There are a number of KPIs SEOs use to measure the success and effectiveness of their SEO campaign.
With most websites, the end goal of generating organic traffic is either sales or marketing qualified leads.
One of the key metrics used by SEOs, whether it is part of the KPIs or not, is rank tracking.
In this article, we will explore how rank tracking can prove to be the litmus test for the success of an SEO campaign.
What is rank tracking?
At the early stages of creating an SEO strategy, the SEOs develop and understanding of the industry and the target market, and then they start keyword research for each product.
A detailed SEO plan consists of keywords grouped together by search intent and search volume, and a clear indication of which keywords belong on which pages.
After that, a content plan, as well as a framework for onsite SEO, is planned, and then comes link building.
You start all the SEO activities, make sure your pages are being indexed, and keep an eye on how you are ranking for your target keywords.
Keeping track of keywords
There are two ways to go about this:
- Use google search console
- Use a rank tracker tool
Using Google Search Console is a good idea if you are only tracking a few keywords, let’s say anywhere between 10 and 30.
Search console shows a lot of good data about the keywords your website is ranked for including search volume, impressions, and clickthroughs.
You can also combine that data with google and see the bounce rate, how long the users stayed on your site, which pages they visited, and more.
If you are tracking let’s say, 10 keywords, you will have to find those keywords in search console and see how they are doing.
To access this data, go to https://search.google.com/search-console, click on ‘performance’ in the left menu, and scroll down to see ‘queries’.
You will be able to see clicks and impressions on your top keywords there. You can also see the average position on this page.
When working on a smaller scale, you can find keyword rank data here and see how you are doing for keywords that you plan to rank for in the long run.
Using a rank tracker tool allows for bulk uploading your target keywords. This is the best way to go about it if you are tracking hundreds or thousands of keywords.
Most rank tracking tools allow you to upload a spreadsheet and get weekly data on how your keywords are doing.
After you build a few weeks of data, you can analyze it to see how well you are doing in terms of SEO.
How to analyze rank tracker data
Rank tracker data will show you the historical progress of your keywords. Let’s consider a case study of a gaming website.
You have been working on this site for two months and have been targeting keywords related to the popular video game Fallout 4.
After 8 weeks of SEO and rank tracking, this is what the data looks like:
This data is telling you a lot about how your SEO strategy is working out. We recommend doing a general analysis as well as an individual breakdown.
Week 1, week 2 and so numbers in the table represent the rank for the keywords in a given geophysical location, for example, the USA.
The general overview for your set of keywords looks like this:
So when you started, your page’s average position for these four keywords was 155 and over a course of eight weeks, you manage to get it up to 70, which is a massive improvement and it looks like your SEO strategy is working.
(A downward slope in the graph here is a good thing because it indicates a higher rank).
Now let’s break it down by keyword:
For ‘fallout 4 guides’ the graph looks like this:
You can see that there are some bumps along the road, especially near week 4 when the rank started dropping again.
A drop in ranking after weeks of improvements suggests that something went wrong. Maybe the page became unavailable for a long time or some links were lost, and that caused the rank to drop.
You managed to get the rank back up again after that but it seems to be dropping after week 6 and continuously dropped for three weeks straight.
This shows that there’s something not quite right with the way this keyword is being optimized.
You need to do a thorough analysis of the link profile, user experience, the content, and anything that may have changed between week 5 and week 6.
For ‘Fallout 4 tips and tricks’, the graph looks like this:
This shows consistent improvement so keep doing what you are doing for this keyword and see if the graph hits a plateau somewhere.
For ‘fallout 4 cheat codes’ the graph looks like this:
This is very interesting as the rank seemed to be stuck at 84 and kept being stuck for three weeks straight. After that, it started improving and it looks like your strategy is working.
The graph for ‘fallout 4 console commands’ looks like this:
It shows improvement throughout but something went wrong between week 7 and week 8 and you have to investigate it.
If you look at the general analysis vs individual analysis, you can see that the general analysis shows nothing but positive indicators but the individual analysis showed two out of four keywords that are showing signs of decline.
You have to investigate what happened that caused them to lose their rank.
Conclusion: How to use rank tracking to measure an effective SEO strategy
In this example, we had only 4 keywords and therefore it was easier to do the individual analysis.
However, in most cases, you have hundreds if not thousands of keywords to track and most SEOs do a general analysis every month.
In such scenarios, we recommend creating a shortlist of high volume keywords or the top 10 keywords in terms of importance and doing an individual analysis on each keyword.
Doing this type of analysis with the help of rank tracker data, week after week can help you measure the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
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Andrew Wilson is an SEO analyst at Rank Genie. He loves to watch movies, listen to podcasts, and plan about launching his own podcast. He has helped the Rank Genie team shape their rank tracker and make it one of the most easy-to-use and SEO friendly trackers out there. You can find his blogs on www.RankGenie.com.