Fluctuating Dental Website Rankings: When to Panic

Marcus Biggs

By Marcus Biggs

Published April 23, 2019
Updated February 15, 2024

5 min read


If you monitor your Google rankings frequently, you’ll notice they can fluctuate often. And every time they fall, it can send your stress levels soaring. When the rankings are up, all is well. But when they dip, what’s happening? Is it normal? What can you do?

First, small changes in rankings – especially over just a couple of days – aren’t unusual. However, it is unusual for rankings to fall dramatically and then stay that way for several weeks.

Learn about when you should be concerned, what to do when your rankings drop, and why they fluctuate in the first place.

How to Monitor Your SEO Health… Without Panicking

First tip: if your practice doesn’t rank on the first page of Google, it is not uncommon to see frequent changes. This is often the case with newer websites. Dramatic landslides and climbs should not be a cause for concern.

Similarly, if your dental practice ranks in the top few listings on Google, it is not uncommon to see slight changes over the course of just a couple of weeks (I.e. going from one to three and back to one).

With this in mind, if you follow these tips for checking your dental website’s Google rankings, it should give you a more accurate picture of your SEO strategy:

  1. Check your rankings once a week instead of once a day.
    Short term fluctuations are normal and not consequential to your dental SEO strategy. Be consistent with checking your rankings, but don’t go overboard with continually refreshing the page until your website has recovered.
  2. Compare rankings with your competitors.
    Google often changes its algorithm for a specific keyword to ensure that the top results are the most helpful. In this case, your competitors might fluctuate just as much as your website.
  3. Consistently check your rankings in the same way.
    Checking your dental website rankings on your phone versus your desktop might give two different results. Google also highly favors location in its search algorithm. This typically impacts rankings. To avoid conflicting results, use a non-personalized, non-geo-based system to check your rankings.
  4. Check website traffic as well as rankings.
    After examining your organic website traffic (compared to just your rankings), you may find that the number of visits hasn’t changed. If you’re still receiving the same number of visitors, it could just be normal fluctuations of some keywords.
If you’re not sure how to track your website traffic, click here for an overview of Google Analytics. Also, contact your web service provider to make sure they have installed Google Analytics on your website.


When to Panic: What Causes Dental Website Ranking Fluctuations?

If google-analyticsyou’ve been tracking your rankings, according to the guidelines above, and have seen a sharp drop in rankings over the course of a few months, there may be cause for concern.

What’s causing the drop? Here are a few possible reasons:

Major Google Algorithm Updates

Google is constantly making small changes to its algorithm. But every now and then, they publish a major update that penalizes (or rewards) websites across the web.

What to do: If you have an SEO provider, then contact them to see if there has been a major update and what they are doing to prevent the negative effects.

If you don’t have an SEO provider, check some reputable SEO websites for articles on Google Algorithm updates to confirm this is the cause. These articles will also give recommendations on how to overcome these updates.

Sudden Trends

When a normally low volume keyword that your practice has been ranking high for suddenly surges in popularity, Google could start experimenting with the rankings. The higher search volume gives Google more data to determine which sites users prefer.

What to do: Examine the page of your website that links from the affected keyword and make sure it delivers on the results users would be searching for.

If the time spent on your page is short, for example, then update the post with some more information on the topic to ensure accuracy.

New Content Added

Whenever new content is added that could potentially rank higher than an existing page, Google’s algorithm will have more information to crawl and reevaluate the rankings.

What to do: Write more content but make sure it’s content written for dental SEO keywords you want to improve rankings for. Do some keyword research, optimization and promotion to get the right content ranking for the right search terms.

How to fix a Rankings Drop: Start with These Two Areas

Above are just a few possible reasons for ranking fluctuations. However, there are several SEO guidelines for improving your rankings.

Check for Spammy Backlinks
Legitimate backlinks can build your trust score with Google, while spammy links drastically harm it. The key is to understand the difference between the two. Here are a few characteristics of good backlinks:

  • They are relevant to your topic.
  • They come from trusted sites.
  • They are in header tags and are contextual (within the text of the page).
  • They come from high-engagement pages (pages that users stay on for a significant period of time).

Re-Evaluate Your Dental On-Page SEO

On-page SEO targets both the content and HTML of a page. Here are a few things to look for when reviewing your on-page SEO:

  1. Is your website mobile-friendly?
    Check the website on your cell phone (preferably both an Android and Apple device).
  2. Are your images optimized?
    Include keywords in the file names of the images where it makes sense.
  3. Are their internal links between webpages on your site?
    Link to other pages of your site when it is relevant to the topic.
  4. Are their outbound links to trustworthy sites?
    Include links to other trustworthy sites when it is relevant to the topic.
  5. Are you using the H1 tags in the HTML for the title of the page?
    The title of the page is Google’s first spot to check for keywords and the H1 tag is the signpost.

Keeping track of Google’s constantly changing algorithm can be daunting. Hiring multiple providers (a website designer, SEO contractor, etc.) can be frustrating. Your left managing multiple vendors, and when things go awry, you’re tasked with finding the weak link.

An all-in-one digital marketing company typically delivers better results. Not to mention, it simplifies your digital marketing strategy. To learn more about our services, review our plans or sign up for a free website evaluation to find out what can be improved today.