We recently conducted a short research on Search Engine Ranking positions. We did a manual search and found that few of our pages were ranking in the first 10 positions in Google Search Rankings. We were really happy that our website was coming up in the top ten positions on Google’s SERP. But that happiness was short lived, as we did find that our Google Search Console was speaking something else.
Our Google Search Console showed our average position to be somewhere around 65.6 one day, 56.9 on another day and 40 on another day. We were wondering if the Active Positions Metric on GSC was true and believable.
In a recent video posted by Google’s #AskGoogleBot series, luckily John Muller answered this question for us.
As per Google, the active position could vary based on several parameters which include Geo targeting, personalization or because of a short and sharp visibility which was brief. Also, John Muller clarified that the results on active position are for real and are based on real-time statistics and not just theoretical results.
If a website has multiple URLs indexed on Google and ranked at different positions, then Google considered the least ranked position when calculating the Average position. So when we manually check, we don’t see the URL appearing in the same poistion everytime. Hence the average position metric changes as well.
Sometimes we also observe that certain keywords display significantly less impressions, which we do not expect. Since it could be a high ranking keyword, your URLs visibility could have short lived among other URLs, and could be the reason for low visibility statistics.
The Average position metric also considers the search results in images as well.
Hence the role of alt tags on a website should never be ignored.
In conclusion, we can say that the Active position on the Google Search Console is actually based on the actual search results, when people search for something and find your website. Hence keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions and several on-page and off page parameters play a significant role in your active position metric.
Here is what John Muller said in his recent video addressing the GSC’s active position metric