SERP Volatility: How to make better data-driven decisions?

SERP Volatility
92 / 100

Hooray! Your SEO effort finally paid off and you are now ranked on the top 3 of Google search results. But for how long? What about tomorrow? And the day after? In the following article I will detail the importance of monitoring your keywords volatility and how to take quick action to always be on the top.

Let’s say you successfully rank your natural beauty products blog on the top 3 for the query “Bergamot oils” how can you make sure you will rank this position for the rest of your life? It’s most probably impossible as the internet is consistently having new content. But you can monitor your position and take quick action to make sure you will always stay on the best of your positions.

What is SERP Volatility?

Table of Content

  1. What is the volatility in SEO?
  2. Google Algorithms updates
  3. What is SEMrush Sensor?
    1. Sensor Indices
  4. How to take advantage of the SERP volatility?
    1. Get notified
    2. Analyse your competitors
    3. Update your page

So let’s start with the beginning, by defining volatility and more specifically SERP volatility.

In the world of SEO, SERP volatility refers to

Search Engine Rank Page (SERP) Volatility is constant changes (up-down) in the position of website ranking in Google’s result pages. Whenever there are any algorithm changes in Google you can notice a fluctuation in your website keyword ranking. This fluctuation in website ranking is called SERP Volatility. These changes can significantly affect your organic search traffic, which is not inherently a bad thing.

Google Algorithms updates

Google’s ranking algorithm keeps changing and unfortunately they published only the major ones. In fact, even John Mueller from Google confirmed that algorithm changes happen on a daily basis. And Sometimes even the tiniest changes in the algorithms can have a huge impact on your ranking.

That’s why it is crucial to keep an eye on the SERP volatility. Since we cannot ask Google for its upcoming update :). It’s important to know as soon as possible when an update occurs. This search engine optimization idea is to flip the approach by analyzing the Search results itself and create indicators instead of trying to work on the Google Algorithm criterias.

Nowadays Google Algorithm with the help of their machine learning called RankBrain, is more complex as ever and from a marketing point of view it would be impossible to understand how it really works.

If you need more information about Google Algorithm and RankBrain I would recommend this article from Danny Sullivan. Or if you want to check the full log of the Google algorithm updates click here

So how can we actually analyze Google search results volatility?

This answer is a really powerful online tool developed by SEMrush and called SEMrush sensor.

Google Updates
As you can see just for the month of January and February 3 updates have been confirmed by Google. And these do not show the unconfirmed updates. So imagine in a year.

What is SEMrush Sensor?

SEMrush Sensor tracks the daily volatility of Google search engine results pages (SERP). Developed by SEMrush, the sensor is free of use on It will tell you if Google ranking is changing by category and country. You can even receive an email notification, if the sensor detects in a day a massive change in the SERP . This is probably one of the most accurate way to know if Google releases a new algorithm update.

Check your industry SERP Volatility

First let me introduce SEMrush. SEMrush is a powerful online marketing tool that we over use at Ultimate Index. They gave amazing data and tools to enhance our campaigns. There is way more to talk about SEMrush but this will be out of scope for this article. If you are curious and want to know more about SEMrush, I definitely recommend their academy section, you will find useful and free course on SEO and how to use their marketing platform. One of our favorite tools on the platform is the SEMrush Sensor known as well as the SERP weather .

SEMrush Sensor has been developed to help everyone detect Google updates, show them the SERP volatility caused by updates, and help them determine the main trends in search results. SEMrush Sensor tracks all the changes that occur in the SERPs on a daily basis and provides you data from 9 country databases by 25 categories.

Arts & Entertainment / Autos & Vehicles / Beauty & Fitness / Books & Literature / Business & Industrial / Computers & Electronics / Finance / Food & Drink / Games / Health / Hobbies & Leisure / Home & Garden / Internet & Telecom / Jobs & Education / Law & Government / News / Online Communities / People & Society / Pets & Animals / Real Estate / Reference / Science / Shopping / Sports / Travel

SEMrush sensor provides also great extra features including information on the popularity of HTTPS and AMP among top search results, mobile or desktop personal score for a custom set of keywords (For premium account only) or major Google changes and SERP volatility over the last 30 days. For example  If you see an impact on your rankings for a particular day, you can see if there was high volatility around that time – which could indicate an algorithm change. 

