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Rankings -- One More Time, Please


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28 replies to this topic

#16 qwerty

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 12:04 PM

So can anyone say "I rank at X position for this keyword"? My answer would be no, because things change, searches are relative. But you can point to traffic, number of Facebook followers, Twitter, newsletter subscribers...things like that.

 

Right. You can point to more of your pages getting indexed, less error codes being reported, more traffic coming from organic search, more traffic coming from links, more of that traffic converting, more pages being read per session, lower bounce rates, more money being made (or whatever your KPI may be). You can look at trends indicating improvement in rankings and higher clickthrough rates.

 

But if you're opening your browser and running a search in order to prove that you're #3 for some search, you either don't know what you're doing or you're counting on the person you're trying to convince how great you are not knowing what you're doing.



#17 Jill

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 12:06 PM

Even worse, IMO, is using a ranking tool to tell you.



#18 squidjam

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 12:04 PM

But if you're opening your browser and running a search in order to prove that you're #3 for some search, you either don't know what you're doing or you're counting on the person you're trying to convince how great you are not knowing what you're doing.

 

And that's exactly what most of the gurus online are doing. Even people that I think should know better.

 

People have been fed so much junk over the years, it's hard to combat. Why do people think that just because they put keywords in a title or sprinkle a few in their posts that they are magically going to boost their rankings?

 

I remember, Jill, your saying something about if it's something that anyone could do, then there's no way it would have any influence on SEO. Things like putting text in bold, adding your listing to DMOZ. Now that I think of it, it seems to me that this "put your keyword phrase in your title" is starting to be like that if it always hasn't been. We've been told that the title of your page is the most important tag. BUT...if you put a phrase in there that your page isn't really clearly about, your page still isn't going to be found for that phrase.

 

I didn't get my incognito search question answered, but my guess is that you can do an incognito search but somehow it's still not going to be unbiased.

 

It appears to me that 99% of the people out there charging people for "SEO services" are just working on the perpetuation of myths to the benefit of their pocketbooks.  :)



#19 Jill

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 12:24 PM

Incognito still knows your location, I believe. 



#20 chrishirst

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:23 AM

Incognito still knows your location, I believe. 

Not necessarily YOUR absolute location, but as in ALL IP based communication it is the location that the 'registered owner' of the IP block, ie; your ISP, has declared them to be at. Chrome (incognito), Firefox (private window), Infernet Exploder (private browsing) all HAVE to report the IP that is connected to the server, if they didn't, your browser (the user agent) would never receive the returned data because the data packet could not be routed back to your PoP (Point of Presence) on the WAN that is the Internet.

All the "private" sessions do is to block cookies that may indentify your individual browser to the remote location.

 

So if your ISP just happens to be Airtel Broadband India, do NOT expect to see too many 'local' results when searching for "SEO Florida".

 

For example, squidjam posted last from Ronceverte in West Virginia, using 'mobile' DSL, and, depending on how fine WDSPCo's IP map grid is, that may be a mile out or several hundred miles out.

 

My IP suggests that I am in Richmond Hill in Surrey, England, when I am around 250 miles North West of there.

Obviously for some searches this discrepancy doesn't matter that much, but for others .... It can matter a great deal, and if you are a continent away from your client, the chances of ANY results for ANY search having even the slightest resemblance to each other are somewhere between slim and none at all. In fact the ONLY thing you can be fairly sure of, is that the same words will be in bold.


Edited by chrishirst, 08 October 2013 - 02:24 AM.


#21 squidjam

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:59 PM

Yes, that makes perfect sense chrishirst. Of course.



#22 inMotionGraphics

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:55 PM

@squidjam, I noticed you asked a number of times about the accuracy of the reports in Google Webmaster Tools as an alternative to Google Analytics keyword data. You might find this post by Dr Pete on Moz interesting:

Comparing Rank-Tracking Methods: Browser vs. Crawler vs. Webmaster Tools: http://moz.com/blog/...webmaster-tools

It's a bit technical and probably isn't going to provide you with the clear cut answer you are hoping for, but I found it very interesting nonetheless, and it might shed some light on the various methods you are exploring including using an incognito browser.

The biggest takeaway for me is that the numbers provided by Google are definitely to be taken with a pinch of salt (I think we all knew that before though). I would never report on these numbers, but I do use them to keep an eye on my website's overall health and the general tendency of my website's performance for various key phrases. For me the numbers are less important than the actual phrases and whether the average position is going up or down. But seriously, don't get too caught up in it... ;-)

You seem have the right idea, so carry on producing great content for your readers, and focus on conversions not traffic and rankings... just my 2 cents... ;-)

#23 squidjam

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:39 PM

Thanks inMotionGraphics. I appreciate the link.

 

I've realized slowly in my SEO journey that all the numbers out there should be taken with a grain of salt. I'm like you: the numbers in analytics and webmaster tools are less important than the phrases and overall position that it reports. More important are trends.

 

Don't get caught up on the numbers.

 

Especially, don't get caught up in all the marketers talking about antiquated and mythical SEO practices.

