Don't Use 100 Results (or SEOBook Toolbar) to Check Google Rankings
Want to see where your client is ranking in the top 100? Many SEOs simply set their Google preferences to display 100 results, run the query, Ctrl-F to find the domain name and then let the numbered results script for Greasemonkey show them the magic ranking number. Sorted.
But don't be fooled. This no longer works because of the way Google groups results from the top 100. It means that some URLs appear higher and some are pushed lower than their normal 10-result ranking would be, making this method of checking your SEO rankings wholly unreliable. The SEOBook Firefox Toolbar uses the 100 results preference to determine URL position, and so also falls victim to this fools gold in SEO rankings.
To show how different a domain's rankings can be I ran a search for the keywords in the table below, once in 10 results view (the default for Google users, signed out and with Web History set to disabled), and once in 100 results view. Even for this small random sample of terms it shows that results can be off by up to 17 positions.
(Note: Though there were news and shopping results mixed in with the organic results, in each of the queries performed, 10 organic results showed making this a fair comparison)
|Keyword||Domain||Rank (10 Results)||100 Results||Difference|
|baby shower gifts||simplywoodengifts.co.uk||49||56||7|
|baby clothing sale||catandmousekids.co.uk||20||27||7|
|swimming lessons||totalfitness.co.uk||9||Not in top 100||?|
|make up brushes||eyeslipsface.co.uk||9||14||5|
|flights to new york||justtheflight.co.uk||8||19||11|
Ranking differences for keywords in 10 results view and 100 results view
Why does this happen?
It happens because 10 results view will show 10 unique domains (well, most of the time anyway) whereas in 100 results view Google group domains that have a listing later in the results and displays them all in the highest position. So if a URL ranks #3, and another page on the same domain ranks #100, they'll occupy position #3 and #4 when in 100 results view. This pushes down subsequent URLs.
The SEOBook tool should probably be changed to pull 10 results at a time. Although slower, it's the only way to gurantee accurate results.
How to get reliable SEO rankings
Only the 10 results view should be used to gauge rankings as it is the true representation of what most users see. So what are your options?
- Manually check 10 results at a time - the old fashioned way still works!
- Use the Auto Pager Addon for Firefox, or the one for Chrome. This is what I use and is a gem of an addon.
- Get an SEOMoz Pro account and use the Rankings Report in the Campaign manager.
- Wait for SEOBook to update the tool to fetch 10 results at a time
- Probably more trouble than it's worth but still: Build a script to fetch results yourself. TIP: If you go down this road, make sure it mimics typical browser behaviour by sending a user-agent, cookies and the usual headers of an HTTP request. Don't request 50 pages per second or you'll be banned, a set of 10 results every couple of seconds should keep you off the Google radar
The takeaways from this post are:
- Don't use the 100 results Google preference OR any tool that fetches 100 results at a time from Google unless you only want a rough idea of ranking position. Manually check rankings or use a service/toolbar that fetches results 10 at a time.
This blog was written over 6 months ago and Internet Marketing and SEO is an always changing industry which means the information within this blog may be out of date. Use caution when using any methods or suggestions within it.