Search Engine Real Estate: How to Stay Ranked in the Best Location, Location, Location

Search Engine Real Estate: How to Stay Ranked in the Best Location, Location, Location


When you’re purchasing a house you’ll often hear the estate agent say: “location, location, location”. Where a property sits in relation to local amenities and other properties is a major consideration for both buyers and sellers when it comes to desirability and price, and things are exactly the same in the SEO world.

Although you won’t hear SEO experts shouting “ranking, ranking, ranking” from their office blocks, this is certainly a mantra they live by. Unfortunately, unlike properties that are rooted to the ground, rankings can and do change at an alarming rate.

According to a recent article by Forbes’ Josh Steimle, rankings “aren’t the most important SEO metric”, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be assessing your site on a regular basis to see where you rank on Google.

Using his experience as the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency, Steimle highlights some obvious, and possibly some not so obvious, reasons as to why your rankings may fluctuate.

It’s Natural


According to Steimle, “the Google dance” is a normal part of the SEO game and the reason why your website’s ranking can fluctuate on a daily basis. While it might seem somewhat mysterious and unnerving, it’s often the product of Google testing new variables or routing you through different service centres.

An in-depth study into this phenomenon by digital marketing agency Greenlight, located here, found that over the course of 24 hours, 82,480 URLs out of 1,000,000 tested (the company tracked 1,000 keywords) moved by one or more spaces.

Of that figure, 60% were classed as “normal fluctuations”, according to Greenlight. Furthermore, 30% of the movement witnessed was due to day vs. night rankings which were linked to differences in server locations and data routing.

You’re Never Fully Optimised


The biggest mistake many novices make when they first launch a website is to think that once they’ve “optimised” their site they’re set for life. According to Steimle this simply isn’t the case. As he describes it, rankings are a “zero sum game” and as one site improves, another must fall.

This concept of ongoing optimisation certainly isn’t anything new. Indeed, back in 2008, Moz Blog’s Brendan Fullam addressed the debate over one-time SEO vs. ongoing SEO and surmised that SEO has to be fluid but also part of a larger optimisation strategy that also involves SEM tactics such as link building and PPC.

To add some more weight to this idea that optimisation is an ongoing process we only have to look to Panda. As noted by Cara Nooyen of iProspect, “great content ranks better on Google” but what constitutes great content is always changing.

Reviewing the 29th update of Google Panda in late 2015, Nooyen found that around 3% of queries were impacted by the upgrade to Panda 4.2. That figure relates to around 36 million searches and, therefore, had something of a ripple effect across the internet. Essentially, what Nooyen demonstrated was the even minor updates in Google can have far reaching effects if you don’t continue to optimise.

It’s Not Natural


The final point worth picking up on is the idea of natural searches. Steimle correctly points out that people may see differences in their ranking data if they’re tracking the wrong rankings. Keywords and the presentation of certain keywords can and has become outdated and, as Steimle correctly points out, users are now using “natural language” when it comes to searches.

With full sentences, speech and colloquialisms now being used to perform searches, simply tracking isolated keywords is pointless. Indeed, according to a study commissioned by Google and carried out by Northstar Research, showed that out of 1,400 Americans surveyed, 55% now carry out mobile voice searches daily.

With search engines now forced to interpret longer requests that can vary wildly from user-to-user, algorithms are changing and that means you need to change the way you optimise and track your rankings.

In fact, what’s clear throughout Steimle’s article is that your optimisation strategy should be as fluid as the rankings around you if you want to stay in the best search engine location.

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