Pixel Position and Visibility Distribution - Essential Metrics for Modern Rank Tracking

Jan 18, 2021


min read

Among plenty of other things, 2020 has been the year when tracking search engine rankings took a turning point.

Debates started to grow intense on whether rankings, as we knew them, are still reliable for making SEO strategy decisions in the context of the current, very diverse, and extremely dynamic SERPs.

As a rank tracker at the core, Advanced Web Ranking took the first step to adapt to the new SERP reality by introducing a new position tracking model that enables you to consider all the SERP features when determining a listing’s ranking in search.

The great thing with the new position tracking model is that it lets you measure your actual position in SERP, regardless of whether you are listed as typical “blue links” or carousels, featured snippets, knowledge panels, or any other features.

However, this still leaves us with a few unanswered questions:

  • How much space do the SERP features listed before you occupy on the searchers’ device screens? And how far down the search results page will these features push your listing?

  • What happens when ads are also listed at the top of the search results page? How many ads will Google display for each query, and how much space will these take up from the searchers’ device screens?

We built the new Pixel Position and Visibility Distribution metrics precisely to answer these remaining questions, bringing us closer to a fuller and more accurate understanding of our websites’ visibility in search results.

Pixel Position

Just as its name suggests, Pixel Position measures your ranking in pixels, meaning the number of pixels from the top of the search results page to the search result URL.

For SERPs with a great variety of result types, Pixel Position proves extremely helpful in determining just how extensive each search result is and how far down the page your listing is being pushed by everything that’s listed before you.

Let’s take a look at an example. 

I have the search results page for the “how big is the universe” query here and the Pixel Positions for this SERP, as calculated by AWR.

In Advanced Web Ranking, you can find the Pixel Position metric for each SERP listing in the Top Sites report, where you need to select the keyword and the search engine for which you wish to make the analysis, as well as a date from the calendar. 

Pixel Position metric in Advanced Web Ranking

While on a blue-links-only search results page the no.1 listing has a Pixel Position of about 172px, for my “how big is the universe” example, I see that the first listing is already 609px down the search results page.

That’s more than three times lower than a first result would usually be on a “typical” search results page.

With a Carousel inserted at the top of the page and the first position being a Featured Snippet, it makes sense to be lower on the page than usual. But let me click the “View SERP” button to see exactly how the SERP looks like.

SERP for How big is the universe query

For SERPs such as this one here, Pixel Position helps us highlight what impact search features have over the other listings’ visibility and measure that visibility. 

Above and below the fold search results

Once we’re able to determine the height of each search result on the page in pixels, we should also determine what’s above the fold and what’s beneath it.

However, the fold is a subjective measure, depending on the device used when performing the search query.

A user searching from a 1366x768px laptop will see fewer results on their screen than another user who performs the same search from a 1920x1080px desktop device.

More than the device screen size, the screen resolution will also impact how much from a search results page a user will see on the screen without having to scroll.

Hence it would be nearly impossible to make a 100% precise prediction of what each user sees above the fold on a search results page. 

In Advanced Web Ranking, we take the most popular screen sizes as a reference for both desktop and mobile SERPs and mark the fold line accordingly.

Fold line pixel position for the most popular mobile and desktop screen sizes

We then use color-coding to set apart the above the fold search listings from those that fall under the fold line. 

Color coding the foldine in Advanced Web Ranking with notes

Visibility Distribution

Since Pixel Position has an extensive range of values, from somewhere around 100px and up to 15000px, it is not a comfortable metric for analysis of large keyword sets. It would get really cumbersome if you needed to remember the Pixel Position across a few dozen terms.

That’s why we came up with Visibility Distribution. 

Visibility Distribution helps you aggregate the information you would otherwise get from the Pixel Position metric.

Visibility Distribution is calculated as a percentage and shows how close your listing is from the top of the SERP. The higher your listing is on the search results page, the closer Visibility Distribution will get to 100%.

Visibility Distribution vs. the other Visibility metrics

Having yet another visibility metric for your reporting may seem a bit confusing at first, so let me lay out the differences between these SEO metrics and see how they can work together to provide you with more information on your search performance.

Advanced Web Ranking Visibility Metrics Comparison

Let’s take another example to see both metrics in action.

I’ll head over to the Visibility menu, where I can see both metrics side by side, calculated for my keyword selection, and I see that my Visibility Percent is 92.78%, while my Visibility Distribution is merely 35.76%. 

Visibility Percent vs Visibility Distribution metric in Advanced Web Ranking

This tells me that while my rankings are in general very high (92.78%), my listings are not placed that high up the search results page as I would expect them to be (only 35.76% Visibility Distribution).

Moving forward to the Keyword Ranking report, which contains all the data columns that I need at this point - Ranking Position, Features on SERP, and Visibility Distribution - I can scan through the keywords and see how my low Visibility Distribution corresponds to either a lower position in results or to some voluminous SERP features included before my listings in SERPs.

Visibility Distribution metric in the Keyword Ranking Advanced Web Ranking report

Explore Pixel Position and Visibility Distribution with your keyword data

If you’re an Advanced Web Ranking user, you already have Pixel Position and Visibility Distribution data available into your account, so head over to your AWR projects to start analysing your pixel rankings. 

And if you haven’t tried AWR yet, this is a great opportunity to take a free 30 day trial with us and check out the new ranking metrics. 

Give these a go!

Article by

Dana Zavaleanu

Dana leads the marketing team at AWR. Having 13+ years of experience in the industry, she's an all-round digital marketer, with a focus on search analytics and content. Say hello @dana_zavaleanu

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