Finding Where You Rank in the Search Engines
Admit it. You’ve Google’d yourself. And you’ve Google’d your business. That’s OK. It’s actually normal. Who hasn’t done it?
What’s interesting is that most of the major search engines, since they’re based on an algorithm, will show you what you want to see. For example, if you search for your website and it shows up in a search engine, you may be pleasantly surprised by its location. What you may not realize is that the more you search for and click on your website, the higher it will rank for you… not for everyone else.
You may be operating under a false belief that you rank number one for the most competitive terms. We hate to break it to you, but the reality is that you are the only person seeing your website as number one.
Your objective in this chapter is to understand the reasons behind tracking rankings, be able to search for your main keywords and see your true website rankings.
Why Track Rankings?
The simple answer is this: to know how visible you are online.
Reason 1: Brand recognition versus replication. Most consumers begin with search engines when they are looking for a product or service. If no one can find your business, then you will be forced to use other methods to gain new business. Most businesses with unique names will show up for their brand name in the search. However, if your company name is replicated in another state or location, you may not show up in a search.
Reason 2: Awareness of various results. It’s also beneficial to know what a potential customer sees when they search for your company. Is the first result a negative review of your company on a site like Yelp or BBB? If so, you will want to know this so you can respond and rectify the situation before you lose potential customers.
Reason 3: Building online reputation. It is helpful to know where you show up for your major keywords. This way you can monitor it over time as you begin to build and grow your reputation online.
Why Do I See Different Results Than Other People?
In an effort to create more personalized results, the major search engines (particularly Google) have pushed people to log in to perform a search. As the search engines begin to learn what your favorite websites are they will show those sites more frequently in searches.
For example, let’s say you have a specific technology website you frequent. One day, you search for the release of a new phone. The search engine may rank your favorite technology website at the top of your results, even though it may be on page 2 for someone else. The search engine knows you trust and enjoy that technology website, so it helps you locate it faster.
How Can I Know Where I Rank?
Unfortunately there is no 100% verified way to know where you rank. The good news is you can know where you rank with a high degree of accuracy by following the steps below.
Step 1: You must use a browser that has “Private Browsing,” “InPrivate Browsing” or “Incognito Mode.” The top 3 browsers have this (Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome) and most other browsers have some version of private browsing.
Start by opening a new window.
Step 2: Go to your search engine of choice. In this example we will use Google. Make sure you are logged out of your account.
Step 3: Enter the keywords you want to check. We recommend searching for your brand name and major keywords. Hopefully you will show up on the first page! If not, you may need to browse a few pages to find your site. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find your site in the list. An easy trick is to use the find function built in to your browser. To do this hold the “Ctrl” key (“Cmd” key on Mac) and press the “F” key. A bar will open where you can enter your website to search for it on the page.
What About Rank Tracking Software?
There are a number of tools out there that offer rank tracking automatically. These are used by a number of people but violate most search engines’ (especially Google’s) terms of service. They work by sending automated queries to track the rankings, which annoys the search engines. (We hesitate encouraging you to use this type of software as it typically violates terms of service.)
The other issue is they are not always accurate, especially for local searches. Most of these companies have large server farms to scrape their data. Since they are located anywhere in the world, this can influence the accuracy of their data. and they could be located anywhere in the US or even abroad which could influence the accuracy of their data.
What Other Methods Are Available?
Google and Bing offer a version of Webmaster Tools for website installation that provide you with data about rankings. It is typically an average ranking system over the past 30 days, so it does not always reflect extremely accurate, recent results. However, the data is available for free and often indicates additional searches that show your website you may not have been aware of previously. Using this data, you can create new content targeting those specific keywords.
Tracking rankings will help you evaluate where you currently stand and if your efforts are working. You don’t need to watch your rankings daily, but it’s definitely a good idea to check at least once a month to see where you rank.
Yay! Now you’ve met your objective in this chapter of understanding the reasons behind tracking rankings, searching for your main keywords and finding your true website rankings.