The End Of Google Rankings As We Know It! Rotational Rankings?

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.

The Story

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;

webmaster rankings

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 I now think this is outdated and wrong, over the last 6 months I and other SEO’s have seen massive fluctuations in rankings suggesting a new way of ranking sites and determining traffic.

My Theory

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.

Use Open Site Explorer To Exploit Your Competitors Hard Work

Before you begin any SEO campaign there are a few things you really need to think about, one of them is “who are my competition?”.

If you intend to compete in a certain market you need to firstly be clear about your keywords and secondly clear about your competition, or more importantly what your competition are doing right.

There are many different aspects to look at both on and off page however, I would like to show you a really simple way of collecting your competitor’s links so that you can have a full spreadsheet of all the links that are helping those topping Google rank where they rank.

Now before I go into this I’d like to come clean, the tool you need to use is a paid tool, I am not promoting it but just to let you know at this point you may need to invest a little.


I really do hate sounding like a fan boy but the truth is when it comes to SEO tools SEOmoz have it licked, yes there are plenty of decent analysis tools out there but the sheer amount of the web SEOmoz are able to crawl makes their service unbeatable in my opinion.

Open Site Explorer

One of the tools that makes up part of their package is Open Site Explorer, it is like Yahoo’s site explorer on steroids!

Anyway enough of the promotion, how do we use this tool to really strip down our competitors link profile?

Well here is what I would do…..

Get Those Links!!

First you want to head over to the tool, then simply input the page you want to investigate.

open site explorer

Yes I am using SEOmoz as the tester but they won’t mind :)

Once you have input your details this will bring you up a nice list of links, your competitors links, but it is not quite the finished product yet and we need to play around with it.


Just under the main nav you have various drop down menus, this allows you to filter out certain links…

open site analysis

At this point I would suggest filtering out no follow links and filtering out any internal links.

You can use internal links to see how your competition link to their high ranking pages, can be insightful, but that’s for another post.


Now you have your list of links it is time to export them into an excel spreadsheet using the option below the drop downs.

(If you are downloading a particularly large link profile then this may take a few minutes depending on your connection speed.)

OK so we have all the details in a lovely excel spreadsheet, but were not done…..

Let’s neaten it up a little

So you have a spreadsheet looking something like this?

excel of competitor links


Firstly get rid of the nonsense at the top, check.

Now there are plenty of things in this spreadsheet we don’t need.

  • Highlight the ‘URL’ column and filter out all duplicate cells using the ‘Data’ and Advanced filter options in excel.
  • Secondly delete the title, followable, 301, origin and target url columns.

Now sort the columns in order of page authority and you have a list of your competitors links in the order of the most powerful.

Neaten up the spreadsheet a little and go ahead and download more of your competitor’s links!!

links spreadsheet

You are never going to beat those at the top unless you can get the same links, no you don’t have to and shouldn’t mimic the entire profile just pick out the best ones.

New Year, New Challenges, New Goals, New Design!!

OK lets address the first issue, SEO wizz grew up! Yes I was up until 4 am this morning with David from Quixotic Media cleaning up the last few bits of the design. I know many of my readers use the thesis theme and if you want a top notch design for a reasonable fee you should head on over there and see what they can do for you.

The new design is all part of my strategy for 2010, 2009 has been a good building year for SEO wizz but it is now time to take things to the next level and make a challenge on the SEO big shots in the UK and anywhere else for that matter. I think the design incorporates commercial and social interests quite nicely and will be perfect for the marketing push I plan on rolling out in 2010.

So I guess now is as good a time as any to take a peek at what 2010 may have in store for us and how we should be approaching our online strategy.

Nothing Changes

Throughout all the years I have been working in the SEO industry the basics never really change;

1) Create a quality resource, product or piece of content

2) Ensure Google can access the site and deal with any broken link issues

3) Keep you site architecture as flat as possible, linking to your most important pages from the home page

4) Keywords need to be in all the major areas title tags, body, images and I would still utilise the h1 and 2 as good practice

5) Generate links through content distribution, link partnerships, viral content and blog entries

6) Do it over and over again until you win :)

These are the bones of SEO, sure there are a number of technicalities hidden within each area but don’t be led astray by the ‘just write great content crowd’ – you need links and you need to emphasise the relevance your site has to key phrases.

Define What You Really Want To Accomplish

This is particularly a problem for bloggers, I have lost count of the amount of people that have emailed saying “I am blogging about making money online and need loads of traffic, how do I get it?”.

