By Fastrack Group
Google change how they rank websites up to 500 times a year. On a single day your website can move from 3rd to 7th place.
To make it more difficult to check your Google rankings, Google's algorithms factor in localisation and personalisation. Localisation explains the search results special to your location. If you're in Sydney and search "cafe near hotel", you'll get different results to someone in Melbourne searching the same term.
Personalisation comes into play if you're signed into your Google account, your view history, and your social connections. If you follow someone on G+, the articles they write generally rank higher when you search on such topics they cover. We all see common generic results like Facebook.com if we searched "Facebook", but there are personalised listings inside many search results.
Algorithm updates, localisation, and personalisation are the three challenges of rank tracking that make most rank checking tools useless.
But there is a solution... and it's free.
Google Webmaster Tools is probably the most accurate tool to check your Google ranking. Anyone who has access to their website can set it up.
You'll see something like:
Note the filters and date range at the top. Use these to refine the data you're after. Here's what the columns mean:
Query: The search query used to make the website appear in search results.
Impressions: The number of times one of the website's pages appeared in Google's search results.
Clicks: The number of times people clicked from search results to the website.
CTR: Click-through rate (CTR) equals clicks divided by impressions.
Avg. Position: What you're after. This is your Google ranking for the keyword (or more accurately, search term). This is where people can get confused. Just because you're "2.0" for a search term doesn't mean you're in second position. If you have a page ranked in second position and another page ranked eighth, your "avg. position" for that query is "5.0". We've found it more accurate than other tools. It shouldn't be a big surprise given Google is best suited to accessing their data.
Average position means nothing if you're not getting clicks and clicks mean nothing if you're not getting bookings. If your SEO guy or company doesn't look at this, you might need to speak with someone who does.
A low click-through rate can mean the web page is irrelevant to the search query or your search result isn't attractive. A little bonus trick I'll share with you in making use of this data, that I use to help the SEO of Australian hotels, is to look for search terms in the report that have high impressions, relevance, and a low CTR (<10%). Write good title tags and meta descriptions (readable, contains your keywords, attractive, and is the right length) for these opportunities.
Contact us at Fastrack if you'd like us drive more direct bookings for you using this, and many other effective SEO methods.