how to track keywords

How to Track Keywords & Monitor Search Engine Rankings

Looking for an easy way to track keywords? Try ProRankTracker for FREE.

If you’re new to SEO, you’ve probably heard a ton of “keyword talk.”

Words like “short-tail keywords,” “long-tail keywords,” “keyword volume,” and “keyword difficulty.” 

You probably have questions.

Like, “What keywords should I target?

And “How do track those keywords for SEO?

Tracking keywords manually is a big waste of time — especially when you’re tracking dozens of them!

In this article, we’ll show you how to use a rank tracker to track your SEO results and improve your SEO strategy.

Feel free to skip to the section that you’re most interested in:

How to Pick Keywords 

Before we talk about how to track keywords, we need to go over how to pick them for 2 reasons:

  1. You can’t track keywords if you don’t have keywords (obviously).
  2. If you pick the wrong keywords, you won’t generate much traffic.

Since the first reason is self-explanatory, we’ll leave it at that. 

However, the second reason has some learning involved. 

Finding the RIGHT keywords for your pages is critical to your page’s success, but it’s tricky business.

In this section, we’ll discuss:

  • Keyword length
  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty

Each of these 3 factors directly influences your keyword success and significantly impacts your keyword tracking down the road.

Keyword Length (Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail)

Don’t let the term “keyword” fool you — keywords often consist of more than 1 word. 

**As a point of clarification, both “keyword” and “search term” mean the same thing for our purposes.**

Does keyword length affect whether you should choose a keyword or not?


Let’s talk about why.

A short-tail keyword is any search term with 1 or 2 words. For example:

  • Bike shop
  • “Running shoes”
  • “Coffee”
  • “Mug”
  • “Coffee mug”

Put yourself in the searchers’ shoes and think for a minute.

When you use short-tail keywords, what are you looking for?

Typically, people using short-tail keywords aren’t ready to purchase yet.

Instead, they’re in the early stages of research, which means 3 things:

  1. Short-tail keywords are challenging to rank because they usually have a high search volume.
  2. Clicks earned from short-tail keywords typically aren’t super valuable.
  3. Very few clicks on short-tail keywords lead to sales.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords consist of 3 or more words. For example:

  • “Bike shop near me”
  • “Running shoes for men over 40”
  • “Coffee with extra caffeine”
  • “Mug for over-the-road truckers”
  • “Coffee mug with an extra-large handle”

When someone gets to the point where they’re using long-tail keywords, they’re usually ready to buy something, which means 3 things:

  1. Search volume is lower (we’ll get to search volume next), making it easier to rank.
  2. A click earned from a long-tail keyword is uber valuable.
  3. You’re more likely to get a click from a long-tail keyword than a short-tail keyword.

We aren’t saying that short-tail keywords aren’t valuable — there’s a time and place for short-tail keywords. 

However, businesses that have decided to break into an SEO niche should focus on long-tail keywords first.

Search Volume

Search volume determines how many people search Google for a keyword in a month.

It isn’t a perfect indicator of how valuable a keyword is, but it does show that a particular keyword garners searcher interest.

Following the search volume of keywords on Google can reveal various trends in your niche. 

You can gain insights into the economy, politics, tech trends, memes, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Using Google Trends is a valuable source of information about the trends that search volume reveals. 

For example, I quickly searched for “SEO tips” on Google Trends, and the following graph came up:

So, why is search volume significant when picking keywords?

Search volume greatly affects how likely you are to rank for a specific keyword (and get clicks from it).

The search volume usually drops as the keyword becomes longer. 

1-word keywords have a massive search volume and may look impressive at first but are usually useless for SEO. 

However, longer keywords with seemingly low search volume are generally much more useful. 

This is because they’re easier to rank for due to lower competition, and people searching for a long-tail keyword are often more focused on what they need.

Long-tail keywords comprise over 70% of Google’s search volume, but each one may only see a few dozen searches a month. 

However, ranking for those searches is more manageable, and you’re more likely to see sales from those clicks.

In other words, keyword length affects search volume, directly affecting keyword difficulty.

Keyword Difficulty

Answer this question — would you rather get 100 clicks out of 10,000 low-quality monthly searches or 10 clicks out of 100 high-quality, valuable long-tail monthly searches?

That’s easy, right?

You take the 10 high-quality clicks every time.

But what’s that got to do with keyword difficulty, you ask?

You might get more clicks when you target high-volume keywords (short-tail terms), but they won’t be valuable.

When you target low-volume terms (long-tail keywords), you might get fewer clicks, but they’ll be more beneficial for your business.

Notice how long-tail keywords have low search volume but are precise searches that are likely to lead to sales:

Let’s put all this knowledge together:

  1. Find long-tail keywords specifically related to your niche.
  2. Target long-tail keywords with lower search volume.
  3. Target keywords with lower keyword difficulty (they usually produce higher-quality clicks).

