Keyword Ranking - How Close Should You Monitor?
Keyword ranking checks is probably my least favorite activity to do either for myself or clients. While there are many, many reasons why, the most important one is this:
You have absolutely no control over how you're ranked for keyword phrases. It's all up to Google.
That being said, should you still bother with optimizing your content, and should you check on your rankings from time to time?
Yes, you still should do both.
Even though you can't predict that you'll rank high in search results, if you don't optimize your content with keyword phrases you've researched and know are of interest to your prospects, I can guarantee your content won't see the light of day in search results. So go ahead, find those long-tail keyword phrases and topics of interest, and optimize all the page/post elements you can with one each.
Keyword ranking is relative and very dynamic. You never really know if you're number one, due to a lot of things, but mostly because of personalization of search - a topic I teach in my SEO class.
Here's the thing: you shouldn't care if you don't rank with most web searchers. You only want to rank high in your target audience's search results.
If you sell construction project management software platforms, you won't rank in grandpa's search results, nor should you.
But you do want to rank well for a decision maker who's in charge of evaluating and purchasing project management software for construction companies.
The best way to rank well for your marketing personas is to do your keyword research and plan your content strategy around the topics of interest they enter as queries in the Google search bar.
Looking At Your Keyword Ranking For Pages & Posts
OK, so you should look at how your keyword ranking efforts are going from time to time. How often? I'll leave that up to you. I would say to eyeball them about once a month, but don't get attached to the numbers. Your content is going to fluctuate. You don't want to see wild swings up and down, but if you're steadily ranking in the top ten results, then all of a sudden you plunge double digits, that bears investigating.
If Google's just rolled out an algorithm change, and your rankings dip wildly, it's not a coincidence. You've been affected.
If you have Google Search Console set up, you can go here to see relative rankings for keyword phrases:
Search Traffic ---> Search Analytics
You can set different date ranges. Note the rankings - 2.4, 3.8, etc. Remember, these are relative values. Your actual ranking may be rather different.
You can also use third party SEO tools that track keyword rankings, like Rank Tracker from SEO Powersuite. Here is a nature blog I monitor. These are just a few of the keyword rankings for this site.
What's Better Than Keyword Ranking For SEO Success?
While some might disagree, a better performance measure to see how well your SEO is doing is the conversions on your site. Is the site converting well? Are the desired actions being accomplished? If the site is converting well and generating revenue, that's a better indicator of how well you've optimized the site.
Think about it - the pages that are getting traffic and converting are showing up pretty high in the target audience's search results. If you've written compelling, interesting page titles and descriptions, you'll get the click through. On the page, if you've written in-depth content that answers all of her questions and proves why you're the best choice, she'll buy from you.
To sum up, don't constantly check every keyword phrase ranking, unless you really have the time, or a very small set to monitor. They're going to move up and down. However, pay close attention when it becomes clear that Google's rolled out an algorithm change or update.
Want to learn more about SEO, ranking and indexing, as well as keyword research and optimized content? Take an SEO training class with us. It's customized just for you and your website situation!
Until we meet again, stay safely between the ditches,
Screenshots courtesy of author December 2017