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Ranking Fluctuations: What to Expect + How to React – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Rankings fluctuations can be panic-inducing, but they happen to everyone. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses why ranking fluctuations occur, the importance of keeping your cool during those darker moments, and how to identify when you should actually be concerned.

Ranking Fluctuations

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are chatting about rankings fluctuations.

So many of you who monitor your rankings in Google might do so weekly or daily or monthly. For those of you who do it daily, you probably observe something like this. I made this up. This is not actually the keyword I tracked, but these are the numbers that I saw. So, basically, you might see that, over the course of four or five days, you hop around from number one, number two, one, one, one. But as you go down this list to the ranking position four or five or six, you’re seeing things like oh number 5, and then I’m ranking number 21, number 19, 7, 8. Gosh, it’s just going all over the place. This happens quite a bit actually.

Many folks ask questions on the Moz Q&A platform and all over the web and to their SEO professionals like, “Why are my rankings jumping around so much? Is this bad? Is there something I should do?” The answer, generally speaking, is no. Rankings bounce around like this in most search results, especially in the sort of bottom half of page one and especially page two, three, four, or five quite a bit, a tremendous amount in fact.

We see SERP fluctuation as being quite high, quite common and consistently so. It is rarely actually the case that you see that number one, number two, number three positions that stay that way for extended periods of time, many weeks or months without moving at all. Some random days you will check it and you will see some of these changes. Others you’ll see them in their consistent positions.

What to expect in rankings flux

A few things to note:

1. There is obviously more fluctuation in the lower down results, on average, usually than there are in the higher results.

So if I get my rankings up here, can I expect no flux? Not exactly.

2. When you first gain rankings in the top three, four, or five, let’s say, you will usually see more fluctuation than after you’ve been there for a sustained period.

So what’s unusual is to see a ton of rankings fluctuation for a URL that’s been ranking for a keyword in position one or two or three for two or three months in a row. That’s pretty uncommon. You might see one or two position changes, but you usually don’t see four or five or six.

3. You should also expect to see more fluctuation, even in the top results, when there’s a highly temporal topic or result. That you can observe by looking at the search results and seeing if Google has got that gray text that says three hours ago or two days ago, or they give a specific date of when it came out, March 15th. When you see those and lots of them, you should expect more fluctuation.

What to do

What should you do about this? Well, first off, please, please, please, please…

1. Do not freak out. A lot of people just lose their cool with their SEOs or with their team or with themselves. They panic. I would urge you not to arbitrarily change your tactics.

If you’re observing rankings fluctuation like the kind I’m describing — so down here in the five, six, seven positions, up here in the three, four, five positions from day to day — that’s okay. You are not doing something wrong or bad, at least not necessarily and not usually.

2. I would urge you to use weeks as your time period, not days, and measure at least four to six weeks of rankings before you start to freak out over, “Hey, there’s too much rankings fluctuation.”

3. You should also compare your own fluctuation to your competitors. So if you see, hey, I’m ranking here and I’m fluctuating a bunch, oh, but it turns actually the positions around me are also fluctuating, guess what? It’s not you. It’s the SERP. It’s Google. Don’t blame yourself for this.

4. I would try and compare your rankings to traffic. So it can be the case that if you’re hitting your rankings on a particular day or from a personalized device or a geographic area or something like that, that you could be getting different kinds of rankings than what’s actually being seen by most people.

  • Now, rank trackers, like Moz’s or SEMrush’s or Ahrefs or Searchmetrics or any of these folks who do rank tracking at scale, use a non-personalized, non-geo-biased system. I’ll show you how to replicate it in the comments if you’re interested. But you should expect that you might see some of that bias.
  • So what I’d urge you to do is also look at your page traffic. So if you look at traffic to your pages and then organic search, if this is me over here with Healthfind, maybe I should check how many visits from organic search did this page get. Oh, actually it looks pretty consistent from day to day and week to week. Well, maybe I shouldn’t panic then. Probably you shouldn’t.

5. The thing to be concerned about is precipitous falls over many pages in a quick period of time. So if you see that you’ve got 20 pages on your site, 50 pages on your site, they all lost rankings yesterday and fairly significantly, okay, that’s cause for real concern. Now I would go investigate. I’d see if you did something wrong, or if maybe Google caught something that they thought was sketchy that you were doing, or if they devalued some of your links, or you had some site problems, whatever. But normal flux, so two to four positions regularly at the top or more down at the bottom, that is to be expected.

Don’t panic. You’re going to be okay. Google fluctuates all the time. And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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What to expect for Twitter’s first-quarter results

Jack Dorsey Last quarter, Twitter’s user base (excluding SMS fast-followers) actually shrank — and this was a huge moment for the company. While there were whispers of peak Twitter circling for some time now, that looming theory was finally confirmed in the company’s fourth-quarter results. Twitter had gone from 307 million users to 305 million. Twitter, at one point a rocket-ship,… Read More
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What should we expect from Facebook in the next 10 years?

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Facebook gave us a glimpse into the future, and it’s filled with bots, live video and VR.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s F8 event in less than 90 seconds

This week on MashTalk, we discuss Facebook’s big announcements from its annual developer conference F8, and what that means for the future of the platform. Then we discuss HTC’s new flagship phone, the HTC 10. And finally, we talk about Kindle’s new e-reader, the Kindle Oasis.

Listen to the episode on iTunes or on Stitcher. You can also subscribe to MashTalk on iTunes by clicking the button below to get our latest episodes, instantly. If you like MashTalk, please fill out our audience survey. Read more…

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Bots, Live and A.I.: What to expect at Facebook’s F8 conference

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Our bot-filled future is rapidly approaching. 

Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, is set to kick off Tuesday with an opening keynote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

SEE ALSO: An exploding watermelon is the biggest thing to ever happen on Facebook Live

While Facebook has been tight-lipped on what the developers in attendance will hear, we do know bots will take center stage. We’re also expecting to hear more about Oculus VR, A.I. and video — and how Facebook’s army of developer partners can benefit from them. 

Of course, there are likely to be a few surprises, and Mashable will be covering the conference live from the venue in San Francisco. But for now, here’s a look at everything we’re expecting to hear about at F8.  Read more…

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Social Media

What to expect from Facebook’s F8 developer conference this week

Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's F8 2015 developer conference


Facebook’s F8 developer conference takes place this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. While the company hasn’t publicly disclosed what it’ll be revealing during its two-day event, here are a few educated guesses about what could be announced.

Bots on Messenger

There has been a lot of buzz in the past few days around support for chatbots within Facebook Messenger. At last year’s conference, the company debuted its Facebook Messenger Platform, which gives developers access to a product with now more than 900 million users. This week, we’ll likely see Facebook launch new APIs that will bring chatbots into Messenger, as well as a plugin for businesses to tap into the product.

Facebook executive David Marcus onstage at F8, with screens showing the 40 launch partners for the company's new Messenger Platform. (March 25, 2015)

Above: Facebook executive David Marcus onstage at F8, with screens showing the 40 launch partners for the company’s new Messenger Platform. (March 25, 2015)

Image Credit: Facebook livestream

Incorporating bot technology into Facebook Messenger isn’t a surprise, especially following revelations that developers had access to a secret chat SDK. This tool is used to develop more interactive experiences within the popular messaging app, giving users the ability to shop, book travel, and more. It also comes as competitors and similar services have thrown their support behind bots, like Line, Kik, WeChat, Telegram, Microsoft, Skype, and Slack. And that’s not all, as Google is reportedly working on a way to incorporate the technology.

But Facebook’s entry into the bot market could be the most significant because of its extensive reach, database of user information, and advertising/monetization capabilities. This will most likely take up the bulk of the first day’s keynote.

Are you down with videos?

Since video remains a high priority for the company, we will probably see some new features around 360 videos, especially as relates to Oculus Rift. Facebook’s official conference app lists two sessions focused on how developers can optimize this video type for virtual reality and how to utilize it in their own apps.

It’s doubtful that we’ll see any new announcements about Facebook Live, especially since Facebook released new features and capabilities just last week. And since its launch in August, the livestreaming service is relatively new, so finding ways for developers to tap into it could be a bit premature. However, there is at least one session at F8 dedicated to a behind-the-scenes look at video streaming on Facebook.

Instant articles for all

An image of a Facebook Instant Article from The Washington Post.

Above: An image of a Facebook Instant Article from The Washington Post.

Image Credit: Facebook

Facebook will open up its Instant Articles program at F8,  allowing all publishers and developers to have the social network natively host their content. Publishers of “all size” will be able to tap into this, stepping up the rivalry between Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages program. This offers publishers the ability to bring their content to a site with not only a mass audience, but also a high rate of sharing. Even better, it’s a site that’s really optimized for mobile devices.

The company claims that it has already on-boarded a “few hundred publishers.”

Helping developers monetize their work

While the focus of this week’s event is motivating developers to build on top of the Facebook suite of tools and products, it’s also about helping them monetize their work. This means you can expect there to be a few words about updates to the Facebook Audience Network, which debuted in 2014 and extends the social network’s advertising capabilities beyond its site into third-party mobile apps.

Based on a new study the company commissioned, it’s believed that native advertising will be an essential part of the mobile monetization landscape by 2020. Research indicates that two-thirds of all mobile display ads will be native and suggests that advertisers will spend approximately $ 53 billion on native mobile ads. Facebook said that it has already seen this trend first-hand — its native ad format adoption has grown 10x since Q1 2015 and now makes up 83 percent of its Audience Network.

Microsoft executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson on stage at the Build 2016 developer conference in San Francisco, Calif. on March 30, 2016

Above: Microsoft executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson on stage at the Build 2016 developer conference in San Francisco, Calif. (March 30, 2016)

Image Credit: Screenshot

Facebook will likely also announce that Windows developers can tap into the Audience Network for their apps. Microsoft executive vice president for Windows and Devices group Terry Myerson revealed the social networking company’s plans last month at the Build developer conference, saying that the Audience Network and mobile app install SDKs will be coming to the Windows platform.

Honorable mentions

This will be the first F8 since Parse was acquired that Facebook probably won’t have any major news about the service, largely because the cloud service is in the process of being shuttered.

Other things that could receive a mention include Facebook’s Free Basics and thoughts on how developers should view the platform after it’s hit some significant road bumps in countries like India. How will CEO Mark Zuckerberg continue to show that his Internet-spreading initiative can move forward?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to the stage during Samsung's press conference at the Mobile World Congress on February 21, 2016. Attendees viewed the presentation wearing Samsung's Gear VR headsets.

Above: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to the stage during Samsung’s press conference at the Mobile World Congress (February 21, 2016). Attendees viewed the presentation wearing Samsung’s Gear VR headsets.

Image Credit: Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Another big topic is Oculus VR and the company’s next steps in virtual reality. Oculus’ first product has already begun shipping, so Facebook could conceivably reveal sales numbers or speak about what it plans to do next with the technology. At Mobile World Congress in February, an image of Zuckerberg walking to the stage while attendees wore Samsung Gear VR headsets was very telling. Facebook’s CEO is enthusiastic about the power of the technology, and it will be interesting to see if the company shares more of its roadmap.

VentureBeat will be on the ground at F8 this week and will report back on the latest updates and announcements from the event.

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