This article will get into how to use Google Analytics to figure out your site’s ranking on Google… I mean keyword average page positioning on Google Search.
It’s how high up you are, for the uninitiated when people search Google! That’s a simple question to ask? Right?
I wish it was simple…because it is not a simple question!
Search Console integration (what used to be called Webmaster Tools) with Google Analytics is now allowing you to figure out stuff without having to purchase Moz, SEMRush and other great tools (so you don’t have to pay for it, if you read this article!).
Last summer I was working as a Web Analytics & Business Intelligence/SQL consultant for an organization that was throwing thousands of dollars each month into search engine optimization. They had a good reason. Just one conversion to their services was worth thousands of dollars.
I had built them a custom daily web based visual report that was connected to a Google API for Google Places. From that report I gave their exec a list of how high their website listings were ranked via the Google Map listings. This is a little different than search results listings, because it is more about the maps than traditional Google Search. You can kind of call it Map page rank.
After that the exec asked me a simple question. What is their real web page rank in terms of positioning on Google?
As I would quickly find out, and as many of you in the online marketing and web analytics business already know, Google Page Rank is long dead, long ago.
But yet he wanted to know their website’s Page Rank! A 10 second search of Google came back with the answer that Page Rank is gone long ago. There is no tool out there to get the old Page Rank. Anyone who claims to get it for you is just making something up. And it is much more complicated than that. Every single person on Google is getting personalized results! We all see something different! Explain that to the higher ups!
So I began a journey as a tech guy into how Google seems to work (my theory) and ultimately, a few months later as Google integrated the Search Console into Web Analytics, I finally had an answer to how to figure out page rank or page position as they now call it. You can get some “Search Term Page Positioning” approximations for FREE, if you just hack around and make a few clicks here and there.
I ended up coming up with a theory as to how Google currently ranks all web pages. And based on this, how YOU should consider managing your website SEO and all the other possible social media and other stuff involved with getting ranked nicely “per person” on Google.
On an aside, what is my SEO cred? Go to Google and type in “Seattle Speed Dating” or “Fort Lauderdale Speed Dating” or a 100 other cities. Our company, Pre-Dating.com’s website is either 1 or first page naturally in 100s of searches. So, I guess I know something.
Circles of Influence: My SEO Theory
I am not saying this is exactly how it all works, because it almost seems so complicated that even Google employees themselves probably don’t know every variable at this point. But let’s just say that there are Circles of Influence. These are the critical “relatively new” influence factors. And it has and will change in the future. There is a long list of traditional and real old ones you need to also get in place like Page Title, Meta Descriptions, Keyword Density <H1> tags. That is old school stuff that needs to be done. I am talking the high influencing variables. See at the bottom of this graphic I threw together that says old school!
What are Circles of Influence and how does that work? In my head I imagine a bunch of circles per each Google Search. Each circle is a factor related to your search.
So what is the Influence of each of these Circles of Influence?
Well, this is the secret sauce Google won’t let us know. Let’s just say as time goes by that each search is different. There is a different search per person so it is truly unknown! Try explaining that to some executives. Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) as we surf, it is going to depend on whether we are on mobile, our physical geo proximity, how often we search, repeat searches, how often we buy, what we buy and a dozen other top factors. So when an exec wants to know the exact Page Rank or position, the proper word to use is Average Page Position or AVP (per keyword). Remember not to use the term Average Page Position without the word keyword, because otherwise it is pretty much ridiculous. And where does that AVP come from? Well you can now get it through the Google Analytics Beta Feature “Search Console”. See below, my real data for a few days on Pre-Dating.com. Only thing you can use it for is to tell me you want to buy our company. And we are for sale of course!
Actually it is very specifically under Web Analytics/Acqusition/Search Console and then you have to click on “Queries”. For SEO purposes this has now become the most important area of Google Analytics in my mind. And not sure how long this has been around, because this data I believe was available in Google Search Console/Web Master Tools for a while, but not exactly as useful as this is, where it is now positioned!
What is important is the ability to pull this data into Google Analytics and start combining it with other data, like user data, like where did these searchers come from by city, state, country or by new vs. returning visitor and 100 other characteristics. You could pull it into Data Studio in the near future and get another visual analysis.
Interesting thing here is you just can’t get this kind of analysis from any SEO tool on the market. You can get some of it, but not in this form, nice and raw and easy to use. There are a lot of great tools on the market for analyzing keywords and how well they are performing, but what I am finding is most require a big learning curve. I have been around the web and SEO data for at least 17 years and I am struggling to understand how to use some of these non-Google tools out there. That is not good. This to me is pretty intuitive and useful. And because it is Google direct, it is the source!
Now, how to really tell what the Heck is Going On?
Well, in addition to all these tools, I always turn to Anonymous Browsing to get a sense of what the real world is seeing on Google. I use Anonymouse.org. It lets me surf as a guy in northern California unencumbered by the stigmatism of the circles of influence like Mobile, Geo, Repeat, etc. What I often find by searching through Anonymous Browsing is a completely different view than what I see. Because we are often working on websites where what we see can be completely not the true picture!
Finally, what is my current rank of importance in influence?
Once again, totally MY OPINION on this. And I could be wrong, because this is totally intuitive.
- GEO – I just feel that having any city, zip code, address, state, country or other geographical marker in a web page will help influence things the most today. Most websites don’t have the ability to use this because they are not Geo or location based with multiple locations. But if you have it, it could be critical.
- MOBILE FRIENDLY – Like other developers I am looking at AMP, a new set of HTML/CSS by Google that makes your site even more mobile friendly. If your site is mobile friendly it will influence how high it shows.
- RICH SNIPPETS – These take many forms today with about 4 methods. They are little codes in your website telling Google how to display and integrate the data in Google Searches. If you go to Schema.org you can learn more and if you use WordPress it is as simple as a plugin.
- VIDEO – I am partial to video in that I believe Google is giving some higher influence to Video these days. Having it on your website and optimizing text around it through Youtube could be important.
I could go into a much more in depth list of what comes next. Will do this in another article!
That is it for now.
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Have a great day and let me know if you have any questions. I did not get into how to connect the Search Console to Google Analytics. There are some easy tutorials on that out there. You actually just keep clicking and it asks you a bunch of questions.