Monitoring How Your Web Site Ranks In The Search EnginesThe position your web site enjoys in the search engine results will constantly fluctuate for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the common reasons that this occurs:
- New web sites are being added and dropped from the index.
- Competitors change the content of their web site... and thus they changed position.
- The search engines change their algorithm.
- The search engines use 1000's of servers to deliver results. You got a result from a different server with a different index from the query you entered 20 minutes ago.
Checking Your Search Engine PlacementDO NOT buy any software that promises to monitor your ranking across all the major engines. Many times in conversations we have been asked why does Metamend not offer a "ranking" report. There are a variety of reasons for this. The most obvious reason we avoid them is the synonym to rank is "stink" and that's what these reports do. The other major reasons we avoid use of such tools are:
- They are unreliable
- They are biased
- They may result in IP banning
One of the big problems faced when determining a web site's search engine ranking, is taking into consideration the search engine's index variance. Use any search engine you want, but we'll use Google to illustrate this point. When you type any query into Google, where is it accessed? Type Google.com into your browser; sometimes you end up there, sometimes at www.google.com, sometimes at www.google.ca, sometimes at google.fr, etc...
Depending on whether you check rankings on "google.com", "www.google.com", or any other variant, including Yahoo!, and again depending on whether the index you queried is the most up to date, the results you get differ dramatically. The reasons for this vary - server loads, indexes spread across hundreds if not thousands of web servers, ongoing indexing, time of day, position of the moon relevant to the sun (well, you get the idea) are all factors which make ranking report results unreliable.
2. How objective are the reports you are receiving? In a scenario where you have paid someone based on a "Top X Ranking" guarantee, the report they send you may or may not be worth as much as the paper they are printed on. They definitely are not worth the cost of the monitor you would view them on. After all, the person or software you chose is reporting on their own success. The data they use will be most favorable to themselves. Are these the actual queries being searched for by the general public? Are they truly the most commonly used terms? Are they objectively the "right words" or are they the ones you commonly use? This obviously affects your results.
3. Lastly, as evidenced by the backlash by some engines against ranking reports. Google actually shut down 100 IP addresses from ComCast because the engine charged the provider with hosting accounts that abused Google's terms of service, by performing an overwhelming number of automated queries.
The conflict centers on ranking reports and has raged around software that attempts to rank where a web site, and where its competitors, are placed within the search engine results. Google and other engines have long stated an aversion to computer-generated search requests. They view these requests as a hostile attack on their systems, somewhat akin to "Denial of Service" attacks. These queries take up substantial amounts of server resources and bandwidth by hitting the engines with hundreds of queries simultaneously, queries that are essentially all variants on the same terms, just with the words mixed into different orders.
These queries slow up the search engines for their real clients - regular users who are searching for something. Further damaged are the search engines that use the number of queries leading to click throughs as part of their algorithm for ranking results. These search engines are damaged as the software or service can be taught to automatically follow certain url's, thus spoofing the engine into believing the web site in question is more popular than it really is, forcing it to rank higher in subsequent searches. This is an unethical practice.