By this point, you understand that SEO is an ongoing process, not a one time task, and that it takes place over time. As you get better at doing it, you will adjust your methods based on what you learn and how the web itself changes. Some of us start out with one strategy and later decide to go another route – this is just fine. The one key principle to keep in mind, though, is that if you can’t remember where you’ve been already you’ll have no idea of where you are headed! It is absolutely important to CONSTANTLY record your efforts and their results so that you will be able to measure how far you’ve come and then analyze what works and what fails.
There are some guidelines to rank tracking that we want you to keep in mind, but here is something to burn into your mind: avoid obsessing. You definitely want to focus on tracking how you rank for each of your keywords and you definitely need to do this as a part of your overall SEO efforts. Still, obsessing over the rankings and wasting tons of time checking them is a common practice that can really kill your productivity.
Let’s take a glance at the DO and DON’T list when it comes to rank tracking:
When it comes to Rank Tracking, DO:
When it Comes To Rank Tracking, DON’T:
There are many different software programs for rank tracking out there these days. There are those that offer you a hosted plan which you pay a monthly subscription fee to access and others that are local tools you purchase and run on your own. The latter is what we use. They have a tendency to restrict the number of keywords you’re allowed to track and if you decide to track tons of keywords they will cost you quite a lot per month.
They also have a tendency to want to keep the data locked down and we prefer to have it so we can work with it on our own. Remember, though, our job is to do SEO work for our clients, too, and that means we’ve got a huge amount of keywords we need to track and do reports on. In this sense, our needs might not be similar to your own.
There are many programs we have tried out, but in the end we chose SEO Powersuite’s Rank Tracker. It offers a huge array of features that we couldn’t possibly cover here today. Instead, we offer you a little list of the features we like the most:
SEO Powersuite’s Rank Tracker features
The Rank Tracker tool you can find inside Market Samurai is another tool that we use from time to time. Do remember, though, that Market Samurai is not nearly as focused as Rank Tracker. It’s still a tool, but it does a wide variety of different things, most notably analysis of your SEO competition and research on keywords. Still, Market Samurai offers you features you will not find in the latest module of Rank Tracker even though I talked with Rank Tracker’s support and they said the upcoming version will have this.Here’s an example of the Market Samurai Rank Tracking capabilities I’m talking about:
For the most part, we use Rank Tracker, but sometimes we also put Samurai to work for us. What we’ve discovered is that Samurai is not always as accurate and can sometimes miss certain details. Still, it’s a very useful tool.
Use of browser
Just like always, there are options that won’t cost you anything or you might want to use your browser to track the keywords and record the results by hand. We don’t recommend that, though. Because of Google’s personalization settings and this means the results you see are going to be misleading because they are not the same results everyone else is seeing. It is also important that you understand there are a lot of data centers out there for Google and that makes using your browser to track results very “iffy” in terms of delivering usable data.
If you want to use a free tool then check out the Rank Tracker offered by the guys at SEO Book. It is a part of their toolbar and is not difficult to get the hang of. The main issue with any free option is that they aren’t going to give you many options and the data is not going to be that well preserved, the charts won’t be terribly well presented, and so on.
The main thing you need to do, above all else, is to keep things simple and stay consistent in how you go about tracking rank so that monitoring your progress is actually effective. There are going to be dips and rises, and there will even be times when it looks as if all things do is spiral ever downwards. Still, you need to keep up with what you are doing and tough it out when that happens. Once you have enough data on the history of your own efforts, you will start to notice “Hmm.. this has happened before so I guess the answer is to keep on going forward.”
The purpose of the data is to prove this to you and it is going to help you really understand the SEO process. Take a look at this sample of how this keyword has grown over time:
As shown, there are those “dips” and “rises” that happen as time goes on. Some of them are actually not shown on this particular chart since it only covers the last 6 months’ history and it’s looking only at the top 50 highest ranking keywords.
However, you still see that the results are prone to shifting up and down – this is totally normal – but when you stay consistent in your efforts you will watch them rise more over time even if it might seem to take a while.