keyword ranking google SERPS

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The topic of keyword ranking for the first page in google’s search results is super popular, and lately I’m always reading articles about how I ranked page one of google in only 5 days or other similarly titled stories. The biggest mistake people make when determining how well they are ranking for their keywords is in not using any tools to properly identify their placement in the SERPs. I made the same mistakes for a long time, until I became aware of some trade secrets and important tools that will help any blog or website owner determine their actual ranking in the search engine results pages.

Think you’re ranking on page number 1? Think again.

Just searching google for your keyword phrase is NOT the best way to find out how you’re ranking. In fact the results can be completely misleading. Whether you are aware of it or not, you probably have a google account and you’re probably logged in right now. Any searches you do in google will display skewed search results customized for you and based on your search and web history. Didn’t you find it a little curious that your own website was always coming up so high in the SERPs? Perhaps you thought your on-page SEO was that good! The reality is that unfortunately google knows a lot more about you than you think, and the results you’re getting are NOT the results the rest of the world gets when they search that keyword or keyword phrase. At the very least, log out of your google account and try the same search again. You may be surprised at how different the results are. In order to rank at all you may first want to learn some in-post SEO techniques, take a look at this article about Moving up in the SERPs.

So how do I find out where my keywords are really ranking?

Three Useful Tools to gauge your keyword ranking in the SERPs

  • There are a number of tools available that will measure and even track your keywords and where they are ranking. One of the best, and the one I am using is SEScout. SEScout is free and all you have to do is set up an account, enter your domain name and up to 10 keywords that you are tracking, and SEScout will collect data from google and bing, let you know where those keyword(s) are ranking and also let you know any up or down movement. (You can track more than one domain and a whole lot more keywords if you register as a paid user)
  • The well known marketing tool Market Samurai also features a rank checking tool (in the paid version only), that will also let you know how your keywords are performing in various search engines.
  • SEOBook is another very useful site, and they also offer a browser toolbar which has a ton of fantastic SEO related tools built right into it, including an SEOXray (which analyzes the on-page SEO of any page you’re looking at), keyword highlighting, nofollow link highlighting, site comparison, and of course a keyword rank checker.

The Real Truth about first page Click Through Rates and Keyword Ranking

Research shows that only a little more than half of searches result in any clicks at all (read more on this). Let’s create an example, say you are trying to rank for a keyword phrase that receives 50,000 searches in a month (that’s a lot!). It would be fair to say that about 30,000 of those searches will be clicked through on the first page of google’s search results. If you are ranking number one you’ll likely get about 16908 of those clicks. Ranking number two will land you 4035 clicks, and ranking number three will earn you 3054 clicks. These are respectable numbers for sure, if you are able to get to any one of those top three spots you’ll be driving a fair amount of traffic to your site. But after the third position the numbers drop off significantly. Position four would only get about 1200 clicks, and the ninth slot would earn about 435 clicks. Interesting to note that the 10th position get’s more clicks than the ninth. Take a look at the chart below to get a graphic representation of the click through rate on the top 10 SERP spots.


image source

Now the above example assumed you were attempting to rank for a keyword that got 50,000 monthly searches! That’s a going to be a highly competitive keyword, and the competition is going to be fierce. It is unlikely (if not impossible) that any new domain or any person attempting to rank well for a keyword with that many monthly searches could do it successfully in any short period of time. What is much more realistic is targeting keywords that get about 2-10,000 searches a month.

1 Click every 3 days, what!?!? The reality of the numbers.

Here’s the (sad) numbers for a keyword I’m attempting to rank for on one of my niche sites. The keyword receives about 720 monthly searches. We can immediately assume then that the first page of results will get about 390 clicks in a 30 day period. I’m currently ranking 8th on google for this particular keyword. The eighth slot gets about 2.91% of clicks, so that means about 11.3 clicks per month for me. Which if I break it down even more is about 1 click every 3 days. Ouch! Now if I did well and managed to get that keyword phrase up to slot number one I would get 219 clicks per month or 7.3 clicks per day. Yep, that’s it. Is it worth it? Is that a keyword to target. You have to measure that for yourself.

Successfully Ranking First Page in the SERPS: not all that exciting sometimes

There is a lot of hype around ranking first page in google results, and often times the numbers look big. Too often people are caught up in looking at the number of monthly searches. Just like the example above when you are looking at data you’ll see numbers like that (720 monthly searches), that sounds respectable, but too often website owners fail to compute the data, and analyze just how many clicks that may mean for them. Honestly it is NOT HARD AT ALL to get on the first page of search results in google. The secret everyone is after is getting in the top 3 results for a highly competitive keyword that will actually drive a lot of traffic. Boasting about ranking on the first page doesn’t mean a whole lot without significant traffic numbers to back it up. I could have written an article about how I got my keyword phrase to rank on the first page of google in only 5 days, but if you found out that the click through rate was about one click every three days you wouldn’t have been very impressed would you?

I hope you found this article informative and helpful in your keyword analysis and SEO endeavors. Share your thoughts on keyword ranking.