Why does my Google search rank keep changing?

15.02.18

by Thomas Emmerson

You search for a keyword that you’re trying to rank really well on, and you see that you’ve dropped a place from yesterday. This is doubly frustrating because you’re investing a fortune in search engine optimisation.

You may even ask a friend to search for your keywords and they end up seeing a different result entirely. Why is this?

It’s a good question and a common problem. In this day and age, Google rank matters more than most people realise. The top result in a Google search gets around a 30% higher click through rate. So if your main keyword is searched 5,000 times a month, not being number one means you’re missing out on 1,700 website visitors a month.

To help answer why you might see a temporary or long-term drop when you search for your keyword we’ve compiled a list of reason as to why you might see different results.

Discover some killer SEO tactics to help your website rank higher in our free guide. Download your copy here.

 google ranking

Your location

If you and your friend are in different locations while searching, or you’re now in a different town or city, this is likely to affect the results you see in Google.

Google will try and show its users the most relevant result to the person searching, and many devices will allow Google to use the phone or the laptop’s GPS or location settings to do this.

Your search frequency

If you search for the same thing more frequently than someone else, you may end up seeing the same results more often (due to behaviour analytics). Let’s say you search for your company every so often to show a client. Because you frequent your website, you might see your website as a preferred result over someone that doesn’t visit your website as often - or has never visited it.
 

Similar websites

Likewise you might check out your competitors every so often. The previous example will apply to their sites too, and you may end up being served their website as a result because Google believes you prefer sites like theirs. The same may go for your friend - if they’ve checked out a competitor then they may see the competition’s website over yours.

Or if you check out the competition and they only look at yours, then they are more likely to see your website ranked higher than you will.

Increased competition

It’s possible that you genuinely have slipped a place or two for a keyword. Your SEO agency is likely to be working as hard as your budget enables, but there is the outside chance that your competition is paying even more to have their SEO optimised on an ongoing basis. They may even be using inbound marketing tactics, which might rank them even higher than conventional SEO.
 

Changing algorithms

Google uses complex computer programme algorithms to determine when and how high a website should rank. As SEO agencies and specialists learn the system, some find loopholes and Google updates its algorithm to close loopholes. Google works very hard to ensure only the most relevant results are served to people using Google. Gaming the system breaks this, so the programme is updated periodically. Your SEO tactics should be staying on top of these and changing your website’s content to stay relevant.

I’m paying Google money, surely I should rank higher?

If you’re paying Google money then we’re no longer talking about your organic search ranking. People that pay for Google will have a little green box with ‘Ad’ next to their result. This shows they’re using Google AdWords and are paying Google to have their website appear as high as possible.

What’s the difference between organic Google ranking and Google AdWords?

Your website’s organic placement in Google is purely based on your search engine optimisation. All the traffic you get is free because your website is the most relevant result in Google’s eyes. With AdWords your website is still relevant, but you’ve given it a financial boost to get as high to the top as possible. You will pay Google every time someone clicks on your advert.

Sometimes you’ll pay a couple of cents for each click, sometimes it will be upwards of $10 or $20. The actual amount depends on your bid amount and the level of competition for that keyword. Bidding the most amount of money doesn’t always mean you’ll get to the top advertising spot either.  


I just want to be at the top of Google, tell me the secret!

As a Google Partner Agency tasked with getting client website’s as high up Google as possible, we do get asked this a lot! Even as an agency we’re guilty of asking Google the same question.

Imagine if there were one simple trick to getting to the top of Google, like a switch on your website you turn on and it’s suddenly optimised perfectly and jumps to the number one spot immediately. That would be ace, wouldn’t it?

But you’d suddenly have every website in the world - the tens of millions of them there are - all do exactly that without being completely relevant to the search term. How would we decide who got the top spot then?

So how do I rank higher in Google?

Your industry might be easier than others due to low competition, so you might have an easier job than the next business. Even if you do rank highly, you’ll probably inspire your competition to start investing in their search engine ranking so you’ll have to put in more work to stay at the top.

Google is the new texpo, but harder. At an expo you pay extra to get better placement, a bigger stand and a better display. One year you’re the biggest and the best and you get all the attention, then the following year your competition have done the same because they saw how successful you were. What happens the following year? You reinvest in virtual reality, interactive displays and you get the edge. But the year after that you can’t move for people with VR headsets.

If you plan on acquiring new leads for your sales team through your website or increasing online sales on your ecommerce store, then your Google search ranking matters.

Want to find out some simple ways you can use effective SEO tactics to achieve a higher Google search rank for your website? Download our free SEO guide here.

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