It was a sad day when Scroogle announced that the Scroogle Scraper was being shut down. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the tool, the Scraper made it easy to do a quick search of the top 100 Google rankings without any personalized or localization influence. It was buggy, and had it’s own issues, but it was a good reference tool to have in your SEO toolbox.
Now that it’s gone, though, many people need another solution to check pure Google search rankings. Google adjusts the rankings significantly based on your location, search history, and other data that they’ve gathered about you, so pure results are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
I’d like to share with you how we’ve been tracking rankings for the past several months with great success. It is free an easy and just involves a simple Google URL hack.
Privacy Mode, Please
First things first, you need to open a private browser window. In Chrome this is called an ‘Incognito Window’, and in Firefox it is called Private Browsing mode. It is essentially a browser window with no cache and no access to your cookies. This means that Google doesn’t have access to your browsing history, which would again adjust your rankings.
The URL Hack Explained
The URL hack is pretty cool. For checking google.com (USA) rankings, we actually use Google.co.uk, and we set the geographical location parameter (GL) to the ‘US’ country code. Let’s look at an example using the search query “grilling website” since I’m working on a new site about grilling. If I wanted to see where I ranked when the average person searched “grilling website”, I’d put this URL into my private browser window:
By using Google.co.uk in a privacy browser, we eliminate any local bias since co.uk isn’t biased to any particular region in the United States. And, by setting the GL to ‘US’, we are telling Google to return content whose country of origin is the US.
What This Means
The end result is a very close approximation to what someone would see in the United States if they searched ‘Grilling Website’ and Google didn’t have a lot of data on them to personalize their results. By using this tool consistently to track your rankings, you have a good approximation on if you are moving up or down overall in the search engine rankings.