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What is Rank Tracking and Do We Recognise it Anymore? - Search London 2017

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SEOs are addicted to rank tracking and many are still rank tracking as if it was 2012, but what good is this doing us?

We have been tracking SERPs as part of hourly tracking tests and are starting to see rank tracking very differently

What could this mean for the future of rank tracking? This presentation contains early data & insights from the experiment and looks to setup a more productive way of using rank tracking in the future.

Published in: Marketing
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What is Rank Tracking and Do We Recognise it Anymore? - Search London 2017

  1. 1. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ What is Rank Tracking and Do We Recognise it Anymore?
  2. 2. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 I love rank tracking
  3. 3. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 In fact, SEOs like me are pretty-much addicted to it
  4. 4. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rankings are numbers Numbers give a feeling of confidence
  5. 5. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rankings are great at showing progress At providing a comforting feeling from an earlier time of SEO
  6. 6. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 It’s always seemed easy to benchmark performance using rankings
  7. 7. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And makes for a more digestible narrative during client reporting
  8. 8. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But there are some well-known problems
  9. 9. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes
  10. 10. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid
  11. 11. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while)
  12. 12. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0
  13. 13. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation
  14. 14. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation 6. Local
  15. 15. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation 6. Local 7. Knowledge graph
  16. 16. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation 6. Local 7. Knowledge graph 8. Answers
  17. 17. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation 6. Local 7. Knowledge graph 8. Answers 9. News
  18. 18. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Position of organic changes 2. Ads are becoming harder to avoid 3. SERPs aren’t 10 organic results (and haven’t been for a while) 4. Position 0 5. Personalisation 6. Local 7. Knowledge graph 8. Answers 9. News Etc
  19. 19. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rank trackers have tried to keep up (in fact they do a good job)
  20. 20. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rank trackers have tried to keep up (in fact they do a good job) But fundamentally we rely on rankings like it is 2012
  21. 21. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 We’re running an experiment Which might prove the fallibility of rank tracking
  22. 22. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But it didn’t start that way
  23. 23. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But before we continue… Some really important context
  24. 24. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 “Really Important” Context What I’m not • interested in commercial rank tracking • against the rank tracking industry • an expert in rank tracking • presenting a complete argument What I am • happy for links/beers/constructive criticism • looking for people to help test these theories • an SEO looking for better understanding • mildly paranoid
  25. 25. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Right back to it, The original question
  26. 26. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 “What does hourly rank tracking look like” (compared to daily - the ‘norm’)
  27. 27. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 The answer?
  28. 28. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  29. 29. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Page one looks fairly stable
  30. 30. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Page two, similar
  31. 31. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Everything else?
  32. 32. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  33. 33. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But that’s just one keyword, right? Well...
  34. 34. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  35. 35. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  36. 36. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  37. 37. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  38. 38. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  39. 39. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Across 1,056 SERPs we looked at, not one of them was an exact match to the previous hour — that’s 0% stability. http://bit.ly/0-stability-in-serps
  40. 40. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But what does it all mean?
  41. 41. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Daily Hourly
  42. 42. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 A better question is What are we missing on daily that we gain in hourly?
  43. 43. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Daily Hourly
  44. 44. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 These bits are exceptionally noisy
  45. 45. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 There are blocks of 3 - 4 hours which are “quiet”
  46. 46. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Are we seeing “live” algorithm changes? New pages being dropped & added to the index?
  47. 47. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But! Before we get stuck into analysing what we’re seeing We’ve got to be really sure we know what we’re seeing!
  48. 48. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 So now it’s time for... An overdue word on rank tracking
  49. 49. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rank tracking is hard
  50. 50. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Google doesn’t like us doing it
  51. 51. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And therefore it makes our lives difficult
  52. 52. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 If you’re an SEO or work with an SEO, you’ll have seen this:
  53. 53. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Rank tracking is unnatural
  54. 54. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 It leaves a footprint, Anything that leaves a footprint can be targeted
  55. 55. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 By this - which cripples rank trackers
  56. 56. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Google could be screwing with us
  57. 57. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Google could be screwing with us should
  58. 58. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 So we try a number of things to keep things more natural
  59. 59. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 We use proxies on rotation
  60. 60. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 We randomise time intervals between search & switch things up
