When Google turned on encrypted secure search for all users of Google.com, regardless of whether they were logged into a Google product or not, SEO’s all around the world threw their hands up in frustration. No longer would valuable keyword referral data be available in their Google Analytics.
“How are we supposed to tell which keywords brought visitors to my site?” was the call cry of frustrated digital marketers everywhere. For many it also foreshadowed the end of rank tracking solutions. However the reality is far different. Yes, Google analytics shows us less information about keyword referrals, but the ability to track rankings for specific keywords remains a critically important activity for all website owners.
As an online marketer and owner of several ecommerce businesses, rank tracking continues to be a key part of my online marketing toolset.
5 ways that I am using keyword rank tracking solutions in my businesses
Measure the Impact of On-page Optimization
As an ecommerce store owner I am continually looking for opportunities to rank for new keywords and long tail variations of my main category keywords. My process is to identify high converting keywords by reviewing my paid traffic campaigns as well as by conducting ongoing keyword research. When I find keywords that convert well that I don’t have a page optimised to rank for, I draft new page titles and meta descriptions to target these high opportunity keywords. Having an efficient daily rank tracking solution allows me to see whether my optimizations are working positively or negatively.
When I’m attempting to target new keyword phrases I enter them into my seo tool, implement the new page titles and then monitor my sites rankings for those keywords.
Monitor My Organic Visibility in the Search Results
For my ecommerce sites I have grouped my keywords into logical categories or themes. For example, all of the “Boys Shoes” keywords and long tail variations get bundled into their own group or “tagged” with a “Boys Shoes” tag. Once they are tagged I simply add up all of the associated search volumes from the Google Keyword Planner to get an idea of the amount of search activity for a keyword group or category. Then, based on my current rankings, I am then able to get an idea of how visible my sites pages are in the search results.
Alternatively this can represent a “share of voice” or how much of the search activity is coming your way. As my rankings move up, so does my organic search visibility. Many ranking tools provide grouping or tagging features and some are now rolling out their own calculation of organic search visibility to make it easier for site owners to track their sites performance in the organic search results.
See When Things Go Wrong
Keyword rank tracking is one of the best ways to keep an eye on your websites health. Many times I have been alerted to a problem simply because of a drop in rankings for specific keywords. The drop in keyword rankings tells me which page specifically is having problems, and more often that not it’s been the accidental removal of keywords from a page title that has caused a page to drop in rankings.
Daily monitoring of rankings combined with alerts when there is a large rankings movement, are effective ways to pick up any technical problems that impact a pages targeting.
Track the Performance of My Evergreen Content Strategy
With the importance of content marketing to organic visibility I have been using keyword rank tracking solutions to help me track and measure the performance of my “evergreen content” Evergreen content, is content that is informational or referential in nature, that never goes out of date. It is designed to continue to attract back links over time and so is an ideal content marketing investment.
Each piece of evergreen content I create is optimized to target specific high volume, high relevance keyword phrases. By adding this target keyword to my rank tracking software and monitoring the content’s position in the rankings I am able to measure the impact of my promotional activities on the ranking of that piece of content.
Monitor My Competitors
Rank tracking is a critical part of my competitor monitoring strategy. By tracking a competitors visibility in the search results for keywords I am targeting, I am able to keep an eye on which competitors are actively engaging in marketing activities designed to influence rankings. In fact many rank tracking solutions have implemented alert features which will let you know when competitors rankings move beyond a set boundary.
In spite of all of the articles that state that keyword targeting and tracking are outdated, I believe that there continues to be valid uses for tracking keyword rankings as I have listed above.
Yes, measures of search performance are now broader than just keyword rankings, but now more than ever the ability to track where your site ranks for a specific keyword phrase remains a very important tactical ability that cannot and should not be ignored.
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