Why does my Google rank keep changing so much?

Why does my Google rank keep changing so much?

Even dramatic fluctuation in rankings is actually something completely normal. According to some of the experts, Google changed its algorithm 3,200 times in 2018 alone, and we think the number has only grown since then.

While algorithm updates will certainly have an effect on your rankings, experience has shown us the two most common reasons for rankings that keep changing are:

  1. Technical issues
  2. The competition making moves

Technical issues

Technical issues will prevent Google from going through a smooth crawling and indexing process for your site. When it comes to this area, you want to make it as easy and fast as possible for Google to process and understand your content.

These issues can range from pages being unavailable (5xx server errors) to something we call “flapping”—where search engines are receiving different responses for the same request. This may happen because you’re using a load balancer backed by multiple servers that are running multiple versions of your site. Or when there are CDN caching issues.

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The competition making moves

With billions of websites out there on the internet, it’s a tough job trying to run the most successful project. The competition never sleeps and will keep on making moves, trying to outperform you and push your pages down in the search results.

For this reason, you should always try to stay ahead of the game, monitoring what your competitors are doing. Investigate, explore, and discover to whom you lost your rankings. Identify any search queries for which your positions have dropped. Gather your findings—and come up with a strategy to win those rankings back.

What else could have been the cause?

Google updates

As stated above, Google updates its algorithm constantly. While some changes are barely noticeable, others can have a huge effect. Nevertheless, Google’s updates are a frequent cause of rapid ranking fluctuations.

If your ranking has changed, check out if this didn’t happen to coincide with a Google update. While Google usually remains silent on its smaller updates, SEO professionals monitor the search engine’s behavior and have built tools that find major changes in rankings. One example is Barry Schwartz’s Was There A Google Update tool.

Geolocation and personalization

When you look at the Google Search results for your website directly in Search, you should always bear in mind that these results are personalized. The algorithm takes into account your previous behavior and the sites you visit the most often, as well as your geographical location.

To get less skewed results about your ranking, you should use a rank tracking tool that generates non-personalized and non-localized data. However, remember that their results are still mere assumptions, and it’s better to combine several such platforms to get a better grasp of your performance.

When should I be alarmed by a Google rank change?

If your rank trackers suggest that something is happening to your website, take a look at your traffic analytics. If there are no major changes, then your rank tracker might be serving you skewed data. If there is also a drop in traffic, this means that the ranking really is changing and is affecting your performance.

How do I keep track of my rankings?

To get the most reliable estimates of your rankings, you should use multiple tools together. The best option to start with is Google Search Console plus data from Bing Webmaster Tools. Then combine these with appropriate rank trackers, such as AccuRank, and other platforms so that you have multiple sources for analyzing your website’s performance.

Pro tip

Evaluate your ranking on a weekly or even monthly basis to gain the bigger picture. Looking at daily performance alone can result in imprecise assumptions about your overall ranking.

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