Google never stands still. It runs hundreds of tests each year, and tweaks its algorithm constantly. Small businesses feel it the most.
Did you know that the last time you searched on Google, you were probably part of a test? That's because Google runs experiments constantly, and is always exploring ways to tweak the hundreds of factors that determine where your pages rank in search results.
This can lead to sudden fluctuations in your search performance. Google points out that even subtle algorithmic changes can have huge impacts, especially for sites with low visitor counts. Which means that the sudden drop in traffic you noticed recently for your small e-commerce site might be a response to a tiny Google update.
Experiments can be anything from very minor changes to full-blown ranking tests. They might also indicate technical shifts, such as changes in feeds from different Google data centers, or even something new happening to the Web itself.
So if you see performance figures that you can't explain, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing something wrong. Of course, you need to confirm this by revisiting your SEO overall. For example, re-test your own keywords to make sure they're still relevant to your target audiences. Also do some search testing of your own to make sure the "snippets" that appear in search results still look appealing to the customers that are finding you in Google results. Otherwise, even if they see you, they won't click through.
The good news is that over time things tend to equalize again, and your site performance should even out at its "normal" level.
There's a lot of additional information available in the Google forums, Google Help and Google Webmasters. Skip over the technical details, or if the techie lingo is a little over the top for you, continue to check back here for important tips and updates. Also, feel free to browse the blog for more on SEO, copywriting and social media.
Barbara Clavan provides copywriting, coaching and consulting services to high-growth businesses, high-profile individuals and creative entrepreneurs.
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