Monitoring search engine rankings provides valuable insight into your site's overall SEO performance.
Because changes in keyword positions carry a promise of higher organic traffic and more conversions, SEOs review ranking reports relentlessly, consistently optimize content, and implement link building strategies to move up in the SERPs.
But monitoring search engine rankings at the scale required by an enterprise company is no small feat.
That's why I HIGHLY recommend using an enterprise SEO platform to streamline the process and prevent data overload from paralyzing your SEO strategy (more on that in a bit).
In this blog, I'll go over evertyhing you need to know about how to monitor search engine rankings for SEO success (including seven different methods)!
Table of Contents:
- The Challenges of Rank Tracking
The Challenges of Rank Tracking
Rank tracking no longer provides sufficient data to assess the value of SEO due to challenges like..
- SERPs have evolved and we no longer see the traditional ten blue links there anymore.
- Personalized and localized search results mean that you cannot be absolutely certain about your rankings for each user.
- The variety of unique search queries customers use makes it impossible to define a finite keyword set to track.
- RankBrain and BERT make search results unique. This, again, makes evaluating one true rank impossible.
As a result, despite having the ranking data, you cannot evaluate with utmost certainty how your keyword positions affect your company's bottom line.
But you CAN establish the success of your campaigns.
Why Monitor Search Engine Rankings?
Despite the challenges, there are several reasons why monitoring search engine rankings is important.
For one, the overall growth of rankings and visibility will indicate your campaign’s success.
Similarly, rankings can uncover potential issues with search visibility.
Any sudden drop in rankings will signify a potential problem. Granted, it doesn’t have to be anything serious. There are many common reasons for a sudden drop in rankings.
For example, Google might have tested something in the SERPs, and pushed you (and other brands) down. Or the search engine has updated its algorithm, and, as often in such situations, SERPs end up all over the place for a couple of days.
But such a drop could also indicate problems, particularly if the site has changed significantly in the days leading to the event.
In such a situation, rankings will only indicate the issue. To assess it, you must analyze the data in connection with other strategies (e.g., recent changes to the site, site migration, SEO tests, known algorithm updates, etc.)
But it’s the rankings that will deliver the first indication of the problem.
Why You Need an Enterpise SEO Platform for Rank Tracking at Scale
Without the right tool, you rely on your team and each individual to download the data and do their own analysis in Excel or another solution.
Granted, any free rank tracker or keyword research point solution will reveal keyword positions. But it won't let you analyze, filter, evaluate SERP features, compare against competitors or gain any of the other critical insights you need.
The result? Chaos in data, missing out on critical opportunities due to not being able to extract the right insights, and not being able to scale your efforts.
That's why using an all-in-one enterprise SEO platform is so important to successfully monitor search engine rankings at scale.
How to Monitor Search Engine Rankings With an Enterprise SEO Platform in 8 Ways
For the purpose of this walkthrough, I’ll be using Rank Intelligence, the industry's only real-time rank tracking tool for enterprise SEO.
It allows users to explore changes in search visibility by providing accurate ranking perfrormance data that you can instantly correlate with all other SEO metrics.
Keep in mind that our goal isn’t just to find out specific ranking positions. We want to extract insights that will allow us to understand our success and analyze potential threats better.
Here are some of the best ways to do that.
#1. Analyze Rankings for Two Separate Dates to Inspect the Change in Keyword Positions
Rankings fluctuate. I’ve listed some of the reasons for that above – Google tests, algorithm updates, and more. Whenever you see a shift in positions when tracking keywords, investigate.
And the best way to do it is by assessing ranking change between two dates around the event.
For example, I may have noticed a sudden spike, followed by a drop in the rankings. Like this:
By selecting two dates around those events, I can “zoom” that data to evaluate further using a whole variety of metrics Rank Intelligence delivers.
I can see not only which keywords have changed positions, but which pages were affected and by how much.
And that’s just the start.
Intrigued? Learn more about Rank Intelligence and its powerful capabilities below.
#2. Compare True Rank and Web Rank.
