Search Rankings and Why They Can Be So Volatile

Whether you run an E-Commerce store or a travel blog; the chances are good that search rankings are the top priority for you. People spend a lot of time and make so much effort in optimizing websites; for rankings in popular search engines like Google. Rankings directly impact how visible your website or web page is on the SERP for a particular query. Obviously, it can be painful to see a Google update make rankings drop after you put in all that effort. This blog explores what search engine rankings are and why they can seem so volatile.

Search Rankings and Their Volatility  

Like any search engine, Google aims to offer the best and most relevant results for each search query. There are more and more internet users than ever before, thanks to affordable and reliable services like Cox Internet Starter. This means Google sees millions of search queries every single day. To do that, Google needs an extraordinarily refined and fluid mechanism to rank and display results for a search query. This is where the ranking system comes in. This blog explores:

  • Understanding Search Rankings
  • How Google’s Algorithm Updates Affect Rankings
  • Content Updates and Their Impact on Rankings
  • Other Factors That Influence Search Rankings
  • Conclusion

Explore more.

Understanding Search Rankings

Why are search rankings so volatile and fluid? Understanding that first requires that we look at how search rankings are calculated in the first place. Google starts by indexing all the websites and webpages that are available across the internet. Think of Google’s index as an organized library for all the books ever written in the world. The index allows Google to find the best possible results for a given search query with relative ease.

To find the best results for the SERP, Google looks at both contextual relevances and website authority or trustworthiness. Contextual relevance examines the type of content and its relation to the query in question. At the same time, Google wants to display results from reliable resources or websites with higher domain authority. This is why so much importance is placed on earning high-quality links from other high-ranking websites to improve your ranking. Now that we understand how search rankings are determined, we can move onto the factors that impact them.

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How Google’s Algorithm Updates Affect Rankings

Updates to Google’s proprietary algorithm often affect search engine rankings. You have to remember that the algorithm is not a monolith of code. Google periodically updates it, so the algorithm is continuously evolving. In the first decade of its existence, Google had to make massive changes to prevent webmasters from abusing its algorithm. With refined parameters, blackhat techniques like link-spamming went out of the window. In fact, if you try these techniques, Google will likely penalize you and lower your rank.  

In the years that followed, Google has continued to improve and modify its algorithm. The Panda and Penguin updates improved standards even further. Google also frequently releases smaller updates during a year. Of course, the internet giant is very secretive about its update. After all, it is what makes Google what it is. These updates can have a range of impact on your search engine rankings. They can deal with content evaluation, evaluating backlink quality, or even how user queries are interpreted. Nearly every update has some effect on search rankings. But they usually target specific types of websites or industries. So it’s rarely across the board.

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Content Updates and Their Impact on Rankings

Content on the web is in a constant state of flux. New content is added on the internet every day. Remember that you aren’t the only one continually improving your website with optimized content. Many other people are doing so as well. Often, new content from a competitor can help it rank higher than you in the SERP. Conversely, new content on your website might push up your ranking for a specific query.

Other Factors that Influence Search Rankings

Several other factors influence search rankings for websites. Google’s attention to personalizing search results for individuals is something to consider. To put things in context, two people entering the same search query at different times of the day; in different places will see very different results. Of course, that’s not the only factor. Google’s RankBrain is a tool that uses machine learning to understand the context of a search better. In other words, it tries to realize what people are searching for beyond the search query’s actual words. That means rankings always change as RankBrain learns more.  

Google also frequently introduces new features that impact the SERP layout. For example, the featured snippet section aims to show a snippet of the most relevant search result. Getting a content snippet featured on the SERP could improve your rankings considerably. Of course, Google also continuously indexes new content on the website. Often, it can take time for your website to be indexed appropriately before it can be ranked.

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Conclusion

The internet is a vast tapestry of information. Search engines like Google help us make sense of it and find the information; that we are looking for easily and quickly. To do this, Google has a proprietary rankings system to organize the results on the SERP. However, search rankings can often seem volatile because a lot of factors come into play. But don’t worry, Google will always show the best possible results; when you search for, let’s say, Cox Customer Support or a local eatery. That is why it remains a dominant force in the search engine industry.

Image Source: Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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