They used to say that the only thing you could count on in life is death and taxes. Well now there’s a third— that your Web site’s ranking on Google’s search results pages will change.
I hear from home improvement companies all the time that “My Web site dropped in the rankings.” Or, “Some days I can find my Web site easily on Google’s search rankings, and other days it’s nowhere to be seen.”
That’s because Google, as well as Yahoo and Bing, constantly change how they determine how to rank Web sites on their search pages. It’s a never-ending process for the search engines. They are constantly trying to improve their users’ experience, and are always testing different algorithms to improve users’ results.
Let me offer a quick example in the home improvement market. I ran a search for the term “painting contractor” while I was in New York City last weekend. Here is what Google Maps responded with:
You’ll see there are seven listings for painting contractors in the New York City area. According to the map, they are spread around Manhattan in a rough geographic dispersal, so that you should be able to locate a painter whether you live uptown or in Soho. Looks simple.
Now, let’s look at the results from the same search for “painting contractor” just 20 minutes later:
In only 20 minutes, the results changed. What? While the first three listings are the same in both sets of results, changes start in the fourth position:
- Ahern’s Painting Contractors dropped from fourth in the results to sixth. Not great, but not a huge drop.
- George Cho Contractors moved up from #5 to #4. Good for them!
- Tom Euro also moved up a spot from sixth to fifth. Excellent.
- Handyman NY City Stuff went from seventh position to completely out of the rankings. Tough luck…
- In comes Clark & Wilkins from unranked to the seventh position. At least they’re on the page!
I could get into why each listing might have stayed exactly where it is. Or I could tell you why Google might have shifted them. But it would take a year’s worth of blog postings to explain it all…and you’d tune out before I got to the end.
The point is that no listings are constant. Google and the other search engines are always changing the way they rank their listings, and how they display them. Is it frustrating? Sure, especially if it’s your Web site that’s falling in the rankings. But just understand that twenty minutes from now, these rankings may look completely different and HandyMan NYCity Stuff may well be #1.
So don’t look just once at your search results. Because whether you do or don’t like your websites ranking, it will change.