One SEO professional asked John Mueller why Google’s Search Console may say one thing, but you may not see your site physically ranking.
They explained that their question is about the average position in Google Search Console. A few days ago, they realized that they have over 60 keywords where their site is showing up in position one.
They still don’t understand how that works, because some of the keywords are not really appearing.
They don’t understand why when it says in Search Console that the average position is number one, what does this really mean?
Is it the case that it starts at the top sometimes and says they are on position one, and takes time to appear?
How does this really work?
John explained that the average position is based on what was actually shown to users. It’s not a theoretical ranking, where you would appear at number one if you did the right thing.
It’s really – Google actually showed your page to their users, and it was ranking at number one at that time.
Sometimes it is tricky to reproduce that, which makes it a bit hard, in that sometimes it’s for users in a specific location, or they search in a specific way, perhaps on mobile, or just on desktop.
Sometimes it’s something in an image box or a knowledge graph, or the local business entry.
All of these things are also places where there could be a link to your site.
And if you see something listed as ranking number one, usually what John would recommend doing is trying to narrow that down into what exactly was searched. By using different filters in Search Console, figure out which country that search was in, or what type of query it was for.
Was this on mobile or on desktop, and see if you can try and reproduce it that way.
This happens at approximately the 00:36 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
SEO Professional 1 00:36
Yes, yes. That’s correct. John, thank you so much. All right. John, I came here like, I think it was a week ago. And I was talking about Google not being able to show me how many pages are mobile friendly. And by the way, I got that fixed. And okay, so today, my question is about the average position in the Google Search Console. So I–a few days ago, I realized that I’ve got over 60 keywords that are showing that I’m on position one.
I still don’t understand how that works, because some of the keywords when I’m checking on the–on the search results, I don’t appear first. I’ve seen some of them are coming from the Google business profile. But some of them, they’re not really appearing. I really don’t understand when it says that the average position is one, what does it–what does it really mean? Does it start at the top–sometimes say I’m on position one, and it takes time to appear? Or? Or how does it really work?
So the average top position is based on what was actually shown to users. So it’s not a theoretical ranking, where you would appear at number one, if you did it right, kind of thing. It’s really, “we showed it to users and it was ranking at number one, at that time.” And some, sometimes it’s tricky to reproduce that, which I think kind of makes it a little bit hard, in that sometimes it’s for users in a specific location, or they search in a specific way, maybe just some mobile, or just on desktop.
And sometimes it’s something perhaps in image one box or knowledge graph, or kind of the local business entry that you mentioned. All of those things are also places where there could be a link to your website. And if you see something kind of like listed as ranking number one, usually what I would recommend doing is trying to narrow that down into what exactly was searched? So by using the different filters in Search Console, figure out which country that was in or what type of query was it?
Was it on mobile or on desktop, and see if you can try to reproduce it that way. Another thing that I sometimes do is look at the graph over time. So specifically for a query, where you’re kind of where it says average position ranking number one, but the total impressions or the total clicks don’t seem to make much sense.
And that you think maybe a lot of people are searching but like you should kind of expect to see a lot of traffic or a lot of impressions, at least, that could also be a sign that you were shown at position number one, in whatever way, but you aren’t always shown that. So that could be that something that was like something very temporary, or something that fluctuates a little bit, anything along those lines. But it’s not the case that it’s a theoretical position. It’s really, it was shown in the search results. And when it was shown it was shown like this.
SEO Professional 1 3:41
Okay, does it improve with time?
Your ranking or like…?
SEO Professional 1 3:47
Okay, maybe the appearance, because one of the things that you mentioned right now that I’ve seen is that when some of the queries where I’m ranking number one, I’m not really getting maybe any impressions, or some of them are just getting a few impressions. And I haven’t gotten any clicks, but I’m still–still saying that I’m ont position one.
Yeah, I mean, it kind of depends on how you were shown there. If it’s really the case that it’s showing you position number one, and you would expect this query will drive like hundreds of thousands of impressions, and you get two or five impressions. Then to me that sounds almost like some aspect of personalization kicked in, maybe a previous query that was used, maybe the site was previously shown to that specific user. And just for those very few cases, it was actually shown at number one.
SEO Professional 1 4:38
Alright, so yeah, alright, so in this case, now, can I just sit back? Can I just sit back and be like, “Okay, I think everything is going well. I believe I should just wait a bit more time.” Maybe things are going to improve?
You could. But, my feeling is it won’t just automatically become better just by waiting. Because especially if it’s something where it’s a little bit fluctuating, or sometimes shown, sometimes not shown. It means that our algorithms are a bit on the edge. And your job in that case would be to convince our algorithms and say, well actually is like, you should be totally clear that this is a great result to show.
And then just kind of like sitting back, you’re kind of leaving it up to chance and saying, Well, we’ll see what happens, and maybe your competitor will do better, and then you won’t be shown at all. Maybe at some point, your competitor does something really stupid, and then you’re shown but then it’s kind of out of your control. Whereas if you take the situation where it’s kind of fluctuating and say, Well, I’m going to convince Google’s algorithms that my site is the best by far, then you’re kind of doing things on your side on your terms and taking steps to make it better.