As part of my work I regularly track rankings on many different keywords in many different niches, some for fun and some for business. These rankings change almost on a daily basis, especially for the newer sites SEO Wizz looks after.
You’ll notice the picture at the side is of the desperado roller coaster at Buffalo Bills resort in Nevada. I have had the pleasure of riding this roller coaster and trust me when I say the drops are immense, however this makes for a better roller coaster? A bigger thrill or buzz, right?
Google’s rankings are like riding a roller coaster, they slowly rise to the top and then out of nowhere you drop 4 pages back before rising back to the top again. Just this weekend my site dropped back to page 4 for “google seo” when I usually sit at number 1 in the UK pages and number 11 globally. Thankfully the rank has been restored within 24 hrs, along with the lovely traffic.
I’m sure you have also experienced the Google roller coaster but why exactly does this happen? The truth is no one really knows but we can have some calculated guesses at why it might.
On Site Changes
In order to stay “current” every site needs to make changes regularly, whether it’s prices, descriptions, old products or old news. These changes can have an effect on the optimisation of our sites and ultimately on our rankings. Not that long ago I explained the importance of being able to have a static homepage for SEO purposes, it helps keep you optimisation consistent and your rankings.
Most of the time these site changes will be minimal and therefore have a small impact on your Google rankings, however changes such as site design or restructuring can leave your pages needing to be re evaluated and optimised accordingly. If your site is strongly optimised towards a keyword which brings in a boat load of profitable traffic, I would personally recommend exercising caution when making site wide changes.
In addition to the above you also have to remember a big part of your site is it’s link profile, even small changes in your link profile can create ranking fluctuations.
If you have done a good job earning natural links changes in your link profile will be minimal, however if your being naughty and using paid or reciprocal links, these can become difficult to manage and could see you dropping drastically out of the SERPS. I was dealing with a client recently who had seen a massive drop in rankings, of course the SEO company working on the site before had bought links in mass, the sites selling the links had been caught my Google and all their links no longer passed PageRank, a huge drop in the clients link profile. Another reason not to buy links.
Another aspect of on site issues to take into consideration is your server down time. If Google attempt’s to access your page and is stopped due to a server error it may well drop you in the search rankings. I don’t think this would happen on one remote error, but if your site was continually experiencing problems this could well have an impact on your rank.
Google’s Algorithmic Changes
As we all should know, Google’s algorithm is always changing trying to edge closer to creating a perfect index by fighting spam and increasing relevance
These changes can have an impact on how Google views our site and can therefore cause a loss in rank. It has been reported that these changes could happen on a daily basis, each one effecting the way Google scores and weighs your sites relevance. For the most part the subtle changes won’t effect you and when they do you may find that it only effects a small minority of sites.
There is then the unexplainable loss of rank, it almost seems like Google decides to drop your site for a few weeks and then place you back in the exact same position, just for fun. There really is no explanation for this, some call it the sandbox, others call it a Hiccup! Either way we have found that this kind of activity happens more often to newer sites trying to establish authority. This probably explains what happened to SEO Wizz.
Why Are My Competition Competing??
Thats right, your not the only SEO savvy webmaster chasing that keyword and sometimes your going to lose out. So if your rankings change it could be nothing to do with anything you have done, it could be them.
Pages are going up around the web everyday and subsequently being indexed by Google. Some of these are going to be targeting the same keywords as you, this is why it is important to be one step ahead. It’s also worthwhile remembering that your not only fighting off direct competition but you are also dealing with, blogs, forums, and news feeds all of which could hold a good amount of domain authority. Optimise all your on page elements and build links continually by adding information rich pages to your website.
Remember that Google is on the relevance quest and may think a site is more relevant to a search query than your own. Just because you have a page on SEO is not going to make you the most relevant SEO source on the web, aim to fill your site with quality resources and references to make sure you remain the best source of information online.
An important element of maintaining a top ranking is to continually build a quality, relevant link profile. This is the hardest aspect of SEO to sell to clients. “Ok we have you in the top 3 but your only going to stay there if we keep increasing the quality and popularity of your link profile”. Think about it logically, Google wants the most up to date, relevant information in it’s index, if your site’s link profile has become stagnant Google is going to consider your information out of date and irrelevant. Keep building links.
Finally as a word of warning, if your rankings do drop don’t rush out and re optimise your site, don’t panic. The best thing you can do in this situation is sit back and do a little research, check out your competition, consider any changes to your content and see if anyone else is experiencing similar problems. Only after you have thought it over should you formulate a plan of action.Line Break
Author: Tim (293 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.