Search Engine Fluctuations

Search engines use multiple databases to contain the data which is used to determine results when a search query is conducted.

As new information is added to a database, that information is transferred to all the databases. It takes time though for the information to synchronize throughout all the databases.

Meanwhile, new information continues to be collected. This means that search engine results are in a constant state of updating.

When you conduct a search, which database you access is automatically decided by the search engine you used and can vary with every search query. Because of this, you will see very natural fluctuations in those results on a day to day basis.

Many times site owners will ask why their own placement in the results vary if they have not made any changes. Although YOU may not have made changes, OTHER site owners competing for high placement in the results may have.

Any number of things can and often do contribute to these natural fluctuations, including your site being temporarily unavailable when the search engine spiders last crawled your site. This type of fluctuation will correct itself during the next crawl.

Since search engines collect their data by following links throughout the net, the time it takes for this to happen depends solely on how many incoming links you have pointing to your site to bring those search engine spiders back rapidly.

One of the most serious mistakes I see made by site owners is suddenly making changes to their site based on normal fluctuations in the search engine results.

Even when those fluctuations are major, any changes you make must be done with extreme caution.

1. Verify that you are using ethical search engine optimization techniques that fall well within the quality guidelines set out by the various search engines.

2. Wait one full week before making any changes beyond correcting violations to quality guidelines.

3. Review the page for any weaknesses in basic SEO Techniques.

Always remember that it is NOT the day to day results in the search engines that will have an impact on the ultimate success of your website, but rather the overall results that happen over time.

Explaining the difference between a minor fluctuation and a major fluctuation is almost impossible, because this will be different for every site and search phrase. You will learn from experience and from watching your results over time.

You may have one phrase that moves around continually within the top 10 from day to day, but always remains within a certain range of results. These are considered normal variations.

If a page suddenly disappeared from the results all together, then it still depends on the specific situation. If it is a very new page, it may be simply a matter of allowing the databases to synchronize. The page may have been down when the search engines crawled it.

I personally have one page that loves to disappear from the top 10 search results about once a month for two days.

Where does it go?

I have no idea, but it happens to be competing with 266 million other sites for the phrase so any number of variables may be involved.

The point I am trying to get across is that what may be totally within the norm for one of my pages, may be totally out of the norm for one of yours.

You must focus on the search results over time, rather than day to day fluctuations.

Now, if I have a page suddenly begin a downhill trend (or disappears) in the search results and that trend continues, this may suggest a major fluctuation. This is where you take the steps outlined in the article above.

Your initial reaction is to first verify that you are NOT using any unethical methods of search engine optimization. Sometimes, little by little a webmaster may push way too close to a line because they have gotten away with it in the past or because they THINK it is okay because they see others doing it.

They do this even though I have told them it was a definite violation.

If this is not the issue, you should take absolutely no action for a minimum of one full week.

If that week passes and you do not see the page return to what has been normal for it in the past, then you need to look at the records you keep for the page.

Have you made any major changes recently?

Then continue on to take the page through a checklist. Are there areas that should be stronger but you have put it off because the page was getting decent results? Do you have some broken links in your navigation or on your site map?

Once you have completed all of the above from a very OBJECTIVE standpoint, then you must accept that other sites are simply kicking your butt right now and it is time to go back to work. If all the “on page” techniques are solid, then you likely no longer have enough incoming anchor text links.

People love to tell me that the number of incoming links to their site has not changed, so that cannot be it. This is absolutely false. Your incoming links may not have changed at all, but your competition’s may have doubled!

For what it is worth, I am a major advocate of NOT keeping all of your eggs in one basket. This is exactly why I train people to organize their site and categories in the manner that I do. This keeps any single page from having a ton of power over the overall results of a site. The result is that if a single page or two is struggling, it does not have a noticeable impact on your net income.

This was a very long version of telling you to keep doing what you know is right. Follow the lessons step by step, and it all works out in the end.


J. Cricket Walker

Small Business Marketing Consultant and SEO Training Specialist
Copyright © 2007 J. Walker of GNC Web Creations All Rights Reserved