Blasphemy! Why would I stop checking my search positioning? How will I know if I’m doing well?! I’m not trying to shoot myself in the foot here, but rank checking can be one of the biggest wastes of time/headaches. Sure, it’s a good benchmark, but it’s not necessarily reflective of good performance.
Concern Yourself with This
Let’s be honest here. If you’re an active in SEO, you probably spend a fair amount of time concerning yourself with your current position across several keywords and search engines. As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet that you check some every day and even have several automated tools sending you ranking reports. If you added this time up over the course of a year, you’d probably make yourself a little ill. But to what end?
The only thing constant rank checking tells you are your rankings. It doesn’t tell you anything about your conversions, revenue, visits, or even impressions. I’d venture to say that they only thing rank checking does is boost (or shatter) your ego. Here are a few reasons why it’s not the best use of your time:
Personalized results. Different people see different results. Google does its best to deliver personal results that provide unique users with more relevant content. Unfortunately for us SEOs, this makes it nearly impossible to get an accurate read on actual positioning.
QDF. Query Deserves Freshness. This means that hot topics tend to get a temporary boost in search engines. Who knows how this could throw off some of your keyword positions.
Your keywords are probably wrong. If you’re just rank checking, then you probably don’t have a strong indication of what keywords actually work. I often speak with people about their “strong” search positioning and yet they still receive low traffic volumes. If you’re positioned well for the right keywords, the traffic will come naturally.
Check This Instead
What’s the purpose of using analytics software? In my opinion, it helps us find useful information without taking shots in the dark. For example, if you want to see how successful a keyword is, go to analytics, look up the keyword, and measure its activity, including clicks, visitor quality, and conversions. This is much more actionable than checking the rank for that keyword and bumming yourself out when you realize it hasn’t jumped to the number one spot.
Google Analytics Can Track Your Ranks
Sayyyyyyyyy whaaaaaat? That’s right. You can add a custom variable to your Google Analytics account and track the actual position of your keywords when they were clicked. This is an easy way to get around the whole personalized results business. On top of that, you can track quality, impressions, conversions, and clicks all from the same report.
First, you’ll need to add this code to your website. It should end up looking something like this:
Then, after some data are gathered, you’ll go to the Custom Variables section in Google Analytics and come to this screen:
Simply click the drop down that reads “none” and select keyword to see the actual ranking for a specific keyword. The column that reads “custom variable” is your Google search rank.
When Rank Checking Matters
I’m not trying to say rank checking is entirely useless. Just be sure to check your ranks for a greater purpose, such as:
Finding competitors. Once you’ve identified your high value keywords through rigorous keyword research, search those keywords and see what other companies are aggressively pursuing them. You can use this information to develop the rest of your online search strategy.
Uncovering new keyword opportunities. Following your keyword research, you’ll need to determine your current rank for those keywords. An initial benchmark is a good place to start and should help you establish realistic expectations of success.
Back Linking. This kind of goes along with the first point. By finding your competitors, you can seek out how they’re gaining back links. You could also find other sources in the top ranks of Google (guest blog opportunities, news topics, etc.) to give you ideas on back link generation.
And scene. What have we learned today?
Your search rank for specific keywords probably doesn’t matter as much as you think
Search engines personalize results causing inaccurate measures of actual rank
Analytics provides much better data, like clicks and conversions
Custom variables can be created in Google Analytics to track actual ranks, clicks, and impressions
Checking your rank is much more useful for finding competitors, back linking tactics, and new keyword opportunities
Feel free to disagree below. While this may not be the most popular opinion, just give it a shot and reap the benefits of reducing your stress levels and saving countless hours per week.