google is constantly changing its algorithm, implementing manual tweaks and adjustments almost daily and pushing out more comprehensive updates every couple of weeks.
These minor shifts are hard to track, and there’s nothing you can do about them.
Google also makes larger changes all at once.
These updates usually have names, such as Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.
With these updates, it usually takes days, sometimes even a week or more, to settle into a new paradigm and stabilize your keyword rankings.
3. Sudden factors
A sudden change in your competition can have a major impact on your keyword rankings.
The collapse of an existing competitor creates a void to be filled, while a strong newcomer can jostle everyone’s rankings while Google figures out where to place them.
Similarly, a sudden surge in popularity for a particular topic can make your ranking fluctuate quite a bit.
A surge in traffic gives Google a bunch of new data that can be used to figure out which sites their users prefer. Therefore, a low-volume keyword can fluctuate wildly if, for example, a brand hits the news.
4. Temporal interest
Temporal interest tends to come and go, and your keyword rankings fluctuate with it.
These types of fluctuations are often highly seasonal.
For example, many sites go under during Black Friday because they simply cannot accommodate the surge in traffic.
This creates a void in search results, causing other sites to rank higher for a brief period of time.
5. Changes to content
When you publish a new piece of content, Google indexes it and figures out how high it should be ranked.
Good content will boost the ranking of the rest of your site, while bad content will drag it down.
Removing old content can also cause unexpected fluctuations.
The subsequent loss of trust (from removing old but good content) may cause your site to sink a little.
In most cases, removing bad content will cause your site to shoot up in rankings after it is reanalyzed and repositioned by Google.
6. Changes to links
The number and quality of backlinks is an important determinant of your search engine ranking.
Removing bad links can give your search engine ranking a boost while removing good links will make it drop.
7. URL changes
You will always see massive fluctuations when you change your URL.
Google has to figure out if the new site that just popped up with all of your content is an impostor or not.
It can take weeks or months to regain your rankings after such a major change.
8. Search penalties
Some search penalties happen when Google pushes out an update and finds your site lacking in one aspect or the other.
Others are more direct and happen because you failed to comply with one of Google’s rules.
Check your search console and consider doing a site audit if you suspect you may be subject to a Google penalty.
9. Negative search engine optimization (SEO) attacks
If you notice a sudden drop in rankings but don’t see anything in your search console, check your backlink profile to see if you might be subject to a negative SEO attack.
If someone starts associating your site with spam links, your ranking can drop dramatically.
Some fluctuations are inevitable even if you disavow these links immediately.
10. Compromised sites
If someone hacks into your site and Google detects it, it can tank your ranking or even remove you from search engine rankings entirely.
11. Changing SEO tactics
If you are targeting new keywords or testing new backlink strategies, expect your site’s ranking to fluctuate a little bit.
The ranking fluctuation will settle down once Google figures out what’s going on.
12. Changing your ad strategy
Paid advertising affects organic SEO.
Too many ads, or ads that are not relevant to their landing page, can hurt your search engine ranking.
As a result, starting or stopping ads can have a dramatic effect on your ranking.
How to Keep Your Google Rankings (Relatively) Stable
Unfortunately, you can’t do much about natural keyword fluctuations and Google algorithm changes, except monitor them and try to keep up.
However, it is possible to capitalize on sudden trends, especially if you are a content marketing pro – or have one on your side.
You should keep temporal interest keywords in mind and prepare for the surge of activity during the year.
A temporary outage due to the unexpected volume of traffic can shuffle around search results quite a bit, so make sure your site can handle seasonal traffic.
Always strive to publish the best quality content possible to keep your site’s ranking high.
Consider doing a yearly content audit, as well as a backlink audit, to remove content that might be dragging your site down.
Carefully evaluate whether a drastic move like a URL change is worth it in terms of search engine ranking.
Always keep an eye on your competition: if everyone’s fluctuating, you probably don’t have much to worry about.
However, if you are the only one experiencing ranking changes, you might be subject to a search penalty, a negative SEO attack, or other SEO troubles.
Some of these issues will require professional help to detect and fix.
If you suspect your site may be unfairly punished by Google’s ranking engine, consider bringing in a team of SEO specialists to help you out.
How Handmade SEO Can Help
Is your search engine ranking fluctuating more than you’d like? Do you want to know why – and how you can fix it once and for all?
Check out our FREE Digital Marketing Assessment to find out!
It includes a complete SEO audit of your website that will show you exactly how you can improve your website’s ranking in Google and convert more visitors into buyers.
Did we mention it’s completely free?