 

If I've learned anything since the first of the year, it's that most of what is written online about SEO was myth or garbage. Retraining my brain has been a little bit of work. Now, with the all changes in Google, I think you can throw out all of it and just start doing smart things like writing for your audience and writing like a real person who is talking to another real person, instead of someone cramming keywords into text and such.



#24 qwerty

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 02:08 PM

Now, with the all changes in Google, I think you can throw out all of it and just start doing smart things like writing for your audience and writing like a real person who is talking to another real person, instead of someone cramming keywords into text and such.

 

It's actually been that way since long before any recent changes at Google. Yes, there was a time (long ago) when cramming keywords onto the page would help your rankings, but that was about all it helped. People would land on your page, see it was garbage, and go away.



#25 squidjam

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:26 PM

Yes, I didn't exactly say that right qwerty. It has been that way for some time.



#26 squidjam

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 12:52 PM

But if you're opening your browser and running a search in order to prove that you're #3 for some search, you either don't know what you're doing or you're counting on the person you're trying to convince how great you are not knowing what you're doing.

 

I just wanted to quote this again because, you see, I STILL see people who I'm told are reliable sources of information on how to do things properly showing me a screen shot of the ranking of a site in the search engine.

 

They're showing me how a page on their site ranks when they type a keyword into the browser window, or where a site they worked on to improve copy on ranked, etc.

 

They're still talking about rankings, and that's really the whole reason I started this thread. I want to know reality from myth.

 

Here are some conclusions I've come to from this thread and from others, as well as things I've read here: 

  • There is no such thing as a ranking -- See Jill's article for further explanation of this: http://www.highranki...ing-reports-347
  • Even if rankings truly existed, rankings don't equal success, as in sales or conversions.

  • The data presented in Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools should be taken with a grain of salt. The numbers are not precise by any means, but are a way to gauge the performance of your website on various levels like the following: how many pages on your site are indexed; your organic traffic trends; keywords people used to find your site (limited); the initial page your visitor arrived on (landing page); what sites are linking to your site. 

I just want to be confident that when someone asks me about rankings or says they rank for a particular or say they want to rank for a keyword that when I say "there's no such thing as rankings" I'm accurate.



#27 qwerty

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 06:24 PM

I wouldn't go so far as to say that rankings don't exist. You just can't demonstrate them as some universal truth. If I run a search every day and see the same results, it's partly because Google knows it's me, but it's also because the pages I see are the ones (or at least some of the ones) that rank well. It depends on the search, of course, but lots of people are going to see many of the same results I see. I just can't guarantee that anyone's going to see exactly the same results I see.

 

So if I see that I'm #1 for some keyword, and Webmaster Tools tells me I'm showing up a bunch of times and getting lots of clickthroughs for that same search, and the keyword tool (or whatever it's called this week) tells me that that exact keyword phrase is searched on about twice as many times as the approximate number of times I'm told that I showed up at #1, then I can conclude that a lot of people are seeing my page come up around the top of the results. I can't conclude that everyone sees me at #1, just like what I see, but I can conclude that I rank very well.



#28 torka

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 09:13 AM

The way I see it, it's the focus on "precise" ranking numbers and the idea that rankings somehow automatically equate to success that are bogus, not the idea of rankings per se.

 

When somebody complains that their page dropped from #3 to #7, then I point out they don't know it actually ranked at #3 all the time, for everybody who searched... so, likewise, they can't say for sure what position it's dropped to, or if it's even dropped at all (for anybody other than the person making the complaint). That's why Webmaster Tools shows "average position," not a precise "rank."

 

Rankings do matter, in the sense that pages that rank higher on average generally tend to get more traffic than pages that rank lower on average.

 

But if a page doesn't answer the visitor's query, or is hard to use, or otherwise doesn't meet their expectations, then it isn't going to do a good job of converting them, no matter how highly it ranks on average. In that case, the traffic brought to the page by it's high average ranking is largely wasted. A page that ranks lower on average, but which does a better job of converting, could actually be more "successful" than the higher-ranking page.

 

And, of course, if you're clever with advertising and promotions, it's possible to be very successful with a page that isn't even indexed, much less high-ranking.

 

This is why focusing on rankings as a goal, bragging about one's supposed rankings or using them as a measure of success is silly. Rankings are simply one of the (many) tools you can use to achieve success online. Someone bragging about rankings, or thinking good rankings equal success is like a carpenter calling himself a skilled woodworker because he owns a nice hammer. :nah:

 

--Torka :propeller:



#29 squidjam

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

Great posts qwerty and Torka.

 

When I said "There's no such thing as a ranking" I was quoting Jill's article. In the section after that heading, she goes on to explain it. Should be required reading for everyone.

 

I'm not saying rankings don't exist; I'm saying that it's ridiculous for someone to demonstrate for you in a browser window that when they type in a phrase in Google their site comes up in any particular position.

 

I need to add one more item to my initial bulleted list:

  • You can use the "average position" under Search Traffic - Search Queries to get a general estimate of where your pages are ranking for particular keyword phrases.

Ah...I feel so much more knowledgeable about this than I was months ago. 2013 has been, for me, the year of getting the straight skinny on SEO stuff. It's been quite an eye opening journey. :)  Maybe there's hope for me yet!  :)


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