SEO analytics should be reviewed once per week, or once every two weeks, to get a greater sense of how your newly-published or newly-optimized content is performing. However, that does not mean you should act on discovered negative traffic changes every time you look at your SEO analytics.
Google hasn’t officially claimed that a ‘sandbox’ period for new content exists, but most SEOs will testify in favor of the existence of this concept. The sandbox is a period during which Google tests ranking your page in high positions for targeted keywords, and then retracts the page for a while before deciding if it was helpful for users or not. This can last anywhere from a few days to four weeks. After a page has been first indexed by Google, you can expect to see more permanent rankings four to six months later.
Several factors may play into a page rapidly changing rankings:
- During the launch of a new page or a refresh of an old one, performance will rapidly change while Google is testing that page (the ‘sandbox period’).
- Rankings may also fluctuate rapidly (though not drastically) when Google is testing out other pages for a query you already rank for.
- Google’s QDF algorithm (Query Deserves Freshness) may also test out completely new rankings for SERPs where Google has reason to believe that the intent for a target query has changed over time, or ranking pages no longer carry up-to-date information.
- SERP changes (testing or introducing new SERP Features, like the recent addition of FAQ snippets, or removing them).
- Algorithm updates.
Because so many factors play into rapid ranking changes – no immediate action needs to be taken every time you notice negative ranking movements. Google may simply be running a test, and the impact of that test will be mitigated over the next week or two. But it’s wise to be on the lookout for actual ranking drops early on, so reviewing your SEO analytics at least 2-4 times per month will help you make the call if something is an actual problem or not.
We also recommend reviewing your SEO analytics year-over-year to get a better sense of seasonal trends in organic search behavior. For example, eCommerce sites usually see sharp drops in traffic and sales immediately after the holiday period has passed.
Contact Fire&Spark for a free consultation if you need more help with your analytics tracking strategy.