Now that you know how to pick the right keywords, it’s time to show you how to discover them for just about any existing niche.

This is where things get cool.

The Ultimate Keyword Research Method for Beginners and Experts

When most people start learning about keywords, they assume they can develop a list of suitable keywords without help.

Coming up with keywords out of nowhere can be a daunting and time-consuming task.

Even worse, it yields poor-quality results that won’t help your pages succeed. 

These days, you must use an SEO tool to help you come up with keywords, no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. 

With the proper method and tools, keyword research can be enjoyable, and it’s not difficult to do (it’s certainly easier than promoting your keywords!).

The first step is finding as many specific keywords as possible for your website’s niche.

That sounds even MORE time-consuming than coming up with your own list, but we’ve got ways to speed it up.

ProRankTracker offers 2 tools to help you instantly discover virtually all of your niche keywords.

Sounds pretty fantastic, right?

Let’s look at ProRankTracker’s Keyword Suggestion Tool and Rankings Discovery Tool.

Both of these tools will help you expand your keyword list and find those magical long-tail keywords that’ll bring high-value traffic to your site.

Keyword Suggestion Tool

ProRankTracker’s first keyword tool is the Keyword Suggestion Tool, which looks for any keyword related to the keywords you’re already tracking.

However, unlike other keyword tools, the Keyword Suggestion Tool finds highly relevant, long-tail keywords with good search volume.

To use this tool, select the URL that needs new keywords and choose a keyword you’re already tracking.

ProRankTracker automatically generates hundreds of relevant keywords.

Keyword Suggestion Tool

Keyword Suggestion Tool


Using this tool is much faster and easier than finding your own keywords. 

Plus, the terms you discover with the Keyword Suggestion Tool will generate higher-quality traffic.

Rankings Discovery Tool

The Rankings Discovery Tool reverse-engineers the search process and shows you high-quality, long-tail keywords that virtually any website in any niche is already ranking for.

Ranked keywords mean they’re tested and proven and pack a powerful punch. Not only that, but the tool will also reveal various Google ranking factors, such as:

  • Device
  • Search engine (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing)
  • Location data (if it’s relevant to the keyword)

Bing’s SEO is considered easier than Google’s, and Bing has some unique demographics

As a result, certain keywords can be more potent on Bing than on Google, especially keywords targeting older and wealthier audiences.

You may be asking yourself, “If I’m already ranking for these keywords, why do I need to add them to my keyword tracking tool?”

Let’s take a closer look.

After initiating your SEO campaign, and as you publish high-quality content to rank for a few long-tail keywords, you’ll likely rank for other related long-tail keywords without trying.

For example, one of your main keywords might be “fitness center Austin, TX.” As you target that keyword, your site might also start ranking for “best gym in Austin,” even though you weren’t targeting that keyword.

Secondary long-tail keywords are sweet. Why?

Those secondary keywords can then be ranked higher with little effort because they’ve already gained initial traction. 

That means you essentially get a second high-quality keyword for free!

With the Keyword Discovery tool, you’ll discover new keywords that enter Google’s top 100 that you didn’t promote directly.

For example, look at this Rankings Discovery screenshot showing how this website ranked in the top 10 for terms it wasn’t even targeting!

Combine Both Tools for Maximum Efficiency

In addition to using the Rankings Discovery tool to help you find keywords that you’re ranking for, you can use it to help you find keywords that your competitors rank for. In other words, you can find your competitors’ highest-quality keywords and steal them for yourself!

Doing this type of competitor research takes the guesswork out of developing new keyword strategies.

If you want to make the most out of these 2 tools, combine them both by using the following strategy:

  1. Input a competitor’s website in the Rankings Discovery tool to discover the keywords it ranks for.
  2. Add the new keywords to your tracking list.
  3. Use the Keyword Suggestion tool to expand on the list of new keywords you just got.
  4. Add those new keywords to your tracking list.

Using this strategy, you can quickly find dozens or hundreds of high-quality long-tail keywords!

7 Tips for SEO Keyword Tracking

Now that you’re familiar with ProRankTracker’s tools for discovering new long-tail keywords, you’re ready to kick off your keyword tracking.

Keyword tracking benefits your business by letting you keep tabs on how easily your website is found online. 

If your keywords aren’t ranking in the top 100 (at least), you know that you need to rework your site’s content.

Here are 7 tips to track your most important keywords for SEO without inaccurate data or wasting your time doing this manually.


Tip #1: Group Keywords Using Tags

As you add more keywords to your keyword-tracking software, it can become challenging to keep up with them.

For example, if you own a gym, you may have some pages dealing with keywords related to weights and others dedicated to cardio. 

What happens if you want to check on how you’re ranking for cardio-related keywords?

ProRankTracker offers a simple solution to make this a piece of cake  — as you add keywords, just group them with tags.

Later, you can use filters to show only keywords belonging to a specific tag. 

