Tracking SERP ranking for keywords is essential for any business whether SEO is negligible or not. For the most part, you had to rely on Google Analytics or Search Console to find your website position for a keyword.

However, In this article, I will show you how to track search engine keyword ranking and get updates instantly so that you can keep updated on key metrics that actually matter your business.

Also, you will learn how to track local SERP rankings and monitor search engine positions for competitors very easily and get alerts via email (or push notifications (optional)) when something happens!

The Untold Story about Keyword Rank Tracking in Google Search Console

Google Search Console is absolutely a must-have SEO tool for webmasters. However, it is not convenient and flexible for some tasks.

For example, in keyword rank tracking, Google lists keywords and their average rankings during a period you specify.

The key-word here actually is the average position.

Does average keyword ranking reflect the actual ranking potential or the exact ranking position?

Maybe.

But, the average rank position could be calculated by considering different ranking positions.

For example, Let’s say John’s blog’s rankings for the ‘XYZ’ keyword over a week is 12, 27, 2, 2, 2, 10, 12.

John wants to see rankings for keywords in Google search engine. He logs into Google Search Console and checks Google keyword rankings.

He sees ranking for XYZ keyword for the week is 9.5.

But, four times John’s blog ranked 10+ positions in Google search engine result pages.

However, Google search console’s search analytics information shows that John’s blog ranked in 9.5 positions.

Now you see the difference. It’s the average ranking position. And it doesn’t show anything specially about the keyword ranking position in Google.

average-serp-position-google-search-console

And if you wanted to see the current Google keyword rank (today's), it's impossible because it takes at least one day to Google to process data and deliver it.

Now, you see the downside of using Google Search Console as a keyword ranking tracker.

It’s disadvantageous to use Google search console for tracking Google keyword rankings that matter for your business.

For example, it's not easy (or impossible) to find the SERP rank for any given location through Google Search Console. That’s why many serious bloggers, SEO experts, digital marketers, and website owners use 3rd party tools to track keyword rankings in search engines.

Why You Should Track Keyword Rankings In Search Engines

There are a lot of reasons why you should track keyword rankings immediately for your important keywords. Here are a few of them…

  • First Reason

  • Second Reason

  • Third Reason

Learn WHY your SERP rankings ​are changed

If you’re in a very competitive niche and your websites are ranking on Google’s first page for highly important keywords, then there’s a no doubt that you should pay your close attention for those keywords.

Your business might solely depend upon those search queries.

Sophisticated keyword rank tracking software can identify daily ranking fluctuations, so you can adapt to changes and find out why SERP position is changed.

Here’s a screenshot from popular online keyword rank tracker app, SEMRUSH. As you see, it does not only display daily keyword ranking changes, but also the keyword difficulty, average traffic numbers distributed out of the total search traffic particular website receives.

serp-keywords-rankings-neilpatel-semrush

URL Rank for specific keyword in specific region - SEMRUSH

Without tracking keyword rankings in search engines, you literally play in dark, without knowing what you’re actually doing… blogging or writing for fun…

How to Track Keyword Rankings in Google

Google and Bing are the top search engines in the world. While Google dominantly owns more than 90% search share market worldwide.

I will show you step by step how to track keyword rankings in Google engines.

Unfortunately, this article doesn’t cover about monitoring search engine positions in Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, and Duckduckgo.

How to Track Keyword Rankings in Google Search Engine(s)


Google has several country-specific domains. For example, when someone in United Kingdom googles something, he/she actually searches queries on Google.co.uk database.

Follow the steps below to track keyword ranking in Google.

The keyword rank tracking tool I use is SEMRUSH. It’s an all-in-one search engine marketing tool. You can spy on competitors keywords, find AdWords ad spending of competitors, see keywords and so much more. Read my SEMrush review to learn more about this SEO tool.

Step 1: First of all you have to create a SEMrush account. Luckily for you, I was able to negotiate with SEMrush to get an exclusive SEMrush free trial offer. (Only for Pitiya readers!)

Click this link and create your free SEMrush GURU account.

semrush-free-guru-trial-offer-checkout-page

Don’t forget to activate your account by clicking the activation link sent to your email address you signed up with.

