Why You May Be Overestimating Your SEO – and How to Find Your Real Ranking
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Why You May Be Overestimating Your SEO – and How to Find Your Real Ranking

I was meeting with a new client not too long ago, and explained their website was currently ranking between 30-40th for a search term. But a couple of days after our meeting, I received an e-mail that stated they had done the search themselves and found their domain ranking on the first Google search results.

I was surprised because I found it hard to believe they could have improved their results so quickly. Were they SEO gurus themselves, or were they just looking through a skewed browser? My bet was on the latter.

Here are some reasons why you may be overestimating your SEO ranking, and the way to find the real results.

Our Web Browsers are Biased

Web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer consider our past search history and clicks to help us find what we’re searching for as efficiently as possible.

I’ll use a real life example. I used to do some contract work for an independent school located on Vancouver Island. Now, when I search “Private School Vancouver Island” using my browser, the school I used to work for is on the first page and the ninth result overall ranks.

However, this is skewed from my past search history. I have clicked on that listing dozens of times, which makes the search engine deliver biased results. But how do I find the actual results for a given search term? How do I see what everyone else is seeing?

This is when private browsing is essential.

Private Browsing

Private browsing provides you the ability to search without any browser bias. It also doesn’t record any search history. It’s the equivalent of an online Etch-a-Sketch that, with a really good shake, will provide you a fresh slate for an SEO evaluation.

How to Activate Private Browsing

How to enable private browsing varies depending on the browser you use.

For Google Chrome users, open your browser and press “Shift + N”. A new tab will open in Incognito Mode.

For Mozilla Firefox users, near the top right corner, there is an Options menu. Click on the menu and select, New Private Window.

If you’re using Internet Explorer, on the front page when you first open the browser, there is an option to click “Start in Private Browsing”.

Finding the Real Results

Now that you’re making use of private browsing, it’s time to retry those searches to find out where you really rank.

Let’s continue my example of the private school from earlier to see how private browsing makes a difference. I am going to be using Incognito Mode in the Google Chrome Browser to search, “Private School Vancouver Island”. My last search told me the school I used to work at was on the first page and ninth overall.

In my new search, the listing falls completely off the first page. It can’t be found until half way down the second page. That’s a huge difference.

This skewed information is what causes many businesses today to remain complacent in their SEO efforts. If you don’t know it’s broken, how can you be expected to fix it?

This information is useful in helping you determine your true Google search ranking. Use private browsing to get insight into your true SEO for your business.

Learn More

Are you taking advantage of Small Business BC’s wide selection of seminars for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners? Space is limited, so don’t miss your chance to register today.

Plus, don’t forget that you can meet one-on-one with an expert to get specific information that applies to your business by booking an appointment with Small Business BC’s Ask the Expert service now.

About Stephen Johnson

Stephen is the co-founder of Salt Water Digital, a business dedicated to helping other small business succeed online through search engine optimization and other online marketing mediums. He is passionate about finding unique online opportunities for each business he works with and can help to clear the fog surrounding the many options when it comes to online marketing.

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