Best Rank Trackers: Pick The Right One For You
Everyone wants to rank high on Google because a high rank leads to more organic traffic.
But to understand where you come in the first place, you need a rank tracker.
This guide will show you how to choose the right rank tracker for you and use it to improve SEO.
But first let's make sure we're on the same page.
Rank tracking is the process of checking the search engine ranking positions for certain keywords over time. A rank tracker is the software or tool that automates this process for you.
Why is ranking important?
Rank tracking helps you understand which keywords and pages need your attention most. But that's not the only reason it's important. You will also get an insight into whether your SEO Efforts pay off.
For example, our visibility for all of our recorded keywords improves over time:
This tells us that our SEO Efforts, by and large, have the desired effect. If overall visibility is decreasing, we should possibly investigate further for ours SEO Strategy.
Most rank trackers also give you several different ways to slice and dice the data for even more actionable insights, which we'll talk about shortly.
Why can't you just check the rankings yourself?
Rank trackers save time by automating the rank tracking process. However, if you only want to keep track of a few keywords, you might be wondering why not just put those into Google and check the ranking positions manually?
The answer is that manual rank checking rarely gives an accurate glimpse into the real world as Google's search results are highly personalized based on things like yours:
- Browser history
- Device (desktop / mobile)
These are, for example, the search results for “How to make flapjacks” in the United Kingdom:
When we use Ahrefs SEO Toolbar to simulate the exact same search from the US, the results are completely different:
This happens because the definition of flapjacks differs between nations. By doing United Kingdom, it's an oat bar. By doing US and Canada, it's a pancake.
How about incognito?
Using an incognito browser tab solves the problem of personalization based on browsing history, but it doesn't solve anything else. Your IP The address remains visible, so Google continues to personalize search results based on your location and the derived language.
For example, here is a search for "How to Make Flapjacks" in an incognito tab:
Google still shows recipes for British flapjacks because it knows mine IP Address.
Conclusion: Even if you only want to check rankings for one or two keywords, you should use a rank checker. If you're not ready to pay for it, try our free keyword rank checker.
How to choose the best rank tracker
You are currently reading the Ahrefs blog. Ahrefs is a SEO Toolset with its own rank tracker. We think it's one of the best on the market, but we're clearly biased so I'm not going to offend your intelligence by making a list of the "best" rank trackers with Ahrefs on top.
What I'm going to share, however, are the results of a recent Facebook poll conducted by Matt Diggity:
Interestingly, only two of the top 5 standalone rank tracking tools are. The others are included as part of an all-in-one SEO Toolset like Ahrefs.
That leads me to an interesting point …
If you do SEO in any serious role in 2021, you need an all-in-one SEO Tools like Ahrefs for important tasks like keyword research and link building. Given that most of these tools come with a rank tracker, arguably the best rank tracker for most people is the one included in their favorite SEO Toolset.
But if you don't want to invest in an all-in-one just yet SEO Toolset or would you just prefer a standalone rank tracker, what features should you be looking for?
Here are some features you may need:
Rankings vary from location to location. If your website or business is primarily about the US Market, you want rankings in the US. If it's mainly for that United Kingdom Market you want to pursue United Kingdom Leaderboards. If it primarily caters to the Canadian market, you have the idea.
You might even want to track rankings in multiple countries if you work for a multinational company.
Of course, Ahrefs' Rank Tracker supports most countries; 187 and count.
If you work locally SEO, would you like a rank tracker with more granularity so that you can track rankings at the state, city or postcode level – like you can in Ahrefs' rank tracker:
If your website is targeting a locale with more than one official / common language, you will likely want to track rankings in multiple languages within that locale.
Suppose you run a restaurant in Barcelona. This city is in Catalonia, where, according to Wikipedia, there is a pretty even mix of Spanish and Catalan. If your restaurant's website is available in both languages, as is the case with this one, you will likely want to keep track of the rankings for both Spanish and Catalan searchers.
