I always worry about posting new found research as some clever dick always pops up to tell you they discovered it in 1999, however I have noticed something in the rankings recently that has made me re think Google rankings.
OK so I decided a couple of weeks ago to rank for “SEO consultant”, just something I fancied really, not the most competitive term.
Anyway….. I have obviously been keeping an eye on the rankings over the past few weeks on this particular keyword and a few more as well and there has been some pretty dramatic trends in the rankings.
One day I checked and I was 7th for “seo consultant” refreshed and I was 15th, refreshed again and I was 4th!!!
It’s not just that keyword either, I searched “search engine optimisation” I was 11th, refreshed and I was 26th and again and I was 7th.
Now rankings have always been up and down but this was a little crazier than usual.
Webmaster Tools Update
So…. Google announce the webmaster tools up date only a few days ago which explains that they are now tracking click through rates in the keyword sections of webmaster tools.
Now I don’t know how accurate these figures are and they seem to differ quite a bit to Google analytics, however the data it presents is interesting.
Just take a look at the below screen shot;
Now I am only using “bing SEO” as the example but the data establishes a few things across multiple keywords.
The first thing you notice is that out of 320 impressions I only ranked first 260 times (these impressions figures aren’t accurate as I usually receive around 600 visitors on this keyword a month), this means I don’t rank number one, I only rank there around 70% of the time.
The Old Theory
The old SEO theory determines your rank based on page optimisation and the number of links your page/domain has, the only thing affecting rankings would be competition in Google’s algorithm. I now think this is outdated and wrong, over the last 6 months I and other SEO’s have seen massive fluctuations in rankings suggesting a new way of ranking sites and determining traffic.
Well, this is what I suspect, Google have confirmed nothing yet or any other SEO authority but the evidence I have seen strongly suggests rotational rankings.
Let me explain…. You do a search in Google on your main key term and you rank 4th, so you rank 4th??? Wrong you may rank 4th in that instance but you could complete the same search 10 seconds later and you rank 10th, a huge difference not only in ranking but the traffic too.
So… Google determines the rank of your site determined on page factors and links and then ranks you in a range of positions could be 5 – 10 or it could be position 2 to 4 pages back, depending on the person searching, there location, personalised search, time of day.
Ultimately how well optimised your site is determines how often you rank in a top position.
So your aim is not to rank in the top 5, which is now impossible, your aim should be to rank their most of the time.
What Does This Mean?
It means quite a lot.
1 – Determining traffic in a certain position is now impossible
2 – Your ranking position can change every second even if you’re searching on the same IP using an incognito window on chrome
3 – You can never say I rank number one, but only I rank number one most of the time
You see there are so many websites competing for the same space that Google has no choice but to use a rotational system like this and for all we know they may use the click through rate to decide whether your ranking gets better or worse, maybe.
I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this and if anyone has noticed these changes.Line Break
Author: Tim (294 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.