First off I think how original, secondly I think well what is your business plan??? To publish low quality or regurgitated content and hope the links and traffic are going to come flooding in??

You need to be smarter than that if your plan is to build a business out of your site.

It’s not just bloggers though, how many derelict ecommerce sites are there out there floating about?? Tons!

So if the online business world is for you then I would start by asking myself the following questions;

How much do I want to make?

If you answer is ‘as much as possible’ then stop. You need a target, a goal, something to aim at or else the chances are you will fall apart in the first year when you’re barely making $10 a month with adsesne.

Set a goal of income, a reasonable amount, then if you make more you have over achieved.

How are you going to make it?

It is no good thinking content will win all, I’ll paste ads everywhere and be a ‘click’ millionaire!! Time for a reality check.

Search traffic takes time to build and social traffic will not click your ads or buy your affiliate products, it’s a fact unfortunately.

So decide what products you are going to promote, how you’re going to build an opt in list, are you going to promote services? If you’re going to use affiliate links don’t just simply paste them on, sell them in a few articles beforehand.

One word of warning on affiliate products, do not sell them if you haven’t used them and found them to be of good quality. Your readers will never forgive you for selling a scam.

Test the product, illustrate how you benefited from it, and show the results… your conversion rates will be far higher.

How are you going to get traffic?

Erm SEO??

Yes you are going to continually optimise your pages; however you may have a product to sell right away, why wait?

You could use banner advertising on relevant blogs, google adwords or even free ads, depending on the nature of your product.

Don’t sit back and wait for pure search engine traffic, go out and get it if you believe you have a product that converts.

Are you going to use social media?

This is a tough one for purely commercial sites, will it really do them any good? My opinion is no, unless they have something to offer the social scene, which in my opinion they should.

Social media is not going to drive home sales or even give you tons of links, however what it does is give you an ideal opportunity for users, clients and industry experts to interact with your brand. It allows you to answer concerns quickly and sell the benefits of your service or product easily.

Social traffic will not turn into sales, but if your brand is out there, this means there is a good chance your company will get mentioned within context and this could lead to a word of mouth referrals.

Many of you may think I am anti social media, I am not as you can clearly tell from some of the widgets on this site, I simply believe in using social time sparingly. Many webmasters indulge in the hope it will lead them to riches, this is not the case, social media is exactly what it implies, the opportunity for you to socialise with others in your industry and with those who share similar interests.

No Investment, No Reward

Something that I learned quickly all those years ago is that if you’re not willing to invest you have lost already. The investment doesn’t have to be huge but you have to be willing to take it.

So many webmasters don’t want to pay for a nice design, for tools that cost more than a dollar or for recurring membership fees; some even think it is a waste of time paying hosting and for a domain. Granted there are scammers out there that will sell you big piles of rubbish, this is one of the online learning curves I try and prevent people from feeling when I write this blog, it can be really harsh.

My advice here is to find a reliable resource, and then use reliable resources that the initial resource recommends. Also don’t just buy, look for reviews before hand and any reviews that simply sell the product are probably scams. It’s a tough world but you have to be willing to push through it to succeed.

Plan your budget before hand, how much can you spend per month on;

1) Hosting and domain name
2) Advertising
3) Link Building
4) Design and functionality

Once you have this sorted the only other investment is your time. Don’t try and cut corners, software cannot write you a viral piece of content. Put your all in this is your business now and the rewards are real.

Believe You Can

If you are thinking “I’ll give this online thing a try” you’re going to lose.

If you are thinking “If I can make some money free, then I’ll invest” you’re going to lose.

If you are thinking “I’ll just build it and they will come” you’re going to lose.

If you actually believe in your business model and are willing to invest your time, money and talents into making your online dream a reality then you will more than likely win, even if not at first your attitude will drive you there.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have had sites that have flopped and I have felt like jacking it all in, but every time I learned something new, I developed a new skill set and still am learning and developing monthly if not weekly. You have to be willing to keep betting on yourself, that’s the difference between those who do and those who don’t.

Making a living from your online business is not guaranteed however the possibility is a reality, in 2010 bset a goal to take your site to the next level, double your investment whether that investment be your time or your hard earned money.

Keep reading SEOwizz and have a fantastic new years eve.

All the best to everyone for 2010!!! See you at the top of Google!!

p.s. Sorry for the post length I got carried away.