How to (Easily) Measure Your Rank on Google

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: your rank on Google (and Bing) matters! Why? Because users rarely go beyond the first three or four results, and certainly nearly never go beyond page one for a keyword query. In this video, I am going to walk you through a few easy tools to measure your rank. In a separate video, I’ll walk you through SEO Book’s Rank Checker, which is the best free tool for rank checking, as well as point out some of the available paid tools. Let’s get started!

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Why Rank Matters: Duh! (The Homer Simpson Principle)

You will read stupid posts on the blogosphere that a) keywords don’t matter, and/or b) your rank on Google doesn’t matter. DO NOT BELIEVE THIS BULWARKY! For a number of reasons –

How to Measure Rank

Photo credit: isox4 via Foter.com / CC BY

  • Keywords matter! People search Google by keywords, and even if they are “talking” to Google into their iPhones or Android phones, they are still using keywords.  Google: Tell me where the nearest PIZZA RESTAURANT is. Google: Tell me what is the difference between a FUE hair transplant and a FUT hair transplant. Google: Tell me my options of cheap INDUSTRIAL FANS.
    • Keywords are part of language, and last time I checked, Google isn’t abolishing language!
    • The dummies on the blogosphere are confusing “semantic search” and “artificial intelligence” with the idea that keywords don’t matter; or, that Google is getting smarter and smarter at figuring out whole relationships among words, and thereby being a better guesser at what is the best content vis-a-vis a search query. As Homer Simpson would say: DUH! (But he still uses keywords – Google, tell me when the SIMPSONS TV show first air?).  (December 17, 1989 – made you look).
  • Rank matters. Yes, it’s getting harder and harder to measure your website rank vis-a-vis Google search queries (but just because something is hard or harder, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.   DUH! Said Homer Simpson). Why?
    • People are lazy – they don’t go to page two, and they tend to first, ignore the ads, and second, click on the first few results on a page (whether on the desktop or on mobile).
    • So, ideally you’ll rank #1, #2, or #3 and/or in the “snack pack” for local.
    • And, yes, of course, you’ll measure your web traffic in Google Analytics, etc., but still it stands to just “common sense” that rank matters.

How do you measure rank? There’s the rub.

Method #1 – Measuring Your Rank Manually

The first method is to just manually type in a keyword search query, and then measure your rank. We’ll use Industrial Fans Direct and Commuter Cleaners as our example website, with keywords such as ‘industrial fans,’ and ‘wash and fold Stamford’ as our keyword queries.

  1. Go to Google at https://www.google.com/ or Bing at https://www.bing.com/.
  2. Make sure that you are “not signed in” to your Google account by either a) signing out, or b) opening up an incognito window in Google Chrome.
  3. Open up an Excel or other document, where you have your search queries. Copy / paste them into Google / Bing, and record the rank on Google. So, for example using Google –
    1. industrial fans (#1), industrial blowers (np), duct inline fans (#4), explosion proof industrial fans (#1), etc.
    2. wash and fold stamford ct (#4), wash and fold new canaan (#3), stamford dry cleaners (#6), stamford specialty laundry (#1).

You can try the same searches on Bing.  For example, IndustrialFansDirect.com is #1 on Bing for industrial fan; CommuterCleaners.com is #3 on Bing for wash and fold stamford ct.

Method #2 – Measuring Your Rank using Fat Rank

Manually measuring your rank is tedious! There must be a better way (there is). The best free tool for this type of spot checking is Fat Rank.  You need to have Google Chrome as your web browser, but just install Fat Rank. Next –

  1. Go to the website you want to measure, such as http://www.industrialfansdirect.com/ or http://www.commutercleaners.com/, i.e., the website you want to measure.
  2. Click on the Fat Rank extension (top right of Chrome); it looks like an orange Pokemon icon.
  3. Type in your keywords one by one, and Fat Rank will tell you your rank on Google.

Now, both method #1 and method #2 are counting the traditional “organic” rank / not the rank in the local snack pack; so be aware of that fact!

Method #3 – Using the AdWords Preview Tool (or the Bing Preview Tool)

Fortunately, both Google in AdWords and Bing as part of its own advertising network, has a nifty “preview” tool meant for advertisers. However, you can use this as well to check your rank. This is very useful if you are trying to measure your rank vis-a-vis localized searches. So a website like CommuterCleaners.com ranks both in organic and in the local snack pack, so you want to be cognizant of that, and measure it. You have to do this manually as there is not a free tool (that I am aware of) that can measure the local snack pack rank.

With your keywords in hand, you –

  1. Go to Google AdWords Preview tool.  You can also sign into AdWords, and then go to Tools > Ad Preview.
  2. Set your location (e.g., a city Stamford, CT, or zip code like 06902) and device (e.g., desktop or mobile).
  3. Enter your keyword query.
    1. Note your rank in the local “Snack Pack”
    2. Note your rank in organic.

For example, with location set to 06902 (the ZIP code), CommuterCleaners.com is “B” (#2) in the Snack Pack for wash and fold, np (not present) for dry cleaners, and “A” (#1) for specialty cleaners.  (You can also look down to see their organic rank if applicable).  And note that if you append the city name (e.g. Stamford), you can see different results. For dry cleaners stamford, the organic rank is #4.  This tool is also useful if you and your team would like to look at your rank / presentation on the phone. So you can take a query like industrial fans, and see what it looks like on the mobile phone vis-a-vis IndustrialFansDirect.com.

Finally, note that Bing also has a preview tool inside its own advertising interface, here.  As on Google AdWords, it’s also found under Tools > Ad Preview. Happy rank-checking!


Photo credit: isox4 via Foter.com / CC BY

How to (Easily) Measure Your Rank on Google
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Jason McDonald

About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.