If you haven’t thought about it recently, you need to change your mindset about the value of your awesome #1 ranking position in Google. I’m not saying that being in the top few slot’s isn’t important anymore since we all know that’s where clicks come from. Instead you should take a good look at your rankings to find out where you really stand, because SEO Ranking Reports are dead! I wrote a similar post on this same subject recently, but things have changed a bit since then. So what has changed so much that I needed to write this post?
Unlike this time last year the type of device you browse on along with your physical location takes a toll on where you’re ranking. If you use SEOMOZ Ranking Reports or any other ranking report for that matter you have to realize that the data isn’t the whole truth! The software they’re using for these tools is old and outdated. Now before you think im crazy… lets look at an example with one of my favorite keywords, Car Accident Lawyer.
My Exciting SEOMOZ Ranking Report
False Conclusion from Fancy SEOMOZ Report
Woo Hoo! How exciting! I jumped ten positions for the keyword “Car Accident Lawyer”! I rock and I’m on the first page of Google SERPS! My boss is going to be so happy and I can’t wait until this says #1!
Truth from SEOMOZ Report: This is only a small part of a big picture
So why am I being sarcastic? For this client I know that people who need his services are likely searching throughout California cities.
The problem is that ranking reports check your ranking based on a geographic area (usually the generic “United States” ranking). The generic ranking might be OK for a report, but it’s really not giving you a lot of actioanble data. This is because your searchers are not searching from a “generic” location. Instead they are looking for you from their home or work computers.
For a long time now Google has based the search results you see on your geographic location. Every time you open your browser Google will try to determine where you are physically located so it can provide a good user experience and get you the results you’re looking for. The problem with this is that it will change based on the searcher’s device and physical location.
Let’s Change Our Location and See What Happens
By simply changing the location modifier in the browser you will see different search results. The graphic to your right shows what it will look like when you pull open your web browser on a computer. (Please note that while you’re testing this you can ONLY change your location on a computer. Mobile devices such as iPad’s and iPhone’s will not allow this even in “Full Version” mode.)
Since I know my client likes the areas of Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Diego, all of which are California cities, I will see where we stand when I conduct the exact same search within a different geo area:
Los Angeles: # 1 – I’m #1 woo hoo! This is great since it’s the biggest populous!
Santa Ana: #3 – I’m higher than I thought!
San Diego: #7 – Ok closer to the #9 position SEOMoz gave me, but still higher.
The good news is that some of my optimization has been done right. We are ranking OK in these sample cities with some improvements needed.
Now, lets look at some of the problems this creates:
1. This affects your keyword research for traffic estimation
If you think about it, this problem also plays a big role in the way we have previously done research. This keyword gets 4,400 local monthly searches according to the Google Adwords keyword research tool data. But now I have to consider how many of those are Los Angeles? It could be just a few.
2. You may not rank as well as you thought
Assuming you have been practicing white hat SEO since day one and have included a variety of anchor text phrases in your links, etc. you may find yourself happy with these changes. Do some searches in the nearby areas you are focusing on. How does it look? If you find you’re not ranking I suggest building some strong healthy links with your Geo locations included. AKA: Los Angeles California Car Accident Lawyer
3. You have no control over mobile devices
Mobile searches cannot be influenced by any of this at this time. This is because mobile browsers such as Safari and Chrome do not display the location option, even in the “full browser” mode. Mobile results tend to vary a lot and you have no control over what the user will see outside of attempting your typical optimization methods.
4. It will suck to optimize for more cities
If you have clients like me that service all of a certain area such as Southern California, you are in for some work. In the example I provided above it seemed manageable, but what if I have 100+ cities I am working with? Working to achieve first page rankings in all of these areas could be a nightmare for your team.
If you take away one thing from this…
If you are an “SEO Expert” who focused on your weekly ranking report’s to justify your budget, it’s time to stop this nonsense and do some RCS. Since SEO Ranking Reports are dead it’s time to get your head out of the gutter and focus on actual KPI’s with actionable values such as sales or leads. Do the right thing, provide great content, and you can thrive.