Your Google Ranking is not the Same as Mine

Showing up #1 on Google has become an obsession. Something that didn’t exist 10 years ago – in the days of web directories, or even indifference about the internet altogether – is now the primary objective of most businesses when it comes to their online presence. It isn’t a bad goal but it shouldn’t come to the detriment of everything else, and it isn’t as important (or measurable) as it used to be.

Back in the day (which in internet terms means just a few years ago) everyone saw the same search results. If I (in Moncton) and someone in Florida searched for something we would both see the same 10 results in the same order. If a business was ranking at #7 we would both see it in that same position.

That isn’t the case anymore. In their efforts to make search results more relevant, Google have woven in an a variety of metrics and factors that affect and greatly modify those ten search results (that may not even total 10 anymore). Those factors include your location, your search history, whether or not you’re logged in to your Google account, and who your Google+ friends are – and those are just the factors we know about. Beyond that there are now images, videos and local results crowding that first page, so much so that sometimes you can’t even see the “organic” links. That all means it’s highly unlikely that two people will see the same search results, even in the same geographic area (or in the same house!).

Of course that doesn’t mean it’s no longer important to have a good ranking – the top three still get the lion’s share of clicks – but it’s less important and far less measurable than it used to be. Take a more holistic approach rather than rigging your site to reach that top spot. You can still game the system but it only works in the short term and it probably won’t bring in more money either way.