Why Googling Your Own Keywords Is Not a Good Indicator of Search Marketing Success

In Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by Matt Chiera1 Comment

It can be tempting to Google your own brand name – or keywords related to your business – to identify if you’re doing a good job of promoting your business on Google. However, Googling your own keywords is not a good indicator of whether or not you are ranking organically or showing Google Ads for a keyword. It’s also not a good indicator of whether your target customer is seeing you in Google search. This post covers why Googling your own keywords is not a good indicator of search marketing success for Google organic listings and Google Ads.

Your own search history, IP address, and the data Google has about you affects what you see in Google.

Is it possible for two people to perform the same exact search in Google and get two different search results? The answer is resoundingly “yes.”

Google’s algorithm tries to provide results that are as relevant as possible to the individual user. Let’s say you are looking for a restaurant for dinner. If you’re in Chicago, Google will be more likely to show you restaurants in Chicago for a search of “fine dining restaurant.” In San Francisco, the user would likely see completely different results for the same search.

Even if you’re currently bidding on a keyword in Google Ads, you might not see the ad when you search in Google.

The way Google Ads Search Campaigns work is that you set a budget that you’re willing to spend on showing your ads on Google. That budget, along with other factors like avg. cost-per-click, competition, and ad quality will determine how much you show for that keyword search.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Google Ads is a real-time auction, where you are bidding against every other advertiser who has also opted to show ads for that keyword. Therefore, to show your ads 100% of the time for a competitive keyword would likely take a small fortune in ad spend. Even if you were able to allocate enough budget for 100% impression share, it’s still not guaranteed you’ll show up 100% of the time due to other Google Ads variables like ad quality.

You aren’t your target market (probably).

Going back to my initial point about Google’s personalization, let’s say that you have your Google Ads set to show to women between the ages of 25-45. If you’re a 60-year-old man, obviously you aren’t going to see the Google Ads.

Or, let’s say that we set up a remarketing campaign to only show ads to people who have added items from your eCommerce shop to their shopping cart, but haven’t checked out (a darn good campaign to run, by the way). If you have not performed this action on the website, you will not see the ads.

Keyword search volume matters. Vanity keywords are usually a waste of time.

In the SEO agency and client relationship, this sometimes happens: the SEO gets an email from their client – let’s say the client is a landscaper:

Q: “Why aren’t we showing up in Google for residential garden architect?”

A: Even though it’s a pretty word, residential garden architect has zero search volume in Google. Unless there’s a strong rationale to target it, for example, you know from offline customer research that your target market uses this specific terminology, optimizing for it isn’t going to drive significant traffic. It’s better to target a keyword variation that your customers actually use when they search online.

The same is true for ultra-competitive keywords with high search volumes. For example, the SEO gets an email from a client who owns a hotel:

Q: “Why aren’t we showing up in Google for best hotel?”

A: Best hotel is a broad and highly competitive keyword. You’re usually much better off targeting a long-tail keyword that your target market would use to find a hotel like yours, for example, best luxury hotel Chicago.

Rankings are constantly in flux.

Just because you’re ranking in the #1 spot today, that does not guarantee the same ranking tomorrow. And vice-versa is true – you may find that you are nonexistent on Google one day, but the next day you’re in the top spots. From minute-to-minute, there is constant jockeying for position in Google. A much better indicator of SEO performance is to check your “google / organic” traffic in Google Analytics and your search visibility over time in Google Search Console.

For Google Ads, you may have audience targeting set up to show ads to very specific audiences that may not be applicable to you. Also, in Google Ads, often a good tactic is to optimize for conversions – if you have a lower rank on Google for a keyword but conversion rate stays consistent, then Google may opt to show your ad lower on the page since it’s a less expensive click for the same amount of conversions.

So what does success look like in Google search?

That very much depends on your organization, the keywords you’re targeting, the resources at your disposal, and your goals for search marketing. For example, if your goal is to drive eCommerce sales, then some primary key performance indicators (KPIs) might be # of users from Google, add to cart % of those users, and of course eCommerce conversion rate and total revenue. For B2B demand generation, you may be tracking the quantity of sales leads generated from Google and the quality of those leads.

For some companies, going from 1 to 5 quality leads from Google per day is a big win, for others that’s not nearly enough. It all depends on the goals you’ve set for your search marketing initiatives and the resources you allocate to achieve those goals.

About the Author

Matt Chiera

Matt Chiera is Founder & Principal Consultant at Ice Nine Online. Since forming the company in 2014, he’s helped Ice Nine Online’s clients generate millions of dollars in revenue from digital marketing. Matt taught digital marketing strategy and tactics at the Tribeca School’s Digital Professional Institute. Matt’s book “Digital Marketers Sound Off” has been ranked as the #1 book in the Web Marketing category on Amazon.

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