If you’re working on your SEO and want to monitor search engine rankings for your website, you need to be tracking your rankings.
In this post, I’ll explain why rank tracking is so important, and how to do it.
Why is rank tracking so important?
Every day, sometimes even every hour, Google and other search engines are adjusting how they rank websites – meaning they are changing where your website pages show up for different keywords. Your position for a specific phrase is known as your keyword ranking.
The higher your rankings (ie positions 1-10 are “high rankings” on the first page, positions 11-20 are on the second page, etc.) – the more visibility you have in a search engine.
If you’re not monitoring where your website stands for your priority keywords and other variations, you won’t know when something has gone awry with your website, when something has helped, or when you’ve been hit by a Google algorithm update.
Which keywords should you track?
The answer to this depends a bit on your rank tracking tool. If you only have a small number of keywords you can track, then only track your highest value keywords. However if you can track 50-100 keywords or more, then I recommend tracking your highest value keyword positions plus a few variations for each of those keywords.
This helps you monitor your SEO rankings better, because then you can see what is happening with your visibility on a larger scale. For example if you’re a wedding photographer, and only your keywords for a specific location have all dropped in their keyword position, then you may have better clues as to whether something happened to the page for that specific keyword set.
The Best Way to Track Rankings
The best way to monitor your search engine rankings is by using a daily or weekly rank tracking tool. Sometimes rank tracking will be built into another SEO tool, or sometimes it will be a standalone piece of software.
Using an SEO monitoring tool for keyword monitoring is better than checking manually, because we know that search engines customize their search results for every search, depending on the logged in user’s history, the device you’re searching from, the location your device is at, your internet connection, and more.
Basically, Google tries to cater their search results to you as an individual.
We also know that your activity when engaging with a specific URL, meaning if you click on your website in SERPs, will send engagement signals to Google. So if you’re clicking your website in a search result and then clicking the back button, you’re actually sending a negative engagement signal to Google that tells them your website isn’t the highest quality choice, and this can impact your keyword performance.
This makes a dedicated rank tracking software the best choice because that rank checker will always check the search results in a consistent manner, meaning that you’ll have consistent day-to-day results to base your analysis on, and they’ll do it without accidentally sending negative engagement signals about your website.
My Favorite Rank Tracking Tools
What “the best” rank tracker is, is a bit of a loaded question. It really depends on your context (are you a DIYer or an Agency?), the types of websites you’re tracking, and what your budget is. So here are my favorite rank trackers for monitoring search engine rankings across a few different contexts.
The best options:
If your company can swing the cost, the AHREFs rank tracker and SEMrush are both the crème de la crème when it comes to SEO tools. Choose whichever one you prefer and you’ll be set when it comes to SEO tools.
Aside from their multitude of other useful SEO tools like keyword tracking, website SEO monitoring, and competitor analysis, they both also have built-in keyword rank tracking.
If you can’t afford it, SEMRush will still allow you to track 5 keywords on their free plan.
The cheapest option that still works great:
SERPRobot is my favorite affordable rank tracker. Each of their “robots” costs only $4.99 per month, and you can completely customize your rank tracking schedule.
The downside is they won’t track your rankings in different SERP features like maps.
The best local rank tracker:
If you’re a local small business and you want to track your own visibility in organic search and maps, Brightlocal is a great way to monitor your local search engine rankings. They also come with other helpful local SEO tools.
The best rank tracker for agencies:
Run an agency and need to track multiple client rankings, while giving them access to a 24/7 reporting dashboard or scheduled monthly reports? AgencyAnalytics is your new ranking bestie. This is what I have used for my 1:1 SEO clients since 2016.
The best free rank trackers:
If you have no budget for rank tracking, you can still monitor your search engine visibility using Google’s Search Console. And don’t forget, SEMRush will allow you to track 5 free keywords.
If you’re an SEO Insiders member, although you’ll have to pay for membership, you do get a weekly rank tracker included as well.
Other Indicators to Monitor SEO Success
Rank tracking is just one aspect of monitoring your website’s visibility in search engines. There are a few other KPIs you should be paying attention to:
Your impressions in Google Search Console will tell you how many times different pages on your website were seen in search results.
Your traffic in Google Analytics (or via another website analytics tool) will tell you all of your website metrics such as how many visitors you had, which pages they visited, and where they came from.
Your SEO metrics will typically begin to improve in that order. Rankings turn into Impressions which turn into Traffic and finally that traffic turns into Conversions.
Happy rank tracking, and let me know if you have any questions!