If you’re trying to optimize your website for organic search, tracking your keyword rankings is crucial.
Keyword tracking delivers a lot of benefits beyond just helping you monitor your site’s performance in search engines. It helps you identify which SEO techniques work (and which don’t), provides you with more context for diagnosing ranking drops, gives you a competitive advantage, and more.
If you feel like you’re not using your keyword ranking data to its full advantage, check out these seven keyword tracking benefits to find out how to get the most out of rank tracking.
- Identify What Works
- Boost Your Revenue
- Monitor Your Competitors
- Troubleshoot Traffic Drops
- Find CTR Issues
- Identify Volatile Search Results
- Create Easy-to-Understand Reports
1. Keyword Tracking Helps You Identify What Works
One big mistake companies make when optimizing their sites for search is taking what they read online as gospel. They read that the best way to rank is to get more backlinks, to write really long content, or to weave LSI keywords into every blog post.
Then, they spend all of their time doing those things without ever truly knowing if those things work—or if they’re the right things for their websites. The reality is that sometimes a page can rank in the top position even with no backlinks, long content isn’t right for every query, and Google’s John Mueller says that “there’s no such thing as LSI keywords.”
The best approach to SEO is to create your own best practices. Don’t stop reading about what techniques have worked for others—it’s a great way to gather new ideas—but test those techniques on your own site before spending all of your time on tasks that may or may not be moving the needle.
Keyword tracking is one of the best ways to see if your efforts are delivering the results you’re looking for. If you make a change and your rankings increase, that’s probably a change you should continue making. If you make a change and your rankings stay static or decrease, that specific task is probably not something you should continue to spend time doing.
Optimization is about feedback—and getting feedback as quickly as possible. And when optimizing your site for search, keyword rankings are usually one of the first things to change, so it’s a great metric to reference when you’re trying to determine what works.
2. Keyword Tracking Can Help You Boost Your Revenue
If you’re tracking the right metrics, you should know which pages and posts on your site drive the most conversions. After all, while it’s nice to watch your traffic climb to ever-greater heights, increasing amounts of traffic aren’t doing you a lot of good if none of those visitors are buying what you’re selling.
And if you know which pages and posts drive the most conversions, you can use that data in conjunction with keyword rankings to find opportunities to generate even more conversions with your content.
Moving up one spot in organic search results increases click-through rates by 30.8%. So if you look at your keyword tracking data and see that your highest-converting post isn’t ranking in position one, you can focus on getting that result to rank higher in order to drive more traffic to a post you already know converts really well and brings in lots of revenue.
And it works the opposite way, too. If you’re monitoring your organic search rankings with a daily rank-tracking tool like AuthorityLabs, you can see ranking decreases immediately. This gives you actionable data you can use to quickly recover your lost rankings, which could prevent a revenue drop as the result of lower rankings leading to less traffic and fewer conversions.
3. Keyword Tracking Helps You Monitor Your Competitors
One common way to use rank tracking tools is to monitor how your website’s pages are performing in search. Another common way to use them is to monitor how your competitors’ pages are performing in search.
Let’s say your business is an online retailer for eyeglasses. While you’re targeting a long list of keywords, you have a few main keywords you want to rank for because they’re the highest-volume purchase-intent keywords for your brand. Naturally, all of your competitors are also targeting those keywords.
Using a tool like AuthorityLabs, you can track side-by-side how your website and all of your competitors rank for each of those keywords—monitoring ranking increases and decreases for each site—in order to gather valuable insights:
If a specific competitor is starting to gain ground, it’s a sign that you need to look into why that is. Is that competitor publishing more content, implementing a more aggressive link acquisition strategy, or running a successful social media or offline campaign?
Keyword tracking gives you the data you need to trigger an investigation that could help you gain some insights for how to improve your own rankings and better compete with a competitor who’s surging in the search results.
4. Keyword Tracking Helps You Troubleshoot Traffic Drops
You come into work on Friday and start putting together your weekly reports only to discover that your week-over-week traffic dropped by 40%. It’s a huge blow—and one you need to troubleshoot and fix as soon as possible—but where do you even begin looking?
Reviewing your keyword rankings is a great place to start:
- Did your highest-traffic post drop from position number one to page two? If so, that’s likely the cause of your traffic decline. Being able to find that issue easily lets you focus on reoptimizing that page to recover your lost rankings rather than spending days troubleshooting and looking for the cause.
