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Ranking tools & WMT say site 'x' ranks, manual searches - no site

5:56 pm on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Junior Member from GB 

10+ Year Member

joined:July 9, 2004
posts: 42
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We have a client who has a small website that is beginning to come through on the rankings. We did our usual monthly report and used webmaster tools and two other rank tracking tools to show what keywords the site was ranking on in google.co.uk.

Here is the weird bit... Every automated tool showed rankings in the top 20 for a group of key phrases - but when the client decided to manually search for them, they didn't find those rankings.

I also did a search and so did 2 others... No visibility on the SERPS. And as if by magic 3 weeks later the manual check on rankings and the rank tracking seo tools finally correlated again.

I am stumped with this, has anyone any idea what is going on here?
11:39 pm on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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joined:Apr 30, 2008
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website that is beginning to come through on the rankings

Based on what you said in your opening post, what indications were you having that the site was coming through on the rankings? Has the traffic increased or something else? Or is this conclusion only based on the tools where, when searched manually, you cannot see the site on/around reported positions?

I am wondering what are you seeing in Search Queries in Google Webmaster Tools for these keywords if you filter on google.co.uk?

What do impressions, clicks and average position say for these keywords?

As you know probably, there is also personalisation in play. But ranking tools usually report "vanila" SERPs, so if you and your client cleared cookies and history and then searched for the keyword, you should be seeing pretty much similar results as your tool reports (which are not results that others may see since they may have their own personalised results).