Finding out how you rank on Google should be pretty simple, right? It feels like a quick search for your business name is all you’d need to do. Unfortunately, Google makes this way more complicated than it has to be. Although it’s perfectly logical for you to assume you can check your ranking just by googling yourself, that’s not the reality. Keep reading to find out how googling your own company name doesn’t actually give you a clear picture of your site’s performance. We’ll also give you some tips on what you should look at, instead. So read on!
Google Personalizes Your Search Results
Why? Well, it all boils down to Google’s search algorithm. You’ve probably heard about this elusive “algorithm” many times before—maybe even right here on this blog. The algorithm is a tool Google uses to provide each individual user with a personalized experience. In other words, it’s designed to provide you with the search results it believes you want to see. Often, this means you and your friends, relatives, and coworkers could all get different results for similar search terms. How does Google customize your search experience? It does so by factoring in things like:
- Your browser’s search history
- Your search terms
- Your browser’s IP address (i.e. your physical location)
- Whether you’re logged into your Google account (thus sharing even more personal data)
So, right off the bat, you can see how a quick Google search won’t give you a clear, objective picture of what your ranking looks like. But that’s not the only bad thing about googling yourself…
Clicks Skew Results
The practice of frequently googling your company name can actually become harmful to your business over time. This is because Google also keeps track of what you click. (The purpose of this is so Google can learn your habits and deliver results it thinks you want to see.) So, if you continually search for your company name and don’t click on the results, Google will assume you don’t like those results, and it will eventually stop showing them to you. The reverse is true, also: If you search for your company name and always click on your website in the results, you’re bound to see it appear in a higher position every time. In other words, whether you click or don’t click, you’re driving your company’s placement up or down in your own individualized search results. This gives you a skewed perception of how your site is actually performing.
Does Ranking Even Matter, Anyway?
It may seem like you’re stuck in a losing battle, but here’s the good news: Your website’s ranking doesn’t even matter! [record scratch] You read that correctly. Although it may seem reasonable to expect your ranking to be a solid indicator of how well your website is doing, there are many other data points that can tell you this with greater accuracy. After all, your placement in search results is only relevant to a very narrow, specific set of conditions, as we outlined above. So, instead, you should be focusing on other metrics like:
- Your overall website traffic
- Website traffic trends (i.e. whether your visitor numbers are going up or down)
- Sales funnels (i.e. the series of steps leading a potential customer to your site and then to take further action, like filling out a contact form or calling you directly)
- Conversion rates (i.e. how many sales you’re making as compared to how many people are visiting your site)
Check out Google Analytics for all this info. It’s a free tool, so don’t hesitate! Google Analytics is free and can give you all of this information.
Focus on Your Site Visitors
In simpler terms, you should be focusing on your website visitors, instead: Look at how they’re getting to your site and where they’re coming from. (After all, they could be coming from word of mouth, social media, local business directories, etc.) Then, look at whether you’re doing a good job of turning those visitors into paying customers. These are the factors that actually have an impact on your bottom line. Ranking is more or less irrelevant.