At some point, anyone working with a website is bound to ask one big question: What keywords do I rank for?
When working with a client website, one of the first things you do as an agency is find out where it currently stands in terms of search engine rankings so that you can identify its strengths and weaknesses to lay down a roadmap for optimization.
If you’re dealing with your own site or that of the company you work for as an SEO, you definitely need to know keyword rankings to get a firm understanding of what searchers look for to land on the site. Plus, this information will also form the basis for further analysis.
With the right tools and knowledge, you don’t have to do any guessing. In this blog post, we’ll look at how you can find out what keywords your site ranks for and plan your next move with the help of Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and our very own SE Ranking. Plus, you’ll also learn how to use our all-in-one SEO platform to find out what keywords your competitors rank for.
Why knowing what keywords you rank for is crucial
Before we dive into all of the details, let’s look at several important reasons why knowing what keywords your rank for—and their rankings—is vitally important to any site’s success.
- Understanding traffic drops.
Your site’s organic traffic volume can be affected by multiple factors, and the best way of understanding which pages and keywords are most effective and why is checking your keyword rankings.
- Finding missed opportunities.
With the search engine results pages changing so much over the years and Google’s strive to continue improving the user experience, keeping track of every new thing in the SERP can be difficult. However, tracking keyword rankings in SERP features like the Answer Box, Knowledge Graph and Twitter Box can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your website and even reveal keywords that are not getting any clicks. On top of that, with every change made to the search results pages, you get a new opportunity to make a move and outrank the competition.
- Keeping an eye on the competition.
Besides monitoring keyword ranking data on your own website, you can also learn how your digital rivals are ranking for the same keywords you’re targeting, and what keywords they’re targeting and you’re not.
By keeping an eye on ranking fluctuations, you can track the changes your competitors made to their web pages and semantic core, and as a result, optimize your own site using their experience. You can also identify unique keywords that work well in search for other websites in your niche, and target them in your own campaigns. This will help you steer competitor traffic towards your own website.
- Targeting relevant keywords.
Knowing what keywords a specific web page ranks for allows you to remove irrelevant keywords that don’t result in high rankings for that page. Instead, you can take such keywords to create new pieces of content that will be relevant to their search intent. This also helps avoid keyword cannibalization, when two or more web pages of the same site compete for rankings for the same keyword—something that confuses search engines a great deal.
If the wrong page comes up in search for a certain keyword, you may want to review that keyword’s intent. Ask yourself what the user’s true intent is and how well does this page answer that intent.
- Obtaining data to report on.
Proving all the SEO work that’s been done on a website is one of the most important and challenging tasks of any SEO expert. One way of doing this is finding out how many keywords have started to rank recently, their exact ranking positions, and traffic volumes. In a similar fashion, you can use this data to see how rankings change over time.
- Identifying easy-target keywords.
By analyzing rankings data, you can discover which high traffic pages need a little extra touch to get page 1 rankings with little optimization work like clearer metadata, more links, issues with user experience, and so on. This is the way to go if you need to produce good results quickly.
- Developing a promotional strategy.
Once you’ve identified all the keywords you’re ranking for, you can start devising a plan to improve your entire site’s SERP standings. Cut all the keywords that are not helping you, create content to meet user intent, take keyword ideas from your competitors, and do everything that is relevant to the goals of your website.
But I want to point out that doing anything from the list above requires you to understand and have access to accurate, up-to-date data on keywords and their rankings. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
Getting keyword ranking data from Google
Google is the number 1 place people go to to get information on just about anything. To learn more about your site’s organic search performance and the keywords it ranks for, make use of Google Search Console reports. On top of that, you can also connect to Google Analytics to get even more data and further analyze the stats.
To do this, you first need to make sure both of these tools are set up:
Once you’re good to go, start analyzing your keyword ranking data.
Note: Several weeks need to go by at the very least for you to have enough data from Google to work with, so make sure to have it all in place as soon as possible.
Below, you’ll find an easy step-by-step guide to using Google’s services to find all the keywords your website ranks for. Let’s start off with Google Search Console.
