I have a lot of conversations with business owners about their search engine woes. One of the topics that often comes up is when they believe they're ranking in search engines, but aren't seeing the benefits of it in the form of more traffic, inquiries or sales. While there is more than one reason why this could be the case, the first question I almost always ask is, "Are you sure you're really ranking?"
Sounds silly, I know. If you see that your website is listed high on page one for a specific search term, then you're ranking, right?
Wrong. Search engines are very sneaky when it comes to rankings and can play tricks on our eyes. Here are just a few ways your apparent rank could be deceiving.
1. You're logged into Google
If you're logged into any Google product, such as Gmail, Google+ etc., the search results you pull up will be skewed based on your unique online activity and profile. What you see is definitely not the same as what your prospects see. If they are logged in, you may not even be a blip on their radar. When logged in, Google leverages user data to customize search results and that changes the SEO game entirely.
2. You're searching from the wrong location
When you do a search on Google or Bing, they pick up on your current location...no matter where you are. So, unless you have specifically changed the search settings, Google will only show you search results in the specific geographical point where you are using the Internet. However, that might not be where your ideal brides, grooms and clients are. If they search from their location, you might not show up at all.
3. You're using a variation that prospects are not
To search engines, there is a significant difference between New York, New York City, NYC and Manhattan; even if all of these apply to your area. Believe me, I know, I've worked on SEO for NY companies and it is a challenge! Just because you rank for "NYC" doesn't mean you'll also rank for "New York City." Search engines treat them separately, even though they refer to the same exact city. Which means, if you are ranking for one of these, but your prospects are typing in the other, you might not appear in their results pages.