Tips: With SEMrush Sensor you can also have a quick look at the domains that became the day’s Winners and Losers (gained or lost most positions) in terms of ranking. A great piece of information for your competitors’ analysis.

Sensor Indices

SEMrush sensor rates the volatility from 1 to 10 where 10 represents a very high volatility. The tool also categorizes the volatility in 5 scores categories:

  • Low – score from 0 to 2

What does a low score mean?
A low score means that the rankings are unusually stable. Websites get updated every day and there are often small tweaks in the Google algorithm (some of which are not done by humans), so rankings can change slightly every day. Therefore, a calm day can be slightly suspicious, but not dangerous. Commonly, we see this happen on big holidays.

  • Normal – score from 2 to 5

What does a normal score mean?
Although some sites might experience insignificant rankings changes, this is most likely because these sites or their backlink profiles are being updated. There is nothing to worry about, it’s like an ordinary day. .

  • High – score from 5 to 8

What does a high score mean?
Position changes for numerous sites! Google results are shaking up. This may be a sign of a possible algorithm change. In this case we would need to check if your site has been affected.

  • Very high – score from 8 to 10.

What does a very high score mean?
At this stage there’re constant and massive tremors on Google search results, suggesting a significant algorithm update. It’s time to check if your site is going up/down.

Please note that a high score does not necessarily mean it will be bad for your SEO. Indeed As SEMrush like to reminds us:

“High or Very High only means that there are a lot of changes in the rankings. There may be a change in Google Algorithm, or a set of penalties put into force. The chanсe that your website will significantly move in the rankings are higher than usual on a day with a Very High score, but your positions could go up just as well as down. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the score just in case.”

How to take advantage of the SERP volatility?

Get notified

We highly recommend setting up an email notification to know exactly when the SERP changes. Like that you will be the first to know if your position will have a high change to change or not.

The notifications trigger when volatility jumps to either ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ zone from a lower zone. If there are several consecutive days of ‘High’ score, you will only get notice about first one. You get notified about volatility spikes in the databases that you.

The information above proves useful in a situation where you would like to quickly restore your rankings affected by an algorithm change or Google penalty, and also when you want to try and benefit from SERP changes.

Unfortunately in 2020 SEMrush sensor tracks the volatility only for 9 countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Japan, China)

Update your content

So now you will be able to know when your rankings are affected by a Google Algorithm update. Then if your rankings are affected in a negative way you will need to update your content as soon as possible to avoid losing your spot in the SERP. And to work on your content a full on-page SEO check would be necessary in order to highlight what should be done. At Ultimate Index we provide a complete On-page SEO service with many recommendations mostly based on your competitors and technical on-pages issues. 

Remember even though Google Algorithm is constantly changing, one thing that hasn’t changed is what the algorithm is trying to do. Google’s job is to provide the best search results for any given query. So if you are losing position in the SERP I would recommend to identify again the search intent for your keywords. If you think that the search results doesn’t match your page content then it’s time to adjust your it with what the user is actually looking for. And you can find out by reading the top 10 search results and see what the Titles and meta descriptions talk about.

Analyze your SERP competitors

So a great way to stay on top of the SERP is to regularly check your competitors who rank better than you. By doing that you will be able to identify what should be added to your page in order to win positions.

It’s a bit time consuming but for your pages with high volume click this exercise worth doing as you probably want to keep the same amount of traffic from those keywords.

Final thoughts

To conclude, monitoring the SERP seems quite a huge task but with the help of the SEMrush sensor it becomes a piece of cake to have an idea when Google might release a new update for its search algorithm. By knowing when the algorithm might change it’s a great way to follow up your positions and make sure you stay on top. If the change impacts your ranking in a negative way then you can quickly adjust your content by doing on-page SEO and checking your SERP competitors, adjusting your content to meet the need of the search intent.

I know there are way more to cover on the topics, so please feel free to comment or give me your experience on the SERP volatility.