When reporting on keyword ranking trends in aggregate, I see a lot of reports showing the average rankings across large sets of keywords. I always scratch my head when I see this because as SEOs we should know that not all keywords have the same value.
The rankings for a keyword with 10 monthly searches shouldn’t be treated the same as a keyword with 100,000 monthly searches but it unfortunately does get treated the same when you just look at average rankings. Looking at rankings this way also becomes incredibly misleading when you’re sharing keyword ranking data with stakeholders who have little knowledge of SEO.
So what should you do?
A better approach for reporting rankings across a large set of keywords is to use a weighted ranking system.
The concept of a weighted ranking simply applies more "weight" or "value" to keywords that have higher search volume in the data set.
Let’s take a simple example and compare a table/chart that shows the average ranking vs. the average weighted ranking for a set of keywords. I’ll show the ranking performance from MVMT watches using various queries related to "men’s watches."
Here is the keyword set used:
|gold watches for men||49,500||43||25||17|
|best watches for men||18,100||59||59||59|
|nice watches for men||9,900||9||11||3|
|silver watches for men||8,100||100||84||15|
|waterproof watches for men||5,400||9||10||4|
|wrist watch for men||3,600||81||73||85|
|good watches for men||1,300||28||37||33|
Now here is a chart that shows the above keyword set using the average ranking and the average weighted ranking.
The issue with looking at the average ranking alone is that it puts all the keywords on a level playing field.
Let’s dissect this a bit further...
In the example table above, the query "mens watches" has on average 18x more search volume than the other queries in the data set and also happens to be ranking quite well - position #5 on page 1 of Google.
Other queries like "wrist watch for men" and "best watches for men" have far less search volume and are ranking beyond page 5 in Google.
Since "mens watches" has a greater opportunity to drive more traffic to the site than other keywords in the data set, it should hold more weight when looking at rankings in aggregate. If we just use the average ranking, less valuable keywords such as "wrist watch for men," drag the overall ranking down.
That’s why I think average weighted ranking is a better representation of ranking performance for this keyword group (or any keyword group). It allows us to more effectively communicate how well we’re performing for the most valuable keyword(s) in the data set, whereas it’s not as evident when using just the mean.
Step 1 - Create Your Keyword Group
One very important thing to keep in mind when calculating weighted ranking is that you need to be careful with how you group keywords together in the data set. I find it best to group keywords that are very closely related, that way you can present a more accurate picture around how keywords related to that specific topic are performing.
Step 2 - Determine the Weighting for Each Keyword
To calculate the "weight" of an individual keyword, you simply need to divide the sum of the search volume for all keywords in the data set by the search volume of a single keyword.
Here is the formula:
Let’s look at the keyword weight for all keywords in the data set:
|Keywords||Search Volume||Keyword Weight %|
|gold watches for men||49,500||14.48%|
|best watches for men||18,100||5.29%|
|nice watches for men||9,900||2.90%|
|silver watches for men||8,100||2.37%|
|waterproof watches for men||5,400||1.58%|
|wrist watch for men||3,600||1.05%|
|good watches for men||1,300||0.38%|
Step 3 - Multiply the "Weight" by the Ranking and Add it All Up
The last step is to multiply each keyword’s weight% by its respective ranking.
Once the weighted rank for each keyword is determined, you need to add up the weighted ranking for all keywords in the data set.
Here is a table that shows the weighted ranking for each keyword as well as the average weighted ranking for all keywords in the data set.
|gold watches for men||6.23||3.62||2.46|
|best watches for men||3.12||3.12||3.12|
|nice watches for men||0.26||0.32||0.09|
|silver watches for men||2.37||1.99||0.36|
|waterproof watches for men||0.14||0.16||0.06|
|wrist watch for men||0.85||0.77||0.89|
|good watches for men||0.11||0.14||0.13|
|Average Weighted Ranking||17.40||14.44||10.71|
And that's all there is to calculating the average weighted ranking. I hope you find this tutorial helpful!