Indexing vs Ranking – What is the Difference?

One of the great elements of being involved with SEO and training, is helping people understand all the crazy definitions and what certain things mean. This week someone inside Wealthy Affiliate asked me what is the difference between being indexed in Google and being ranked in Google.

I was quickly able to answer this for them and they were able to understand the difference. Answering this question made me realize that there are others who may want the same information so let’s dive into indexing vs ranking in Google.

What it means to be indexed in Google

Being indexed merely means that you site is listed inside Google. But doesn’t mean you are ranking for any keywords. It means that Google knows that your site exists and it has it catalogued in their search engine.

How to find out if you are Indexed in Google

It’s actually a very simple process to do this. Simply Google your domain name. Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean.

SERP search

In this example, I am seeing if my niche website is indexed in Google.

If you get results from your page, then this means that your site is indexed in Google.

What it means to be Ranked in Google

Being ranked in Google means that your website is listed in Google for keywords associated to your content. For example, if you Google ‘Football Snack Helmets’, you will see that my niche website is ranked #1 for that keyword. Here’s a screenshot example.

keyword search result

As you can see, I am ranked for my targeted keyword.

How to find out if you are Ranked in Google

There are a few ways to do this, some are more reliable than others but all them end up telling you if you’re ranked in Google.

Method 1: Search it in Google

The most simple is to enter your target keyword in Google and see if your site comes up in the result pages.  You may need to visit beyond the 1st page of Google as your site doesn’t just show up on the 1st page of Google.

Method 2: Look inside Google Webmaster Tools

Google provides a wonderful tool called Search Analytics which will tell you what position your site is ranking for and which keyword.

Google webmaster tools searches

You need to make sure you have your site set up inside Google Webmaster Tools to be able to use this Search Analytics tool. But the good news is that it is free and fairly simple to setup.

Here’s a video I made that outlines this exact step

Method 3: Using Jaaxy Site Rank

One of the greatest keyword tools I use is called Jaaxy and they have a feature called Site Rank where it can tell you exactly what position your site/keyword is ranked. All you need to do is enter your keyword along with your URL and Jaaxy will give you the position along with a screenshot of the listing.

Jaaxy site rank

I like using Jaaxy for this because it tracks if your site has gone up or down within the search results. It’s an easy way to track all your keyword rankings within one dashboard.

The Importance of being Ranked in Google

As you can probably tell, it is clearly more important to be ranked in Google than simply indexed in Google. Being ranked in Google means that you have the chance to have people visit your site from various keyword searches that these potential visitors would use to visit your site.

So get out there and write some awesome content that Google can use to rank your website!

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Jay Neill

Jay Neill

Jay is the founder of Affiliate Resources, Inc. and a full time online marketing consultant who helps people get started in the world of affiliate marketing via live weekly training sessions. Read more about how Jay helps people get started online.

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