  61. 61. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 We randomise time intervals between search & switch things up (commercial rank trackers probably do more)
  62. 62. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But this could be ‘noisy’ It’s also still pretty unnatural
  63. 63. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Is this noise from proxy switching?
  64. 64. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But why is this quiet then?
  65. 65. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But back to the real point
  66. 66. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 If rankings don’t represent something consistent - what do they represent?
  67. 67. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Something that can benchmark & trend performance
  68. 68. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Page one IS pretty stable
  69. 69. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Page one IS pretty stable So this can be valuable data
  70. 70. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But how can we rationalise this crapshoot?
  71. 71. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Manually verifying anything past page 2 is highly dubious because it’s so changeable
  72. 72. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Manual rank tracking may be possible, but it’s not practical
  73. 73. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Here’s a thought:
  74. 74. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Here’s a thought: How much traffic past page 3-4 in SERPs is actually human, how much is bot traffic?
  75. 75. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  76. 76. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Nope
  77. 77. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 So… we could be making some of these (rankings) up?
  78. 78. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And Google could still be screwing with us?
  79. 79. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  80. 80. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 There have been suggestions of this... http://www.seobythesea.com/201 2/08/google-rank-modifying-spam mers-patent/
  81. 81. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 There have been suggestions of this... http://www.seobythesea.com/201 2/08/google-rank-modifying-spam mers-patent/
  82. 82. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 F U D
  83. 83. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 F U D FEAR
  84. 84. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 F U D FEAR UNCERTAINTY
  85. 85. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 F U D FEAR UNCERTAINTY DOUBT
  86. 86. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 F U D FEAR UNCERTAINTY DOUBT
  87. 87. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And if that isn’t enough
  88. 88. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And if that isn’t enough
  89. 89. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And if that isn’t enough
  90. 90. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 And if that isn’t enough
  91. 91. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 http://bit.ly/invisibile-recaptcha
  92. 92. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 The arms race continues
  93. 93. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 The arms race continues Google changes, rank trackers have to find workarounds
  94. 94. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Will rank tracking results become even less stable?
  95. 95. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Or worse… could they cease to be useful altogether?
  96. 96. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 If then, what’s left?
  97. 97. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Find a better KPI
  98. 98. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 6% of my clients get ranking reports
  99. 99. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 100% of their reports start with traffic & revenue-driving info
  100. 100. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Do we ditch rank tracking?
  101. 101. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 No
  102. 102. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 It is still one of the best tools we (SEOs) have to measure our actions
  103. 103. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 In-fact, hourly has been really useful for us so far:
  104. 104. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Far-better at spotting cannibalisation
  105. 105. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  106. 106. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  107. 107. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Far-better at spotting cannibalisation 2. Helps more accurately see when tweets/news etc are included
  108. 108. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Far-better at spotting cannibalisation 2. Helps more accurately see when tweets/news etc are included 3. Measuring speed of indexation & what it does to the rest of the SERPs
  109. 109. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  110. 110. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017
  111. 111. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Far-better at spotting cannibalisation 2. Helps more accurately see when tweets/news etc are included 3. Measuring speed of indexation & what it does to the rest of the SERPs 4. Has the ability to make a more accurate correlation between rankings/traffic
  112. 112. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 1. Far-better at spotting cannibalisation 2. Helps more accurately see when tweets/news etc are included 3. Measuring speed of indexation & what it does to the rest of the SERPs 4. Has the ability to make a more accurate correlation between rankings/traffic (if you assume Google isn’t screwing with us too much!)
  113. 113. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 But there are some bugs to work out
  114. 114. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 How noisy is the proxy rotation?
  115. 115. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 How do you work with that much data?
  116. 116. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Is it worth the extra faff?
  117. 117. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Do you want to help us find out?
  118. 118. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 We’re going to be releasing this (for free) on a limited basis - if people want it badly enough
  119. 119. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Something like this - ad hoc
  120. 120. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 http://bit.ly/hourly-tracking So register your interest below:
  121. 121. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Anything below page 1 is questionable as to it’s usefulness - measure wisely! 1. We’re using rank tracking wrongly 2. Rank tracking could get less useful 3. Pick better KPIs 4. But use rankings to measure your craft 5. Hourly could add a more surgical approach to SEO 6. We’re going to let a few people try for free summary
  122. 122. @ChrisGreen87 @StrategiQ Search London 18th April 2017 Thank you. @ChrisGreen87 What is Rank Tracking and Do We Recognise it Anymore? http://bit.ly/search-ldn-rank-tracking

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