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Glassy-Eyed by Website Analytics? Start Simple.
Kate Gingold
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Glassy-Eyed by Website Analytics? Start Simple.

The Sprocket Report

The sheer volume of statistics available is so overwhelming you may be tempted to just ignore all of it. But then you’ll never really be sure how your website is doing. So here’s an explanatory intro to just one report from your Google Analytics: Average Position.

We all want our own business to lead the pack and “Rank #1 on Google” has been an advertising message since, well, almost since the beginning of the world wide web. As clever programmers kept finding new ways to game the system using both “White Hat” and “Black Hat” techniques, Google’s own clever programmers kept thwarting them while developing better ways for folks to find what they search for when online.

Today’s “personalized search” means that when Pat searches online, Pat may not get the same results as when Alex searches online due to complex algorithms that monitor personal details such as previous search history, the device used, products already purchased, and many other tidbits gleaned from the internet. A website that ranks #1 in Pat’s search may be different from the website that ranks #1 in Alex’s search.

The search results page has changed as well. Not long ago, there used to be about ten organic listings that showed up on the first page of a Google search result and folks would fight to get “above the fold,” among the top five. Nowadays, there might be three organic results, tops, making the competition very fierce indeed.

But there is a silver lining to this cloud! In addition to the three organic results, the Google results page features several other places where your business may be listed for searchers to find. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you may show up on a Google map and be listed among the other “Places.” Or your Google My Business profile may be featured in the top right column of the results page which is called the Knowledge Panel. Other places you may be listed include in the photo carousel, as a Snippet in the Answer Box or right at the top if you pay for a Google Ad.

So now back to your Google Analytics Average Position report. When you see numbers like 4, 5 or maybe 6, you may be thinking that you aren’t making it to the first page of Google’s results if there are only three organic listings available. Don’t panic! Each of the listing opportunities we just discussed have a number assigned to them by Google. Taking into account all of the places your business is listed provides that Average Position number. Here’s an simple illustration from Google:

Some of the positions of your listing may actually be more productive for your business than being the #1 organic result. For instance, being part of the Map results puts you in the right place when folks are looking for a restaurant or grocery store while on the road.

The take-away for most of us to be sure to optimize our website content for the appropriate search terms, especially geographical, and to make the most of opportunities available like the free Google My Business listing. Also, pay attention to your analytics reports so you know you’re moving in the right direction. But don’t fret about them or let an SEO salesperson guilt you about them unless you are prepared with a specific goal plan.

Mid-summer can be a great time to assess your current online presence and strategize for the second half of the year. An audit or consultation may be all the assistance you need, so give us a call. We would be happy to help you.

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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Full biography

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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