- Did your rankings decrease for multiple keywords and pages overnight? If so, it’s time to start checking for recent algorithm updates. You can also use your rank tracking data to look for similarities in the pages that lost rankings and see if those pages have anything in common that might be getting penalized by a new algorithm update.
- Did your rankings bottom out across the board? If so, you may have been issued a manual penalty, or there may be an issue with your robots.txt file that’s caused all of your pages to be removed from Google’s index.
- Did Google add new SERP features to the results for one or more of your target keywords or remove SERP features you previously appeared in? Keyword tracking tools help you track SERP features beyond just the 10 blue links—like featured snippets and video/image carousels—which can help you determine why your traffic declined.
For the last point, here’s a great example from David Harry of Verve Developments where rank tracking helped establish where losses came from:
“In the pre-losses section, the website in question was in a local pack at the top of the SERP. When we look at the post-losses, we can see that Google completely changed how it was treating that space. Instead of showing local results for the query, it switched to a more branded Audi SERP display.”
“Obviously, this resulted in a fairly significant traffic loss. But without tracking data like this, it would normally be harder to identify what happened.”
5. Keyword Tracking Helps You Find CTR Issues
Knowing exactly where your site’s pages rank for specific keywords can help you identify issues with your click-through rates that may be impacting your traffic.
A recent Backlinko study found that the number one result in Google has an average CTR of 31.7%. And a 2017 study from Ahrefs found that the average CTR for featured snippets is 8.6%.
So if you know that your site ranks in either the featured snippet or position one for a specific keyword, you can compare its click-through rate to those averages to see if your CTRs are at, above, or below average.
Below-average click-through rates suggest that your page’s title or meta description may not be compelling enough to encourage users to click on them. Or in the case of featured snippets, it may suggest that your snippet is answering searchers’ questions fully, so there’s no need for them to click to see more of your result.
Rank tracking in these instances can be useful in establishing what’s working, what isn’t, and where changes need to be made to improve your CTRs and increase your traffic.
6. Keyword Tracking Helps You Identify Volatile Search Results
Often, when I publish a new post, my rankings in AuthorityLabs look like this for a month or so:
Rankings go up and down, up and down. One day the post ranks in position six, the next day it’s not in the top 100, the next it’s in position 18, and so on.
If I wasn’t using a daily rank tracker, the volatility of those rankings could cause me a lot of problems. I might send a client a report showing a page-one ranking only to lose that ranking the very next day, or I might panic when noticing that my page dropped out of the top 100 search results and spend time making optimizations that weren’t needed.
But since I can see the daily ranking trend, I do neither of those things. Instead, I wait for things to level out before I send any reports or make any changes.
Beyond that, being able to see volatility in search rankings can help you target better keywords. If you’re targeting a highly competitive keyword or one without clear search intent, your rankings may fluctuate far more frequently than usual. In that case, it sometimes helps to target a different keyword with less volatile rankings that will send more consistent traffic to your site.
7. Keyword Tracking Reports Are Easy to Understand
So much of SEO is hard to explain to people who aren’t familiar with the field. Every answer seems to start with “it depends”; every question seems to require a full explanation of how search engines work. Keyword rankings, though, are simple for anyone to understand. Up means good; down means bad. There’s no explanation required. It’s simple.
So the final benefit of keyword tracking is that it gives you an easy-to-understand report to send to your boss, company leaders, or clients at the end of each month.
Get All of These Keyword Tracking Benefits with AuthorityLabs
If you’re ready to start experiencing the benefits of keyword tracking for yourself, check out AuthorityLabs. In addition to basic keyword rank tracking, AuthorityLabs lets you:
- Track local rankings by country, city, and zip code
- Track keyword rankings on desktop and mobile SERPs
- Recover Google Analytics “(not provided)” keywords
- Track competitor rankings alongside your own
- Uncover your existing featured snippet rankings and opportunities
AuthorityLabs checks each keyword you’re tracking daily and updates your reports showing any changes in your rankings. And its results are fully depersonalized, so you never have to worry about bad data leading you to make bad decisions or waste your time on unnecessary tasks.
Ready to get started? Take a tour of AuthorityLabs’ features or sign up for a 14-day free trial.