Want to Know How Your Business Ranks in Search: Go Incognito!

Ever wonder how your website, your business or your name ranks on search engines like Google?

Google Search ranking

Most people will try searching for specific keywords thinking that it will show them accurately how Google is ranking them. Although it may seem like it would make sense, this will not provide you with correct data on how your business ranks with search engines.

Here’s why

Google search results are personalized to each individual. So when you perform a search, your results will differ from when your prospects and customers are searching for your products or services. No two people will ever get the same Google search results!

Since it is more than likely that you have visited your own website before (I’m guessing pretty often) or have performed similar searches, Google will more than likely show your website on the first few pages of your search results.

Google has been trying to improve search algorithms that define the order in which our search results appear for years. They’ve been keeping track of your every move in order to deliver you personalized search results which is said to enhance user experience by giving more accurate information.

What influences some of your search results

Search results are being delivered based on several factors such as:

  • Your social connections. That’s right! Google looks at who you’re connected with and how you interact with people on sites like Facebook, Twitter and especially Google+.
  • Your location. Google uses your IP address to find your location.
  • Your previous searches. Google keeps track of every search you perform.

Signed-in personalization:

  • When you’re signed in to a Google Account with Web History, Google personalizes your search experience based on what you’ve searched for and which sites you’ve visited in the past. (source: Google.com)

Signed-out personalization:

  • When you’re not signed in, Google customizes your search experience based on past search information linked to your browser, using a cookie. Google stores up to 180 days of signed-out search activity linked to your browser’s cookie, including queries and results you click. (source:Google.com)

Finding more accurate search engine ranking of your site

This is probably not going to give you 100% accurate results since I have doubts that Google actually would ever provide totally depersonalized data but it’s the best way I’ve found.

Here’s what you can try:

  1. Log out of all Google services including Gmail
  2. Switch to non-personalized search mode (if you have enabled Google “Search plus Your World”)
  3. Go Incognito when using Google Chrome. Pages that you open and files that you download while in incognito mode aren’t recorded in Chrome’s browsing or download history.

 Go Google Incognito to search how you rank

 For Internet Explorer: Use “InPrivate Browsing” (under Tools menu)

 turn on Internet Explorer Private browsing to search how you rank

For Firefox: Use Private Browsing

For Safari: Use Private Browsing

This method should give you a better idea of where you rank with Search engines like Google.

Remember that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results (Hubspot.com). Ranking high with search engines is really important for your business. This is a continual process which requires some strategic planning and active participation on your part.

Go ahead, try it! Are you happy or surprised with your results?


Image source: Margot Trudell via Compfight

Genevieve Lachance is a web marketing consultant who has a passion for social media and technology based in Montreal, Canada. Read More About Me »