What is your true Google search position?

How to check my Google search rankings

Any business with an online presence knows the importance of ranking well in Google and the other search engines. However it can be difficult to find out exactly where you rank. There are numerous search position rank checkers such as whatsmyserp.com but often they seem to give varying results.

So how do you find your true search position?

The answer is that although we can have a good idea of a website’s search position there are a whole load of factors that mean that different people will see different results.

  1. Google itself.

Google is always shifting search results and so there will often be some variation of several positions. If you are at the bottom of page 1 one day, you might find yourself at the top of page 2 the next and then a few days later back on page 1. Although dropping down to a lower page seems pretty drastic, this movement in serps (search engine rank positions) and often called the “Google dance” is normal.

In addition, Google is not just one supercomputer, but a whole load of linked data centres. Sometimes there is a delay in some of the data centres getting updated. So in theory you could go online today and get results for search and then go online tomorrow and you may connect to a data centre that has older results than the previous day.

It’s this question of data centres that can mean different serp checkers show you differing results from each other and what you are seeing yourself when you search.



2.   Location

Usually, unless you have location turned off in your devices settings, Google can tell where you are located. Google uses your location to determine what it thinks the best results are for you. So if you are searching  for driving lessons from within your local area, it may give different results to if you are searching from further away.  Someone searching “driving lessons” in your area may see your site come up on page one, but if they are searching from 50 miles away your site may not feature in the first 10 pages!

3.  AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Since 2018 Google has been using AI to try to predict what the person searching’s intention is. This will be based on a while load of things like what they just searched for, whether Google thinks they are researching or buying or looking for contact details. So sometimes your site may rank highly for someone who has already been to your site because Google thinks you are looking for the same details as before. But sometimes it may rank your site lowly because it thinks your site is not what the person is searching for because you are still searching.

3.  Google login and cookies

If you are logged in to Google (and sometimes even if you are not) Google will personalise your search results. So again it may give one person different results to the person doing the same search standing right next to them. This could mean a site you have visited before ranks higher because Google thinks that that may be what you are searching for. Or theoretically Google could think that because you have visited that site before and then quickly clicked away that you are not interested in that site and so give it a lower ranking when you search.

4. Your device

Google can give different  search results depending on your device type (mobile or desktop) and even different browsers may display different results.

Conclusion

Although as short hand we may speak of rank positioning, in fact as we can see above it is very fluid. Google tries to guess the intention of the individual user rather than just giving the same fixed results to everyone.

To get the most neutral results to check your search position you should ensure that you are entirely logged out of all Google services and that all cookies and cache are completely cleared from your device if you are looking for anything like a clear indication of your search position.

Read More: Don’t put all your eggs in the Google basket.
Read More: Is my site slipping in Google?