Keyword data in Google Search Console
Go to Performance → Queries. Here you’ll find the powerful “Performance” report that shows all the different keywords your site ranks for in Google, along with data on clicks, impressions, average CTR and position. By the way, clicking on Average CTR and Average Position at the top of the page will add respective data to the table below.
There are plenty of ways you can use this data. Maybe you want to see all of your keywords that are ranking on page 2 of Google and beyond, but are getting more than 30 clicks each month. Such keywords are working for you, but your competition is doing a much better job, and if you do some optimization work to web pages that target such keywords, you’ll be able to get on Google page 1. As a result, this will skyrocket your traffic.
Note that unlike paid SEO tools, Google Search Console does not give you the option to select the keywords that you want to track. Here you’ll find a list of all the keywords and search phrases that your site is displayed for in search. It is usually very long and contains a significant amount of non-targeted searches. Another option is manually checking the ranking position of each keyword separately with the help of the “Query” filter. Just click + NEW above the widget.
It is also worth noting that there is one key difference between Google Analytics and Google Search Console. While Google Analytics focuses on the user behavior and has a counter that keeps track of all website visits and interactions, Google Search Console focuses on organic search results and provides information that helps website owners increase their search visibility.
Since Google Analytics is user-oriented, it provides data that’s related to everyone who visits and interacts with your website. On the flip side, Google Search Console focuses on search engines, and as a result, it provides data that’s aimed at helping website owners improve their overall search engine presence and visibility.
Once you’ve found all the keywords of your website that Google knows about, I recommend you find all of your site’s web pages so that you can further develop your promotional strategy. But while you are doing this, I advise you to pay attention two things:
- The regions where you promote your pages, and
- The changes you decide to make as even a seemingly insignificant alteration can have a negative effect on your rankings.
Keyword data in Google Analytics
There are two ways you can go about finding information on keywords in Google Analytics. First, go to Acquisition → All Traffic → Channels and then select Keyword as the Primary Dimension. But note that most of the search queries are often hidden and either fall under the (not set) or (not provided) categories.
For this reason, it’s best if you link your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts, and once they are synced, go to Acquisition → Search Console → Queries. Under the Search Query column, you will find a list of all keywords for which your website ranks for on Google:
In the table, you can click on different column headers to analyze the list of keywords by different parameters. Sorting data under the Clicks column will show you top-performing keywords that drive more traffic. With the help of the Average Position column that contains the average ranking position of all of the website’s pages for a specific search query, you can assess a keyword’s potential to attract visitors.
To see the full picture of your site’s keywords, I encourage you to play around with the calendar date ranges and various filters.
Note: In October 2020, Google announced the release of the new Google Analytics that will not feature Google Search Console data.
Now let’s take a closer look at the capabilities of the SE Ranking SEO platform and find out what information on keywords the service can provide.
Getting keyword ranking data from SE Ranking
Although Google tools do let you monitor keywords, you need to be very patient when using them. For example, it takes the search giant up to three whole days to update Search Console data and most of the time this is not quick enough. On top of that, search engine services provide data in the form of a long list of search queries that you then need to process on your own, unfortunately.
In turn, SE Ranking offers a lot of benefits and advantages including high-speed data provision that allows users to get real-time website ranking data on request. Moreover, you can set up a schedule to automatically get rankings data, for example, every day.
Keyword reports are designed to be as comprehensive and as structured as possible. Besides providing rankings data, you can immediately see each keyword’s search volume, ranking dynamics, and find out if it displayed for any Google SERP feature. Under the table settings, you can also enable other parameters like keyword search visibility, traffic forecast, cost, etc.
Furthermore, our platform is packed with SEO tools that can provide you with detailed information about competitors. This knowledge significantly helps SEO specialists get websites to rank higher in search. We will get to this in greater detail later on, but now let’s look at how you can display Google data in SE Ranking reports.
Connecting Google services to SE Ranking
SE Ranking provides detailed and up-to-date website ranking data, but you are also at liberty to pull data directly from Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console. With SE Ranking, you can see stats from all of these services in a single interface.
