Digital Marketing

Why Ensuring SERP Volatility is so Important for Thorough Keyword Research

Why Ensuring SERP Volatility is so Important for Thorough Keyword Research

There’s so much that goes into an effective SEO strategy. To make it to the top of the search engine results page (or SERP), you want to be sure that you’re dealing with keyword data that is as accurate as possible.

In this post, I’ll give you a brief overview of what SERP volatility is and how it can impact your SEO strategy. By the end, you’ll know everything you need in order to apply this information to your daily routine without missing a beat.

Defining SERP Volatility

It’s not uncommon for people new to the SEO game to get taken off guard by the concept of SERP volatility. That’s because one might think that just by looking at the current rankings on any given search engine, they have all the information they need about a particular SERP.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

In its essence, SERP volatility is the inherent likelihood that a SERP is subject to change on any given day or within the course of a few days. This is because search results are in a constant state of flux. People shift search terms, content gets updated or deleted, and even the layout of SERPs can change at any time without warning.

This ever-changing environment is where we get the phrase “volatility” from when referring to SERP rankings. Because no two patches are exactly alike, you’ll need to take keyword research into account on a regular basis if you hope to get anywhere as an SEO.

SERP Volatility & Keyword Research

The importance of keyword research is indisputable. Without it, you’re flying blind and hoping your site is gaining traction in Google without any sort of strategy in place to help you rank higher on SERP and drive more traffic to your site.

Every time you rank a site, you’re looking for new keywords that can be used to help the process. If your site is stagnant and not getting enough SERPs in Google, it’s using keywords incorrectly or has hit its ceiling of traffic potential.

Such a situation makes keyword research paramount online. First, you need to know what terms people are searching for in relation to your topic.

But keyword rankings can be volatile if you don’t know how to monitor them in real-time. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that your keyword research is thorough, accurate, and up to date. If you do this, you’ll be able to spot any issues and course-correct before they become a real problem in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

Because if no one else is noticing the fluctuations in organic search listings, you might be missing out on a big opportunity. That means that your keyword research should account for SERP volatility when trying to determine how competitive specific terms are.

That’s because, as mentioned earlier, SERPs can change quite frequently—even if you’re not doing anything yourself to manipulate them.

You have company websites and blogs launching new pages with relevant keywords that fall into place and further bump up your placement in the search results. Plus, algorithms constantly tweak, which causes organic rankings to shift from day-to-day (and sometimes hour-by-hour).

Strategies For Accurately Measuring SERP Volatility

There’s more than one way to make sense of all this volatility going on within search results. Determining how volatile a keyword is involved several factors, including search volume, the competitiveness of that term for ranking on a specific search engine, and the SERP landscape.

An example of an “unstable” volatile keyword is one relating to a commercial event or current event. These types of searches have very short life spans and are typically done by people looking for up-to-date results related to exciting news stories.

As soon as that news story dies down, you can expect the SEO traffic gained from using those keywords to diminish significantly over time.

On the other hand, your long-tail keyword research should be more stable because it’s based on common phrases that aren’t tied directly to any singular news story, commercial event, or popular trend. Instead, they’re used every single day in searches across a broad spectrum of topics.

So, as you can see, it’s vital that you leave the volatile keywords out of your initial keyword-research phase and start with the more stable terms instead. Terms that will be around for years to come if you launch a new website or service.

Another strategy for measuring SERP volatility is using tools such as SEMRush to gauge the exact amount of traffic that you could gain or lose depending on whether your site is at position #3 or #5 for a given keyword.

For example, if you are currently in position #5 and move to position #3, there’s a good chance that your traffic will increase significantly. And unless the said keyword is seasonal or is tied to a specific current event, then it’s safe to assume that the traffic you gain will be well-remembered and recurring.

Similarly, if you are currently at position #3 for a term and move to position #5, then there is a good chance that your traffic will decrease significantly as well. So, again, unless this keyword is seasonal or its popularity is short-lived, then it’s safe to assume that it will become less popular in the future.

Therefore, by looking at SERP Volatility, you are able to get an idea as to how long a keyword is likely to remain popular.

Why SERP Volatility Is Important

SERP volatility is one of the more important metrics when it comes to keyword research.

If you know that a given term has a low level of volatility, then it’s likely you would be able to gain relatively steady traffic over an extended period of time. This could also mean that once your website has been optimized for a particular keyword, then you will not have to worry about any sudden or drastic changes in search positions.

If you know that the level of volatility for a given term is high, however, your situation will likely be very different. This means that you are going to see a lot more variation in terms of traffic and search positions.

This also means that if you optimize your site for such a keyword, its chances keeping its ranking are much slimmer than if the SERP Volatility index was lower. That’s because there is much less stability in terms of search position when it comes to volatile keywords as compared with non-volatile ones.

Being able to accurately assess how consistently a given keyword will be able to occupy a search term can be extremely useful when it comes to SEO. This is especially true if you are engaged in the type of long-term strategy that relies heavily on implementing new content and making sure that your site stays fresh.

This is why you should make sure to take SERP volatility into account when doing your keyword research. It does not matter so much whether or not the terms you choose are volatile, but rather how volatile they are in comparison with all the other options available to you. In this way, you can ensure that your keywords fit well with your overall business strategy.

The Takeaway

SERP volatility is a factor that you should take into account when doing your keyword research. It does not matter so much whether or not the terms you choose are volatile, but rather how volatile they are in comparison with all the other options available to you. In this way, you can ensure that your keywords fit well with your overall business strategy and achieve their desired purpose.

About the author

Jason Khoo

Jason started freelancing in SEO back in college, sold his first agency, and now is founder of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.

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