How to Really Tell Where You Rank in Search Engines

search engine rankings

You might think you are ranking high in search engines when you search for your business, but personalized search could be fooling you. Let’s take a look.

What Is Personalized Search?

Do you ever wonder why your favorite restaurant always seems to pop up first when you search for new places to eat, or why that gym you looked into a few months ago is at the top of the list when you’re looking for a new place to workout? This is because of personalized search.

  • Personalized search is an aspect of search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, which gives them the ability to take into account your search history, sites you regularly view or recently viewed, and your location.
  • With this information, they arrange your search results to be ranked showing pages they think you’d want to see at the top of the list.

The information available from personalized search is taken into account over that of traditional search, which factors in how relevant the pages are to the search, and how much authority a given page has compared to the other results.

How It’s Affecting Your Business

While personalized search has good intentions in attempting to be more user-friendly, it can really hinder your SEO efforts. When searching for keywords associated with your company—say, for example, “warehousing in Cleveland”—your results will be skewed because of personalized search.

These results could show your business as ranking higher than it actually is, leaving you with false results. Thankfully, there are other ways to find out how you rank, and additionally turn off personalized search.

Find Out Where You Really Rank

In one of our recent webinars on SEO basics, our CEO John Sammon touched on a few tools that can help you see where you rank without personalized search getting in the way.

  • Serps Rank Checker – This is an easy tool that allows you to look up a keyword and your domain. You can even select which search engine you want it on, the language, location, and device type.
  • SEM Rush – Search by domain, keyword, or URL and get a user-friendly interface on rankings. This tool requires you to have a monthly subscription, but can really help your business in the long run.
  • Rank Checker – A great free tool that has a lot of worthwhile features, Rank Checker is a marketing director’s dream. You can check your keyword rank position on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, or use their all-in-one SEO checker for more analysis on your site.
  • Moz Rank Tracker – Moz is a trusted source for all things SEO, and their tracker is one of the many useful tools they offer on their site. You can track up to 50 keywords at once and monitor their rankings on other search engines and in different countries.

How to Turn Off Personalized Search on Google

Google recently made it harder to turn off personalized search by taking away the ability to turn off private results on the main search page. So, if you want to deactivate the feature, you have to take a few extra steps:

  1. First, sign into your Gmail account (if you have one) and go to the main google search page
  2. Then, go to
  3. Click on the menu bar on the left-hand side, and go down to Activity Controls
  4. “Pause” all of Google’s personalized features

However, if you don’t want to turn off these features and do not want to go back and forth turning them on and off, another quick and easy way to perform a non-personalized search is by searching in a private browser, aka going “incognito.”

To find out how to do that based on your computer and browser, go to HowToGeek.

If you have any questions about this, please reach out to us. We’ve helped clients in Cleveland, Columbus and beyond meet their SEO goals.

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About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. She has been mentioned in Fast Company, Mashable, GoDaddy, American Express, and many other notable publications.

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