Google – Update to Top Search Queries data – 20120125

Starting today, we’re updating our Top Search Queries feature to make it better match expectations about search engine rankings. Previously we reported the average position of all URLs from your site for a given query. As of today, we’ll instead average only the top position that a URL from your site appeared in.

An example
Let’s say Nick searched for [bacon] and URLs from your site appeared in positions 3, 6, and 12. Jane also searched for [bacon] and URLs from your site appeared in positions 5 and 9. Previously, we would have averaged all these positions together and shown an Average Position of 7. Going forward, we’ll only average the highest position your site appeared in for each search (3 for Nick’s search and 5 for Jane’s search), for an Average Position of 4.

We anticipate that this new method of calculation will more accurately match your expectations about how a link’s position in Google Search results should be reported.

How will this affect my Top Search Queries data?
This change will affect your Top Search Queries data going forward. Historical data will not change. Note that the change in calculation means that the Average Position metric will usually stay the same or decrease, as we will no longer be averaging in lower-ranking URLs.

Check out the updated Top Search Queries data in the Your site on the web section of Webmaster Tools. And remember, you can also download Top Search Queries data programmatically!

We look forward to providing you a more representative picture of your Google Search data. Let us know what you think in our Webmaster Forum.

Posted by , Google Analytics team, and , Webmaster Trends Analyst

I’m afraid I still find the data on the table baffling. For example, it says that the average position for my site for the term “chevron b19″ is 55th. I would defy anyone to find a way of searching for “chevron b19″ on Google that gets my site any position other than first. It’s not exactly a common subject and I have the only detailed page dedicated to the subject. It can’t possibly be averaging 55th.

JANUARY 26, 2012 AT 3:41 AMDavidHarnadek said…

This only affects the Top Queries report in GWT or GA. There are no changes to SERPs because of this change.

Prior to the change, if you had 3 URLs return for a search query, they were all weighted the same when averaging. Now Google only takes the highest ranking URL for that search query when averaging your position.

We should all see somewhat higher average position on the Top Queries report (unless you had only one URL return for the query, in which case there will be no change).

JANUARY 26, 2012 AT 8:23 AMUnknown said…

This is good, as the data might make some usable sense now. But, wait, what!?? You were reporting average rank of all ranking pages??? How was that even useful before? No wonder it was so inaccurate. It was reporting something whacky, not what anyone would expect (or use) at all.

JANUARY 26, 2012 AT 9:51 AMBarbaraD said…

Thank you, this is already smth, because data shown before was way too far for the reality.

Still, i have a question. You said Google counts the highest rankings now. So if Bob saw my site on the 3rd position, and Jane on the 5th, the average position will be 4. Ok, sounds good. But what if Tom, Jack and another 100 people saw me on the second page, but Bob and Jane saw me once on the positions 3 and 5, will it still show 4? Even i was there only twice?
I would appreciate more details here. Thanks

JANUARY 30, 2012 AT 8:22 AMSusan Moskwa said…


If 100 people saw your site in position 11 (and no higher), Bob saw it in 3rd position, and Jane saw it in 5th position, the average would be ((100 * 11) + (1 * 3) + (1 * 5))/102 = 10.8

FEBRUARY 3, 2012 AT 2:09 PMBarbaraD said…


thank you for this formula.
let’s take a more complicated case)
The site was shown 4002 times (Impressions). Once on the 3rd place, and once on the 5th place. The rest 4000 times much lower. So it looks like this:
((1000 * 11) + (1 * 3) + (1 * 5)+(1000 * 20) + (1000 * 30) + (1000 * 35))/4002 = 3.8
This is irrelevant
Ok, better example:
((1 * 11) + (1 * 20) + (2000 * 30)+(7000 * 90))/9002 = 7.5
Your site was not even in top 10 and GWT will show us 7.5 position when the site was on the 90th position all the time?
I do not think the formula you provided is correct ot used by Google
Would like to hear the answer from the author of this article

FEBRUARY 10, 2012 AT 1:37 AMSusan Moskwa said…@BarbaraD:
Your math is incorrect. We would show 23.9 as the average position for the first example, and 76.6 as the average position for the second example.


Example 1:
(1000 * 11) + (1 * 3) + (1 * 5) + (1000 * 20) + (1000 * 30) + (1000 * 35) = 96008
96008 / 4002 = 23.9

Example 2:
(1 * 11) + (1 * 20) + (2000 * 30) + (7000 * 90) = 690031
690031 / 9002 = 76.6

JULY 20, 2012 AT 3:26 AMGoogle Webmaster Central said…

Hi everyone,

Since over a year has passed since we published this post, we’re closing the comments to help us focus on the work ahead. If you still have a question or comment you’d like to discuss, free to visit and/or post your topic in our Webmaster Central Help Forum.

Thanks and take care,
The Webmaster Central Team

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