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The Beginner’s Guide to Rank Tracking

21 October 2016 Olga Svetchkar Leave a comment ALL-HANDS SEO

Tracking keywords rankings is one of the common and pretty old standard practice of those who call themselves SEOs. It became so obvious to do such work that almost everyone stopped to care if it is really needed. Also, there are lots of experts who do it as “it should be done” basing on the set of actions that were created years ago. But SEO constantly changes every day and it is hard to call somebody’s actions smart if they use methods that were popular a year ago for their SEO campaign nowadays.

So if you want to track keywords rankings, you should do it right, considering new SEO factors and new tactics. Let’s try to figure out why and how the tracking of keyword rankings should be made.

What KPI you should show to your SEO customers

Things that may stop you from tracking of keywords rankings

1Inaccuracy of the reports

There are three possible reasons why your ranking data may be not accurate.

  • The type of device your visitors use for search. First of all, you should track results for the desktop and mobile devices separately. In this case, you will not see the whole bunch of overall general data but mobile rankings vs. desktop rankings. It is a useful tip because if you receive traffic from both searches you should understand how to optimize each of the website versions right to get better results and save those positions that have already been gained.
  • Personalization of search results. If you check your website’s rankings manually, remember about personalization. Personal history “remembers” searches and clicks on search results, websites that are regularly visited, “likes” and shares via different social networks. Google and Bing use this data to influence search results. If you want to see the real results, use Incognito window for your search.
  • Tracking results for the wrong location. It should be taken into consideration if your or your client’s website isn’t relevant to a particular country. For instance, if you have a website about sport and the main subject is American football then it won’t be relevant for most of the European countries. If you want it to be more relevant, then there is a need to work on international SEO. To view results according to the location, you can use RankActive platform, just pick the country and city you want to get data for and monitor collected results.

2Unknown value of keywords

When you are tracking results for the keywords that you’ve picked for your SEO campaign, you would like to know their value. To be clearer – everyone wants to know if certain keyword brings that amount of traffic it is meant to bring. Newbies often give up when they face this issue and start to think that they don’t have a need for tracking keywords rankings, but actually the task is pretty easy to solve.

In modern SEO world some platforms, including RankActive, provide you with such details as estimated traffic value, so a user can analyze what keywords are worth to use for promoting websites and actually will bring visitors. But what if you don’t have such magical tool? There is a way out of such situation as well.

First of all, check what pages get visits from search. After that, you can compare them with the list of keywords you use and estimate what content attracted the most amount of traffic. After that you will need to analyse what keywords were used for creating the content.

For the estimation of a keyword value you can also use AdWords, but it will only work through the paid search based on existing content. In this case you will see if your page has created any value according to the amount of the paid traffic.

3Tracking the rankings of keywords that are not targeting

Sometimes it happens when pages are ranked for keywords that SEO doesn’t use for targeting and it is a great challenge to find out what they are. But it should be done because they may bring pretty massive traffic amount.

Not everyone can afford to track every single keyword. It is not only a matter of money but also another valuable thing – time. What you as an SEO can do instead of ignoring this challenge? First of all, you will need to create sample sets of keywords. For example, you can divide them and make groups of keywords that have high conversions, long tails and branded ones. Then you should track them separately. In the end of the day, you will find out what keywords help your website to climb to the top and bring a lot of traffic, which of them are performing bad and literally weigh your website down, what queries are popular among mobile users and which of them act better in certain locations.

Don’t stop on only those keywords that you are targeting, always expand the keyword list to find better performing terms and improving your ranking results.

4Not reaching goals

The thing is that most of the SEO agencies don’t set exact goals and track ranking results “just because”. There is no exact reason for it, just common practice that is used by everyone else. With such attitude there is no doubt left why some specialists don’t want to make an effort for tracking of the rankings.

If you set right goals, then you will definitely see the purpose in doing this work. First of all, answer to yourself what issue you want to solve. For instance, you want to find out if changes you have applied on your website caused the traffic gain or positions crashing. If you see that a page ranks worse and lost few positions, simply check what keywords you have on it and improve their performance. Don’t forget about such factors as seasonality, fluctuation in demands and also traffic demand. The last one can be easily checked at Google trends.


Tracking separate locations may help you to detect such problems as an appearance of new competitors at tracked location which consequence can be sudden traffic drop). Same goes to the tracking of devices. If you see that the traffic value decreased, work better on the mobile optimization of your website.

5Paying attention to the details

Being lazy is a sin, especially if we are talking about SEO. Sometimes paying attention to small details and few hours of work like magic. Here is what I mean. Keywords that are ranked on the second and further SERP are often left out of eyeshot. The task is easier than it seems to be. To improve achieved results and get to the TOP 10 you will need to complete just a few steps. For instance, check those pages for on-page errors (e.g. duplication may have a bad influence on your websites positions), place links to those pages, improve content, check all meta tags if they are present and filled with relevant to the page content. It is simpler to jump from 12th position to 7th than promoting a new page with new keywords which will be like a little newborn in the very beginning of its life for Google.

6Seeing your competitors ranking far up from you

Ok, you’ve seen that your rivals are much higher in SERP than you are. Don’t panic and calm down. Such situation is a great motivation. You can track their activity with help of Competitors Inspector by RankActive. Just add them and you will be able to track their traffic, rankings, visibility, see all the keywords intersections or check what keywords bring them higher results than you have. Consider received information, implement changes and monitor your new rankings. In case if you don’t know who your competitors are, check all of the websites that are in TOP10 for the keywords you use.

Don’t confuse yourself

There are also things that may confuse you. For example, if you rank great for high-volume keywords it doesn’t mean that they bring you benefit. For example, the keywords you use may not meet user intent which, in the end, will increase bounce rate and make user experience worse. The greatness of high ranking is important in case the keywords drive traffic, conversions and improve ROI.

Another mistake is a will to make your customers happy no matter what. In such case, you accept client’s list of specific keywords they want to rank for and think they are valuable. Such keywords may not be good targets and in the end of the day they don’t bring any traffic or sales This is a perfect example of how ranking high for keywords does not mean success.

Ignoring long-tail keywords which may not drive much traffic. Don’t forget that these detailed queries may increase conversions because they are closer to a user intention.


Google and any other search engine rankings should be tracked, it is an obvious fact. It is the very first thing that will show you if you must work harder on your SEO or not. Also, you should look for new ways of improving the results to always have a good thing going. It will be easier to help a website to climb to the TOP if you identify right keywords for a website to rank for, eliminate all on-page errors, increase the quality of backlinks, track competitors. Constant monitoring of website rankings and their improvement will help you to deal better with such surprises as an appearance of a new competitor on the market and new search engine’s algorithm. Try different strategies and track the results to find out which way of SEO is more fruitful.

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