Step 2: Now here the steps start. Once you created your created your SEMrush account, log into your SEMrush account. You’ll be redirected to SEMrush dashboard. Click on the Project icon as shown as below.

create a project

Click on “Create My First Project” green button.

project details

Step 3: Enter your website or blog address into the text field, project domain. You can use your site’s name as the Project Name. It’s not very special. But, the domain name is.

enter project name domain URL

Then click on “Save” button.

Step 4: Your very first project will be created instantly. In Project dashboard area, you can see different tasks you can do with SEMrush.

semrush-serp-position-tracking

Click on the 'Set up' button under Position Tracking box.

  • Site Audit: Crawl up to 300,000 inner pages of your blog and find on-page errors such as broken links, adding Nofollow link to inner pages, images without ALT tag, HTTPs errors, 4xx pages (ex: 404- not found, 400- not responding, 302- temporary redirection)
  • Position Tracking: Track keyword rankings within top 100 results in Google and Bing. We are using this tool today to track keyword ranking.
  • Content Analyzer: Suggest SEO content optimization recommendations to implement on particular web pages to improve search engine rankings. Thus, your SERP positions would improve and build the authority.
  • On-Page SEO Checker: SEMRUSH On-Page SEO checker gives you a list of actions to increase search engine keyword rankings. (Recommended to use if you want to improve SEO optimization of new and older posts. They also have a WordPress plugin and Google Docs add-on (SEO Writing Assistant))
  • Brand Monitoring: Monitor brand mentions, co-citations, backlinks, customer reviews and much more. Very useful for medium and large sized business.
  • Backlink Audit: Audit backlink profile of your entire website across millions of linked pages and find toxic links to disavow in Google search console. Very helpful if your website is penalized in recent Google Penguin update.
  • Link Building: Increase your SERP rankings by gaining high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites.​​​​
  • Organic Traffic insights: Uncover “not provided” keywords in your Google Analytics account with a few clicks.

You can always give a try other tools. However, for tracking keyword rankings in Google, we are going to use the “Position tracking” tool.

Click on the ‘setup’ button under “Position Tracking”.

Step 5: Once you clicked on the “set up” button, a pop-up box will show up....

Stage 1: The first stage is “Domain Settings”. Click on “Advanced Settings” link.

domain settings

You will see these options:

  • Tracking Root Domain: https://pitiya.com.
  • Tracking Sub Domain: https://www.pitiya.com
  • Tracking URL: https://www.pitiya.com/how-to-start-a-blog-on-wordpress.html
  • Tracking Folder: https://www.pitiya.com/category/ or https://www.pitiya.com/category/seo/

You can track keywords under root domain. However, if your tracking domain has different domains such as blog.abcdomain.com, support.abcdomain.com, and forum.abcdomain.com, you should go with Tracking Subdomain option.

Tracking URL is significant, if and only if you need to track keyword ranking for a specific web page.

Stage 2: The beauty of SEMrush position tracking technology is you can actually track local SEO rankings very easily.

Select appropriate options as your need. For example, if you want to monitor keyword ranking in Adelaide, mobile devices (mostly smartphones over feature phones), you’d prepare settings like this.

track local serp positions

See you can track keyword rankings for different devices as well. Very important feature considering Google promotes mobile-based content.

Stage 3: Competitors

SEMrush will automatically search for competitors for your domain within their database. And you will find a few top competitors in ‘Suggested competitors (organic)’ box.

position tracking competitors settings

Select a few competitors from the box or enter a website name you sure it contains keywords that your website is ranking.

Stage 4: Keywords

This is an important stage of your campaign. You are going to add keywords you want to track rankings in Google SERPs.

Remember that in this example, I chose Australia as the country. So, the search engine domain is actually Google.au.

set up keywords to track

Basically, you can add keywords by four ways.

  1. 1
    Manually: Type each keyword one by one. One keyword per line.
  2. 2
    From SEMrush: Find keywords to track from SEMrush keyword database.
  3. 3
    From Google Analytics: Connect your Google Analytics account with SEMrush and fetch keywords to track ranking.
  4. 4
    From File: Upload keyword file from your local device. Supported formats are .txt and .csv.
Note: With SEMrush GURU plan you can track up to 1,500 keywords. So, make sure you don’t exceed the keyword amount. You can create 14 more campaigns.

