Why is my business fluctuating in terms of where it ranks on Google?

This is a very common question that a lot of agencies get asked, that is why does a company’s website fluctuate in terms of where it ranks on Google?

Business owners often get especially confused, when the website fluctuates when there are no changes that they have made to the design or to the search engine optimisation.

This article is going to look at some of the factors which can influence where a website ranks, and also what can affect the website moving up or down.

Google algorithm changes

So here’s the most obvious factor which can influence where a website ranks, that is an algorithm change that is made by Google. Now, before we do start, well its definitely worth mentioning there’s a lot of different reasons which can influence and therefore cause changes as to where a business ranks, but lets look at some of the more common reasons.

Now for those that know a thing or two about search engine optimisation, they will know that Google employs a lot of people that are constantly working on improving the algorithm, and also roll out algorithm changes.

So, for those that think that Google’s algorithm stays the same for long periods of time, well they would be wrong. The truth is Google is thought to make a lot of changes to its algorithm every single year, some agencies even go as far to say hundreds of various of rollouts to Google’s algorithm are made every year.

Now, don’t get us wrong, some are more important than others, for example, some seriously large updates were the Googe Hummingbird update and The Google Panda update, but even though they were large updates, there’s hundreds of others.

The vast majority of businesses that we work for, pay us to improve their search engine optimisation for Google’s organic results, you have to bear in mind that where a business is ranked on Google is solely dependent therefore on Google’s algorithm, therefore if a change occurs, the business can change in terms of where it ranks.

Sure, it’s the agencies job to improve the “ranking factors” so that when Googlebot indexes the work, Google’s very clever algorithm can make a decision in terms of where the business should rank. However, with that point made, what we are trying to get across here is, Google’s algorithm is also going through changes, so when an update is rolled out, its entirely possible that a business will shift up the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) or move back down.  

So, for example, let’s say a major algorithm update is rolled out such as the “Google Penguin update”, now if the business had a lot of spam links, that is a low-quality backlinks, then it was entirely possible and still is today, the business will drastically change where it ranks. In some instances, when a business doesn’t follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, well, the whole website could be subject to a “Google Manual Action” or a “Google Penalty” that’s dished out by its algorithm, in this case, its not a matter of the business moving a few positions on Google, nope, it could be removed fully in some cases!

Here’s the thing, Google only wants to supply the best quality answer to any query, so what all business owners need to understand is, if there are competitors that are simply better at answering the query, then it’s entirely possible that the website will shift where it change it ranks. This is why organic seo is a continuous process.

So, if a rival business improves its seo to a better standard than another business, then it can overtake that other businesses, this in itself is a major cause for why businesses move up or down on Google.

The website is deemed less relevant

Let’s say that you sell online cooking kits, that’s for people to make Mexican food while following a set recipe.

Let’s say that your business specialises in Mexican food, but, what might occur is that another business that also sells cooking kits, that becomes a better resource for cooking Mexican cuisine and starts to climb higher on Google.

Therefore, this might be because their business appears to be offering better information, and it might be getting more engagement, for example a lower bounce rate and more people reading through the various recipes, that business might quickly replace the one that is ranking higher.

Therefore, when somebody is making a query about trying to find somewhere that sells cooking kits for Mexican food, that business might be ranked higher, simply because some or all of the following might be stronger than a lot of other businesses:


·        The content marketing is better

·        The business has better engagement, lower bounce rate, customers are spending longer on the site

·        The information, for example how to cook Mexican food is better, so the business has a much stronger backlink profile.


Not all ranking factors are visible

It’s a common question that we are asked here at our agency, that is that the business seems to be updating their website more often than a competitor, and trying to improve the search engine optimisation, but the business is still struggling to understand why it is not ranking higher?

These questions normally get asked initially when a business contacts us, we will explain that with ranking factors, some are not visible on the website, for example backlinks are links that lead to a page or a post on the website, for example they may point to the homepage.

However, by just visiting a website, it isn’t apparent without the necessary search engine optimisation tools, to know how many backlinks are pointing to a page. So, therefore, yes some of the SEO work is visible, for example a 10,000 word article, that’s a piece of evergreen content marketing.

However, backlinks, without an SEO tool, or using say Google’s Search Console, you wouldn’t know how many links a company has.

Google’s RankBrain

This is something else that business owners need to think about, that is it’s not just about content marketing, and on-site SEO, it’s also about “engagement signals”.

For example, how long is a shopper spending on your website? How high is your “bounce rate” on each of the pages? How many products is a shopper looking at?

A business that has much higher engagement, is arguably better answering that query, that’s because the shopper is spending longer on that company’s website, so an agency should therefore also work hard to improve engagement signals.

Worst-case scenario, the business has incurred a penalty

Okay we hat to throw this into the mix as well, that is a business might change where it ranks, because the company has flouted the rules, it has therefore failed to adhere to the search engine optimisation rules and could have incurred a penalty, and therefore been removed from Google.

Whether your company is located here in Cardiff, and is implementing all of the search engine optimisation work yourself, or you employ one of the largest digital marketing agencies on the whole planet to do the SEO tasks for you, all companies, irrespective of company size, should follow what is called “Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.