The example below shows a Google Search Console website performance report that’s integrated into SE Ranking’s Analytics & Traffic module. In addition to standard parameters and graphs, here you can also see keyword ranking dynamics:
The Position column indicates whether SE Ranking is analyzing the website’s search visibility for a certain keyword. By the way, here you can checkmark the keywords you are interested in tracking and add them to your project in a click.
On the Overview page of the Analytics & Traffic module, you can see your website statistics from every connected service. This view enables you to analyze all of the data without having to switch back and forth between tabs:
Get more data on keywords targeted by you and your competitors
In order to find out what search queries both you and your online rivals are targeting in search, go to SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool and follow these steps:
1. Enter your website into the search box, select if you want to analyze the domain with or without subdomains or an exact URL, select the search region, and hit ‘Analyze’:
2. Once the data loads up, you’ll see a summary of the analyzed website’s organic and paid campaign activities that—among other things—includes a complete list of all the keywords targeted both organically and in Google Ads campaigns:
3. By clicking on Keywords either under the Organic traffic research or Paid traffic research tabs, you will be redirected to the detailed report on such keywords.
As you can see from the screenshot below, apple.com is ranking for 18,5 million keywords on Google in the United States. Moreover, besides seeing the list of keywords, you can also see each keyword’s ranking position, search volume, cost of getting a click from Google Ads campaigns, and much more data that will help you understand how promising a keyword is in terms of driving traffic.
4. The Filter option allows you to filter out the list to only see the keywords you’re interested in.
For example, you want to see keywords with a search volume of over 1,000, keywords ranking in the top 10 positions, or both filters applied at the same time.
5. You can dive very deep into all the data provided here and use it to build your semantic core from scratch or expand it.
By clicking on any keyword from the list, the service will redirect you to the Keyword Research tool. Here you can get the full list of websites that are ranking for the selected keyword both in organic and paid search. Plus, you can also find similar, related, low search volume keyword suggestions along with search engine autocomplete suggestions.
You can then repeat the process for your competitors and find out everything about their search engine activities in any region of the world in any major search engine including Google, Bing, Yandex, Yahoo! and YouTube.
Discover competitor keyword overlaps
In SE Ranking, you can get a comparison of all the keywords that are targeted by your website and its top direct competitors. That way, you’ll discover keywords that are unique for you and your digital rivals, and will be able to further expand your semantic core.
As a result, SE Ranking will generate a handy Venn diagram that helps you visualize how many keywords you have in common with your competitors:
If you’d like to drill deeper into a set of overlapping keywords, you can click on All, Common, Missing and Unique keywords right below the Venn diagram. All of the data can be exported and then discussed with your teammates. Ultimately, this data gives you the opportunity to take your competitors’ top keywords and use them in your own semantic core.
Alternatively, you can go to the Competitor Comparison tab to compare your website to any other two websites other than your top direct competitors:
Track your own and competitor rankings
Once you’ve found all the keywords you’re ranking for, analyzed the competition, and filtered out all of the keywords you want to target in a certain search engine and region, add them to your SE Ranking project to be able to keep track of their ranking positions in major search engines, in any location and on any device.
Let’s take a look at the main capabilities of SE Ranking in terms of report customization, ranking data display and competitive analysis.
Report settings options
DIFFERENT WAYS OF ADDING KEYWORDS
When creating a project, you have several options for adding keywords. You can either add them manually, copy a list from a text editor, import a CSV file, import a CSV/XLS file along with rankings history data, or import them from your Google Analytics account (given that it’s connected to SE Ranking).
In addition, you can also pull keywords directly from Google Search Console and they will automatically be added to your project for further tracking. This can be set up in the Analytics & Traffic module.
To make it easier for you to work with large amounts of data, you can bucket keywords together into groups and track their visibility dynamics within such groups.
IDENTIFY AND TRACK TOP COMPETITORS
One of the biggest advantages of SE Ranking’s keyword rank tracking tool is that not only does it let you track the ranking positions of certain keywords for your site, but it also lets you track the same keywords for up to 5 competitor websites at the same time. With this data, you’ll be able to clearly understand where your site currently stands, how it’s performing, and as a result, make timely adjustments to its SEO strategy.
