Inaccurate rankings

Rank tracking is as much art as science, and rankings can vary based on location, URL, language and date. Incorrect Rankings? Start here.

Matthew Davis avatar
Written by Matthew Davis
Updated over a week ago

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What do I do when my SERP rankings appear to be inaccurate?

SERP rankings can vary dramatically based on a variety of factors. Among other things, these factors can include personal browsing history, the time of day, and the geographic location where the search is being performed.

In addition, the precise settings that you have configured in your AgencyAnalytics dashboard can have a major impact on the way that SERPs are reported.

If the rank that you're seeing in your dashboard doesn't match what you're seeing elsewhere, check these items first.

Is your dashboard date range set to a time period in the past?

Like most SERP trackers on the market, we're unable to fetch rankings for time periods before you actually added your keywords to our system.

Check to make sure that you're viewing a time period after you added keywords. (Read more about configuring dashboard time periods).

A clue that you may be viewing a time period in the past is when you see dashes ("-") instead of numerical rankings or "not found" indicators.

Are you tracking keywords from the correct geographic location?

Geographic location can have a dramatic impact on SERPs. A site might rank at #1 for a given keyword in Detroit, but at #27 in Omaha. Verify that you're tracking the location that you intended by clicking the settings slider, and turning on the "Location" column.

Have you checked your "Google 3-Pack" setting?

This is one of the most common causes for results in our dashboard appearing to be inaccurate. Customers typically have the Google 3-pack setting toggled to Enabled in our dashboard. But on their end, they're counting the SERPs as though they have the setting Disabled.

Navigate to the campaign settings by clicking the gear in the left sidebar, then click Rank Tracker from the settings page menu. Enable or disable Google 3-pack under Rank Tracker and click Save.

Note that when you change your Google 3-pack setting, the SERPs do not update immediately. Instead, they'll update at their regularly scheduled 24 hour refresh time.

Are you tracking the correct campaign URL?

Is there a typo in your campaign URL? Has the URL of your client's site changed due to a redirect or other factors? When we check for your rankings, we look for the campaign URL that you've set. This article explains how to check the URL that's configured for rank tracking in your campaign.

Have you connected a Google Business Page to the campaign?

Our Rank Tracker looks for a URL when checking your rankings, but Google often does not display a URL for Google Business Pages that are shown on Google, Google Mobile, or Google Local SERPs.

Due to this, if you want us to track Google Business Pages, we strongly recommend you specify the exact page(s) to track in your campaign's settings area. This ensures we're always able to find those pages.

Note that once you specify a Google Business Page, your SERPs won't update immediately. Instead, they'll update at your usual daily ranking refresh time.

Are you controlling for personal browsing history and physical location when verifying SERPs?

For the most accurate results, we recommend utilizing our SERP link for manual SERP verification.

If you must verify SERPs outside of our platform, make sure that you're using a method that will prevent Google from using your personal browsing history, location, and other information as ranking factors.

Signing out of your Google account and/or using Google Incognito mode are not accurate rank tracking methods. Incognito mode in particular was never designed to be used as a rank tracking utility (it does not hide who you are from websites like Google).

When manually checking rankings, and sometimes when using other rank tracking programs or services, Google can easily tie you to both your personal browsing history and your physical geographic location, and they can then personalize the SERPs based on what they think you want to see. Due to this, it's strongly recommended to use a quality rank tracker (like the AgencyAnalytics Rank Tracker) that can depersonalize results.

Is SERP volatility high today? Either for Google as a whole or for your particular keyword(s) or website?

Our rank tracker fetches rankings once every 24 hours. If there's a high degree of volatility in the SERPs, rankings can vary when checked even a few minutes apart. When this is the case, it's unlikely that the SERPs fetched at our 24 hour cycle will match the live SERPs.

You can check to see whether Internet-wide Google SERPs are more volatile than usual (normally indicating that algorithm updates are being rolled out) via the Mozcast utility.

If you've just begun SEO work, or have been engaged in a high-intensity SEO campaign, this can also cause localized SERP volatility for your specific keywords.

Volatility in either of these cases normally settles within a week.

Certain niches that are extremely competitive tend to be perpetually volatile, making it difficult to interpret short-term changes. These niches include the legal industry, plastic surgery, gambling, and others. In these cases, and often with most other rank tracking situations, we recommend looking at medium and longer-term trends rather than making decisions based on short-term data.

What if you've checked all of these factors, and your SERPs still don't look right?

Feel free to reach out to our support team from within your AgencyAnalytics account. Always provide us with examples of the campaign(s) and keyword(s) where you're seeing the issue, and please explain in detail the exact methods that you're utilizing to verify the rankings outside of our system.

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