Anyone who’s spent time building an online business knows that building organic clicks and interactions through search engine optimization (SEO) is incredibly important. Making sure that the people you’re trying to reach with your website can find you easily (and easier than they can find the competition) is crucial.
One way to measure the success of your SEO is through keyword rankings. Your SEO ranking for your given keywords or phrases is determined by where your site shows up on the list of results when a search engine user searches for your keyword. “Organic” rankings are those that come from non-paid quality SEO and not from PPC (pay-per-click) ads that simply place your site at the top of the search in exchange for money.
It can take time and close attention to implement quality SEO in order to have high organic website rankings across all of your site’s relevant keywords. However, even when you’re working hard to optimize your rankings, fluctuations can and do still happen.
Let’s look at just a few reasons that organic website rankings fluctuate.
The most common cause for organic website ranking fluctuation is simply that the algorithms used by a given search engine have been updated or otherwise changed. Search engines are constantly looking for ways to return the most relevant results to users based on the information about what those users are intending to find.
These shifts in organic website rankings are often short-lived and rankings will generally stabilize. So, if you see short-term ranking fluctuation, this could be a possible reason.
Effective SEO from Competitors
Another common reason for ranking fluctuation is just good old-fashioned market competition. Your website isn’t the only one vying for a top spot when it comes to your particular keywords or phrases. It may be that the content or functionality of a competitor’s site, combined with effective SEO, has caused your site’s rankings to slip.
One way in which ranking fluctuation might signal a problem is if it’s the result of the search engine responding to what it sees as a “link scheme.” Acquiring legitimate backlinks is a key strategy of effective SEO. However, if your links are of low quality, if you’re paying for links, or if your site is engaged in “guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links,” a search engine may classify your website as engaging in link schemes.
Because search engines are striving to provide quality results, they are designed to ignore link schemes when they find them and this can result in a drop in your ranking. It’s important to keep a close eye on your backlink strategy to guarantee that you’re relying on high-quality and relevant links to enhance your SEO.
Shifts in User Intent
Finally, your site may experience ranking fluctuation if the intention of users who are searching for your keywords have shifted. When this happens, it may be the case that your keywords are not as relevant to your branding, products, or services as they once were.
For instance, users who searched for the term “corona” in 2019 may have been hoping to find sources about malted beverages. In 2020, searching “corona” is likely to signal the user’s intention to find a very different kind of information.
While there can be other idiosyncratic causes, these are a few of the most common reasons for organic website ranking fluctuations.