illustration of confused surgeon viewing Google saerch results for what he does

Every plastic surgeon, home builder (and every other business) is curious to see how they rank on Google, bing! or Yahoo. And you've undoubtedly searched for your company's website using the keyword phrases you think your customers use to find you.

But there are a few problems when it comes to Googl'ing yourself from your own computer, using the keywords you think your prospects use, to see where your website ranks.

1. Google knows where you're searching from

If you've ever searched for "restaurants near me" you know Google and other search engines know your location.

So when you Google your keywords (ie: "San Francisco plastic surgeon", or "Minneapolis home builder") from your location, your business will come up artificially high since you're the closest location to where you're searching from. To test this, Google your main keywords from your office, and see where you show up in those search engine results. Then do the same thing from your home (assuming you don't live really close to your office) and see where you show up in those results. They will be different.

2. Using the words you THINK your customers use to find your services.

Unless you know what keyword phrases your audience uses to find you, you're just guessing. And there's a good chance you're guessing wrong.

Here's an example.

Say you're a Dallas plastic surgeon and you Google the phrase "breast augmentation surgeon Dallas" (a seemingly reasonable search term) and you get results that show you on page one! Woohoo! You think you're awesome and are just waiting for customers to visit your website and contact you.

The problem is, if you're using that specific phrase to build your search engine optimization around, no one will see your website and contact you.

screen shot of search term showing there are no searches for it

Why? Because a little research using Google Keyword Tools tells you exactly how many times someone one searches on a certain term. If you put the term "breast augmentation surgeon Dallas" in Google's Keyword Tool, it would show you that no one had searched that term in the past 30 days. And since breast augmentation isn't really seasonal, you can extrapolate that no one ever searches that term, throughout the entire year.

screen shot showing 260 monthly searches for "Dallas breast augmentation"

What Google's Keyword Tool WOULD show you, was that there have been 260 searches over the past 30 days for the term "Dallas breast augmentation." That means there's about 3,100 searches a year for that phrase. Not bad, right? It would seem so to the trained surgeon, but to the trained SEO person, it's not.

screen shot showing 720 searches for "breast surgeon Dallas"

Now just by switching the words "breast augmentation" and "Dallas" you get almost triple the search queries.

This is an important lesson in not guessing at what keywords your customer's use, because if you guessed "breast augmentation surgeon Dallas" was the phrase folks used to find you, and you built your SEO around it, you would have wasted a lot of time not ranking while your competitors passed you by.

3. Googl'ing yourself from your own computer after you've been to your website

The other issue when using your own computer to determine how you rank, or how you rank compared to your competitors. The reason is: those results are skewed, because today's browsers are smart: it knows the sites you've visited previously, and serves them up higher than they would to someone who has never visited your (or your competitors) sites.

Here's an example:

We have a client who stalks their competitor's websites. So when our client searches the keyword phrase they focus on to show up high in Google (Columbus home builders), their competitor's site comes up higher than theirs. But unbeknownst to them, those customized results are shown based on their previous searches, and search history.

Because they've been to their competitor's sites so often, their browser serves up their competitor's websites higher, thinking the person doing the searching really liked their competitors' websites. So they get frustrated.

The same is true of your website.

If you've been to your website previously (as we're sure you have) then Google your keywords, your site will show up artificially high in your particular search. That's because your search engine thinks you like that site because you've been to it several times before. However, for someone who has NEVER been to your website, your website will definitely rank differently in their Google search for your keywords.

They way around it?

  • Search from a computer not in your office, or better yet, a computer far from your office
  • Know the right keywords your audience uses to find you, and
  • Clear your cookies, cache and browsing history from your web browser, and search again.

Tip: Google's Chrome browser has what they call an "incognito window" which is a browsing mode that searches based on no previous search history, or location tracking.

But if you don't have the Chrome browser, how do you clear your cookies, cache and browsing history? Well, it depends whether you're using a PC or Mac, which browser, and which version of the browser you're using. If you know what browser you're using (and we assume you know if you're on a PC or Mac), go to YouTube and search for "how to clear cookies, cache and history from Firefox." (or whatever browser you have).

Then go back and search again. Better yet, search from a computer at your friends or library where there were very likely no searches to your website, or your competitor's websites.

So when you need a web design Columbus Ohio firm to help you with your website, no matter where you're located, maybe we should talk.