Reasons Why Your Search Rankings Fluctuate

Search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint. The goal is to achieve stable high rankings. But, search rankings are highly volatile by nature.

Reasons your rankings may fluctuate include:

  • Algorithm tests and updates
    Search engines refine their algorithms every day and occasionally launch major updates. When search engines test algorithm changes and/or unroll major updates on the entire web, there’s not much to do but wait and see how your site (and your competitors’ sites) fare.
  • Technical issues
    Back-end configurations and settings can have a significant impact on your rankings, especially if those configurations and settings negatively impact user experience. The key to rescuing rankings from technical issues is to quickly identify and fix the issue. Some of the most common rank-busting tech issues include:
    • Slow page loading speed
    • Server overload
    • Missing or improperly executed page redirects
  • Search trends and seasonal interest
    If trending topics on major search engines are relevant to your industry, then you may experience a boost in ranking while those topics remain popular…followed by a dip in ranking when users lose interest in those topics. There is nothing you can do to maintain a ranking boost powered by fickle user interest. Just ride the tide.
  • New competition on the scene
    The arrival of a new competitor (with a shiny new website) can impact your ranking as search engines adjust their index in light of the new content, new user behavior, etc.
  • Content changes (new content added, old content removed)
    Major content changes, like adding new pages, blogs, etc. or removing dated pages, invite search bots to re-index your site. Depending on what was added or taken away, content changes could boost or drag down your ranking.
  • Keyword-search intent mismatch
    Search engine algorithms often change as a result of AI (machine learning). As the algorithm gets smarter, it may re-index your site for a different user intent. If the keywords you use do not match the new user intent, your rankings could fall.

Of course, your ranking will also fluctuate if your site experiences major upheavals, like:

  • URL changes
  • Hacks
  • Negative SEO attacks

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that impact your ranking—some you can control, some you can’t. To determine whether your change in ranking is a cause for concern, often you simply need to wait a day or two to see if the change self-corrects. If your ranking doesn’t rebound, then it’s time to start digging into your metrics. monitors our clients’ search performance, so we know when performance drops require patience or prompt attention. We notify you of any issues and give you recommendations for adaptations that will help boost your rankings again.