Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. As far as online businesses are concerned, having a high search engine ranking is crucial for success.
The question is, how do you know if your website is performing well?
Well, the answer is simple. All you have to do is monitor SEO rankings.
In this article, we’ll explain what SEO rankings are, why they’re important, and how you can monitor them to improve your website’s performance. Let’s get started.
What are SEO rankings?
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, use complex algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of a website before deciding which position it should hold within search results. The search engine’s ranking of a website is known as its SEO ranking.
Those algorithms take into account a plethora of factors, including:
- Quality and relevance of content
- On-page optimisation
- Backlinks (which are the external links pointing to a website)
- User experience
- Website speed
In total, there are hundreds of ranking factors used by search engines, which are detailed in this article by Backlinko.
For more information on the basics of SEO, check some of our comprehensive guides:
So, to answer your question, monitoring SEO rankings is simply checking the position of one of your pages for a specific keyword or keywords and how that position changes over time.
For example, our guide “Disadvantages of Wix” wasn’t even in the SERPs when we posted it. Today, we’re holding the first position on Google for that keyword.
Why you should monitor SEO rankings
Knowing where your website ranks in search engine results is important for several reasons:
Identifying areas for improvement
By regularly monitoring your SEO rankings, you can get a better idea of which pages of your website are ranking well and which ones need more work. This way, you can focus your efforts on the areas that need the most improvement, resulting in a more effective SEO strategy.
Why is that important?
Well, according to Search Engine Journal, the top result on the first page of Google receives 25% of the traffic, while the first five results combined receive 68% of the clicks. That’s a lot of traffic that you don’t want to miss, which is why you have to do your best to appear within the first results in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
Identifying new opportunities
While monitoring your rankings, you may notice that some of the pages of your website are ranking for keywords that you weren’t targeting specifically. These can be great opportunities to create new content or optimise existing pages to target these keywords and drive even more traffic to your site.
For example, say that you were targeting “shoe store Birmingham UK” in one of your pages, but upon monitoring your rankings, you found that that same page was in position 215 for the keyword “which shoelace to pair with my combat boots”
If that keyword has a decent search volume, you’ve got yourself an idea for a new informative article or a new section on the same page!
Staying up to date with changes
Search engines are always rolling out new updates and changes to their algorithms, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest best practices to maintain or improve your rankings. Monitoring your SEO rankings allows you to identify any changes in how search engines are ranking your site and take action accordingly.
Measuring the effectiveness of your efforts
Unlike PPC, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it can be challenging to measure the immediate impact of your efforts. By monitoring your SEO rankings over time, you can see if your efforts are paying off.
- If you’re seeing a steady improvement in your rankings, then you know that your strategy is working. Whatever you’re doing, keep at it!
- If you’re not seeing much movement, then it might be time to re-evaluate your approach and make some changes
Keeping track of your competitors
When monitoring SEO rankings, you shouldn’t just check your positions. Instead, you should also keep track of the rankings of your competitors.
Why, you ask?
Well, staying aware of where your competitors are ranking for certain keywords can give you valuable insight into what’s working for them and where you may be able to compete. By keeping an eye on their rankings, you can make sure you stay ahead of the competition.
SEO is not a set-and-forget kind of process. You should monitor and adjust your strategies periodically. By keeping an eye on your SEO rankings and making data-driven decisions, you can improve your website’s visibility, drive more traffic to your site and grow your business.
Paid tools to monitor SEO rankings
Monitoring SEO rankings does sound appealing, huh?
If you’re convinced that you should be keeping an eye on your positions, it’s time to understand how you can actually do it. There are various tools available for monitoring SEO rankings. Some popular options include:
Ahrefs is a paid toolset that allows you to do various SEO tasks, such as tracking your backlink profile, analysing competitor websites, and, of course, tracking your SEO rankings on both desktop and mobile. We covered Ahrefs in detail in this article that we published some time ago.
Here’s how to use Ahrefs to track your SEO rankings:
Sign up for an Ahrefs account. Note that they used to offer a $7 one-week trial before, but it’s no longer the case. In other words, you’ll have to pay for a subscription if you want to use this tool. Their plans start at £79 per month.
As you’re setting up your account, you’ll be asked to add your website as well as a list of keywords that you want to track. Do it.
Once everything’s good to go, navigate to the “Rank Tracker” tab within the Ahrefs main menu. There, Ahrefs will provide you with detailed data on your website’s rankings for those keywords, including recent position, search volume, keyword difficulty, etc. They’ll even compare your rankings to those of your competitors so that you understand how your site is performing. You can filter the data by country, device, and search engine (Google, Bing, etc.)
PS: Besides the keywords that you added yourself, Ahrefs will also display all the keywords that your website is ranking for. You can use that info to optimise your existing content, identify new opportunities for growth, and find new content ideas.
SEMrush is yet another paid tool that provides data on search engine rankings, backlinks, and paid advertising. It can be used to track your website’s performance for specific keywords, see where your website’s traffic is coming from, and identify new opportunities for backlinks (there’s a reason SEMrush has over 67,000 paying customers). We covered SEMrush in detail in this article that we published some time ago.
Here’s how to use SEMrush to monitor SEO rankings:
Sign up for a SEMrush account. Unlike Ahrefs, SEMrush still offers a free trial that you can use to test the tool before committing to a paid plan. Their plans start at $119.95 per month.
