Having been away for a much needed holiday I’ve been catching up with developments for the last two weeks with fairly intensive search ranking analysis. Google’s recent bout of volatility in their results finally seems to be starting to even out. Since early May there have been some very strange results being reported on the SEO forums and they’ve been changing day to day and often hour to hour. Though other people have reported varying symptoms, what I’ve seen across a number of different sites has been that sites with top ranking pages have seen little effect except on their weaker pages. Newer or generally weaker sites with more middle and lower ranking pages have seen those fluctuating substantially, with a big drop around the 3rd June followed by a slow climb back to normal, occasionally punctuated by sudden rises or falls which last a very short time.
Regular readers will know that I’ve seen this sort of episode many times before and that I advise a “don’t panic, continue as normal” policy. Reindexes are inevitable from time to time to sort out errors and clear out old pages. Spam fighting is also likely to be required occasionally and experiments are going on constantly – Google now say that they make about ten algorithm adjustments every week. One that I’ve often noticed changes in is the relative ranking of plural words versus singular. A few years ago if you ranked for one version then you almost automatically got the other, but now it’s much more dependent on which one your text concentrates on. Having diverged markedly about a year ago I’d been seeing the gap closing over recent months but now it seems to have opened up again. Another that I’ve noticed recently is that search terms that include the word “solutions” seem to have gone haywire, with some solid number one results suddenly dropping out of the top 500 position. Solutions is a horribly generic term that is vastly overused in business but such a drop while other results for related terms remain stable can only really be put down to an algorithm tweak.
Having had a bit of a rollercoatser for the last couple of months let’s hope for some rather more stable conditions in the run up to the Autumn and Winter seasons so we can all concentrate of developing our clients’ site quality rather than constantly checking if their rankings have disappeared. That is, after all, what Google tell us they want to see!