How Can You Accurately Check Google Keyword Rankings in Chrome?

Date: 27th June 2013

Author: Phil Smith

The trends in online marketing are quickly moving away from keyword rankings but they do still remain an important factor of most online marketing campaigns. Whether you are a small family business or a large multinational corporation there will undoubtedly come a time when you will want to know where you rank for your key search terms. There are a number of free and paid tools to check this but their accuracy varies drastically so a manual check is usually your best bet.

The only problem is, with the increasing number of personalisation options being added by Google in addition to location and other search factors it’s gradually becoming more difficult to get an accurate result. When I say accurate, what I mean is the most unbiased result possible. The fact remains that your potential customers results will still vary down to their own personalisation, history and location settings.

Following these simple steps should help you complete your Google keyword ranking checks as accurately as possible:

Step One: Download Google Chrome

Download Google Chrome

If you haven’t already started using Google Chrome as your web browser of choice, you really should. It’s market share has grown drastically over the past few years and is now the browser of choice for over half of the internet using public for reasons such as speed, stability and ease of use. Head over to Google and download it now!

Step Two: Create a New User Profile

Create a New User Profile

The idea of this guide is to make checking rankings easy not just once but every time. The easiest way to ensure this is to create a new user profile (Settings > Users > Add new user) in Chrome to use specifically for this purpose. This ensures that all your settings remain the same and means you can simply switch back to your personal profile with all your personalisation settings and history in tact.

Step Three: Clear Your History

Clear Your History
Obviously you won’t need to do this in the initial set-up, but it’s worth  clearing your browser data (Settings > History > Clear browsing data) every now and then just to be sure. Make sure you clear everything including your cache.

Step Four: Check You’re Not Signed In

Check You're Not Signed In
Again, this won’t be necessary if this is your first time doing this but it’s worth a quick check in the future. It’s easy to accidentally sign in on the wrong profile or for someone else to use your machine and do it. If you see the “sign in” button on the Google homepage, you’re not signed in. Alternatively, head over to Gmail and see if you’re greeted by your inbox or the sign in form.

Step Five: Open an Incognito Window

Open an Incognito Window

If you perform all your searches in an incognito window you can completely remove the need to clear your browsing data regularly. Do this by opening the drop down settings menu and select the new incognito window option.

Step Six: Change Location Settings

Change Location Settings

Finally, after performing your first search click on the ‘search tools’  option and then the location drop down and set your search location. When tracking national keywords this should simply be the UK or whichever country your main customer base is in. If you are tracking your keywords for a specific region or area you might want to select this instead. This setting should remain for the rest of your searches but you will probably need to reset it the next time you want to check rankings.

And that’s it! Let me know in the comments how you do your keyword ranking checks and if you’ve found an automated rankings checker that actually works I’d love to hear about it!

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Comments (5)

  1. Hi Joe,

    Seems like quite a long winded way to do unbiased rankings – try going into Google, clicking “Search tools > All results > Verbatim”. This strips out all the personalisation, localisation and amendments made by Google to your search, giving you pretty much the most stripped down search you’re going to get. Much quicker. Try it, let me know how you get on…



    • Joe Jones says:

      Hi Kevin,

      I am under the impression that Verbatim goes a little bit too far in what it strips out, e.g. synonyms, related terms.

      These are important parts of search and I would imagine removing them would skew results even more than personalisation does.

      This method is a little long winded as you say but after the initial setup it is simply a case of opening Chrome and switching to your dedicated profile.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Martin says:

    Nice post Joe.

    From my own experience, while Verbatim does indeed strip personalisation, it can also make other, quite significant alterations to the result set, rendering it a poor reflection of ‘reality’.

    Of course, the very idea of replicating ‘real-world’ SERPs is itself problematic, with them becoming increasingly segmented and dimensionalised

    Ultimately, a consistent method is the most important thing so, if nothing else, you can at least make reliable comparisons.

    • Joe Jones says:

      Thanks Martin!

      You’re right, and it’s only going to get more problematic as time goes on.

      This is just one of the many reasons that I think it’s now particularly important for us as marketers to stress to our clients and employers that rankings are only one part of the bigger picture.

  3. Orval says:

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I have read
    stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just
    bookmark this site.

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