Your SEO campaign lives and dies by your keyword rankings.
So, you’ve got to know how to track your keywords accurately and efficiently.
Simply put, if you’re observing the best SEO practices, then you can expect your keyword rankings to rise.
If your SEO strategy sucks—the competition for the keywords is too tough, or you’re producing poor, thin content—your pages won’t hit the tops of the SERPs.
You might even be penalized, and wiped clear out of the Google SERPs, if something strikes the algorithm as seriously unethical or low quality.
Of course, you’ll never know how your content is performing if you don’t track keywords.
The Benefits of Tracking Keywords
The benefits of keyword rank tracking are manifold.
Assess your strategy. First and foremost, you’ll see which content of yours succeeds and fails in terms of SEO. You’ll know what’s rocketing straight to the top spots on Google, and what’s not getting you the rankings and organic traffic you need.
Have cold, hard proof. Whether you’re tracking keywords for yourself or for clients, you need this tangible proof of your SEO campaign’s effectiveness.
Get instant updates. You can see right away when your content moves up or moves down in the SERPs and keep an eye on progress every day.
Keep your enemies closer. Assuming you choose a keyword rank tracker with competitor insights, you’ll even get instant updates when the competition starts to kick your butt and outrank you, or when you gain an advantage over them.
Get to know Google. Keyword rank tracking isn’t only measuring a key performance indicator of your SEO campaign, it’s like having an eye on the Google algorithm itself.
You’ll gain a better understanding of how Google thinks and acts overall. You need to know the ins and outs of the Google algorithm used to crawl content and raise or lower it in the search results.
For all these many purposes, we’ll use our own Monitor Backlinks tool to show you how it’s done.
To follow along with this SEO lesson, log into your Monitor Backlinks account. If you’re not currently subscribed, you can sign up for a no-strings-attached, 30-day free trial today and see how this whole keyword-tracking thing works for yourself.
Why Use Monitor Backlinks to Track Keywords?
You might already know that Monitor Backlinks is strongly focused on backlinks. I mean, it’s right in the name.
With this tool, you can easily keep tab of new and lost backlinks, determine the best backlinks you have, disavow bad backlinks that damage your site, detect negative SEO campaigns and spy on competitor SEO strategies.
Since backlinks arguably bear the most weight as a keyword ranking factor, it’s only smart that you oversee your backlinks alongside your keyword rankings. If you start seeing powerful backlinks appearing in your profile thanks to your linkbuilding activities, and then notice a big uptick in keyword rankings, you’ve got valuable information right there.
Similarly, if you lose a great backlink and your keyword rankings plummet, you’ll know what action you need to take—you need to get that darn link back.
But what about the keywords, right?
Well, another key feature of Monitor Backlinks is the ability to track keywords. You’ll see your keyword rankings (for any chosen region and/or language) alongside those of your top competitors. You can even see if you’ve got rankings in Google’s Local 3 Pack.
Depending on which Monitor Backlinks plan you choose, you can track anywhere from 50 to 700 keywords. If you have a small to mid-sized website, you don’t want to be tracking thousands upon thousands of keywords—the more valuable information will get lost in the noise. Instead, you should track the most important and highest-converting keywords and really focus on dominating the SERPs for those.
Need to track more keywords? That’s possible with a custom account.
How to Track Keywords Like a Boss with Monitor Backlinks
1. Start tracking your site and competitors
Upon creating your account, click on the “Add new domain” button from the drop.
You can enter your domain by connecting to your Google Analytics or not.
Of course, it’s advantageous that you choose the former because Monitor Backlinks draws data from your Analytics—in particular, organic traffic volume and referrals—for more accurate results.
Once you’ve logged into your Google Analytics account from Monitor Backlinks, choose the property of the site you want to track and verify the URL on the text bar below.
Next, the site shows you the Competition page. You can add the URLs of your competitors here if you know them. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to track the relative success of your keyword ranking campaign against that of each competitor over time.
2. Adding keywords to track
The next page leads you to add the keywords you want to monitor.
The tool already includes keyword suggestions that you may wish to watch over based on your Google Analytics data, and what you may or may not already be ranking for in Google.
There’s a good chance that you’re already driving traffic from the suggested keywords, so you might as well track them. You can remove the suggested ones later on if you need to anyway.
To add your own keyword choices, type or paste your keywords into the text box (one keyword per line).
You can also indicate the zip code of your business if you’re targeting local SEO, and selection specific cities, countries and search languages.
Once you’ve determined your keywords, click on the “Add Now” button.
3. Analyze the keywords you’re tracking
On the next page, scroll down to see the table your organic rankings for your target keywords. It shows which pages from your site are ranking for the keywords you listed and their respective positions on Google.
It also shows you the search volume of each keyword, the difficulty of ranking for the search phrase, and their CPCs.
The search volume refers to the number of times users have searched the keyword on Google in a month. Ideally, you want to optimize for keywords with high search volume. If you rank on top of search results for a keyword with lots of monthly searches, you can potentially generate lots of traffic to your site as well.
