Why do keywords fluctuate like crazy in SEO and what to do about it

Why do keywords fluctuate like crazy in SEO and what to do about it

Why does ranking fluctuate like crazy for some of the keywords in SEO?

We are sure that this is the question that keeps every SEO professional awake at night. 

We all understand that SEO is a long-term approach, but when your keywords jump from the 50th position to the 5th it puts the long-term approach aside and gives you a reason to celebrate. We wish that the celebration lasts forever but that is rarely the case. Just like keywords jump up to the top, they plummet down drastically too and that’s the sudden end to our celebration. 

So let’s keep our emotions stable and understand why keyword ranking fluctuates so much. 

Natural fluctuations: 

If you are just starting with SEO, the keyword rankings are unstable and are bound to get affected by the slightest fluctuations in Google’s algorithm.

If you are ranking in the middle order of the search results,  any change in competition or content update on your web page may fluctuate your rankings. 

There is no need to panic over here. What you need to do is, keep a long-term view of the goals and keep improving the website for good. 

Google algorithm updates:

Google keeps updating its algorithm to give a better experience to people searching for information on it. There are minor updates almost on a daily and weekly basis. 

You can’t do anything about these changes but keep an eye on them to stay on track. 

In addition to these everyday updates, Google, with its collective wisdom, also introduces  Major updates. We often know these updates by different names – Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, etc. 

These updates are first tested in a limited environment and later rolled out across the web. The final rolling out of the update also happens in waves as there are a large number of websites across the internet. Major changes take days and even weeks to settle down. This causes fluctuations in the keyword ranking of many websites. This fluctuation is often called a Google dance in SEO circles. 

After any update, if Google finds your website lacking in some areas it may levy search penalties both automatic and manual. Some of them can happen all of a sudden without any warning. 

Check the Google search console for any indication of manual action. Try to identify what might be causing the Google search penalties. Keep an eye on the competition, if their ranking is also getting affected there is less to worry about. If it is only you who is suffering, you have to review your website as per the latest Google update. 


A sudden change in competition may also result in keyword fluctuation. A competitor working on their SEO, their keywords overlapping with yours may create a tug of war between websites to rank on Google search. On the contrary, any competition that has left the ground for whatever reason will leave a void to be filled on Google SERP. Something that may give you an advantage. 

Keep an eye on the competition and study the keywords they are targeting. You can devise your SEO strategy around it. 

Sudden trend:

With a smartphone and access to the internet in every hand, online trends have become a usual thing. This sudden surge of traffic can give Google new data which can modify the search results. Usually, these trends have a short life but if you see something catching up for the long term like – Artificial Intelligence or blockchain that also suits your industry, you can use them to your advantage.

Topical interest:

Businesses with topical keywords, experience sudden fluctuations in keyword ranking. The keywords that are lying dormant the entire year like Christmas sales, and Diwali offers might come up on Google search within a few weeks before the season starts. 

If you have seen a pattern of surge in traffic you can keep your website prepared with adequate server resources, so that the browsing experience does not get hampered for your customers.    

Content Updation:

Every time you add a new piece of content or edit the old one or remove any content, the Google crawler picks up a new set of signals and figures out what query it can show your website and at what position. Content updates are kind of a double edge sword. A good piece of content can bump up your ranking while bad content can take your website ranking down. 

Now, if your ranking fluctuates, all the other website rankings in your domain are going to change, so if your competitor rises in ranking, you are going to fall down and vice versa. The lesson is, always try to update the quality of content on your website. 

Every time Google comes up with a major content update, you should do a content audit of your website. 


Backlinks from the point of view of SEO, just like the content are double-edged swords. A backlink from a credible source can get your website up in the ranking and similarly a weak backlink can pull it down. You should keep taking a look at the backlink profile of your website and remove poor backlinks while trying to gain b backlinks. There might be fluctuations in keyword ranking in the short run but you should always keep a long-term view of things. 

If you see a sudden drop in ranking you should check your backlink profile to see if you are under a negative SEO attack. It is possible that someone is set out to bomb you with spam links. 

Though it is a matter of time before Google figures out what is happening and ignores most of the negative links, you can also disavow these negative links and get your former ranking back. 

Having said all that, fluctuations are inevitable and Google will take time to understand if it is you or someone else doing the mischief. 

URL Change:

Changing the URL of a page that is showing up in ranking can cause havoc to your keyword ranking and even website traffic. It is like you changed the address which Google has indexed in its database to show to users when they were looking for something. 

URL change happens either accidentally when your website development team is not aligned with SEO or when you switch from an old website to a new website and think of giving it an entirely new look including the new URL structures.

Changes in URLs cause your website ranking to fluctuate not just for you but also for your competitors and vice versa. 

Changing SEO tactics: 

Starting and stopping SEO abruptly or changing tactics frequently also fluctuates your Google ranking. Changing tactics may be anything like targeting a new set of keywords, changing submission portals, or changing guest posts strategy. This should be temporary till the time Google figures out what is going on. 

 Social presence and paid promotion:

Until some years back social media and paid promotions were treated separately from SEO. To a large extent, they are separate but as per recent observation a correlation can be found between a healthy social presence, brand mentions on digital platforms, and paid promotion. Paid promotions have an impact on organic ranking provided the ads are consistent and bring relevant traffic to the website.  

Starting and stopping your social media efforts or paid promotions can fluctuate your rankings. 

Fluctuations in keyword ranking are normal and nothing to panic about. Having a good understanding of the reasons for fluctuations can help you deal with them better. Keeping a long-term view of SEO will help you navigate and rank higher on Google.

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Author Bio

Prateek Sharma

Prateek Sharma

Prateek Sharma is a seasoned SEO professional with a passion for optimizing online visibility. With over a decade of experience in the digital marketing landscape, Prateek has honed his skills in driving organic traffic and improving search engine rankings.


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