Only 25% of users will venture to the second page of search. This means that 75% of users will find what they are looking for on page 1. If your site appears on the second or third page for a keyword, you could be missing out on a boatload of traffic.
Keyword positions matter, and keeping track of where your site appears in the rankings can help to inform your strategy.
This guide will explore how keyword rankings are calculated, why they matter to your website, and how you can easily keep track of your Google rankings.
What is a keyword ranking?
Google ranks pages based on several different metrics, including the relevancy of your content to search terms.
A "keyword ranking" is simply an indication as to how relevant Google has deemed your website that relates specifically with keywords you've targeted.
Every individual page will have its own keyword rankings for each term it targets.
Every page on your website included in your sitemap (and not marked as "noindex") has the opportunity to rank.
Keyword rankings may fluctuate from day to day, and to make things more confusing, they can also change based on location and the type of term.
You may notice that some search terms bring up the knowledge panel on the right, a map view, a featured snippet, or a "people also ask" panel. These are all SERP features that help to enrich the search experience for users.
- If the user is searching for information about a person or organisation, the knowledge graph may appear. Try searching for "Amazon" or "George Clooney" to see this in action.
- If the user is searching for local information, the map may appear. Try searching for "cinemas near me" to see this in action.
- And some terms will bring up the featured snippet, which offers a longer than average summary, usually with a picture. Try searching for "how to find keywords" to see this in action.
You might appear at the top of the search rankings when a user is based in the same location as you, but you might appear further down the SERP if they are based in another city. Rankings will also vary between countries.
These factors explain why definitive keyword rankings can be challenging to communicate. In addition, rankings can also vary across mobile and desktop searches.
How to use SEO Scout to check keyword positions in Google
SEO Scout makes it easy to monitor your keyword positions for changes. In addition, SEO Scout can access and process data from your Google Search Console account for any verified site.
We then process this data, allowing you to understand where your site can be easily improved, focusing on quick wins and low hanging fruit.
To get started, you'll need a website that is verified with Google Search Console. Follow these instructions if you need to set this up.
Once verified, you can use the "All Sites" tab to add your associated Google account and then follow the instructions to add your site.
If your Search Console account is brand new, you'll need to leave this a few days to gather some data.
Check ranking keywords in SEO Scout
Many rank checkers expect you to input the keywords you want it to check. But this can be counterintuitive, particularly if you don't have a clear list of keywords you have been actively targeting.
Once your website data has fed into Google Search Console and then into SEO Scout, you will be able to see all of the keywords that your site currently ranks for.
Click on Keyword Rank Checker to see your current positions.
You can apply advanced filters to help you get to grips with where you currently stand.
Things to look out for in your keyword rankings:
- Keyword cannibalisation. No, your site isn't serving up fava beans and a nice chianti; this term simply means that two more pages from your site are ranking for the same keyword. This is terrible news from an SEO perspective, as you are essentially competing with yourself. Optimising your main page for the term and de-optimising other pages should help to make sure only the most relevant page shows up in the rankings. To find keywords with multiple pages, apply the advanced filter "# Pages Ranked > 1".
- Rankings just off the first page. Any rankings from 11-20 might only need a nudge to get them on the first page. To find these keywords, apply the advanced filter "Current Position > 11".
- High ranking pages with low CTR. A low CTR could indicate something is amiss with your meta title and description preventing users from clicking through to your website. Apply the advanced filter "Current Position < 10" and then sort the list by CTR descending. These should also appear on the "Low CTR Pages" tab, and from there, you'll be able to run a test to see if changes to the meta-information help boost the CTR.
- Keyword drops. A dramatic fall in rankings when you haven't made changes to your website can indicate turbulence in the algorithm or an increase in SEO activity by your competitors. You can see lost keywords on the Keyword Movements tab. And you can check for SERP volatility on SEMRush.
- Content opportunities. You might see some keywords on your list that are going to pages that aren't relevant. This is an excellent opportunity to create a piece of content just for that page. Once Google spots you have a better page on your site, it should prioritise that above the other page.
Check your competition keyword rankings
It's not only your keyword rankings that you should check periodically. Keeping a close eye on competitor positions and new keyword opportunities is a great way to bolster your content strategy. Competitor performance is also important to monitor to help you identify gaps in your content strategy.
You can learn more about how to see which keywords your competitors are ranking for here. (Link to other article)
How are keyword rankings determined?
Several factors go into determining how high a keyword appears on Google. First, Google uses complex algorithms to crawl and then score the pages on your site. The end goal for Google is to deliver the best possible results for the end-user.
The goal of SEO is to interpret Google's guidelines and try to signpost content on a website in a way that helps to boost rankings. This can be achieved through publishing content, making sure the page's intent is clear and making the user experience as simple as possible.
The truth is that no SEO professional can guarantee results, but they can provide guidance on the steps to take that could help increase your standing in the SERP. Ultimately, if your website is logical, well built, filled with quality content, designed with the user in mind and regularly updated, you should have no issue ranking for relevant keywords.