How do you rank on Google? It depends who you ask!

After working hard on your SEO, you gradually saw your website climb in Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page). And now your website or blog ranks in the top 5 for many good keywords. Maybe you even reached number 1. But do you really know your true position? How do you check your ranking? Did you know that your ranking can vary in different countries? This is significant, because people search for information in the same language from every country in the world. For example, a US executive who is traveling in Europe will use Google.com but the results she/he sees in Germany can be very different than the results she/he sees in the US. Knowing your position in other countries will allow you to fine-tune your SEO and maximize your ranking globally. 

The simplest way to check your ranking is to go into Google and do a keyword search. On the SERP, find your website and count the position it came in on. If you have a Google account, you can use Webmaster tools to find out your position on your top ranking keywords. Another way of checking your ranking is to use one of the many free tools offered by SEO companies.

The problem is that all of these methods are inaccurate. And the results vary from country to country. Your website may rank number 1 for a certain keyword in the USA, but may rank lower in Canada or in England. For example: this week our website (gts-translation.com) ranks number 5 on Google in the USA when searching for ‘technical translation; but it ranks lower when searching in Canada and the UK. This is significant: people from all over the world are searching for technical translation services in the English language. Some of these people are using the local versions of Google (e.g., google.co.uk, google.ca) and some are using Google.com in foreign countries. And the results are not identical. You can easily check this yourself. Here are a few ways of checking your ranking in other countries:

1. Go to the country-specific Google domain (e.g., google.ca, google.fr) and perform the search. The result indicates your ranking in that country.

2. In Google Webmaster Tools, go to ‘Top search queries.’ From this window you can select any Google local domain and display your best ranking keywords in that country. The drawback to using Webmaster tools to find your ranking in other countries is that it only displays your top ranking keywords and does not allow you to manually check the ranking of other keywords.

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3. Find a website that allows you to surf the Internet using a proxy server which has an IP address in the country in which you want to check your rankings. One good website I found is anonymizer.nntime.com. Once you have accessed the proxy server, go to Google.com and perform a search. The results you see are the same as a person from that country will see.

In conclusion: people that operate international websites will be well-advised to know their Google ranking in each of the countries in which they operate. Once you have this information, you can use a wide range of SEO methods to improve your ranking in each country.

5 thoughts on “How do you rank on Google? It depends who you ask!

  1. Does that mean you don’t have any effective way to check your SERP when targeting international Google.com. Webmaster Tools offer to little information for my taste.

    We are than very much bound to selecting targeting locations, rather than aiming for ex. whole english speaking audience.

  2. Thanks Singo, Google has a geo-targeting option in Webmaster Tools but it appears that if you target a specific English-speaking country (like the USA) then your SERP in other English-speaking countries (like the UK and Canada) may be lower. I am not sure if there is a workaround to this. Some ideas I had on this issue are:

    1. Finding an ISP that can serve a website from multiple servers located in different countries. Google considers the location of the server (based on its IP address) when ranking results and ranks ‘local’ websites higher than ‘foreign’ websites. So if someone searches in the USA, Google would see your website as hosted in the US; if someone searches in Canada, Google would see your website as hosted in Canada, and so forth. I do not know this is possible — maybe someone can tell us.

    2. Inserting location-specific content into your website page. For example, explaining the benefits that your sites offer to people in each country. I did not test this but it sounds like something that could work.

  3. Thank you for another fantastic blog. Where else could I get this kind of information written in such an incite full way? I have a project that I am just now working on, and I have been looking for such information… Regards…

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