Here's how to do it in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker:
Device support (desktop / mobile)
Desktop and mobile ranking signals are not the same, so it is not uncommon for the rankings to vary between desktop and mobile.
For example, desktop users tend to have faster internet connections than mobile users, so this may be a more important ranking factor on mobile devices than on desktops. In other words, having a slow website can affect mobile ranking more than desktop ranking.
Here are a few other things that can cause ranking mismatches between devices:
- Bad mobile phone friendliness
- More intrusive ads / interstitials on one device versus the other
Using Ahrefs' Rank Tracker makes it easy to switch between mobile and desktop rankings and check the average positions across all devices.
SERP Feature tracking
SERP Features are non-traditional search results like featured snippets and top story carousels. Ranking in some of them can help drive more traffic to your website. Therefore, it makes sense to track their awareness for key keywords over time.
Many rank trackers give you this ability, including Ahrefs' rank tracker which automatically tracks the popularity and ownership of most SERP Tracked Keyword Features.
Daily ranking updates
Frequency of ranking updates, which is important for quickly identifying potential problems as they arise. In Ahrefs' Rank Tracker, the update frequency depends on your plan. It is between one * and seven days.
* Daily updates are available in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker Pro. You can add this to any Ahrefs plan. It also allows you to track up to 100,000 keywords.
How to use a rank tracker to improve yourself SEO
It is easy to spend your days dealing with every little fluctuation in a ranking tool, but this is not a productive use of your time. Instead, you should use a rank tracker to identify areas for improvement SEO and get more organic traffic.
Let's look at a few ways to do this:
We'll be using Ahrefs' Rank Tracker in the examples below, but many other rank trackers have similar features and functionality.
Find the best opportunities for featured snippets
Featured snippets are short answers that often appear at the top of Google search results. You will be pulled from one of the top ranking sites.
For example, Google pulls this snippet from our guide on hreflangs:
By winning featured snippets, you can often shorten your way to the top of Google while increasing organic traffic.
How do you find featured snippets?
Look for keywords with highlighted snippets that you don't currently own and that also rank you in the top 10. You can often win these just by adding or editing the content of your page.
If you are familiar with Ahrefs, you know that you can do this for any website in Site Explorer. Just go to the Organic Keywords 2.0 Report, filter by Featured Snippets and check the box where the target does not rank to see snippets without ownership.
However, this has one major benefit in Rank Tracker: you can see the historical prevalence of the Featured Snippet over time.
This is useful as it may not be worth tracking featured snippets if Google rarely uses them SERP.
For example, you currently see a Featured Snippet for "Find an Email Address":
However, if we click on the caret and that SERP Feature History we see that Google only shows the Featured Snippet sporadically. It was only spotted in the SERP from Rank Tracker for a few days in the past month:
For "e-commerce" SEO", However, Google consistently shows the Featured Snippet:
So it would make more sense for us to follow the featured snippet for “e-commerce” SEO”Over“ Find an e-mail address ”, as their dissemination offers a greater chance of traffic.
Share of voice in the organic search by topic capture search
Organic search share of voice tells you how much market share different websites have for a given set of keywords. In this case, your tracked keywords.
Before you can see this in the Rank Tracker, you must first identify one or more competitors.
If you haven't already, go to Competition overview Click the tab to add competitors, then enter the domains or paths of the competitors you want to track. If you're not sure who your competitors are, check the suggestions based on keyword clash and hit the "+" button to add them to your project.
For the Ahrefs blog, we're adding Backlinko and the Moz blog.
We added the Moz blog as a path instead of a domain so we are only tracking the organic search share of voice for content in your / blog / subfolder and not across your entire website. This is because Moz puts all of his blog posts in this subfolder, which allows us to compare apples to apples.
If we go now Competition overview Report we can see that we trump Moz in terms of "visibility" for our tracked keywords, i. H. the percentage of all clicks for the keywords being tracked that land on each website. And we're about on par with Backlinko.
