93% of consumers reported using Google to find a business in the past year and of those, 92% selected a result in the first page of search listings (BrightLocal, SEO Expert). Being on the first page is important if you want new customers to find you.
If you’re putting effort into improving your online reputation, you’ll want to monitor your site’s ranking. Here are a few ways to check your Google ranking.
When you type a search phrase into Google, it will give you personalized results. In order to earn your return business (i.e. continuing to choose it as your search engine of choice) Google wants to provide you with the most useful results. That means it will take previous searches, GPS location, and IP address information into account.
In general, these customized results can make your life easier. However, this means that searching the keywords you want to rank for and checking where your business falls on the list isn’t going to give you the same results that your prospect might see. It’s time to get creative.
One of the easiest tricks for seeing objective results is to open a private browser window and conduct your search there. In private browsing mode, you won’t see personalized results, so the ranking you see will be more accurate for the average searcher.
Chrome: File > Incognito Window
Safari: File > New Private Window
Microsoft Edge: Settings and more > New InPrivate window
Firefox: Select the upper right corner Firefox Menu > New Private Window
Manual searches work well if you’re just monitoring a few search terms, but can be a pain if you have a longer list you’re keeping track of. That’s where a ranking checker tool can come in handy.
Swell Tip: If you want to check your local results, just add your city name to your search term. For example, if your business is a garden shop in Nashville and you want to find out if you show up in the Local Pack, type “garden shop nashville” and look at the top 3 - 5 results that show up alongside a map (a.k.a. the Local Pack).
Luckily there are lots of options for expediting the process of checking your website’s ranking. These free sites allow you to input a keyword or phrase along with your business URL. Then they return a number indicating your ranking as well as some other helpful data for understanding your reputation.
In the extensive list of free tools, we recommend starting with Ahrefs Free Keyword Rank Checker. It doesn’t require you to create an account or register in order to start checking your ranking. All you have to do is enter a search phrase and your URL, then check the verification box and you’ll see your results.
If your website is in the top 100 results, you’ll see which spot you occupy next to “Current Position.” As you can see in our example above, it will also show you which specific page on your website holds that ranking. The only drawback of the Ahrefs free tool is that if you aren’t in the top 100 results you won’t be able to see your status.
If you want to improve your chances of getting found online, we recommend focusing on improving your local ranking, since 2 out of 3 searchers don’t scroll past the top of the page (Impact Plus). To improve your ranking in the Local Pack, make sure you’ve optimized your Google Business Profile and your Google reviews.
Step 1 - Optimize Your Google Business Profile: Visit your profile at https://www.google.com/business/. If you haven’t already claimed and set up your profile, do that now. If it’s already set up, be sure you’ve filled in every relevant field — the more information the better!
Step 2 - Earn Google Reviews: Google reviews are another important factor in improving your local ranking. Number, quality, and recency of reviews all play a part, so it’s always a good time to ask for more reviews. Make it easier for your staff to raise review numbers by using an automated tool, like Swell Review, to send out review requests that customers can respond to with just a few clicks.
As you work on improving your ranking, you can take advantage of the popularity of online search to increase the number of eyes on your business and grow your customer list!