Once you’re in, navigate to the “Position Tracking” report within the side menu.
Add your website and the keywords you want to track. SEMrush will provide you with detailed data on your website’s rankings for those keywords, including the position of your site in the search results. They even offer local SEO tracking so that you can see how your small business is performing compared to local businesses.
Ahrefs and SEMrush are two of the most popular SEO tools out there, and for good reason. The problem is that they’re pretty expensive, making them unsuitable for those on a budget. Thankfully, there are several cheaper options that you can try if you cannot afford to use the big boys of the SEO world. Those options include:
- Serpstat: their plans start at £50/month for 15,000 position checks
- SERanking: their plans start at £35/month for 250 tracked keywords
- Pro Rank Tracker: their plans start at £12/month for 100 tracked keywords
- Advanced Web Rankings: their plans start at £45/month for 2,000 position checks
- AccuRanker: their plans start at around £116/month for 1,000 tracked keywords
How to pick the right tool to monitor SEO rankings
When picking the right tool to monitor SEO rankings, it’s essential to understand that some tools may be more useful for achieving specific goals.
For example, if you’re only interested in monitoring your website’s rankings, something like AccuRanker would be a good choice.
However, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive analysis, including data on backlinks and competitor performance, you ought to pick a paid toolset like Ahrefs or SEMrush.
Of course, the best option would be to try out a few different tools to see which one best fits your needs.
How to monitor SEO rankings for free
All of the aforementioned tools are paid, which means that they may not be suitable for those just starting out.
Worry not, though, as several methods allow you to track keywords for free (within a certain limit, of course).
Some of those methods include:
- Check your website’s rankings manually: You can manually check your website’s rankings by doing a search on Google or other search engines for the keywords you want to track. Keep in mind that this method may not be as accurate as using a SERP checker tool, as your personal search results may be influenced by your search history and location. Furthermore, this is a time-consuming process, and we don’t recommend using it if you’re trying to monitor several keywords
- Use browser extensions: Some browser extensions, such as SEOquake and MozBar, allow you to check your website’s rankings and other SEO-related information directly from the search engine results page
- SEMrush’s free version: the free version of SEMrush allows you to track up to 10 keywords for free
As you can see, if you want to save up on cash, you’ll have to give up convenience. Whether you should go with paid tools or free methods is your call.
How to monitor SEO rankings effectively
Monitoring your Google positions isn’t just about checking for which keywords you’re ranking and moving on with your life. Instead, you should follow these steps:
Identify your target keywords
The first step is to determine the keywords that you want to rank for. These keywords should be relevant to your business, have a decent search volume, and be relevant to your target audience.
Here’s how to take care of this:
Research your competitors
Check the websites of your competitors and see what keywords they are targeting. You can do that using one of the aforementioned tools, such as SEMrush and Ahrefs.
Use keyword research tools
There are several free and paid keyword research tools that you can use for this, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz Keyword Explorer. Those tools allow you to enter a seed keyword and generate a list of related keywords, along with their search volume and competition level. Of course, you shouldn’t just add all of the generated keywords blindly. Instead, identify ones that have good potential and take note of them.
Analyse your website’s analytics
Use tools such as Google Analytics to see which keywords are currently driving traffic to your website. This will give you an idea of the keywords that are already working for you.
Once you have a list of potential keywords, you can use the data from keyword research tools and analytics to narrow down your list and focus on the keywords with the highest search volume and relevance.
Add those keywords to your rank-tracking tool of choice
Now that you’ve prepared a comprehensive list of all the keywords you want to target, add them to any of the rank-tracking tools mentioned above (after setting up your website, of course).
Establish a baseline
Use the data from your tracking tools to establish a baseline for your website’s current rankings. This will give you a starting point from which you can measure progress.
Regularly check your website’s rankings for your target keywords. Compare your current rankings to your baseline and look for any changes.
If you see an improvement or a decrease in rankings, take note of what actions you took that may have contributed to that change. If it’s an improvement, double down on those actions. On the other hand, if it’s a decrease, consider going back a notch and understanding what went wrong.
Based on the data and insights you gather, adjust your SEO strategy as necessary. Adjustments you can make include editing your website’s content, finetuning on-page SEO, improving technical SEO, or building more backlinks.
Continuously repeat the process of monitoring, analysing, and adjusting your SEO strategy. This will help you stay on top of changes to your website’s rankings and adapt different elements as needed to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results.
Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it takes time to see significant improvements in rankings. It’s important to be patient and persistent in monitoring and improving your website.
Monitoring your SEO rankings is essential for understanding how your website is performing and identifying improvement areas. By tracking your rankings on a regular basis, you can make adjustments to improve your website’s performance and drive more traffic to your site.
With the right tools and a solid monitoring strategy, you can stay ahead of the competition and grow your business. Keep in mind that even with these tools, SEO is still not a set-and-forget kind of process. Instead, you should monitor and adjust your strategies periodically. And as the saying goes, “in SEO, you snooze, you lose.”
We can boost your SEO rankings
SEO is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of hard work for it to achieve results. If you’re a business owner, you might not have the expertise or the time for such a process. Thankfully, you don’t have to. Just book a discovery call with us today, and we’ll show you how we can boost your revenue with SEO.