It is similar with average ranking positions, traffic and SERP Functions also:
However, this becomes even more effective if you use tags to group keywords by topic as you can then track by topic using the organic share of voice Competitor Tags Report.
Now we can see that Backlinko beats us on link building content even though we are way ahead of the competition in terms of keyword research.
If we check the Traffic tab, we see that this also means traffic:
So we should possibly investigate this further and see if there is anything we can do about it. For example, we may need more backlinks to compete, or we can improve the rankings for this topic by creating a content hub.
Find low hanging ways to beat competitors
If competitors outperform you on key keywords, you may want to prioritize a higher ranking so that they can get traffic again.
How to find these keywords:
- Go to your project in the Rank Tracker
- Press the Competition overview report
- Filter by top 10 placements
- Sort the table by competitor ranking from highest to lowest
Backlinko outperforms us, for example, with keywords such as "LSI Keywords "and" blog post templates ":
Since we're only a few positions behind, it might be worth doing that SERP to see if there is anything we can do to get a higher rank.
In case of "LSI Keywords "we apparently need a lot more backlinks – which will not be easy:
In the “blog post templates” category, Backlinko ranks one position ahead of us on pole position, despite roughly the same number of linked websites.
While there can be many reasons for this, one factor may be that backlinko arguably has a more enticing angle in the title tag ("work like a charm" vs "when to use it").
Look for pages that are ready to be updated
Rankings don't last forever. Even if your page was in pole position for your target keyword, there is a chance that it will eventually fall behind in the ranking and lose traffic.
At this stage you want to refresh the page and republish it.
To find pages that are potentially ripe for an update, go to billing Report in the Rank Tracker and look for keywords with declining rankings over time.
For example our ranking position for "local" SEO”Has gone from # 1 to # 9 since we started keyword tracking.
If we check this post in Site Explorer, we also see a corresponding drop in the estimated US traffic:
It is very likely that if we were to update this post for 2021 it would at least achieve some level of rankings and traffic.
Learn how to do this with our complete guide to updating and republishing content.
Find competitors to start your keyword research
Finding topics covered by online competitors is one of the best tactics for keyword research. However, it works best if you analyze the websites of close competitors.
To find these competitors quickly, go to Traffic share Log into the Rank Tracker and click on the "Domains" button:
Since Rank Tracker generates these competitors by looking for websites that are attracting search traffic from your tracked keywords, it often shows related competitors in organic search that you may have overlooked.
For example, we see bigcommerce.com among our top competitors by traffic percentage:
As this website is neither a direct competitor nor a SEO blog, we probably would have overlooked it when doing keyword research. But if we embed the website in Site Explorer and the Top Pages In the report, we see a few topics that may be worth covering, such as "Small Business Tips" and "Marketing Calendar".
If you have tagged your keywords in the Rank Tracker according to topic, you can expand this competitor search method even further with the tag filter.
For example, if we filter on our "link building" tag, we will see some competitors that have not shown up before, such as outreach.io and linkbuilder.io.
Since we are always looking for other topics related to link building, it is probably worth taking a look at the Top Pages Report for these websites in Site Explorer.
In fact, when we do that with linkbuilder.io, we see some good link building-related topics that we haven't covered, like "Link Exchange" and "Link Building Expert".
frequently asked Questions
Before we wrap things up, let's answer some common questions about rank trackers.
What's the best rank tracking tool?
The best rank tracking tool is subjective, but according to an industry survey, SERPRobot, Ahrefs ’Rank Tracker, Accuranker and SE Rankings are the most commonly used.
Is there a free rank tracker?
Yes many. We even have our own keyword rank checker that is completely free.
Can I follow local rankings in a rank tracker?
It depends on the ranking tool. Some have this ability; some not. You can track rankings at country, state, city or zip code level in the Ahrefs Rank Tracker.
Rank tracking can quickly become a time waster. If you think about every fluctuation in ranking, however small, on a daily basis, you are misusing it. The best rank tracker is one that has features and functions that will actually help you improve SEO and get more traffic.
Any questions? Ping me on Twitter.