And the tip is: use the filter button.  (Not sure if “simple” applies to the tip or me).

Google Webmaster Tools rank data was useless

I’ve long dismissed the rank data in Google Webmaster Tools’ (GWT) top query report as being useless.

I didn’t bother to digging into Google’s rank number methodology as I just assumed that they had come up with a reason to not show us real data (if you have used the AdWords keyword tool over the years you will realise that masking data is part of Google’s culture).

That was until today when Google announced that they were changing the way rank data was calculated – so I was spurred on to take a fresh look.

And…the results were still useless. But why?

international searches

I started thinking the data was off because our sites tend to be UK based. For example I may rank number one for “spiced sausage” in the UK, but people in the US also like spiced sausages and I would rank very low there; thus reducing my average rank.

A few searches later and nothing learned, I went back to GWT and then spotted the obvious.  The filter button.

GWT rank data filters

Brilliant, you can filter out international traffic :-)

But the data was still crap. Only 15% or so of the traffic was non-UK, so that can’t explain why my coveted number one ranking is averaging a position of 15.

But wait, what’s this?

Almost 50% Google image searches? Wow. Click the filter option that gets rid of that and at last….

decent rank data!

So instead of a good original blog post explaining the nuances of how GWT calculates rank data, all you get from me is a lousy tip to use the filter button. Sorry.

I’m now off to brush up my Google image optimisation skills.

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