Why Your Search Rank May Not Be What You Think It Is

google serp heatmap

More than half of all clicks go to the top 3 organic search results.

Think about that. You need to be in the top three.

If you’re not in the top three, search engine optimization (SEO) should be high on your marketing priority list. That way, when people are searching for what you offer, you’ll be the one they turn to first, rather than your competitor.

But I’m already in the top three…

Maybe the last time you googled a high-value keyword like, bounce house rental [your home town], you were in top position.

But are you sure that your customers are seeing your website in the same position that you are?

Chances are they’re not.

Because of something called Personalized Search, your search results are being personalized, and the reality is that your actual search ranks might not be as good as you may believe.

Most search engines these days – especially Google – rely on Personalized Search as a means to tailor search results to a specific user’s needs. So instead of using a boilerplate algorithm for everyone, search engines now rely on what they know about you to improve results.

An Example of Personalized Search

Consider this example: someone is searching for the word “bass”. Now, most of us would probably add a better qualifier like “bass fishing,” “sea bass,” or “stringed bass,” but let’s just assume for a minute that the search is only “bass”.

Searcher (A) has a search history for websites including Cabellas.com and BassProShops.com so this searcher gets served up results pertaining to the sport of bass fishing.

Searcher (B) has search history for websites including GuitarCenter.com and SheetMusicPlus.com so this person gets results related to the musical instrument.

See how things can get interesting?

What Factors Affect Personalized Search

Search engines decide what results to show you based on their algorithm of predicting relevance based on the following:

Search history

This is probably the most important factor. As noted in the example above, Google attempts to predict the semantics of your search based on what you’ve shown interest toward in the past. This is especially important when understanding that your website’s search rank for you may not be the same as its search rank for your customers.

Many people are surprised to learn that they are not actually showing up in the same position for other people, and that’s because as business owners we are visiting our own website far more than anyone else is!

Location

Using your I.P. address, which detects where you’re physically located, search engines will serve results based on where you’re sitting. This one is particularly important for Local Search – like party rental companies!

Demographic Info

If you are logged into supported platforms like your Google account or Microsoft account (Bing), then your profile information may contribute to search results.

Your Social Connections

Google+ will use your friends list to further gain insight about your likely preferences. For example, if you are from the Mid-west and most of your Google+ friends are from the Mid-west, this intelligence could factor into search results.

But What if I’m NOT Logged Into Google?

Even if you are not logged in to any supported services that are part of the personalized search ecosystem, like Gmail, Google+, or Bing, you are still subject to personalized search functionality.

For example, Google places cookies in your browser that track your search history for up to 180 days, and then uses that to serve results it thinks you’ll be most interested in.

So How Do I Check My Actual Rank?

Don’t worry. There are a couple of ways.

Manual Approach

The manual approach is to use what’s called Incognito Mode. This allows you to review your ranks for prized keywords without your search history or personal profile factoring into SERPs. Your location will still matter though. In our case with local party rental businesses, this is fine because we definitely want to see how we compete locally.

To open an incognito window in Chrome, click the options button, then click “New incognito window”. Then perform your search as usual.
incognito window

The Automated Approach

The best approach is to use an automated tool or service that is completely objective.

To help you identify your search rankings, and even the search rankings of your competitors, try our SEO Report Card tool (it’s free).

If you’re serious about driving more relevant and organic (free) traffic to your website, you need a tool that will monitor your search rankings. This is SEO 101.

You need a service that automatically reports your search rank for many of your valuable keywords and sends that info to your inbox on a periodic basis so you can celebrate when rankings go up, and keep doing what’s working… but more importantly so you can respond when rankings are slipping.

You’ve probably heard the saying:

What gets measured gets managed

Well, when you put a system in place to consistently measure your organic search visibility, you have the information you need to do something about it.

You can’t improve something if you don’t know it’s broken. Right?

And you can’t improve something that you don’t track.

So get going: try the SEO Report Card tool now and see where you really stack up! (free)

If you see room for improvement, then reach out to us here at Inflatable Academy.

We’ve built a one-of-a-kind SEO service specifically for inflatable and party rental businesses.

There are three tiers of service, so you can improve your search rankings no matter what your budget is:

  1. Do It Yourself
  2. Done With You
  3. Done For You

Try the SEO Report Card tool and then let us know if you’d like help moving your business up in the search results.

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