Keyword Fluctuations – Causes and Helpful Solutions

Keyword fluctuations reasons solutions

April 12, 2018

Many webmasters and online shop operators are nowadays dependent on the target group-relevant traffic via the organic search engine to survive on the market. However, so that they can benefit from search engine traffic in the long term, it is essential that the sites of their own online presence are optimized in such a way that lastingly stable search engine rankings can be achieved.

Technical errors or a lack of SEO know-how can lead to considerable keyword fluctuations within the search engine results, which in turn can endanger your own online success. In this article I will show webmasters which SEO factors can lead to ranking fluctuations and how webmasters have to optimize their internet presence to benefit from stable search engine rankings in the long run.

How Search Engine Rankings are Created

Before the individual SEO factors that can lead to keyword fluctuations within the search engine index are explained in more detail, it is particularly important for a webmaster to gain an understanding of how search engines generate search engine rankings at all.

Search engines crawl documents from online presences such as websites, blogs or online shops, try to determine the thematic content of the respective sites and then try to determine for which search queries these sites are to be displayed in the search results in the future. The search engines try to determine the relevance of the respective sites in relation to search queries. If the relevance of a site to a search query within the search engine index is very high, the result is that the site is displayed very far ahead in the search engine results (for example: page 1, position 4). Webmasters often speak in this case of “good search engine rankings”.

If webmasters do not consider relevant SEO factors or if they are not considered correctly, the search engines may in turn consider several sites of their own Internet presence relevant for a predefined search query. Because search engines have difficulty in identifying which of the sites has the highest relevance to a search query, they change search engine rankings and perform tests. This causes keyword fluctuations.

In order for webmasters to benefit from sustainable search engine traffic, they must optimize the sites of their online presence so that the search engines classify the relevance of their sites to previously defined keywords (search queries) as high as possible and also ensure that no other of their sites are also used for very similar search queries.

An SEO Negative Example:

An online shop operator sells garden furniture through his new online shop, which his customers can purchase directly in his online shop. The online shop’s product portfolio includes garden tables, garden chairs and seat covers, for example. Since the online shop has only been online for a few weeks, each category has only one product in several color variations. The operator of the online shop attaches great importance to the fact that the product detail pages of the garden tables will in future show particularly good search engine rankings for the garden product, so that he can generate conversion-oriented traffic directly via the organic search engine search in the future.

The URLs of the product detail pages in this example are:

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-yellow/

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-blue/

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-green/

Now it is particularly important to understand that a product page (in this case for example: “/gardentables-yellow/”) is a document that is crawled, interpreted and processed by the search engines. Since the online shop operator has very little SEO knowledge, he has only defined the title, the description, the URL and also the content of the three product detail pages in very general terms. The three product detail pages of the respective garden tables therefore differ only minimally from each other in terms of content (color) and appearance (layout).

In addition, the online shop operator wants to offer its customers a special added value and therefore offers each document as an additional.pdf file for download due to the relevant product features.

This means from the search engine’s point of view:

The search engine crawling the new Gartenonlineshop will find six documents, which are all very similar or even completely identical:

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-yellow/

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-blue/

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-green/

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-yellow.pdf

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-blue.pdf

https://thisisanexamplegardenonlineshop1.com/gardentables/gardentable-green.pdf

The search machine will try now to determine which site of the gardenonlineshop will exhibit the highest relevance to the search query “garden table”, so that this site can be shown in the search machine index. However, as the sites differ only slightly from each other, there are likely to be considerable keyword fluctuations.

The missing keyword focus of the respective sites (title, description, headlines, URL, internal linking and content) and the (near) duplicate content prevent stable search engine rankings from being generated in this case.

These factors can also lead to keyword fluctuations:

Internal keyword fluctuations occur particularly frequently if the search engine cannot exactly identify which of the sites in the search engine index of a domain should be used for a search query, since other sites also have a similar relevance to a search query. Keyword fluctuations occur particularly frequently in the following areas:

Duplicate Content

  • Sites can be accessed both with www and without www
  • Sites can be accessed with both https and http
  • Sites are identical or very similar (Near Duplicate Content)
  • .pdf files with (almost) identical content are also included in the search engine index
  • Sites can be called with “/” and without “/”.

Meta Data

  • Several pages of a domain have identical keywords in the seo-relevant meta data (e.g. in Title and Description)

Internal Linking

  • Different pages are linked to the same or very similar anchor texts containing keywords

Backlinks

  • Identical or very similar keyword containing anchor texts of backlinks (e.g. “beautiful yellow garden chair”) point to different sites of an online presence

Solution: Define one keyword focus per page

So that webmasters can receive target group-relevant traffic via the organic search, it is particularly important that they assign their own focus keyword to each relevant site that is to achieve stable and positive search engine rankings.

This focus keyword should then be used in the title, in the headings, in the description, in the URL, in the content and in the internal linking (anchor texts), so that the search engines can identify more easily which search query the corresponding site is to be displayed for. It is also essential that the internal keyword focus is always maintained and that each page is assigned its own, individual keyword focus, which differs from the others.

If an Internet presence also contains several similar pages, the webmaster should define exactly which page is to be displayed in the search engine results in the future. The pages that are not to be ranked by search engines in the future, or that do not offer any added value to the search engine index, should be deliberately removed from the search engine index. This SEO measure can be implemented either with a NoIndex specification, or with the help of a Canonical tag.

Conclusion:

Stable search engine rankings represent an important online marketing foundation for many webmasters, which enables them to generate target group-relevant and conversion-strong traffic. If, for example, a keyword monitoring tool (such as XOVI) is used to determine that certain sites have keyword fluctuations for important search queries, the webmaster must react to this SEO challenge by analyzing the reasons for the ranking fluctuations. Significant ranking fluctuations are often a sign that search engines find it difficult to determine the relevance of a document to a search query, as various factors send different SEO signals (e.g. missing keyword focus).

Webmasters who want to benefit from stable search engine rankings in the future should ensure that the relevant SEO Onpage and Offpage factors correctly reflect this keyword focus.

Author Kevin Jackowski

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