I saw something new at Google.com recently. As I was performing an ordinary search for a social media client, looking for great stories to use, I was presented with a personal message. “Your site on Google,” the message began. “See how your site has been showing for this query for the past 90 days and compare to the previous 90 days.”
This was for a client website, for a keyword that is reasonable but not on our list of terms we’re working on. The data showed a single click in the past 90 days, with 119 impressions, a 14% increase. Our average position had jumped from 9.1 to 6.8. Perhaps after it began showing higher, somebody actually clicked on it, when there had been no clicks in the preceding 90 days.
The links go to the Search Console and a Google webmaster support page. This is apparently a quick rank-checking tool.
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First, relax. I am seeing this information for a client site because I have access to the search console for this website. It’s not publicly available.
Once I noticed it, however, I found that I was able to get similar messages for other sites for which I have search console access. I just typed in terms I knew were among the keywords listed at the Search Console and — sometimes — I got the message, with the website identified.
Not always. I tried searching for terms I knew were at #1, for terms I knew I had searched for previously, and various other possibilities. I can’t consistently get the message.
I’ve seen two other mentions of this tool online. One was a person who admitted that he regularly checks his rankings by Googling himself. That doesn’t work. Maybe this is a message from Google saying, “That’s not the right way to check your rankings. Go to the Search Console.” If so, it’s impressive customer service.
The frequent Googler says he hopes the data might be useful. The other blogger I found writing about this phenomenon had lots of ideas for how to use it. However, all of these ideas were based on the idea that users could get this message on purpose.
I have been able to make this message turn up for other websites in our stable by searching for keywords until I come up with one that triggers the message. However, I cannot make it turn up consistently. I can’t wonder, “Where is website X ranking for keyword Y?” and use the tool to find the answer.
Apparently, there is a secret algorithm governing the results on the SERPs.
Moving beyond that issue, is the information useful?
I went to the Search Console, to the Queries report for the website that got that initial message. I sorted by average position and scrolled through the results till I reached the section of keywords in the 6.8 position. There I found the keyword in question, and the data matches the information in the message.
It looks even more as though Google is using this message to say, “Hey, you, that’s not how to check your rankings! Try the Search Console.”
The information is useful, but there’s so much more information at the Search Console.
If you get the message…
Click through to your Search Console. Since people are presumably only seeing the message for properties they control in the Search Panel, you should be able to see all kinds of useful data there. Maybe you don’t visit very often. Maybe you need someone to help you make sense of the data and figure out how to make it actionable. Google is sending you a message.