It’s Time to Stop Saying “Oh S***” When Your Rankings Fluctuate

Expecting and Reacting to Sudden Ranking Fluctuations

Rankings fluctuate for everyone so keep this knowledge in mind as you go through your website’s SEO. It doesn’t matter what you did ‘wrong’ because the only thing that matters is what you do next – and I’m going to tell you exactly what to do when your rankings fluctuate.

The important thing to remember is that you should always remain calm. Know when you should actually be concerned about the fluctuations. The most common example of a sudden ranking fluctuation is when an SEO specialist monitors their Google rankings in the span of a single week and when their original ranking goes down or improves erratically. 

So, is the sudden fluctuation of your rankings something to worry about? Generally, no. The fluctuation of rankings happens to most search results – especially for the bottom half of the first page; and the pages in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th page of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

These fluctuations can be considered common, frequent, and consistent. Surprisingly, seeing the first three sites in the search results stay in their positions for an extended amount of time is rarer. So, it’s important for SEO practitioners to know what to expect from these fluctuations and how they should react.


Expecting and Reacting to Sudden Ranking Fluctuations-1

What to Expect When Your Rankings Fluctuate

As mentioned above, fluctuations are more likely to happen to the pages that are on the bottom half of the first page of the search results, as compared to the occurrence of fluctuations in the upper half. However, when you reach the upper half of the first page of the SERPs, you are still susceptible to these ‘sudden fluctuations’.

On the other hand, if your site has only recently gained the upper rankings, fluctuations would happen on a regular basis. However, when you have been in the upper rankings for a keyword for a considerable amount of time (a few months), then fluctuations would only then become a rare occurrence for you. If ever fluctuations DO happen to you when you have ranked in the upper bracket of the first page for a long time, then it’s time to do an in-depth research on your strategy or site.

Another important matter to take note of is that whenever you rank for a temporal (constantly changing in an indeterminate rate) topic or keyword, you should expect some fluctuations to your rankings  – even if you are in the top half of the first page. You can observe this by noticing the dates that are included in every result in the SERPs.


Expecting and Reacting to Sudden Ranking Fluctuations-2

What You Should Do

Well, the first thing you should do is remain calm and not to panic. SEO practitioners, when they see that their rankings are fluctuating would start to panic and do unnecessary things. You should generally avoid this. Whenever you experience a fluctuation, remember that it is normal and that you aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong.

If you check your rankings on a daily basis, consider changing it to a weekly or monthly basis. This is because fluctuations happen all the time so if you monitor your rankings daily, you will just be giving yourself a headache. On the other hand, if you check your ranking on a weekly or monthly basis, you will have a firmer grasp on your site’s rankings.

Additionally, a good strategy to use when you are having problems with fluctuations is to look at the rankings of your competitors. If you look into their rankings and notice that their sites are also fluctuating, then you do not have to worry because it’s the search engine that has a problem, not you.

Another strategy that you can try is to check your site’s traffic. This is a great strategy because sometimes when you are checking your rankings on a personalized device or a geographic area, you might be obtaining different kinds of rank than what users are actually seeing. You might be using Moz’s or SEMrush’s rank trackers, but what you did not know is that even though these tools use a non-personalized, non-geographical-biased system, biases still exist inside these rank trackers – no matter how little it might be. So, you can opt to check your website’s traffic instead. If you find out that the site has a consistent amount of visitors, then there is nothing to worry about because they are still able to search for your website.

Lastly, you should know when to be worried every time your site experiences a fluctuation in its rankings. The fluctuation of 2 to 4 positions is normal and it happens to everyone, which means you need not worry. However, if most of your website’s pages have a drastic drop in rankings, then it’s time to get worried. The first thing that you should do is to investigate your website. Did you do something wrong? Did Google find something worth penalizing in your website? Did they devalue your links? Or is your site experiencing some sort of problem? All of these should be checked because if you let your rankings stay where they are, you will lose potential visitors or even customers.

How Often Does Google Change

So here’s the thing: Google changes every day so rankings are definitely going to change. It doesn’t matter what you do because everything is still decided on Google’s whim. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. It is precisely because Google changes that we can find some consistency in their seemingly random timings.

Google’s major changes can actually be ‘felt’ whenever they start to happen. This is only possible because of Google’s previous major algorithm changes. So is there a reason to be ‘afraid’ whenever your rankings change a little? No. Because what you do next is what counts.

There’s a nigh limitless amount of factors to consider when you think of ranking for Google but as long as you practice good, white-hat SEO, then you have nothing to worry about. I recommend reading Moz’s up-to-date article tracking Google’s changes here.

Key Takeaway

A sudden change in ranking is something most SEO practitioners should be ready for. Whenever a person tries to rank for a certain keyword, it’s important to remember that they are not the only one that wants to rank for that certain keyword. The competition in the SERPs rankings is something that numerous people give up on. However, you cannot gain anything if you do not work hard for it.

So, when your site’s rankings fluctuate, the last thing you should do is panic. Google fluctuates all the time. Do not let the sudden change in your ranking affect your SEO goals. Your rankings are the most important part of your SEO journey, it’s what you want to improve. If ever you have problems in your pages’ ranks keep in mind everything that was included in this article, and you will potentially have a much better time in reacting to your ranking’s fluctuations.

What do you think about the ranking fluctuations? Do you other factors that might affect a site’s sudden rank fluctuation? Tell me in the comments below.


We’re going to be hosting SEO Summit 2017 soon and it’s sure to provide you with actionable, tried and tested lessons to help you grow your businesses or websites with SEO. I invite you to attend the event, I’m sure that it’s going to be a lot of fun. You can click on this link to find out more. 

Share on:
Sean Si

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.