Searching for yourself is a terrible idea
I still get asked a lot about discrepancies between what a client sees when they search for themselves, and either the official stats, or what their friend might see, etc.
So this is a refresher about why you shouldn’t search for yourself as a way to measure your ranking.
Google does all kinds of personalisation on your search results (based on your network’s IP address, if you’re logged into any Google accounts, even your location) and the more often you look for your own site, the more skewed those results will be.
To give an example, most people searching for “Peter Mahoney” see my site on the first page. But I see myself on the fourth. Essentially because I’ve searched for myself so often – and then not spent much time on my site or even bothered to click it – Google has “learnt” that I don’t like it and therefore ranks it down for me, uniquely.
The right place to get Google’s official rank for your site is their own monitoring systems, which is where I get my stats.
Their stats are actually an ‘average’ of your rank which is the statistically most useful approach. Because of personalisation, not everyone sees your site in the same position. Where someone is searching from geographically for example has an impact. So the average rank is the best indicator of where you rank.
There’s a commonly held belief that if you use a private browsing window somehow you’ll see the proper rankings in the search results. But all that does is prevent Google from knowing your account – they still know where you live, your IP address, in some cases the unique code for your network card – there’s *plenty* for them to skew your results with.