When setting up a new project, you should specify your closest digital rivals under the Competitors section. And if you ever need to collect data on a larger number of sites, you can always create additional projects for each one of them.
AUTOMATE KEYWORD RANK TRACKING
SE Ranking users have the liberty to decide how often they want to track keyword rankings. Ranking reports are generated automatically, the data is displayed in the project itself and sent to the specified inbox. You can manually run a keyword ranking check at any time.
Report data completeness
EXTENDED RANKINGS DATA
In order to assess the overall effectiveness of your site’s semantic core, you can add columns with additional parameters to the rankings table. For example:
- Search volume
- Level of Google Ads competition
- Recommended CPC
- Organic search visibility
- SERP features
- Traffic forecast
DATA BROKEN DOWN INTO TABS
For convenience reasons, SE Ranking has tabs that group data for a specified period of time by different categories. You can view data for a selected search engine under the Detailed tab, for all search engines under the Overall tab, and compare current ranking positions with baseline results for 1/3/6 months under the Historical Data tab.
DATA-PACKED VISUAL BLOCKS
All of the tabs under the Rankings module are equipped with various charts, graphs and visual blocks that illustrate:
- The fluctuation of the website’s average ranking position and other parameters
- The quantity, percentage, and ranking dynamics of the website’s top-performing keywords
- The number of positions the site went up/down in rankings for a specific keyword
Tracking competitor keyword rankings
Knowing what keywords your site ranks for in search is only half the battle. The next thing you need to do is find out what keywords your competitors are targeting in search so that you can create the perfect strategy to outrank them.
Clicking on the Rankings icon next to a competitor in the list above will take you to a page that shows how the selected competitor is ranking for all of the keywords you are targeting in your campaigns. Plus, you can compare their data to your most recent keyword rankings:
The SERP Competitors tool gives the opportunity to go back in time and see the top 100 search results for each of the keywords tracked in your projects.
Just pick a keyword you want to analyze, select the search region and set a data range via the calendar. As a result, you’ll see the ranking dynamics of the top 100 websites ranking for the keyword. By the way, you can also choose to highlight the competitors that you have added to the project.
With this data, you can get an instant understanding of how stable each keyword SERP is, who the strongest players are, how often results move around and who the new players are. On top of that, you get additional data on each website such as Alexa rank and total number of backlinks. This gives you a quick, overall understanding of who you are going up against.
Summing up, there’s plenty of data you can get in SE Ranking besides keywords and competitors that allows you to put together the perfect organic and paid search campaign. Plus, the Customer Success Team is always ready to lend you a helping hand if you need a nudge in the right direction.
Over to you
Besides using Google’s tools, there are several other ways you can track a website’s keyword rankings. SE Ranking has a number of advantages over Google Search Console and other analytics services:
- Keyword statistics in Google services are displayed with a delay and no more than once a day. In SE Ranking, you can see keyword rankings in real time.
- Google’s services don’t allow you to choose which keywords you want to track. Reports are provided in the form of a super long list that contains all the search queries and search phrases your website was displayed in search for. In SE Ranking, you can create a separate project for each website, add all the necessary keywords and keep track of their ranking dynamics.
- Google service reports are presented in a basic form along with site-specific organic search metrics. SE Ranking has all sorts of parameters and filters that give you a complete picture for each keyword, including CPC and level of Google Ads competition.
- While Google does show you your own website’s keyword rankings (once you confirm all the access rights), it unfortunately doesn’t give you the opportunity to track competitor rankings. With SE Ranking, you can analyze data on any competitor and compare keyword visibility, adding necessary domains to the keyword report in the process or creating an unlimited number of separate projects.
With so many options for keyword research and rank tracking to choose from, failing to implement this data into your SEO strategy would be a huge mistake. So, make use of the tools mentioned in this blog post to get keyword data on any website, starting with the one you’re promoting.
Analyze web page keyword visibility before making any content changes, track organic search rankings, and learn more about your competitors by using SE Ranking. Embark on your journey to the top of the search results today with your free 14-day trial of SE Ranking!