Google web rank only counts rankings for the blue links. The true rank, however, will include all the other SERP elements like images, PLAs, featured snippets, and more.
While there might not be many differences in your rankings between the two, it’s a good idea to compare them to identify where you also rank among all non-standard SERP elements.
#3. Correlate Your Data
This is where having complete, unrestricted access to the data really gives you the edge to understand your SEO efforts.
Seeing one data set on its own can deliver some insights. But being able to correlate it with other insights without any restrictions will reveal a whole new world of possibilities.
(Note, seoClarity is the only enterprise platform that does not impose artificial limitations on your data. You have access to everything at all times.)
For example, on this screen, I’ve plotted my rankings and traffic.
Notice something unusual? In spite of not experiencing many ranking changes, my traffic has been going up significantly.
Is this good news? Of course! But I’m also intrigued to investigate it further, even if only to identify the reason and replicate it further.
With an enterprise SEO tool like Rank Intelligence, I have all the data to do so.
#4. Focus on Geo-Rankings
We’ve discussed how location affects the search results. But what if a company operates in a number of specific locations, and relies on traffic from those places more than anything?
In that case, the solution is to monitor search engine rankings by geo-location. The geo-rankings capability within Rank Intelligence allows you to:
- Add specific locations you want to track rankings from.
- Get the exact web rank your content achieves for specific keywords you target.
#5. Set Preferred Landing Page Mapping
I have to admit that this is one of my favorite hacks to make the most of a ranking report.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how Google (or Bing, at that) sometimes ranks a different page than you intended for the optimized keyword. The actual preferred landing page might still rank, but it’s that different URL that achieves a higher position.
Unfortunately, with most keyword rank trackers monitoring for the first domain result in SERPs, tracking where your preferred pages rank is almost impossible.
Not with Rank Intelligence, though.
The rank tracking tool allows you to map a preferred landing page to a keyword, and track keyword rankings separately from the main ranking report.
#6. Group Together Keywords and Pages
One of the biggest challenges with working on an enterprise site is the incredible amount of pages to manage. In a typical enterprise organization, an SEO could easily be working on thousands of content assets — maybe even more.
So, how do you make sense of it all and track keyword rankings?
Short answer: group page and keywords together. In seoClarity, you can use tags to mark specific content types and other aspects of your site.
Tags are a versatile option that you can use whichever way you want.
- You can mark newly published or updated content to track its performance.
- You can create separate tags for website sections, product lines, categories or anything else you want.
- You could tag the content by the stage of the buying cycle it targets. The opportunities are endless.
#7. Compare Competitor Data Side by Side
Analyzing rankings will deliver a whole range of data about your campaigns’ success rate or reveal insights to help overcome potential visibility problems.
But sometimes, to validate your assumptions about it, you must benchmark it with other information, and there's no better source for it than your competitors.
An enterprise SEO platform like seoClarity will let you compare both yours and your competitors’ performance side by side (without limits are additional cost for more competitors) for the group of keywords, page level or folder level ranking.
Just some of the things you can benchmark are:
- Your visibility within the search features like the Answer Box.
- How many image searches you rank for.
- The search performance of your video content, and so much more.
#8. Analyze the Data Further with Instant Download
Finally, sooner or later, you will want to use the ranking data somewhere else. It might be an Excel spreadsheet, a presentation or even to investigate an issue with the site.
Rank Intelligence does not restrict the data you can download. You get full access to all information at an instant to slice, dice and analyze the way you want.
Rankings matter. And how you monitor your rankings matters, too. The power of a search engine optimization platform is undeniable in this. When all of your data lives under the same roof, your analysis becomes so much easier, and makes more sense.
The seoClarity platform also allows you to integrate your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data, so you have a complete understanding of your organic search performance — with the ability to slice, dice, and analyze the data points directly in the platform.
Want to see Rank Intelligence in action? Book a Demo and one of my colleagues will walk you through this powerful part of the platform.
<<Editor's Note: this post was originally published in November 2019 and has since been updated.>>