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I know results to differ when I perform searches myself because, among other things, I don't reside in the United States. The rank checkers I tried are hosted within the US and some of them try different data centers, yet all of them tell me the site is "not in top 100."
It's extra peculiar because the keyword ranks at the top of both the Impressions (50% of top 20) and Traffic (20% of top 20) lists on the Top Search Queries page. I made sure I set the Search Type setting to "Web Search" and Location to "(United States) Google.com." The time frame is set to "1 week ago" - when I go further back, the keyword either doesn't appear on the list or it is positioned at 100+.
"Position" is the highest position any page from your site ranked for that query, averaged over the last week. Since our index is dynamic, this may not be the same as the current position of your site for this query.
Does anyone have any experience with this? Are positions reported in Webmaster Tools indicative of future rankings, or are they known to be unreliable?
No, I've never heard anyone mention a future good ranking in their reports before it shows up live - and given the way Google changes their algo I find that quite unlikely, too. This sounds more like a bug.
That quote you shared from the Help page is really quite vague, isn't it? As a math major in college, I cringe at the words "highest" and "averaged" appearing in the same sentence.
You're probably right about future rankings. I had my (vain) hopes set on that, for obvious reasons.
the highest position any page from your site ranked for that query, averaged over the last week
The only way I could read that sentence so that it would reflect data I see in WMT would be that the average is over a time period - so for instance the highest position each day, averaged over 7 days - this way, sites that appear "too high" in WMT are explained by Google's ranking-jumping behaviour - then you only need to be in first place for a single search a day for this to happen.
then you only need to be in first place for a single search a day for this to happen
Correction: I did not have Search Type set to Web Search this time. As soon as I did, the old percentages were back.
the position reported should slowly (or radically) decrease over the next couple of days
I'm not sure why - the so-called yo-yo effect [webmasterworld.com] results in some URLs ranking well only for short periods over weeks or longer.
That's not to say I think the data (or indeed the documentation) is necessarily accurate - there are marked problems with most of the stats Google makes publicly available, including services like Google trends and the like.
For instance, the geographical targeting options can be pretty skewed - when google.co.uk was showing up in Trends for Websites last week, the biggest region of the UK for visits was Wales, apparently ;)
I'm not sure why - the so-called yo-yo effect results in some URLs ranking well only for short periods over weeks or longer.
The data is probably accurate in the sense that it's the result of some kind of calculation, but as long as the documentation doesn't explain what exactly is calculated, or presented in the charts, then that data is practically useless or, at least, shouldn't be taken seriously. That's a bit harsh, perhaps, since many other keywords I checked are presented fairly accurately, but what's the point of Top Search Queries charts if I have to check their accuracy all the time, if I can't depend on it?
Aww, shucks, still a junior.
This idea popped into my head mostly because you weren't surprised by seeing a high ranking. You might look at your page to see if it looks "over-optimized" in some way.
robzilla, let us know if turns up.
possibly for reciprocal linking or too many affiliate product links
The site has been optimized, but not to extremes; just basic on-page SEO with which I doubt I've tripped over some filters.
Obviously, from Google's perspective, this was a big change in the site's linking graph (for lack of a better term), but I haven't really seen any big changes in terms of search traffic.
GWT reported it at #1 or #2 But it was atleast a good 2 weeks before it finally showed up in the serps.
Sometimes the Yo-Yo effect [webmasterworld.com] can kick in, giving the url a few moments of testing at high rank here and there. There can be other factors that Google checks out after a big jump - such as looking at new backlinks for signs of link buying or other non-"editorial" link growth.
Perhaps it's indicative of future rankings after all ;-) Thanks for sharing that. May I ask what kind of changes you made to that particular page?
Yes, that was my thought at the time.
The changes included:
1. extending the title on the page by one word so that it was unique and not the same as the search phrase and every other site trying to compete for that search phrase.
2. I deleted a handful of affiliate product text links. Also, some of the links were doubled up with the inclusion of a thumbnail and had the search phrase in the anchor text. Keyword density may have been part of the problem.
3. The main page and a handful of other pages in the directory all contained a reciprocal link to the same site and all these pages were having difficulty ranking. I had an obligation to keep the links so I took the keyword out of the anchor text and made each link look unique. If reciprocal linking was part of the problem, Google seems to have forgiven me.
4. I rewrote an introductory paragraph on the page which I had previously copy/pasted from another page on my site.
What's different in my case is that I don't recall seeing the search term in the traffic column like you are reporting.
One other thing - I was showing up on Aol search before Google.
[edited by: ChicagoFan67 at 1:56 am (utc) on Oct. 20, 2008]
However, every time I go too look at the SERPs for that keyword, it is the .org.au of the same name that is there at #2.
Other than one being called example.org.au and the other being example.org.uk there is *no* connection between the two sites - owner - hosting - location - content - so why this happens is a mystery.
[..] one trigger for the Google Yo Yo seems to be a sudden increase in ranking, according to the initial algo calculation. It looks like Google will not stably award a suddenly higher ranking in a competitive SERP.
One other thing - I was showing up on Aol search before Google.
g1smd: From the surface, then, it looks like they're just not looking any further than the first part of the extension, i.e. .org. Not very Googlesque.
Here's a thought - maybe the WMT report is pulling the position information before some filter is applied to come up with the final rankings. Even though that would certainly be buggy behavior, it might accidentally be showing you that your url COULD rank that well, if only you weren't tripping some kind of filter.
I've been thinking this myself for awhile and will take a moment to share my own experience.
As I mentioned in a previous topic the queries are showing that I should be ranking rather high for a number of keywords that I'm currently not. The positions Google lists for them makes sense to me - they're unique content pages with links going to them. I can definitely see them being in the listed position.
However, I currently seem to be hit by some sort of filter. It took me out last month for 25 days, removing about 80% of my search traffic overall. The site bounced back afterward for five days, enjoying increased traffic overall, before being hit again by some sort of filter or something that's sent it back into the abyss. Originally, the penalty happened not long after I made some major template changes, so I figured Google was simply reevaluating me and once it found the content hadn't really changed, I'd be back in business. I have no idea what tanked my site again five days later. Total white hat, over a year and a half old. All I can do is hope it comes back after 25 or so days again, a time frame that should be up in about 10 more days.
The interesting thing however is outside of a couple search phrases, I'm getting no more than one hit exactly every 24 hours for almost every other keyword. Many of these keywords are those that WMT's top search queries says I should be ranking for. It's as though once a surfer find one of my pages in Google via a particular term, Google removes it from the SERPs entirely for 24 hours. It's the strangest thing, as these are terms that I should at least be getting a few hits a day on. But no more than zero or one exactly every day just seems odd to say the least.
I have to think that if it weren't for the filter, my rankings would at least be hitting somewhere in those ranges that top search queries is reporting to me.
JackPage, have you looked up those single hits in your server logs to see what exact page they were coming from? I'm asking because most website statistics only provide the keyword, not the exact referring page (i.e. the full Google URL with all variables including
In GWT, the keyword is still fairly high up on the Impressions list, but much lower on the Traffic list. The ranking indication seems to have stabilized somewhat, now positioning the site on page 3.