Rank Checking. Accurately.

Recently a client wrote to thank me for helping her get to #1 for the terms “interior+design+her city.” She said that she had been doing searches periodically to see where she ranked. The last time she had checked, she had been at the top of page 2. Now she was #1 on page 1.

Well, although, it was tempting to take the compliment and run with it, I refrained. She might be getting a “false positive.”

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I live in another city, so I did my own search. Her company came up at the top of page 2, which, by the way, is not bad for a newly launched site in a competitive environment. With time, it should rise higher.

But why did my client get a different result? Google does what is known as “personalization.” They track your searches as well as your location and serve listings according to what it thinks YOU are looking for.

Now perhaps my own search would have put my client’s company higher if I had been located in her area, so maybe she is #1 in her area. She would need to try her search on varying computers to be sure. (Do random searches when you pass by a computer store or you’re at a friend’s office. Or call a friend and ask him or her to perform the search. Be sure they are using Google.)

When checking from your own computer, you also need to clean out your browser’s cookies and sign out of any Google Accounts that are open. Very annoying.

The best and easiest way to do rank checking is to check your Google Analytics reports. Simply sign in to your Analytics account and go to Traffic Sources>Sources>Search>Organic …

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Then you will see which of the keywords most folks are using to find your site. In my client’s analytics, people were indeed using her terms “interior+design+her city” to find her. So maybe her ranking is even better than I can verify from my end.

While there you will note that many keywords are blocked and not disclosed by Google. I’m not sure why they do that. It could be because of the privacy settings people select for their Google accounts … or maybe Google just doesn’t want to give everything away. But you will see enough keywords to know if the keywords you used to optimize your site are working to bring you traffic.

Another method is to sign up for Google’s Webmaster tools and then you can access a deeper Analytics report that will actually tell you your average ranking position. For that report, go to Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries …

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I have found signing up for the Webmaster tool to be a tad squirrely for some folks. So if you don’t want to bother, the first method is just fine.

EASY WEB TIP #167: The best way to do rank checking for specific keywords is simply to check your Google Analytics Reports

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