“It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a site that almost stops your heart
You try to leave, but terror takes the sound before you make it
It starts to freeze, as Google looks you right between the eyes,
You’re not optimized”
Everyone has their well-thought-out master plan for when the zombie apocalypse happens: stock up on supplies, head to a secure location and wait for it all to blow over. Such plans have been discussed and dissected over many a pub table and office lunch, but what happens when a more realistic nightmare rears its ugly head?
Although, for the most part, Google provides us with treats such as analytics, search console and other SEO-savvy tools (as well as those cool little games you can play), it also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Website owners will all have grimaced at the sight of their Google rankings at one time or another, and seeing your primary keywords slip onto page 2 is enough to keep anyone up at night. Stop planning your zombie apocalypse survival plan and familiarise yourself with our ranking fluctuation action plan.
Step 1: Clue Yourself Up
Knowing exactly what you are up against is half the battle. When compared to a flesh-eating monster, Google ranking fluctuations are relatively tame, and that’s how you should view them. Although sharp declines in your Google rankings can be scary, it is important to remember that there is always a fix and always an answer; you just need to try and figure out what Google is after.
Just like any other company, Google wants its customers to come first, and to help them achieve this they prioritise websites which are easy to use and that are the most relevant to their search. By using this criteria as their basis for generating results, Google can ensure that their users have not wasted their time and they are left with happy customers each and every time. On a very basic level, that’s all there is to it. Google wants to push relevant and easy to use websites to the top and push any difficult and pointless websites as far down as possible. When you spot an abhorrent amount of red on your keyword tracker it can be easy to panic and freak out, but just chill out – we are going to tell you exactly what to do.
Step 2: Pick Your Weapon
…And we ain’t talking crossbows. The most important thing to do when you notice Google ranking fluctuations is to stick to your guns. If you have devised a completely bespoke marketing and SEO strategy for your client based on information from Google analytics and other webtools, then stick to it; this plan is most likely tailored to your client and their needs and requirements, so don’t go changing your strategy just yet. Google rankings change all the time and your strategy should be designed with weeks and months in mind, not days.
Step 3: Secure Your Fortress
If Google is prioritising websites that are easy to navigate and aid the user journey, then the most logical step is to create a website that meets these criteria. If we are using the analogy of zombies, then, just like your apocalypse plan, you want to keep the monsters away from your fortress and keep them out. In this case, a zombie would be represented in the form of a Google algorithm, so if one of those comes knocking, your location (your website) should be strong enough to keep them away and stop them from catching you out. With rumours of new updates and algorithms, you can still expect your Google rankings to fluctuate, but a general rule of thumb suggests that if you have created a site that is beneficial to the user and is easy to navigate with relevant content and good links, then you won’t be far off from the top of page 1.
Step 4: Prepare For A Post-Apocalyptic Life
This is your life now; the world as you once knew it no longer exists, and this is now a mission of survival. Okay so I may have exaggerated a little bit to sell the zombie analogy, but I wasn’t far off from the point I’m trying to make. There are always going to be new updates and algorithms that cause ranking fluctuations, so to stem the flow of dropped rankings, there are a few preventative strategies you can put into place. To stay one step ahead and avoid any more nasty surprises, keep yourself in the loop with industry news by following ourselves and the guys at Moz and other SEO leaders to keep up to date with the latest tips, tricks and trends. Continue to optimise your content so that your website conforms with these trends and focus on sticking to your strategy and being resolute, even if you notice some Google ranking fluctuations. Pay close attention to your Google rankings and monitor your keywords’ performance over a period of weeks and months. While there is no definitive answer as to why these rankings continue to fluctuate, a sense of trial and error must be observed. With rumours of home pages being prioritised and Google trying to throw off keyword trackers, make small adjustments and changes to figure out what works for your site before you go making wholesale changes.
Just like any zombie thriller blockbuster, there is always a cure and a happy ending. The clumsy gang of fortunate survivors will stumble across some elaborate plan to save the world and return the world to its civilised state of existence, as everyone looks back at the time and sees it as “that thing that got out of hand.” In one final salute to this analogy, creating a website that benefits the user is the cure to these dreaded algorithms, so be patient and believe in your strategy.
Not quite Dawn of the Dead, is it? Perhaps ‘Site of The Living Dead’ is more appropriate? Coming to a Google near you.