Where Do You REALLY Rank on Google?

I’ve encountered many clients who THINK that they know where they Rank on Google but it turns out their rankings are not nearly as good as they thought.

Your rank on Google feels like such a straightforward thing that most people don’t suspect the real results might be different than what they are seeing. It’s easy, right? Just go to Google and search. As you’ve guessed by now, it’s not that simple.

One of my clients thought they were on the top 5 local maps results, but when we used the method to find the real rankings (detailed below), he was shocked to find he was buried deep in page 4. What are your real rankings?

Here is how to see where you really rank on Google:

  1. On your computer, open a new incognito (Chrome) browser, or go to Private browsing mode on Safari.
  2. Google what you normally search for, and add city/neighborhood name if the search is local.  (E.g “House Painter Denver”).
  3. If Google asks you to “Allow Google to Use Your Locations”, press “decline”.
  4. Now see what is your real ranking for Desktop (There is a different ranking for when a user searches from their Mobile).
  5. Now repeat steps 1-4 from a mobile device to see your mobile ranking.

Why is this ranking different than the ranking in your normal browser?

Google takes your browsing history into account when choosing which results to show you. Assuming you’ve been visiting your own website MANY MANY times, as well as some of your competitors, Google is going to adjust the rankings to your specific history.

They are going to bump up the websites you’ve visited in the past in an attempt to guess what you’d like to see.

The results you see from your regular browser with your browser history will be VERY different from what your customers might see when Google the same search term.

OK, I get it. Is there a better way to do this?

Yes. Even the simple method I suggested above is far from perfect, as the location piece is not taken into account. In local searches, Google strongly considers how far you currently are from the results shown. The closer you are to a certain business, the more likely you are to see it show up in your top results.

So how do we account for this?

There are services that specialize in unbiased, automatic SEO rank tracking. These services let you set the physical location of the search, so you can know what your rank is from a certain part of town or a zip code.

We like using:

1) Moz – Great for SEO optimization in general, and offers keyword tracking as part of the services. Starts at $99/month.

2) Ahrefs – Our favorite for Backlinks and competition related SEO audits. Starts at $99/month

3) Serpbook – Perfect for Keyword tracking without many other useful functionalities. Use this if you just want to track Keywords and don’t care much for the other functionality. Starts at $16/month

So how did you do? Were your actual rankings different than what you thought?