There’s just nothing quite like typing in a keyword and seeing your website on the first page of Google.
This is the ‘aha’ moment of SEO. It’s when it all comes together for you and that hard work creating content seems worth it.
In order to get to this point in your SEO journey, you’ll need to first get search engines to:
If you’ve been working on your website’s SEO for a while, it is high time to see if your website is getting closer to this objective. But how can you measure your site’s progress?
A simple, but essential tactic for checking in on your SEO development is to check your site’s rankings on Google.
As a reminder, a keyword is a word or phrase that someone types into Google when they are making a search (a.k.a. search query). Your target keywords should be carefully chosen, based on what your customers (and potential customers) will be looking for on Google. One major goal of any website is to reach more relevant people that will increase business, so keep this in mind when figuring out what keywords you should direct your focus on your website.
Your website’s ranking is determined by where your website falls in the list of results for a particular search query.
Take the keyword “what to feed kitten” for example. If your page is that first result that people see on the SERP (ignoring Sponsored results), then your page has the #1 ranking. Congrats!
If your page is the next result down in the list, your page would have the #2 ranking for “what to feed kitten.” The farther a user needs to scroll down the SERP, or click onto the next pages of search results, the higher your ranking will be.
For target keywords, you want your keyword ranking to be as close to the top of the SERP as possible - it’s all about being that #1 spot!
There are many different on-page and off-page SEO strategies that can help your website climb through the ranks. But you’ll never know how these strategies are performing if you don’t check back in to see where your page ranks.
Checking your page’s rank for its target keyword is important to do every time you make changes on the page, so you can see how those modifications affect the page’s SEO.
In addition to checking your position after edits have been made, you should also be checking it on a cadence. Even if your page hasn’t changed, its ranking can. This can be from your competitors making changes to their sites, or due to an update to Google’s algorithm, which are made often and slyly.
We mentioned checking your keyword rankings on a cadence, and you’re probably wondering what that cadence should actually be.
The answer is complicated - it depends on certain factors about your target keywords, your website, and the amount of resources you have available to dedicate to SEO.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to check your keyword rankings once a week.
However, if your target keywords are highly competitive, you’ll want to check in on those more often. Keyword competition means that there will be a lot of pages being added and modified that target this keyword, and you’ll want to be on the lookout for how this affects your ranking.
If your website runs on the larger side, you’ll want to check your rankings more often as well. There are many pages to keep track of and find opportunities for optimization. You’ll need to be diligent about paying close attention to all of your pages.
However, the consistency that you check your keyword rankings will truly depend on the SEO resources you have available to you. Small teams will have to use their limited resources strategically, and therefore may determine they do not have the sufficient time to allocate weekly. If this is your case, you can make it a long term goal to gain and shift resources around to be able to check weekly.
There are a few different options when it comes to checking your keyword ranking. You can check your rankings manually or use a tool to do so. Tools are extremely popular as they provide ease and save time, and there are both free and paid options available.
We’ve provided an overview of your options below, so you can find the right choice for your website.
Manually checking your keyword ranking is by far the most time consuming option, but it is free and requires no tools.
To find your ranking, type your target keyword into the Google search bar and scroll the SERP until you find your website. You will need to keep count of how many websites are listed before you yourself.
Manually checking your ranking will give you a good sense of what the user experience entails in order to find your site from a search of your target keyword, but it doesn’t provide much benefit other than that when compared to the other methods of determining your ranking.
To save time and a headache from manual counting, you can rely on a tool to help you find your keyword rankings.
SEO tools will often also offer additional metrics on your site, which can be extremely helpful for deep-diving into certain areas for improvement. You may need to pay for these extra features, but the helpful insights you will derive will make the investment well worth it.
Google provides its own free tool to track your site’s keyword rankings. Since this data is coming straight from the source, you can be assured it will be the most accurate.
One drawback to using Google Search Console is that it only lets you track your rankings for a set of keywords, not one specific keyword. If you are trying to be granular in your approach, you may find it more difficult with this tool.
To check your rank, first you need to set up Google Search Console. Log into the tool with your Google account, and add your website as a property.
Note that it can take up to 30 days for enough data to be loaded into the tool to sufficiently track your website’s rankings.
Once the Console is ready, navigate to the Performance Report (located in the left sidebar).
The Performance Report consists of four boxes that you’ll need to click on to activate: total clicks, total impressions, average CTR, and average position. You can adjust the time range of these boxes to see the metrics of different time periods.
Underneath these boxes, you’ll find a table with data. Select “Queries” from the top of this table to see the top queries your site ranks for. On the right hand side, the column “Position” will tell you where your site ranks for that query.
Without using a filter, this ranking is the combination for every page on your website. To find the rankings for a particular page URL, this will require a few steps:
If you want to look at how this one URL ranks for a particular query, you can follow these additional steps:
So you can see with a bit of navigation involved, Google Search Console can provide decent insights into your overall site ranking, as well as specific data on particular URLs and search queries.
Ahrefs provides a free Keyword Rank Checker where you can see where a certain website or URL ranks for any keyword in 243 countries.
The feature is incredibly easy to use. Simply fill in the keyword and domain/URL in the given fields, select the country, and click “Check rankings.”
One thing to note is that if your URL/domain does not appear in the first 100 results of the keyword, Ahrefs will have no data to show you.
Although Google Search Console and other free tools provide a decent look into your site’s ranking, there are tools available at a range of price points that can help you determine your site’s rank.
While most tools will charge more for checking your rank for extra keywords, Centori does not charge you any more based on the keywords you want to track.
That’s because we integrate with Google Search Console to pull your rank for the keywords you save in your account and we update your rank every week to make sure your data stays fresh. Whenever you save a keyword, either manually entering one or pulling from our database, we’ll check your positon in Google Search Console and save it under the “Rank” column:
We also provide a report for each keyword to show you your rank over time for that keyword as well as impressions and search results:
SEMrush offers a tool that allows you to monitor not only your own performance, but your competitors as well. Here are a few features their paid plan offers:
Unlike Centori, SEMRush and Ahrefs charge quite a bit for their keyword research tools. They start over $100 and if you want to track your rank for a large number of keywords they will charge extra.
Checking your keyword ranking is absolutely crucial to moving your SEO strategy forward, and it doesn’t need to be a hard thing to do.
Overall, your goals should be to check your keyword rankings weekly, if not more frequently. Pay close attention to how your rankings change as you make changes to your site, and as competition enters for your target keywords.
With this information at your disposal, you will be able to react faster and adapt more strategically to improve your SEO gains over time.
Ready to easily check your rank for any keyword? Sign up for a Centori account today, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee for all accounts as well as free onboarding and setup to ensure your SEO strategy is set up for success.
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