You’ll know the feeling well:
When keyword rankings are up, you’re a hero!
But when they’re down, it means there’s work to be done.
That’s why you need to know your keyword ranking on any given day.
Otherwise, you’ll be caught flat-footed.
With Monitor Backlinks, you can get all this information (and more) in minutes.
Here’s how to track, assess and improve your keyword rankings to get more targeted search traffic.
How to Know Your Keyword Ranking, Traffic and More with Monitor Backlinks
1) Know Your Keywords
If your website has been online for more than six months, you’re probably already ranking for some keywords. That’s the good news!
But there’s a catch:
Those “accidental” keyword rankings may have nothing to do with your business objectives. That means the traffic you’re generating from those keywords isn’t your target audience, and isn’t resulting in leads or sales.
So, before you check your rankings, you need to know what you’re trying to rank for.
Build a list of 50-100 relevant keywords (you can always cut it down later) that includes a combination of:
- Category keywords. These are your general product categories. For example, if you’re running an e-commerce store that sells TVs, your category keywords might be things like “flatscreen TVs” and “4K TVs.”
- Product keywords. These are brand names for your top-selling products. Running with the same example as above, product keywords could be based around top TV brands like “LG TVs” as well as specific product models like “Samsung UN65NU8000.”
- Competitor-inspired keywords. With this approach, you’re researching the keywords that your rivals rank for. This post has more information about finding and tracking your competitors’ keywords to inspire your own strategy.
- Informational keywords. These are longtail, research-based keywords from customers who are looking for more information about their options, and usually aren’t ready to buy yet. For the e-commerce TV store, you might target keywords like “how to install a wall mounted TV.”
Tip: Avoid high-competition high-volume keywords if you have a small SEO budget and limited patience. You’ll find yourself competing against companies that are happy to spend millions on SEO to maintain their rankings. Instead, you’ll likely have better, cheaper results by focusing on longtail keywords with 500 monthly searches or less. That’s where your opportunity lies.
Now, with your list of keywords to target, you’ll want to add them to Monitor Backlinks for tracking.
If you don’t have a Monitor Backlinks account, sign up for a free trial here to follow along. No credit card required!
Once you’re logged in or signed up, go to the Rank Tracker page:
Then, click the gray “+” button at the top-right corner to add your keywords:
Type your keywords into the box, and click “Add Keywords” when you’re done:
Monitor Backlinks will need some time to gather the data the first time you add keywords.
In the next step, we’ll get to the fun part: Finding out your keyword rankings.
2) Know Your Rankings
You can know your keyword rankings at any time by heading to Monitor Backlinks’ Rank Tracker page.
At the top, there’s an overall summary of your keyword performance:
Scroll down the page to get ranking data for the specific keywords you’ve added, along with a bunch of other helpful data points:
The “Ranking” column tells you your current ranking position for that keyword.
In this example, you can see that we’re doing quite well with several keywords in positions 1-3, and a couple more moving upwards.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the columns of data next to each keyword. Along with your current keyword ranking, here’s what else you can track:
- Competitors’ Keyword Ranking. In between the “Ranking” and “Page” columns, you’ll see the keyword rankings of your competitors that you’ve added to Monitor Backlinks. It gives you a nice side-by-side comparison of the keywords that you’re both ranking (or not ranking) for.
- Best Ranking. The best keyword ranking that you’ve achieved for the keyword. Over time, this metric gives you insight because you can tell if you’re staying in the same position, losing rankings or increasing.
- Monthly Search Volume. The estimated number of monthly searches for the keyword.
- Competition (Difficulty Level). On a scale of 0-100%, this metric estimates the difficulty of ranking for the keyword.
- CPC (Cost Per Click). The estimated cost to purchase a click for the keyword in Google Ads. High CPC keywords are likely to be more commercially valuable than low CPC keywords.
You can easily know your keyword rankings plus all this additional info by heading to your Monitor Backlinks account whenever you want.
Or, stay across the situation by just checking your inbox—you’ll receive regular, automatic updates of every major change.
3) Know Your Traffic
Knowing your keyword rankings is only part of the marketing story.
You also need to know if those rankings are bringing you valuable traffic.
From your Monitor Backlinks dashboard on the Overview page, you can see how your keyword rankings are impacting your organic traffic:
In this graph at the top of the page, the purple line shows your average keyword position while the blue line shows your organic traffic from search engines.
Ideally, as the average keyword position rises, so should your organic traffic.
To evaluate the quality of that traffic, consider some of these additional factors in an analytics platform like Google Analytics:
- Time on site. Are visitors staying on your site once they get there? If this metric is less than 30-60 seconds, the traffic is unlikely to be valuable (i.e. no conversions!).
- Bounce rate. This metric will tell you if visitors consider your content to be relevant to their search. Ideally, you’ll see your bounce rate decline over time as you create more valuable content targeted at relevant keywords.
- Conversion tracking. Are a given set of keywords leading to higher conversions or other worthwhile results? You’re likely to find that higher-quality content tends to get a longer time on site and better lead quality.
- Geographic origin. The location of your traffic matters. For example, if you’re running a local business in New York, traffic from India is unlikely to convert into business opportunities.
If you’re like most SEO professionals, you’re probably discontented with your results. You want to get more targeted traffic from high-value, relevant keywords.
So, let’s turn to that question next.
4) Make Improvements
There are two good ways to go about improving your keyword rankings and search traffic:
Get More Backlinks
To get more high-quality search traffic, you need to be creating high-quality content that pulls in those prospects.
But of course, that content only matters if the search engines (and people!) know that it exists. Which is where backlinks come in.
Start by creating more high-quality pages on your site.
There’s an art and a science to publishing quality content. Check out these resources for more guidance:
Then, once you have great content on your website, it’s time to use outreach to request more backlinks.
Follow the tips in these posts to nail this techique:
Tip: Have you ever received a terrible outreach email? I’ve received dozens of them over the years. Most of these awful messages have a common lack of research and customization. Don’t make the same mistake! Spend at least 2-5 minutes on each outreach email, double-check spelling and mention something specific about their website to prove that you’ve done the legwork.
Target New Keywords
Keyword rankings not improving?
Maybe you’re attempting to earn rankings for highly competitive keywords or maybe your keywords aren’t targeted enough.
When it feels like you’re fighting an unwinnable war, it just means your keyword strategy needs a refresh. It’s time to target some new keyword opportunities!
Go back to the drawing board and start your keyword research process again to come up with new ideas.
Here are two techniques to get you started:
- Consider short-term and seasonal keywords. These won’t bring you traffic all year round, but can be very effective if you target them at the right time. Check out this article I wrote on holiday SEO strategies—if you start planning a few months in advance of a relevant holiday, you can win a major SEO victory!
- Analyze indirect competitors. You already know that it pays to study the keyword rankings of your direct competitors, but it’s worth looking at indirect competitors too. For example, if I were researching keywords for an SEO software product, I’d look beyond other competing SEO software products to indirect competitors like SEO agencies.
Now you know how to track your keyword rankings, understand the data and improve your results.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and sign up for a no-risk free trial of Monitor Backlinks and get started right away!
Bruce Harpham provides lead generation services for B2B tech companies. He is based in Toronto, Canada.