My favorite method to add keywords to track is the manual method. Because I can enter targeted keywords I want to track ranking on daily basis. (HINT: keywords containing review, buyer keywords etc.)

But, if you don’t know what keywords to add, you can simply use SEMrush to help you with adding keywords to your keyword tracking campaign. Here, I added a few keywords that Pitiya.com ranking on Google.au.

Be creative. You can use these methods as well.

Find keywords based on your competitors: Your competitors are not always unhelpful, right? Generate keywords based on their rankings. You’ll find several or more keywords that will help you in future.

competitor keywords tracking

Find Keywords based on Adwords ads: If your competitors utilize PPC advertising to receive traffic, then there must be something out there, right? Those keywords should be driving leads, conversions for them. Fetch a few of them and track organic rankings to find where your website ranks for them.

adwords keywords tracking

For future easy access, you can tag each keyword. So, you can search a specific group of keywords out from 1,500 other keywords simply using tags.

Tick on “Send me weekly updates” to receive updates about your position tracking campaign.

Now you’re ready to go. One last step.

Click on “Start Tracking” button.

start tracking button pointing by arrow

For a moment, you will see this screen in your project dashboard.

data gathering

But, not for forever. In a few second, you will see a screen like this.

position tracking visibility score

I have a lot of things to improve on my site.

Step 6: Click on “Position Tracking” box to know more information about your campaign.

This is the page you’re going to be hanging in upcoming days.

position tracking dashboard semrush

I love this page. Just imagine how many things you can accomplish by analyzing simple things. I am not going to explain everything.

But, here are a few I can’t neglect. 🙂

Add more devices & Locations

Your local business might be based on several places. Want to know ranking for those places as well? Here’s what you have to do.

add new locations

Add new device or location (perfect use for  multi-local businesses and people who want to track keywords ranking on multi-devices)

Enter location and device details as you added in stage 3 of step 5.

new device and location settings

Add more keywords and competitors

After a few days, you’d find more keywords that are worth of tracking rank positions in Google. And some other competitors who are also competing for those keywords.

add new competitiors

Add them to SEMrush position tracking tool and research ways you can outgo their SEO rankings.

Find competitors SERP ranking changes

Another way to get a good idea about the keyword’s performance in SERP is through analyzing competitor’s SEO keyword rankings.

Compare your website’s rankings with competitors. You’ll find which website is the strongest one in SERP keyword ranking.

Add notes

In some days, you might find higher rankings in SERP, and some days, lower rankings. It happens in nowadays regularly. However, you might have a special note about the ranking change. For example, you updated a particular content and you see some improving in rankings. Add it to notes. It really helps in the long run.

add note

Add Triggers

If you own a website with a ton of content, then it is not an easy task to monitor keyword rankings in SERPs in every day. For example, let’s say your website’s Landing page variation C is the highest converting one. And you were able to increase keyword ranking in Google.

But, you’re not sure Landing page C’s keywords’ ranking might lose. The easiest way to get notified about these SERP ranking changes is adding a trigger in your position tracking dashboard.

Click on little “Bell” icon.

triggers semrush position tracking

Click on “Edit Triggers” button.

edit triggers add alerts semrush

First, select your condition. You might want to know ranking losses rather than ranking gains. Am I right? For example, if want to get notified whenever your “landing page C” leaves from the first page, add this condition.

Select your domain from the domains list and click on “Add” button.

set up alerts for serp position changes

Get to know when your SERP positions are changes instantly

You can create more alerts by adding more triggers. For example, you can receive notifications to your email whenever your competitor increases its rankings to top 3 results.

position tracking triggers settings semrush

At the bottom of the page, you can see SERP ranking for each keyword in each day. The table updates in every single day. So, you can see live keyword rankings of your keywords.

ranking overview

Ranking overview (Check daily SERP ranking position for each tracked keyword)

You can add more keywords and also assign more tags for each keyword. I recommend doing it because you will find adding tags is helpful in future when filtering keywords.

