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What's the best way to measure rankings?

10:06 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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joined:Aug 20, 2012
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As you know, in a few years SEO mission has evolved from ranking in organic results to ranking in organic, images, video, shopping, news, maps, ... results.

The SERPs evolved the same way, from 10 SEO results to more than 20 results on the first page.

For example, for a local restaurant query in Paris, I currently have :
  • 3 organic results
  • 3 News results
  • 7 Maps results
  • 5 organic results
  • 2 adwords results

As professionals, we often use rank checkers to automate the task.
In your opinion, how should these softwares support this kind of SERP ?

Most of them just support organics and I think it's a biased result as it doesn't reflect the reality of SERPs ranking opportunities.
What's your pick ?
10:44 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Welcome to the forums, Michael. I see you also found our thread about Favorite SEO Tools [webmasterworld.com]- thank you for your contribution there.

I've been moving away from regular rank checking because, well, there is no precise answer about "where do I rank" anymore. Between personalized or localized results and Google mysterious ranking changes (you can see them reported in Webmaster Tools), the old days of ranking reports are gone for m,e.

You'll notice in many discussions these days, our members talk more about search traffic than they do about rankings. That's been my evolution, too. I will look at a specific query results once in a while to decipher some odd search traffic change, but I don't use a daily or even weekly ranking report most of the time.

Analytics and user data is where I focus... and I don't necessarily mean Google Analytics, either.
11:38 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Even in the days when rank didn't change every time you refreshed the page and didn't have so many other displays crowding it, I payed far more attention to traffic than ranking.

My sites have always had a significant long-tail traffic component. I have never been able to find a keyword set that is representative enough of my site to predict search referral traffic.

If I chose the set of keywords that brings in the most traffic today, I have found that next year, many of those will have fallen in the SERPs, but my traffic has gone up because other keywords not being tracked start getting more traffic.

The only thing that I use SERP checking for is competitive analysis. I figure out who is ranking above me most often. I figure what else they are ranking for. I try to learn from them.
11:51 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yes it's hard to gain metrics from ranking nowadays especially when comparing one site to another. But I do monitor them for a couple of my sites to try and judge if one page ranks higher than another.

I keep it simple using a browser with cookies set off. I then type in a predetermined search term and see where the page appears in the serps. It's a long term task and I take little notice of any changes unless they stay the same for a month or so.

If my site appears 5th in the SERPS for example, I take no note of what is above or below it just that I am 5th. If one day I drop to 11th and stay there for a month then I'm interested to find out why. And vice versa if the position goes up.

I think there is use in having that type of metric but not as much use as a couple of years ago.