Why Not to Search for Yourself on Google

Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

Sometimes people search for their own website on Google to try to determine how they are being ranked for any number of keywords. If this describes you or someone you know, please consider that it is not advisable to search for your own site in Google to see how it’s doing in search rankings.

Below are a few quick reasons:

  • If you are logged in, Google tailors your experience in search based on your Gmail and other Google product activity, including what you search for regularly, so you are likely to be showed things you like rather than things you don’t like (see this TED video on the filter bubble)
  • If you search for the same terms a lot and don’t select the results they show (such as your website), Google will likely interpret that the results they are showing you are not relevant for the terms you are using
  • This probably negatively influences how Google thinks you feel about those results, but it may also impact how often they show those sites to others
  • In other words, people could be causing their search rankings to get worse in Google by searching for their own site and not clicking on it
  • Instead, if they search for their site and do click on it, then leave immediately, that is even worse because Google counts it as a bounce (see their definition of bounce rate for more info), which means that the site is very irrelevant to the terms they used
  • See this article on Why You Should Stop Google Searching Your Business for more info, as I believe it more sufficiently yet concisely explains some of the issues I’ve mentioned
  • Google has an article on Can’t Find Business On Google that may help
  • Also, here is Google’s article on how to Improve Your Local Ranking On Google

I recommend never searching for your own site in Google, especially with your mobile phone, but rather saving it with a bookmark in your browser and accessing it that way. Google tracks direct traffic also, but doesn’t relate it to search results and thus influence rankings based on it.

Some folks will sign up for paid accounts with services like WhiteSpark, which tracks your rankings and shows how much up or down it goes. WordPress has plugins like RankMath that have paid options to provide this functionality as well.

I would not normally show this info to my clients because it could cause unnecessary anxiety and the data requires interpretation to be useful, plus there are other key performance indicators or KPI’s that are more helpful to track your progress by.

A free and safe option for finding out your current ranking in Google for a specific keyword or phrase is to visit the Google Ads Preview tool, type in some keywords, a location, preferred device, then hit enter.

It’s also safe to try using a different search engine like DuckDuckGo and use their anonymous search service to check rankings, although these will never match exactly what a given user would see on Google or Bing, since they customize search like I shared above. This approach will help you see how you rank with searches done by people who are privacy conscious.

Signing out of Google may help a little, but they also use your IP address to track your search activity, and so if you’re at home or at work, they could still know it’s you to some degree.

Hopefully this article has helped provide the information needed to avoid accidentally tricking Google into thinking that your website isn’t what your prospective customers need to find. If you need clarification or further info, you can always reach out to Ben, and you’ll get a timely response. Thanks for reading!