What Is Rank Tracking and How To Use It to Your Advantage

How do you know that the keyword research and content optimization you’ve done for your website is actually working? One essential way is to keep an eye on your keyword rankings. Rank tracking shows you if your website is visible and prominent on search engines, and it also tells you if your pages are generating the traffic, conversions and revenue you want.

What Is Rank Tracking? The Term Defined

Rank tracking is when you track a URL’s search engine ranking position for specific keywords or search queries. This process helps you analyze how well your URLs are doing for those keywords over time.

Rank tracking isn’t only for your own website. In addition to tracking the keywords used on your website, you may also track the following:

  • Keywords that competitors rank for.
  • Search terms you’re not yet optimizing for.

You’re not limited to Google, either. You can track rankings on other search engines plus on sites like Amazon, YouTube and even map results. Different rank-tracking tools are able to dig into data from various platforms.

Is Rank Tracking Important?

Yes! There are a lot of reasons why rank tracking is helpful:

  • Determine whether or not your keyword strategy is effective.
  • Discover underperforming website pages and update them to improve the content and target more or better keywords.
  • Figure out which pages are getting the most conversions, then focus your marketing efforts on the pages that drive the most sales.
  • Watch your competitors to see how they’re doing. Then, update your campaign to compete in return.
  • Notice an unexpected dip in organic traffic and troubleshoot to find out what’s going on.

Rank tracking can also show you information that a basic Google search can’t.

For example, if you want to see if your page is ranking for the query “how to drink more water,” typing that into Google isn’t going to give you a true result. Google personalizes searches to the individual, so what you see may not be what another person sees for that same query.

Using a rank-tracking tool is the best way to get the data you need for a true view of your performance.

How to Use Keyword Groups for Rank Tracking

Your first step is to select the keywords you want to track and create keyword groups. Your keyword groups can:

  • Be grouped based on your website’s hierarchy.
  • Differentiate between branded and non-branded keywords.

From there, group keywords in whatever way feels most natural. For example, you may have product listing keywords in their own group.

When deciding which keywords to track, highlight some to add to a VIP keyword group. These are your most important keywords that deliver a lot of value.

Pro Tip: There’s no need to run rank tracking reports for every single keyword you’ve optimized for. Instead, focus on the keywords that provide business value.

Best Practices for SEO Rank Tracking

Follow these best practices for rank tracking your own web pages as well as mobile results and your competitor’s content.

Compare current data to historical data to get a full view of your keyword ranking.

Knowing that your ranking is going up or down doesn’t give you a well-rounded view of what’s happening with your URLs. By comparing current data to historical data, you’ll have more context for fluctuations.

For example, you may assume that a dip in ranking means your keywords aren’t performing as well as they were. But if you look at the same time period from last year, you may find that the same drop occurred and then recovered. You might then realize that it has more to do with seasonal changes than your SEO strategy.

Look at your ranking distribution.

The top 10 results aren’t the only places on the SERP that are important. If some of your keywords are in the 11th to 20th positions, they’re close enough to reach the top 10 with a few smart SEO tweaks.

Incremental changes to your keyword strategy for URLs in those positions can lead to a lot more visibility.

Consider geographic data.

Rank tracking for a local or regional business should incorporate geographic data. Without narrowing down your data, you won’t get a true idea of how well you’re performing where it matters most.

Conduct separate rank tracking for mobile devices.

Search results are different on desktop and mobile, so you’ll need separate rank tracking for each. If you have a solid rank on desktop but a poor rank on mobile for the same URL, it may be that the page isn’t optimized well enough for mobile, not that there’s a problem with your keyword strategy.

Perform rank tracking on your competitors’ websites.

By monitoring competitor performance, you can determine where their traffic is coming from and which keywords are driving the most traffic to their sites.

From here, you can spot opportunities to create new, competitive content, as well as update and optimize existing content.

Non-branded keywords are particularly important when it comes to competitor rank tracking. The non-brand keywords generating a high amount of traffic will show you where to focus your content creation efforts.

Make rank tracking a regular part of your routine.

It’s smart to analyze your rankings regularly. For some websites, that may mean daily. For others, every week, two weeks or even four weeks is enough.

Whatever timeframe you choose, make sure to stick with it. This is the best way to see how your web pages are performing and address issues before they lose their first-page rank completely.

If it’s difficult to stay on top of this task, consider using a rank tracking tool that has alerts to notify you when a SERP position changes.

Refer to Google Search Console

Under the Performance tab in Google Search Console, you can see how your keywords perform over time.

These are stats for a new website:

Google Search Console for help with rank tracking.

The numbers show that there’s a lot of work to be done here to improve rank — the average position is 32.3, which is much lower than the sought-after top-10 spots. The click-through rate is also far from the goal of 3% or higher .

Use an SEO Rank Monitoring Tool

While Google Search Console can give you a good bird’s-eye view of your performance, there are other rank monitoring tools that have more data to dig into.

With these tools, you’ll enter a URL and keyword, and then you’ll see how well the provided URL ranks for that search term.

Nightwatch

Nightwatch tracks rankings across desktop and mobile on major search engines. It also pulls together data from main sources like Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner and Google Search Console. If you want to keep a super-close eye on your rankings, you can also get daily updates.

Pro Rank Tracker

Pro Rank Tracker lets you monitor your ranking on major search engines, plus Amazon and YouTube. It also has a Rankings Discovery feature that lets you analyze hidden keywords.

SE Ranking

With SE Ranking, you can track your results in search engines as well as Google Ads and Google Maps. You can also measure the rankings of snippets and videos.

Stats include position ranking, search volume, and traffic, and you can also collect data from your competitors.

Wincher

Wincher does the basics of rank tracking, like monitoring keyword performance and helping you optimize your web pages. You’re also able to keep track of competitor ranking.

A bonus of Wincher is that it has a Keyword Research feature that will recommend keywords based on the ranking stats it collects.

Zutrix

With a focus on Google, the Zutrix keyword analyzer and rank tracker offers real-time tracking, plus notifications whenever your rank changes position on the SERP.

Don’t Forget to Take Action!

All of this research can only pay off if you act on what you find. Common web page updates to improve ranking include:

  • Adding alt text to images
  • Changing the title
  • Expanding the content
  • Optimizing the meta description

Keep track of the changes you make to determine which ones have the biggest impact on rank. You can then apply similar changes to other pages that need updating.

Wrapping Up

Rank tracking shows you if your URLs are ranking for the keywords that are most important for your business goals.

Even if your pages are ranking in the top 10 on the SERP, if they’re not driving the right traffic to your website , they’re not nearly as valuable as you may think. Rank tracking allows you to see how well your SEO strategy is working and whether or not it’s generating the conversions and sales you want.

When you know what is and isn’t working, you can put more energy into the strategies that make a difference and fix anything that’s not leading to the right results.

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