Google Webmaster Tools is Incorrectly Displaying Keyword Positions

Oct 20, 2008 • 10:36 am | comments (8) by twitter | Filed Under Other Google Topics

A WebmasterWorld member reports that he was dependent on the Top Search Queries report in Google Webmaster Tools and has found it to be providing incorrect data. After all, using another rank checker proved to see no results and there were no visitors to that page.

This is likely to be a bug, according to Tedster:

Webmaster Tools reports of all kinds are known to contain wrong information at times. This kind of wrong information would be particularly distrubing, but in any big system errors do creep in. The evidence of your own server logs is more dependable.

He adds that it's possible that the ranking is achievable:

[M]aybe the WMT report is pulling the position information before some filter is applied to come up with the final rankings. Even though that would certainly be buggy behavior, it might accidentally be showing you that your url COULD rank that well, if only you weren't tripping some kind of filter.

Still, though, the tool in Google's backend is misleading.

Would you consider this a bug?

On a related note, The Official Google Webmaster Central Blog says that this could be an issue with the kind of data that WMT sees. They suggest that you add the www and non-www versions of the same site to Webmaster Central, do a site: search to look for any anomalies, set your preferred domain, and set a site-wide 301 redirect to www or the non-www. Of course, this is probably not applicable to the reporting issue in WebmasterWorld, though it may be related to other issues within Google Webmaster Tools.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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Jaan Kanellis

10/20/2008 06:51 pm

GWT has NEVER showed accurate positions for me and my clients.


10/20/2008 08:42 pm

Not dependent - not by a long shot. And Jaan, while I often find positions displayed in GWT to be off by one or two spots, they are usually quite close. Manually checking rankings on Google is troublesome because a whole lot of factors come into play such as your own geographical location and search settings, even history. The Google-powered search engine at AOL is, for me, usually pretty consistent with what GWT reports.


10/21/2008 08:51 am

Come on... this has been the case for as long as I can remember! WMT rarely if ever shows accurate rankings - it could be down to datacentres, it could be down to a lot of things. Either way, I don't expect this kind of 'revelation' from one of the supposed top SEO blogs out there. (I don't expect this comment box's height to be off by about 20px either but that's another matter alltogether).


10/21/2008 10:08 am

That's because this blog post seems to miss the point of the topic, John, in that it might tie in with the yo-yo effect people have been discussing recently, and what, in terms of useful information, we might be able to extract from these seemingly buggy GWT reports.


10/21/2008 12:06 pm

I thought it might've just been me. I noticed this ages ago...but at the same time at least you can get a vague idea. Not quite good enough.

Andrew Miller

10/21/2008 12:52 pm

Whether you run rank checking software, check manually, or rely on Google's tools to supply rank data, the focus should be on trends, not individual data points. There are too many variables affecting one data point. If reported rankings are generally improving over time using the same tracking methodology, your SEO efforts are likely working. That being said, rankings are just one tiny part of the equation. Traffic and conversions matter most no matter how well a site ranks.


10/22/2008 10:51 pm

Maybe Google is blocking itself.


08/12/2011 01:43 pm

Very very wrong constantly - If Google is incapable - which they are an this occasion then we must look for superior tools.

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