Ranking Distribution can be used to determine how much trust Google has in a domain, host, path or URL. Its visual nature, a graphic showing how all the keyword rankings are distributed across the first 10 result pages, lends itself to quick analysis of many domains. Ranking Distribution can quickly reveal opportunities and even certain types of penalties. The ranking distribution history is also available.
Table of Contents
- Why should I use Ranking Distribution?
- How to use Ranking Distribution
- Examples use cases
- The truth doesn’t always lie on the surface
Why should I use Ranking Distribution?
Being a graphical representation, it can be used to quickly analyse a domain for a number of different aspects.
- Quickly asses Google’s trust in any domain, host, path or URL
- Compare domains in a sector to find best practices
- Quickly find Page 2 optimisation opportunities
- See the effects of a manual penalty
- View the development of a domain during an SEO project
How to use Ranking Distribution
Ranking distribution tables and data is always available, for any domain, host or directory, in the Toolbox. Follow the tutorials and examples below to learn how to use the data to your advantage.
If you want to analyse the ranking distribution of a domain, just enter the domain in the search bar and then click on the “Ranking Distribution” entry in the menu on the left of the desktop screen (or burger menu when on mobile screens) .
The SISTRIX Toolbox will, as the default setting, show you the percentage value of mobile data. You can change these settings using the options on the top right corner of the screen:
- Absolute/ Percent: choose if you want to see the values in percentages or in absolute values
- Mobile/ Desktop: select data from mobile or desktop devices
- Export: export the table as a CSV file. To do this you’ll need to use some credits.
- Shortlink : share the chart on Social Media
The column chart right under the option menu shows you how many keywords of the analysed domain are ranking on the first ten results pages on Google. Page 1 represents ranking positions 1 to 10, page 2 are positions 11 to 20 and so on until page 10, which shows the organic positions 91 until 100.
In this case we see, for example, that 43% of the keywords of screwfix.com are ranking on positions 1 to 10, which is the first column on the left. This type of distribution (descendant from left to right) should be the objective of every SEO, as the majority of the clicks happen in the first search results page. (Positions 1 to 10.)
This section is also available at a sub-domain, path or URL level: thanks to this in-depth analysis you’ll be able to spot which content formats are well received from Google’s users and therefore generate more positive ranking signals.
Hover the mouse over the columns to see the keyword percentage (or number) for each page. You can also click on the column to be redirected to the keyword table, which will show you all the keywords that are ranking on the SERP page you selected.
The graph also contains other features that can be useful for your analysis. On the top right corner, for example, you’ll be able to gain more information about the data ( ) or to add the chart to a Dashboard or a Report ( ) . Use the slider below the graph to browse the results for different weeks in the past . Finally, by clicking on the play-button ( ), we will play through the history, beginning at the point the slider is at that moment .
Being able to go back in time will allow you to analyse the development of a website or a part of it over the years. For example, if you see that a specific content of your competitor is gaining more and more rankings every week, you could take a deeper look into it and maybe take it as a best practice example for your own website.
Right after the column chart you’ll find the graph showing the ranking development throughout the historic data for the last year, with the amount of rankings for each page shown.
You can activate and deactivate each line by checking the colour-box to the left of each row in the table below the graph.
By hovering the mouse on the graph, the Toolbox will show you the percentage (or absolute) values for the domain on that specific week.
By clicking on the icon you’ll find further options for this graph. If there had been important Google Updates during the last year, the entry “Show more pins” will point out when they took place, so that you can immediately check if they have affected your rankings. Click on “Hide all pins” to take them off again or on “Edit pins” to select which pin you want to see on the graph. You’ll also be able to add your own pin in order to mark a specific SEO measure, for example (“Add pin“) or to download the chart as a PDF, PNG or CSV file in order to analyse it later.
Examples use cases
As you get used to interpreting the different distribution shapes and changes you’ll quickly be able to evaluate domains for different facets. Here are a number of use cases.
Evaluate Google’s trust in a domain, host, path or URL
Thanks to the Ranking Distribution graphs you’ll be able to measure the success of your content in Google and spot SEO problems at their origin.
This graph shows the ranking distribution development of the first (red line) and second (blue line) search results pages of the domain pinterest.com. Up until Juli 2019 the domain ranked with more keywords on the second page than on the first page of the SERP. After that date, as shown in the yellow square, the blue line has sunken and the red one has risen: this means that a lot of domain’s rankings moved from the second to the first page (positions 1 – 10) of the Google SERP
See the effects of a manual penalty
Thanks to this chart you’ll quickly spot these changes and you’ll be able to report it to your stakeholders.
The Ranking Distribution section is also very useful to spot Google penalties, even if they occurred in the past. In this example we see the rankings of a domain which was hit by a Google manual penalty. In fact, you can see that the percentage of keywords on the first, second, third and even fourth page suddenly collapsed from one week to another.
Quickly discovering these problems gives you a big advantage because you’ll be able to take immediate action to solve the situation before causing any long-term damage to the website.
Detect crawling or competitor issues
It is important to cross-check both percentage and absolute distribution graphs. Quality or competitor issues could be slowly eating away at keyword ranking numbers and this might not be seen in the percentage distribution.
Consider the case where there are technical issues on a site. Either the page is slow to access and render, or there are issues on the page preventing content from being read and understood by Google. As Google continues to crawl these URLs through the site it will start to down-rank them.
In the graph above we see a relatively flat percentage distribution across the first 3 pages of all the ranking keyword results. However, the absolute numbers, shown below, are showing a decline.
In this case, the domain has lost 24000 ranking keywords (about 30% of the total) across ranking positions 1-30.
There could be quality issues at play here so it would be prudent to check for page speed issues, and that the content can easily be understood by Google’s crawlers. Also check for new competitors that are growing rankings in the same keyword space and learn from the URLs that are strong.
Find Page 2 Optimisation opportunities
Page 1 of the SERP (positions 1 – 10) is where nearly all the traffic-generating positions are found, but there are important opportunities to be found within the 2nd page, positions 11-20, of results where content could be enhanced in order to bring it to page 1 of the results. Simply click on the 2nd bar to go straight to a detailed keyword list.
Compare domains in a sector to find best practices and opportunities
It’s important to find and evaluate competitors in a sector. The evaluation of successful domain paths, for example, can show which content is working, at a glance. In the first example, we look at the percentage distribution for https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/
Around 30% of the keyword rankings are on Page 1. However, when we look at https://www.thompson-morgan.com/flowers-plants-shrubs/ we see a different picture.
On the one hand, the www.thompson-morgan.com domain path serves as an interesting best-case example. On the other hand, one can see that there is potential for improvement in the www.gardeningknowhow.com path. Over 12% of ranking keywords sit on Page 2.
This sort of information could be useful in assessing potential customers for an SEO agency, or for pitching new projects.
View the development of a domain during an SEO project
It’s easy to see SEO success when it’s presented in a simple form. The animated graphical development of a domain during an SEO project is something customers may find useful.
The example below shows the successful growth of absolute totals per page over a 4 month period.
Tip: Use a capture tool, such as LICEcap, to record the playback into a shareable GIF.
The truth doesn’t always lie on the surface
When considering a domain-level ranking distribution it is important to consider that many content types such as news, events, forums, shops and how-tos, may have different distribution graphs. It is, therefore, important to consider different areas (directory-level analysis is one example) of a large website in order to obtain a complete evaluation of the site.