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Ranking Fluctuations Unpicked

Ranking Fluctuations Unpicked

What’s the deal with ranking fluctuations? Should what seems like a scary haywire series of fluxes cause the heart to plummet? In a nutshell, no. In fact with SERP fluctuations, change is, quite frankly, the name of the game. This blog’s on putting ranking fluctuations into perspective while keeping your cool and gliding through a bout of fluctuations, without letting these quite normal ups and downs tip you off balance; with a heads up thrown in on how to spot when you should have cause for concern and need to take action.

Ranking fluctuations are quite normal and happen to everyone. URL’s rarely stay ranked at the top, or indeed in any one position for long periods of time and rankings can and do fluctuate across the board in most search results. Yes, there can be some consistency within the fluxes, and a consistent position may be held for a period of time then lost for a while then regained again. Heraclitus noted, “change is the only constant” and this is certainly true of SERP fluctuations.

If you’re a hawk-eyed daily observer of your rankings you may notice your position hop about more than the Easter Bunny; particularly true the lower down the page we scroll. One minute you’re 23 the next 9, then back to 23 then down to 6. It can’t be stressed how common this is and shouldn’t generally be cause for undue worry.

The Lowdown on Ranking Fluctuations

  • It’s normal to expect some fluctuation.
  • If you’re experiencing out of the ordinary and quite frankly unwelcome harsh fluxes, such as unexpected and abrupt drops in page traffic throughout your site overnight, so all or most of the pages dropping rankings on a big scale; then something is amiss and should be addressed. The cause could be a number of things, such as technical on page problems, is the site losing links, for example? Or did you do something wrong in the eyes of Google so the site’s been penalised, has Google devalued any of your links maybe? Investigate, find the cause of the problem and eliminate the issue.
  • More often than not, when all is running well, fluctuations are to be expected, aren’t usually so harsh and usually nothing at all to worry about.
  • It’s normal to expect more fluctuation the lower down you are in search results. Flux does happen towards the top but it’s usually more common and frequent in the latter result pages.
  • A URL ranking in the top two slots, for instance, for several consecutive months, is very unlikely to see a whole load of flux. Position may change a couple of times, but the crazy ricocheting is to be expected in the bottom results. It’s to be expected and both taken with a pinch of salt. If your SERP is lower down in the results, fluctuation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly if it’s mostly going in the right direction, of course.  
  • If your URL is getting picked up as one of the high fliers, it’s likely you’ll see more flux in the early days of getting ranked in the top five, for example, than you will when you’ve held your ranking position in these coveted skies for a lengthy period of time. 
  • Rankings can, however, be about as clear as mud some days, in terms of actually getting an accurate handle on where your URL stands. They’re not always the gospel truth to go by in terms of who is actually seeing your URL in their search results. Why? Because factors such as geographical location, device used and the particular day you happen to check in on your ranking can all affect the result you are actually seeing compared to where you rank in real terms, in where you come up in the search engines and what a proportion of other people will be seeing. i.e. You may be featuring higher in some search results than you appear to be due to factors such as localisation having a massive effect on search results. Google is a biggie in terms of the impact of localisation on search results, and users with as little as 1 miles distance between them could be seeing different search results for the same query. 
  • And naturally other factors can affect rankings. Fluctuation can go into overdrive, for example, when an intrinsically temporal query or result is in play, so, if relevant, this can be a common factor affecting the ranking and diversification of search results.

Perspective

  • The trick to getting an accurate overview is to base your perspective of rankings on a longer term basis, over a period of several weeks or a couple of months, and step away from the daily stalking of SERP stats. Instead, try to relax and take the wider view. This way you’ll have a much clearer, truthful and helpful picture of where your rankings are at and what, if anything, you need to do. 
  • Observe also how your SEO strategies affect rankings and how changes you make affect fluctuations.
  • Don’t solely rely on rank trackers. Get a bit more personal. Take a closer look at your page traffic. If traffic to your pages and organic search are actually fairly consistent and organic visits are regularly steady then chances are people are seeing your URL and your content marketing and SEO strategies are working.
  • Take a look at how your competitors are doing in the stakes. Is their URL fluctuating in much the same way to yours over similar periods of time? Probably. It’s unlikely to be anything you’re doing wrong; it’s unlikely to be anything to do with anything you are doing at all. It could be said that SERP and Google work in mysterious ways. Google fluxes happen. Normally no action is required and then, fluxes pass, as fluxes do. 
  • If traffic is plummeting, take a look at the bigger picture, and if the bigger picture is amounting to a continual going down in rankings; return to the strategic drawing board with the view of optimising your search engine positioning. Can you be more creative and adaptable with your content and link building game plan?

The Bigger Picture

These choppy SERP seas are all par for the course, so finding your sea legs is always a good start. Try not to let the turning tides baffle you and instead keep a level head and return to the ‘bigger picture’ we touched on before. Keep an eye on the ball; know your own game and know it well; keep interested in your competitors who are getting it right and their tactics; be aware of new competitors that join the SERPS; and above all try to stand out from the crowd and keep one step ahead of your competitors by employing clever and innovative content marketing. But as far as the bog standard Google flux goes, it’s usually okay and no cause for alarm; so it’s usually okay to let fluxes go on their merry flux way. And carry on as you are.