Whats Up with Irregular and Inconsistent Google Search Results?

I’ve noticed some wackiness (at least what I consider wacky) with Google search results lately. We’ve been working slowly but surely on improving our rankings for one of our sites. We haven’t been making any sweeping changes, but instead making small tweaks here and there to title tags, meta descriptions, adding some relevant content to our pages, and getting our pages linked to from other relevant sites.

What I’ve noticed over the last week though, is that a couple times a week, we’ll drop off the face of Google search results for one of our top terms. Its not like we’re falling from #3 to #10 or from Page 1 to Page 2, but falling off the results map altogether. What’s even weirder is that a couple of days later, we’re back up to where we were before the “hiccup”.

We’ve also noticed that search results at any given time of the day can vary greatly. We can show up ranked #2 or #3 for a top keyterm, then later on in the day, #9. Or, perform one search and we’re #3 and immediately search again and we’re #6. Sometimes, I can search for a phrase and get one ranking while a co-worker can do the same search and get a completely different ranking. I’ve been trying to figure out why this happens, but I keep coming up empty.

I never expect to keep rankings forever as the web changes almost constantly, but you’d think that you’d get at least some consistency in search results. Especially for a site that is fairly well built and adheres to what Google calls best practices. But what I am really confused by is the wholesale change to our rankings for certain keywords in one fell swoop. I’d expect to see rankings slip and slip, not disappear all together.

It could very well be that all of this is just a lack of a complete understanding on how Google search results and rankings work. I’m not a complete newb to SEO, but I’m not an expert either. If anyone can enlighten and educate me on what I’m seeing in our search results, I’d be certainly grateful.

2 thoughts on “Whats Up with Irregular and Inconsistent Google Search Results?

  1. Taylor

    This is actually happening to me. My site is Video Blogging Tips dot Com. For the longest time I was stuck on page two of Google for the keyword phrase “blogging tips” without quotes.

    Just a few days back I finally got to page one and I even managed to snag the number 6 spot. However, my ranking often changes — probably even 3 or 4 times a day.

    I’ll sometimes be number 6 on page one, and then other times I will be number 15 on page two. Then, a few hours later I will be back at the number 6 spot on page one.

    What is Google trying to determine? I recently changed my keyword density for the keyphrase of “blogging tips” so maybe Google sometimes sees my site as being relevant, but as soon as other sites update their pages, Google takes me off of the front page. Then, when I update my page, I get back on the front page.

    I really don’t know. Have you discovered anything?

  2. Bill

    I haven’t found anything that leads me to exactly what is going on, but sometimes I wonder if it depends on which Google results server farm you’re hitting. They have data centers all over the country and I wonder if your results might be a little different depending on which one you’re using.

    I agree totally that its really odd and I would expect search results to be way more consistent. If you find anything that points to exactly what’s going on, I’d love to hear about it.

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