Competition deals with the degree of difficulty on how you can rank your page for that keyword. The higher the score, the more difficult it is for you. Keywords with lots of monthly searches tend to have a higher difficulty score. Therefore, you need to strike a balance between volume and difficulty if you want to maximize your organic traffic.
If you’re running paid ads on Google, then you need to keep on eye on CPC. The numbers seen under this column denote the amount that you have to shell every time a user clicks on your ad for that keyword. You’d want to find keywords with lots of search volume and are have low CPC to maximize your ad campaign.
To help you track and measure your keyword rankings much more efficiently, you can apply filters to show the keywords you want to see. Below are the different keyword filters you can toggle:
- Keyword text — Enter words included in the search phrases so the tool will only show those keywords in the table
- Tags — Enter the tag to filter the keywords that you have tagged as part of your campaign
- Exclude tags — Remove keywords with a specific tag from the results
- Ranking — Find keywords within the indicated positions and range on SERPs
- Volume — Look for search phrases within the indicated monthly search volume
- Position change — See keywords that increased or decreased on organic search based on the indicated range
- Date added — Show entries that were added to specific dates and times
Visual representation of keyword rank tracking history
Over time, you will also see the history of your ranking for the keywords you listed over time. If the trend of your keyword rankings is plummeting, you may need to consider reworking your SEO strategy in the hopes of raising your organic search position.
If you scroll up, you see the graph of your overall performance for all your keywords. You can change the interval from every month, year or forever.
The tool tracks the keywords every week to show the movements on organic search in the graph. It also shows which keywords went up, down, and which ones are ranking within the first ten results.
You can track the keywords of your competitors and compare your progress side by side in graph format. On the right, the tool shows you the number of keywords you are ranking for a specific range of search results.
Over time, you need to keep monitoring your keyword ranking and see their correlation with your SEO campaign. Tweak your campaign as necessary to see more significant gains over the next few weeks
Now I know how to track keywords. What’s next?
Find the best keywords to track
If you used the suggested keywords by Google Analytics, then there’s a good chance you’re not tracking the right keywords. If you haven’t conducted keyword research for your site, then it’s high time you should.
You can start by finding the pages that you want to drive the most traffic to and determining the best keywords for each. For your keyword research, you need to see search terms with relatively high search volume.
You want to rank for keywords that people search more often than not. However, most tools that provide data for search volume are paid. Google Keyword Planner once did that, but it only shows the range of a keyword’s search volume.
For this, use Ubersuggest. It shows a specific figure for the search volume for each at no cost to you. Just type the keyword you want to track to also see suggestions that you may want to optimize for any one of your pages.
Ubersuggest draws data from Google Keyword Planner and Google Suggest so you can be sure to receive reliable keywords to use. You can also filter the results to only show keywords that contain certain words to increase the efficiency of your keyword research.
Once you have your keywords ready, you can enter them by going to the Keywords page and click on the “Add keyword” button.
Create a keyword ranking report for clients
If you’re using Monitor Backlinks to track the keywords of your client sites, then it lets you generate a report in spreadsheet or PDF format.
Go to the Keywords page and tick the boxes of the keywords you want to include in the report. Next, click on the With Selected drop-down menu and export them to your desired format. If you want to edit them to include them in a report you’re building, it’s best to download the keywords in spreadsheet format (either CSV or Excel).
If you want to check something quickly, the PDF format of the report looks easy enough for non-SEO people to understand. It contains the necessary data that renders you report useful. Aside from the keywords and your current position for each, it also shows your competitors for the keywords and your rankings for each over time.
Perform competitor analysis using keyword data
Since links are one of the most crucial ranking factors, a relationship may exist between the search ranking increase of your competitors for the keywords and the links they’ve built during that period.
Scroll down the Keywords page to see the organic ranking of your competitors for your keywords. If you see a spike in their ranking, then you better check out the Competitors page to see if they got new backlinks from the previous week.
You can check the links by date to see the latest ones they’ve acquired. You can also review the links based on their Flow Metrics. The higher the scores for the Trust and Citation Flow, the more authoritative the site is. You may only want to consider links that are dofollow because these are the only ones that transfer link juice to your competitors. Lastly, check the anchor text used in the post as well and see if it’s an exact match to your target keyword.
Analyzing the links based on these factors will help you deliberate which sites to acquire the same links of your competitors to your site. If they recently landed a dofollow link from an authoritative page, then you should find a way to get a link from those sites.
Final thoughts on how to track keywords
There are a lot of moving parts involved on how to track keywords of a website. However, Monitor Backlinks makes the entire process simpler and more efficient.
Using its built-in rank tracker to determine which keywords your site page are found on the first page of Google, you can make better and informed decisions on how to improve your SEO campaign. You can also refer to the keyword data of your competitors to help you conduct competitor analysis and find link building opportunities. Lastly, you can easily export the keyword data to the report you’re creating or create a one-click PDF report to show your clients in seconds.
All these features using Monitor Backlinks will help you make sense of your SEO and connect with your site’s ROI so you can better use your time analyzing your data and developing your strategy the right way.