What is SERP Volatility and Why You Should Care About It

What is SERP Volatility and Why You Should Care About It

Picture this: your web page has been ranking in the top spot for a specific keyword for months. You're benefitting from increased traffic, conversions, and overall visibility. And you're doing everything right to stay in that position.

Suddenly, a Google Core Update rolls out and shakes everything up. You find out your site isn't ranking in the top 10 anymore.

Has this happened to you before? Maybe you experienced it recently with Google's March broad core update, or with the May 2022 update last year.

This is called SERP volatility and it's something you should be considering long before a core update rolls around.

While no website is fully immune to SERP volatility, there are things that websites can do to protect themselves from volatility and keep ranking high, even when Google shifts its algorithm.

What is SERP volatility?

SERP volatility is the degree of fluctuation in search engine rankings over a period of time. Volatility is usually at its highest points during algorithm updates – as search engines make changes to their ranking factors, some websites face fallout as their content doesn't get prioritized like it was before. On the flip side, some pages suddenly rank much higher than they previously did.

These changes during algorithm updates can occur rapidly and can seem irrational, which can be extremely frustrating to SEO specialists working to keep things stable.

There are other factors that can influence SERP volatility, like broken or toxic backlinks, broken pages, other technical issues, and even user behavior. Regardless of what alters your ranking, it's important to be prepared and to know how to protect your website.

Why does SERP volatility matter?

SERP volatility is important to pay attention to because if your website rankings suddenly drop, you're likely going to experience a sharp decrease in traffic. While traffic isn't everything, it can be a big contributing factor to growing revenue.

You want your website to get as much visibility as possible to grow revenue, but when rankings unexpectedly take a hit, it can be difficult to recover.

Monitoring volatility

Keeping tabs on your rankings is helpful for knowing when things start to fluctuate. You can easily keep track using a tool like Google Search Console. Google Search Console will show you your current site rankings and lets you choose a date range so you can track changes over time. You'll also be able to pull insights on the queries and keywords that are driving traffic to the site. Plus, it's free to use!

Protecting your website from SERP volatility

There are a couple of ways to prevent your website from taking a hit in the next update and to keep your rankings stable.

Create helpful content

One of the best ways to ensure your website is update-proof is by creating helpful content for your readers. That means thinking about the reader's best interests while writing content and considering what your audience is looking to get out of engaging with your content. Consider your audience when choosing the subject matter, language, type of content, tone, etc.

People-first content does not mean neglecting SEO best practices, though. In fact, the content that your readers care about most is the content that the search engine wants to show them. In other words, you and Google have roughly the same goal.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your content for both people and search engines:

  • Be mindful of the content you create. It should offer the reader something valuable or new that will draw them in and keep them coming back for more while proving your credibility.
  • Utilize SEO best practices that will improve discoverability AND user experience, like implementing page hierarchy, using images, and including meta descriptions.
  • Know your audience and find unique ways to reach them through your content.
  • Measure the impact of your content using Google Analytics to ensure you're focusing on topics that matter.
  • Evaluate the content that's ranking highest for your target keywords and analyze what their content has that might be contributing to a higher position.

Add new content regularly

Make sure you're adding and refreshing site content regularly to keep things fresh and accurate. That doesn't mean you need to post daily, just try to post new content to your site multiple times a month. Focus on quality over quantity, but keep up with relevant updates in your industry and address the things your audience cares about most.

Diversify your marketing efforts

You've probably heard the phrase don't put all your eggs in one basket. It applies perfectly to this situation.

If you're relying heavily on revenue from organic traffic right now, it might be time to consider investing in other forms of marketing, like advertising, social media, email, etc. Organic traffic is extremely important, but it's only a slice of the digital marketing pie.

To make the biggest impact and to reach your target audience, you'll want to leverage a variety of channels and push out quality content in a number of different ways. This will ultimately help you bring in traffic and revenue from a variety of mediums and will give you a fallback in case your site does take a hit during an algorithm update.

Stick to your area of expertise

This might seem obvious, but if you start creating content that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of your site, your site might come across as untrustworthy. Make sure you're writing content you can speak to and that you have expertise on. Remember that one thin piece of content can negatively impact not only that page's rank but the authority of your entire site.

Work with an SEO Agency

An SEO agency can monitor your SERP volatility while taking advantage of opportunities to increase search visibility and grow your online business. SEO agencies have experts dedicated to your website who can recommend and make changes that will positively influence revenue.

We know we're biased, but working with an SEO agency truly is a smart move for any business looking to grow online and take control of its digital strategy.

If you're ready to talk about SEO services or just want someone to take a look at the impact the latest algorithm update had on your website, sign up for a free SEO health check. We'll take a look at your site's current standings and work with you to improve them. Reach out today.

Written by

Grace Hallen

Grace Hallen is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Perrill. Her passion for communication and crafting engaging content led her to Perrill’s marketing team. She loves flexing her creative muscles and finding clever ways to reach readers. In her free time, you can find Grace playing trivia at local breweries, exploring the Twin Cities or getting lost in a good book.


Grace Hallen

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Jun 02, 2023