Accurate Rank Checking in Google for Different Geographical Locations

One of the most important and common measurements of ranking success is the search engine results position. Since this factor is quantifiable, it should be very easy to measure the success of an SEO campaign. As you might guess with anything concerning SEO, it’s not as easy to determine as you might think. Geographical location plays a major role; this article will explain how to take that into consideration.

If one didn’t consider geographical location as a factor, one would think ranking a website accurately is a straightforward task. Say a website ranked at position 15 in Google before it was improved with SEO, but after SEO it ranks at position 5 for the chosen keyword(s). Then we can say it reached the first page, and that the SEO campaign was successful.

However, the ranking we check is just the tip of the iceberg with respect to client expectations. For example, say you have a client who is US-based and targeting Google.com US, and you are an SEO specialist living in the UK. Of course, your client’s and your geographical locations are different, and so are the ranking results you see; they are not exactly the same. Initially, we’ve observed this to be different and discussed some useful geo-targeting techniques.

Say you check rankings for his targeted keyword "widgets," and it ranks at position five in www.google.com — but you are in the UK. His site might still be ranking at position nine, or even worse, on Google’s second page, like position 15, in www.google.com when checked in  the US.

This article provides tips and techniques for effectively checking the ranking of websites for the targeted keywords in Google. Using these techniques, any SEO practitioner can accurately check rankings in Google with differences in geographical location or Google country-targeted search engines (Google.co.uk, Google.com.au, and Google.com) taken into account.

There is lot of web marketing or SEO software that includes features that let you check rankings automatically in Google. Remember that this type of software is specifically configured to check Google rankings automatically, and this is very different from checking them manually. Still, the best way to check rankings is manually, since this is how your client will check the ranking for their optimized keywords.

Of course, I have used SEO software before. There is no way to configure parameters used to check a ranking in Google without it asking for the following:

a. Targeted Google country (google.com.au, google.co.uk,google.com,etc)

b. Number of results

c. Competing web pages

You know that Google uses your IP address because you risk an IP address ban in the search engine for automatically checking rankings without proper authorization. Aside from this, Google uses your IP address when checking rankings for various purposes — for example, to determine where you’re searching from. This means the ranking result you receive from that software is not guaranteed to be accurate, because it is not configured with respect to your client’s geographical location.

If you feel confused, see the illustration below:

If you are an SEO living in the UK, if you check your client’s rankings using www.google.com, the results are geographically biased. Google will deliver results that are different from those it would give if you had checked the site’s ranking exactly in the targeted location. But when rankings are checked in the US, google.com search results are unbiased, since the searcher is also from the US.

See the screenshot below for the ranking differences:

Sample targeted keyword: Diamond Rings

Search engine results 1: Yellow shaded results used www.google.com with a searcher from the UK.

Search engine results 2: Gray shaded results used www.google.com with a search from the US.

You will notice that the top three results are not exactly the same, even though both results were obtained using www.google.com. The searcher’s location can play a role in the Google search results, as observed above. In the US, the position one website is jamesallen.com, while in the UK, it is zales.com. Position two is the same, but the site at position three in the US appears at position one when checked in the UK using www.google.com .

These search engine result discrepancies are often a source of conflict between SEO companies and their clients. Despite using the same search engines, results can be entirely different if the client and the SEO are checking rankings from  different geographical locations.

Since it is impossible to go to your clients’ countries, connect to the Internet and check rankings, there are ways that rankings can be checked more accurately, to give you the same results you would receive if you were checking from the same geographical location as your clients.

To simulate the perspective of a searcher living in the same country as your client, you will use proxy browsers. The proxy browser acts as a middleman between Google data centers and your computer. If you are using a US-based proxy browser, then Google treats the IP address of the proxy like a US-based searcher. See the illustration below:

Step 1: Search for a free proxy browser with an IP address located in the same country as your client. You can go to Google and search for a "UK proxy browser" if you are looking for a UK-based proxy browser.

Step 2: Once you have a proxy browser, confirm the IP address of the proxy server. In the proxy URL address bar (this is NOT the browser address bar), enter:

http://www.whatismyip.com/

Then click "go" or "submit." See the screenshot below:

Step 3: What you should see next is the IP address of the proxy browser server. Copy and paste the IP address (example 148.785.658.112) to notepad.

Step 4: Without using the proxy browser (using normal browsers), go to this web page: http://www.ip2location.com/free.asp

Step 5: Under IP address(es), enter the IP address of the proxy browser server provided by whatismyip.com. Then click "Find location."

Step 6: In the results, make sure the country in which the IP address is located is the same as the TARGETED country in which you would like to check Google rankings accurately. If your targeted country is the UK, then it should show United Kingdom under "Country (Full)."

Step 7: Now you have found the proxy browser of your targeted country. I suggest you bookmark the proxy browser for easier future access. Then proceed to the next section.

Step 1: It is extremely important to know in advance the targeted country/search engines of your client. This way, when you check rankings using a proxy browser, you will know how to configure it.

Case example A: If you are targeting the US and www.google.com, then in the proxy browser address bar, enter http://www.google.com and use a US-based proxy browser-server (an IP located in US).

Case example B: If you are targeting Australia and www.google.com.au, then enter http://www.google.com.au in the proxy browser address bar and use an Australia-based proxy browser (where the server IP belongs to Australia).

Step 2: Leave the proxy browser at its default settings. Most proxy browsers have these following default settings:

Encode URL: Checked

Encode page: not checked

Allow cookies: Checked

Remove scripts: Checked

Remove objects: not checked

You are just checking rankings in Google; you do not need to tweak advanced proxy browser settings.

Step 3: The next thing you will see is the Google website. Conduct a search using the same method as you do with normal browsers. If you need a more refined search, you can use "Advanced search."

Step 4: Take note of the rankings.

Here are some additional points to know when rank checking using proxy browsers:

1. There are some instances where you may use proxy browsers loaded with ads, which can be annoying. You are not obliged to click.

2. There is no way you can automate checking rankings using this method. These browsers mostly limit usage (to control abuse). Make sure you have read and agreed with the proxy browser terms and conditions before proceeding further.

3. Since the https protocol might not work in proxy browsers, it is suggested that you not use this method when sending sensitive information to Google or any other websites. Such information can be intercepted during packet in and out transmission (even if the proxy browser claims to support https or secure protocol).

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