In this new monthly installment, the team at SLS Consulting will be offering an overview of MozCast and other search ranking metric sites to help shed some light on search rank fluctuations, specifically as they pertain to Google’s ranking algorithm.
“What IS MozCast?” you might be asking yourself. Well, it’s a handy metric put together by our friends over at Moz. Every 24 hours, a set of hand-picked keywords are tracked and notated to determine how volatile Google search results are from one day to the next. Moz then assigns a “temperature” to reflect how much fluctuation is taking place within Google search results.
Make sense? To give you a better idea, 70° is an average day in the world of MozCast, meaning any fluctuations taking place are fairly normal and haven’t been caused by a major algorithmic shift from Google. Obviously any numbers higher than 70° reflect an unnatural change, with the higher the number indicating a greater change. A number lower than 70° simply means that all is quiet on the search front with results relatively static across a variety of searches.
How “hot” was it in November 2016 according to MozCast?
Generally speaking, it was pretty hot! On November 10th, the MozCast temperature spiked to 106° and many in the SEO community attributed this to an update being rolled out. There was some speculation that another spike on November 18th (also 106°) was a reverse of that update, but nothing was officially confirmed.
We observed the following averages throughout the month (from the period of time starting Monday, October 31st through Saturday, December 3rd):
- 80.4° Monday, 10/31 – Friday, 11/4
- 87.8° Monday, 11/7 – Friday, 11/11
- 94.0° Monday, 11/14 – Friday, 11/18
- 85.8° Monday, 11/21 – Friday, 11/25
- 79.2° Monday, 11/28 – Friday, 12/2*
COMPOSITE AVERAGE BASED ON ABOVE DATA = 85.44°
*It’s worth noting that the temperature on Friday, December 2nd was 57°, the lowest we here at SLS have ever observed. If you remove that day from the mix, the average for that respective week jumps up to 84.75°. For the sake of consistency though, we’ll always present data Monday through Friday, and will include some dates outside of the given month we’re discussing. For the sake of transparency, the non-November dates broke down as follows:
- Monday, October 31st – 80° (minimal impact; removing results in 4-day average of 80.5°)
- Thursday, December 1st – 90° (highest temp. that week; removing results in 3-day average of 83°)
- Friday, December 2nd – 57° (see above explanation)
COMPOSITE AVERAGE REMOVING NON-NOVEMBER DATES = 86.22°
Since Google’s Possum update in September, search results have been fluctuating more than usual, with multiple days over 100° finding their way into the mix. The average throughout the month of November definitely skewed closer to volatile, “inclement weather” according to MozCast.
Other Google Algorithm Rank Trackers: AccuRanker and Algoroo
The search professionals over at AccuRanker felt the same way. When it comes to Google’s “mood” throughout November, every single day was deemed FURIOUS according to AccuRanker’s “mood scale” for Google search results.
According to AccuRanker’s “Google Grump” rating system, FURIOUS means: “Google is fuming today as rankings fluctuate at high velocity – it’s likely an algorithm update is taking place.”
Going back to the beginning of September 2016 though, we can see that Google’s mood has been FURIOUS every single day with the exception of one – Thursday, 9/22…
Needless to say, there’s been A LOT of movement since both Google’s Possum update in the beginning of September, and its various Penguin updates taking place in late September/early October. AccuRanker’s rating system, which similarly reviews a large sampling of search phrases across multiple industries, is in-line with the results that MozCast came up with.
On the contrary, the team at Algoroo has a slightly calmer representation of search ranking fluctuations from the period of September 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016, or at least at first glance it appears that way. While their ranking metric spikes on Saturday, 9/3, rankings seem to calm down a bit until the end of September. At that point, ranking fluctuations were pretty active until the latter part of October, and then more or less seemed to stabilize in November.
While things do seem to have calmed during November 2016, a closer examination of a year-to-date analysis shows that search fluctuations have steadily risen over the past 12 months. So, while it would appear that things are calm at the moment, “calm” is a relative term in this case that actually shows the exact opposite when you review a year’s worth of data. The latter half of 2016 has definitely been more chaotic than the beginning of the year, and search fluctuations have followed suit on a regular basis. The chart below shows search result volatility for December 2015 – May 2016 has more or less doubled over the last seven months or so, with that volatility steadily maintaining increased levels from the beginning of September onward.
Conclusion: December and beyond
So what does all of this mean for your search rankings in December and beyond? Basically, Google’s RankBrain algorithm has gotten a lot more advanced from month to month, so we can fully expect to see more shuffling moving forward. It’s safe to assume that Google is making it increasingly difficult for sites to improve rankings if they don’t follow the advice Google is doling out (or utilize paid local search, which an entirely different topic for discussion). However, the one constant that’s been unaffected throughout the entirety of Google’s algorithm saga has been white hat marketing methods. As long as you play according to Google’s rules and you’re always implementing best practices according to Google Webmaster Guidelines (AKA Search Console), your site rankings should hold up in the long run.
Notice we said “long run” though. Remember, your site rankings are naturally going to fluctuate, even on a daily basis. If you’re no longer showing up for a particular keyword phrase and dropping out of the local pack, never fear. Focus on producing high quality content that will hopefully assist with link building strategy, make sure your site is user-friendly and laid out in such a way that Google can easily crawl and index your pages, and constantly seek out online reviews from satisfied clients and other professionals whom you’ve done business with. Neglecting just one of those tasks may set you back, but neglecting all of them will result in showing up nowhere near page one.
If you’ve ever experienced a sharp drop (or increase) in your search rankings, chances are it coincided with a Google update of some kind. To keep up-to-date on the weekly weather forecast, follow SLS Consulting on Twitter, and if you ever have any questions about search volatility, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!