Why Does Google Change Website Rankings Over Time?

Time and time again we see websites launch with average organic rankings at the 3rd-5th page, only to drop drastically later on. We also see this happen when a peak in organic website visits is followed by a significant drop. The average organic rankings are based on the algorithms of the search engine, and do not involve paid search marketing. However, both of these cases always lead to clients asking us: Why?!

This question does not only apply just to our clients, but is a concern to webmasters and website owners everywhere. This April, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team, addressed the issue by releasing a video discussing the reasons behind this phenomenon.

To summarize his response:
A search engine is created to return the best quality results for the search terms entered. When a new website or page is pushed live, the search engine has to provide its results based on what limited information is available for that new website or page.

Take, for example, the Oklahoma tornado earlier this year. The information ‘pool’ started very small and grew dramatically within the first hours following the tragedy. It continued to grow exponentially as time went on — much like ripples in the water. Search engines ‘learn’ in the same way – in waves. The same thing happens with breaking news, world events, even a celebrity spotting.

As more information becomes available, search engines soak it up and then use it to select which results should be delivered to users. Additionally, the more people conducting quality searches and engaging in online conversations about a subject, the faster the search engine works. I emphasize the word ‘quality’ because people sometimes think that they can search for their website over and over to influence the search results. However Google was also designed to factor out those searches so that the correct results are displayed time after time.

All this may lead some website owners to believe a drop in website rankings means their website is not relevant. This is not the case at all. A drop in website rankings simply means that your website has been moved to the middle, or end, of the line and must earn its way back to the front (top rankings). The best way to make your way back to the front is by proving to Google that your site IS relevant, current and provides visitors with unique content they came to the site looking for.