Mistakes You’re Making While Checking Your Rankings

Several times a week I have conversations with clients regarding their keyword rankings. If it’s a new client I usually hear things like “I’m already doing very well since I’m #1 for Car Accident Lawyer”, or a similar statement. As the conversation usually progresses I am told that although they think they’re ranking well they are not getting the expected influx of new clients.

This is a common scenario and Google can kind of “trick” you into personalizing your search results. The problem is that Google displays different results for different searchers depending on their geographic area and logged in searching history.

The Rankings You’re Checking Are Wrong

In some cases the rankings you’re checking are wrong. Google is always aiming to provide the best user experience for the searcher. You are the searcher and your patterns differ from other searchers. Therefore if you’ve used your browser to search for your company before and clicked on the result repeatedly, Google can learn and will assume you like that website. In this case it will then prioritize this search for you personally.

New clients on the other hand are doing research and have likely not done a lot of this searching before.

In addition to this, Google displays rankings based on your geographic area. Someone searching in one city will see different results than someone in another city.

You Need to Check Your Rankings Unbiasedly

While there are cool tools out there like Whitespark for checking local rankings by geographic area without the click through bias, you can also do these searches one at a time yourself using a method I outlined below.

This method works pretty well and you can also replicate this on mobile as well.

 

How To Check Your Own Rankings

  1. Start by opening Google Chrome. If you don’t have it yet you can download it here.
  2. Once you’ve opened the browser, navigate to the top right corner and click the three line drop down as shown below. You’re looking for the option: New Incognito WindowChrome New Incognito Widnow
  3. The Incognito window will not save your browsing history and it acts like more of a clean search assuming you’re not logged into Gmail or a Google Application in the incognito window. From here you can simply surf to Google.com
  4. Now that you’ve reached the Google search page you need to consider how you want the results to display. For example if you’re traveling in California but want to check the results of your New York based firm’s rankings you might type: “New York Personal Injury Lawyer”, however these results could vary depending on whether you’re searching from New York or LA. In addition to this you will probably find that potential clients are actually typing it in without the geographic modifier since they’re already located in the area they’re searching. They May just type in “Personal Injury Lawyer”. So how do we get these results in a similar fashion as a local searcher? Simple!The first step is to click the search tools link from the search results page as shown below:

    Search Tools

  5. Once you click the search tools you will notice the location Google detects you in will auto populate as in the example below. Simply click this area and enter the city and state where you want to replicate the search from.This is your location
  6. Once you have your location set you’re ready to search. You can simply use the search engine normally at this point without fear of logged in or geographic ranking bias.

 

A Couple of Ending Thoughts

There are a few things I want to cover about this technique. First, you have to realize that while this is an effective tool for viewing your rankings the client is the real centroid. In some searches a searcher typing a query on one side of the city would differ from someone typing the same query in on the other side of the city.

It’s a good idea to run a few searches yourself and see where you rank for accountability purposes. If you’re not ranking where you want to, talk with your SEO company and set goals and KPI’s that will help you achieve the desired results.

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.