Why Track Keyword Rankings

A short video on why tracking keyword rankings is still very valuable to search marketers:

Video transcript:

So in this video we’re going to take a look at why you ever want to track keyword rankings. I’m going to give you three really good reasons why you should, even today, even in 2011, 2012. It’s still worth it.

First off, keyword rankings are a leading indicator, and if you’re not a super economist person and leading indicator sounds like a fancy word, it basically means that rankings can show you how Google is viewing your site, favorably or unfavorably, before that indication even starts to show up in traffic.

Let me give you an example. This is our traffic line here for a keyword. Let’s say were getting ten visitors a day for basketball hoops. Good keyword, but unfortunately for us, we rank down, let’s say we rank in the 20 range. Let’s say this is 40. Not the best scale here, but let’s say this is zero. So we’re ranked around 20, second page we’re not really getting that much traffic from it, but hey we’re somewhere, right? Let’s say we drop down to 50. What don’t you see? You don’t see a change in traffic necessarily, because 20 to 50, not necessarily going to drop off much. Or maybe if it drops off a little bit, but nothing too noticeable. Or even from 20 to 30, you’re not going to see a huge drop off. But obviously, something changed here, right? And unless you’re actually tracking the keyword ranking on a daily basis, you’re never going to see this show up in your traffic results.

Same thing if this went up. You’re not going to notice a huge jump necessarily from 20 to 15, but that’s a pretty significant jump. Especially if you’re actively doing work, you’re building your links, you’re writing good content, and you’re moving up, you want to be able to see, hey is all this work I’m doing actually working?

That’s what keyword rankings is really valuable for, is to see how your site is moving up or down in the eyes of Google. You really can’t get a better data source than rankings for that. People that say don’t track rankings, well, maybe they’re not working on sites anymore. So that’s where I’ll leave that.

Number two, when you combine rankings with some other data sources, like traffic, like I showed you in the first chart, and social metrics, then you can get some even better insights. So let’s go back and draw another chart here. So let’s say this is our traffic here, and we’re doing it for basketball keywords again. Let’s say that we’re coming along, coming along, boom, something happened here, cool. All right. Now you can obviously see the correlation here between traffic and keyword rankings, which is cool because it’s good know that, hey, if I’m moving up in rankings, that my organic traffic is moving up too. So when you combine rankings with traffic, you can really start to see some neat insights.

Now, if you take it one step further and combine it with some social data, so let’s say Facebook likes or shares, and we like tweets and Google +1s. You start to combine that information and you can start to see, okay, well maybe I’m getting like three tweets a day. Let’s say this is tweets here. Suddenly maybe I get ten plus here. So maybe this was actually this ranking change. You’re not for sure, but there’s a good chance now that this was caused by tweets. Unless you’re tracking all three of these metrics, you’re not going to be sure what actually changed. Was it Google? Was it a new link that you got? Was it some sort of social metric change here? When you start to combine all three of these data sources, rankings and traffic and social, then you can start to diagnose and see what’s actually moving your metrics here, which is really neat. If you just had the traffic metric here you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see that, because what if you just jumped from, like we showed above, what if you just went from 20 to 15 and your traffic stayed steady. You wouldn’t necessarily know, hey something good happened here. But when you have another data source in your keyword rankings, you can say, “Hey, something’s working.”

Lastly, I won’t even change my pen here. When you track keyword rankings, if you track Bing and Google, you can get some interesting insights as well. So, real quick, the nice thing about tracking both of these is, let’s say this is your Bing line here and hey it’s going really well, but your Google seems to be staying steady. You’re like, “Well, what the crap is going on?” This area right here is really nice to be able to see because then you can diagnose, well, what are we doing right in Bing, or what does Bing seem to think that we are doing right, that’s not showing up in Google. So when you track both of these, you really get some insights that you wouldn’t be able to see just tracking one. So, I highly encourage it.

Lastly, Bing is driving a lot of traffic nowadays, so it’s just worth it to track Bing too.

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