Saturday, 14 September 2019

Search Rankings Can Be Turbulent, Don't Panic

sleeping cat

As I was heading off to bed last night, my electricity smart meter was flashing green and red. Apparently, I'd gone over my planned budget for the day. The meter was telling me our home consumption for the day had been £15.00, something that would make our annual bill circa £5500. It's closer to £800.

I shrugged my shoulders and went to bed fully expecting everything to be fine in the morning, and it was. By the morning the meter was telling me we'd spent around £10 this week, about right.

Truth be told, if I hadn't glanced at the meter on my way to bed, I would have been none the wiser, and would never have known about the tech brain fart going on under my roof.

It got me thinking about how some people look at their search rankings — viewing their stats every day, panicking at the slightest downward variation, rejoicing when there's an improvement and falling into the depths of despair at the realisation that it was just a blip.

Now, before I go any further, I will say it's possible to see dramatic and permanent improvements in search engine rankings. A recent Google update saw our traffic value, an SEM Rush measurement of the cost of buying organic equivalent traffic using Google Ads, soar. However, this is rare. For most businesses, improvements in search are slow and steady.

dramatic-serp-change

Unless your market is a niche or underdeveloped, the chances of seeing dramatic search improvements are rare, unless you employ the services of a company who specialise in gaming Google, a high-risk approach.

For most businesses embarking on a program of work designed to improve their digital footprint, checking the search engine results pages or SERPs daily is a waste of time. That time would be better spent creating useful content that will improve search engine rankings! In simple terms obsessing over search-rankings is like a double-edged sword that's got two blunt edges, pointless.

So what about the high-risk approach I mentioned earlier?

Well, Google uses a sophisticated algorithm or set of rules, to determine the SERPs that are served up in response to a person searching. The rules include specific measurements, including a web page's popularity. This popularity is measured in many ways, including an assessment of the number and quality of inbound links. Inbound links are simply links from other web pages, and Google views them as votes of confidence.

This means the quest for most website owners is to have the kind of content that other website owners want to reference and link to. Enter the high-risk approach to better search rankings.

By securing links using dubious techniques, specifically outlawed by Google, it's possible to get search rankings quickly. However, in many cases, the result is to crash and burn when a Google update closes whatever loophole the link spammer was using.

There's a little more to it, but in essence, that sums it up.

For most businesses, using a strategic and planned approach to improving search traffic from Google is the way forward. Generally, a 6 to 12-month plan makes the most sense, and this can be supplemented using paid digital marketing such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads, depending on where your tribe hangs out online.

This will usually result in a rolling improvement, as illustrated in a typical Google Search Console performance time series chart like this.

time series chart from google search console

Your goal as a digital marketing professional is to keep your graph going up and to the right, as well as correlating that data to bottom-line business improvements, assuming that's your goal, and it nearly always is.

You can view your rankings daily, and if you're a world champion procrastinator it's a noble pastime, but you don't need to. Ignoring the daily fluctuations and concentrating on the long term, steady progress will work far better, trust me.

For help and guidance on securing more traffic and business from Google, get in touch.

More in this category: Philosophical SEO, Link Building, content marketing, Lead Generation, growth driven design, digital marketing