How to track your site’s search engine rankings

One thing I’d highly recommend to anyone with a website is to track your site’s search engine rankings for its key search terms. For sites that rely heavily on search traffic you’ll often find that the amount of traffic your site receives is directly related to where it ranks for its top search terms. It will also give you a sense of what terms you should optimize for which can play a major role in your site’s long term growth roadmap.

In this post I’ll show how I track rankings and combine that with data about how much traffic each term drives to determine which terms are important for my sites.

Tracking keyword rankings

I previously used SEOmoz (now just called Moz) to help track keyword rankings, but found that I was only using it for that and none of its other features. At $99/month for their cheapest plan, that was a bit much for my bootstrapper ways.

I did a little research and discovered SERPfox, a lightweight search engine rank tracker. (SERP stands for Search Engine Result Page.) At $10/month for 50 keywords, it’s hard to beat.

Here’s what I track for Lean Domain Search:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.12.02 AM.png

You can also view a chart showing its position for each keyword over time:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.30.30 AM.png

Not all of the terms I track drive a lot of traffic, but it’s interesting to me to know where it ranks for terms like zonefile just for my awareness.

On that note, the time to start tracking keywords is ideally before you launchIt should be on your pre-launch checklist to set up keyword tracking because it’s most valuable when you can see the long term trends.

One other benefit to tracking rankings is that if your site’s traffic suddenly spikes or takes a nose dive, you can check your rankings to see if Google recently tweaked their algorithms and caused a major change in your rankings.

Adding volume into the mix

I’ve never had any issues with SERPfox’s reported rankings (searching Google in incognito mode always matches SERPfox’s reported rankings), but the volume they report doesn’t seem right. For example, it reports that domain name search has a monthly search volume of 40,500 and domain search 480, but Google Keyword Planner tells a different story:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.24.45 AM.png

Google Webmaster Tools provides additional data for your consideration as well. It has Lean Domain Search’s top clicked keyword as domain name generator (1,702 clicks in the last 30 days), domain search is the tenth most clicked (112 clicks), and domain name search is the 38th most clicked (19 clicks). Piecing these together it kind of makes sense:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.42.20 AM.png

domain name generator gets fewer searches, but Lean Domain Search ranks well for it so it drives a lot of clicks. domain name search gets the most searches, but Lean Domain Search is on the second page of results so it doesn’t get many clicks. domain search also gets a lot of searches, but because Lean Domain Search is #7 not as many people wind up clicking on it.

I’m coming for you, Instant Domain Search 😄 (currently #1 for both domain search and domain name search).

If you have any recommendations for other tools that piece all of this together, I’d love to check them out – let me know. Thanks!

3 thoughts on “How to track your site’s search engine rankings

      • It’s good to track and optimize but often people get a little obsessed. Control what you can but there are lot of things you can’t control Matt. SEO is just PIA.

        I’m launching a new site and I won’t use anything to do with Google.

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