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How to Use Keyword Rankings to Measure SEO Success

Keyword rankings are an obvious metric to analyse if you want to know successful your SEO campaign is.  If your keyword research has left you with five or six high potential keywords that you feel you can rank for, then you are naturally going to want to check that you are ranking well for these over time. You can use platforms such as SEMRush to check your keyword rankings, as well as to find ideas for other keywords; whether they relate to your current targets or are long-tail keywords that you are not currently looking at.

For example, if you were targeting six specific keywords, and SEMRush, or another platform, tells you that you are ranking in positions one to five in Google for two of those keywords, but are way down the rankings for the four others, you would be able to make an evidence-based decision about whether you wanted to shift your focus. In this instance, you could either increase the efforts made in relation to the four non-performing keywords, or carry out further research to determine if you would be better targeting variants of the successful ones. The latter might be true if, for example, you decided to target these keywords despite them being highly competitive, but having committed resources for a short time, you see that it is no longer cost effective to do so.

Disadvantages of Analysing Keyword Rankings

As obvious as analysing keyword rankings is, there are disadvantages to doing so.


  • If you are carrying out an SEO strategy and you focus solely on keyword rankings, you are missing the data available elsewhere. In addition, if your keyword research was not as good as possible, there is a chance that you are ranking for irrelevant keywords without realising it. You might have hit page one of Google for five keywords, but is your site relevant to internet users who would be searching that term?
  • While numerous pieces of research have proven the value of ranking on Google’s first page, your site is still only one of ten that is on there, in addition to adverts, news stories, and various other features like maps or shopping windows. A high ranking does not automatically translate into more traffic.
  • Google are making search more personalised all the time. This means search history, geographical location, social media use, and many more factors are taken into consideration when Google presents results to an internet user. These can all affect your keyword rankings, yet are all factors over which you have no control. SEMRush might say you are ranking on page one for certain keywords, but it is not always the case.
  • You will unwittingly waste a lot of time if you obsess over keyword ranking analysis.


How to Use Keyword Rankings

The most sensible approach is to check keyword rankings on a sporadic basis. Once a month is sufficient. Instead of looking at them purely in terms of keyword success, look for the keywords that are unexpectedly delivering a high ranking, and devise a plan for working these into your content marketing strategy. By using SEMRush and similar platforms you can also see which pages are appearing in the search results for certain keywords.

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Posted · Nov 22, 2013
Categories · Keyword Analysis.
Related Articles · How do Keywords Evolve Through Time?. Should You Target Misspelled Keywords for SEO?. How to Complete Keyword Competitor Analysis. What are the Best Keyword Research Tools?. What is the Value of Targeting Long-Tail Keywords?. How to Select the Right Keywords?. Is Keyword Density Important?. The Importance of Keywords.

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