If you’re not sure which web page ranks for a certain keyword phrase, you can easily find it.

keyword ranking webpage

In “Ranking Distribution” tab, you will see Visibility, estimated organic traffic, ranking distribution in top 3, top 10, top 20 and top 100.

ranking distribution

Ideally, you should try to obtain higher ranking visibility. So, it refers indirectly that your website receives more traffic for given conditions.

In Ranking tab, by clicking on any particular keyword phrase, you can find ranking changes. It is very helpful because, you can see exact ranking positions in Google date by date, not the average ranking like in Google Search Console.

ranking overview per keyword

Position Tracking On the Go!

Since, we used SEMrush for checking Google SERP position daily, now you can keep updated on rankings on mobile with SEMrush mobile app.

Download it on Appstore (iOS) or Playstore (Android) and give it a try.

Analyze more data given by SEMrush, and you will find tons of precious information. Let it a few days operate. The more data SEMrush position tracker tool collects, you receive more accurate information and also you can take most proper decisions for your SEO and content marketing campaigns.

Have only one variable at a time and change it to see how far dependent variables go. Your controlled variable might be the post title. When you split test post titles and make the winner title the meta post title, you will see changes in CTR, bounce rates, average time on page and so Google keyword ranking changes too.

SEO is a long term game. It’s not a set-and-forget game either. If you think and act as it's one-off task, you lose at it. Because, Google changes its algorithm frequesnt to keep up on new trends, technological advances such as voice search and obviously weep out low-quality content.

By tracking keyword rankings, you’re at least one step ahead from your competitors. Because you can,

  • Analyze ranking fluctuations across entire website and see how SEO strategies you implemented have paid off. Is it in a good way or just in the bad way?
  • Identify SEO strategies of competitors. Do they hire SEO services to prominently build backlinks or use influencer marketing (ex: social media promotion, blogger outreach, reviews, banner ads etc.) to increase rankings indirectly.
  • Discover new opportunities. Have you heard about “Red ocean vs Blue Ocean”? Don’t swim in a place where huge, terrible sharks hanging around. Find a place where you feel you are safe and have opportunities that you are confident of you can actually succeed on.
  • Improve search engine rankings. This is your ultimate goal in an SEO’s point of view. Tracking keyword ranking makes it so much easier for you to keep in good understanding about what work and what did not work. For example, not a too long ago, Google+ directly made a huge impact on search engine rankings. Same with secured pages (i.e: HTTPS) Now, more weight to high-quality content, user behavior, web security (not just SLL certificate but things like data protection and collection policies) and much more factors which are oriented to people.

Final words on SERP tracking keyword ranking

As a webmaster, blogger and internet marketer who use content marketing and search engine marketing as a tactic to generate more readers, leads, potential customers, and business advocates, you can clearly see the importance of tracking keyword rank in Google.

I don’t know how to insist this. However, when you started tracking rankings in SERPs, you would see a lot of things that you can’t see just writing and posting articles on your site.

You will start seeing that subtle things make a huge impact the overall result. And you will become more sophisticated and even start asking yourself questions like "is it better off optimizing for single medium-volume keyword phrase or low-volume keyword phrase?" (Hint: answer might surprise you.)

SEMrush is one of my personal SEO tools that I use literally on daily basis since 2013. (Learn more about it on my review)

Its SERP Position Tracker tool is an ultimate SEO tool you’d use as a website owner.

Position yourself on shoes of search visitor before trying to position your blog on SERPs. That’s how I learned a lot of things about SEO and content marketing.

So, how do you find tracking keyword ranking helps in search engine ranking? Leave your comment below to let me know your thoughts.

About the author 

Chamal Rathnayaka

A blogger, Growth Hacker, and Internet Marketer since 2012. Chamal Rathnayaka is the founder of this very site and he's sharing his experience and knowledge on Internet marketing through Pitiya blog. Send him a message on Pitiya.com/contact.

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  • Great tips Chamal! I was wondering, what is your take in keyword density? do you think it still matters?

    • Yes, it matters somewhat. But, not highly. User-oriented content will add more terms to search index, so posts will be ranked for more long-tail search queries. When integrating keywords into articles, don’t mind about keyword density. It will be eventually set up after you crafted a good SEO-friendly article.

      • Emmerey Rose says:

        I see. Thanks Chamal for responding! 🙂

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