For example, we created this tag that shows all the keywords we’d like to track that deal with sales.

Using filters to look at all keywords in this tag lets us see how those sales-related keywords rank.

You can also tag them based on how important they are, so you know what pages to pay closer attention to.

As your list of tracked keywords grows, take advantage of tags to dramatically speed up your keyword-tracking process.

Tip #2: Monitor Ranks with Rankings Views

Keyword tracking isn’t as straightforward as saying, “You’re ranked X for this keyword.”

There are several different ways to look at the data, each vital for your success.

ProRankTracker offers 5 different Rankings Views that’ll help broaden your understanding of your ranks.

  1. Dashboard

The Dashboard gives you a broad ranking overview across all your pages and keywords. 

Use Dashboard when you just want to see general trends instead of specific data.

  1. URL View

The URL View breaks down your ranks by your URLs rather than by keyword.

This view is helpful when you want to see how a website or a specific page performs across all tracked keywords.

  1. Term View

The Term View page breaks your ranks down by keyword. 

Use this view to see your performance for a single keyword across multiple pages.

  1. Daily View

The Daily View page provides a graph of your keywords’ performance over several days.

This view is excellent for spotting trends in your ranks.

  1. Full SERP

Finally, the Full SERP view gives you a look at the search engine results page for a specific keyword. 

This view is beneficial for seeing which pages are ranking higher than you or doing some stealthy recon on what your competitors are doing.

Make sure you use all 5 views to get a well-rounded grasp of your ranks!

Tip #3: Use Filters for Quick Access

We briefly mentioned filters earlier, but let’s look closer now.

Filters make everything faster.

As you continue using an SEO keyword rank tracker like ProRankTracker, you’ll find yourself repeating the same actions over and over. 

For example, you might regularly check 1 specific page that’s struggling to rank.

And that’s where filters come in — they allow you to automate a repeated action and save time.

ProRankTracker allows you to use several pre-made filters (like groups, tags, or URLs), but Saved Filters are the powerhouse of the filters.

Saved Filters allow you to filter results by almost any parameter your beautiful mind can dream up. 

You can filter by:

  • Location
  • Search engine
  • Device
  • Tag
  • Group
  • URL
  • Terms
  • And more

Creating Saved Filters for tasks you find yourself repeating is a killer way to boost efficiency and, in the process, get better results from your keyword tracking.

Tip #4: Generate Automatic Reports

You might spend too much time tracking your ranks (spoiler alert — it can be addicting!).

Reports are an excellent tool to save time by automating your process.

ProRankTracker offers more than 20 reports that can be fully automated!

Simply create your desired report, specify the schedule, and check it when it hits your email inbox. 

Like having your own “Easy Button.”

For example, let’s say you want a weekly report summarizing your keyword tags:

  1. Click “Tags Summary” on the report page.
  2. Fill in the details of which tags to include.
  3. Finally, schedule the weekly report and click “Save.”

Now, you’ll get a weekly report of your tags without even having to log in to ProRankTracker. 

The report includes valuable details about the keywords in each tag.


Tags summary report

Reports guarantee you stay up-to-date on what your ranks are doing without draining much of your valuable time.

If you’re an SEO agency, these reports are all fully white-label friendly, meaning you can customize them with:

  • Your agency’s logos and colors
  • A cover page
  • A unique email address (so your clients receive the report from you instead of from ProRankTracker
  • A sharable URL that you can white-label with your domain (Shared Reports)

Take advantage of white-label reports to make your agency look more professional and make an impression on your clients!

Additionally, you can create Shared Reports (a live link-based report) that can be password protected, branded with your logo, and even masked with your domain (so it’ll look as if the report is hosted under a subdomain in your domain).

Tip #5: Set-Up Trigger Notifications

Trigger notifications work similarly to reports but are activated by specific triggers instead of operating on a consistent schedule.

For example, you can set up a Trigger Notification when 1 of your keywords:

  • Hits the top 100, top 10, or another rank milestone
  • Drops by a certain number of ranks
  • Increases or decreases by a set percentage

Trigger Notifications help you avoid the catastrophes that inevitably occur when you’re in the dark about your ranks.

For example, one of your most valuable URL/keyword combos might have recently been outranked by a competitor and dropped by a rank or 2. You start to lose some revenue because of the decreased clicks.

Worse than that, the drop in ranks could continue until you see your URL drop off the first page of Google.

Trigger notifications solve this problem by notifying you PRECISELY when something occurs. You can fix the issue and avoid any major problems.

Once you have Trigger Notifications set up correctly, you can adapt your keyword strategy whenever something unexpected happens.

Tip #6: Keep Up With Competitor Rankings

A significant benefit of using a keyword ranking tool like ProRankTracker is the ability to keep track of your competitors’ rankings.

To do this in ProRankTracker, use the Add Wizard to add your top competitors. 

Make sure to track the same keywords that you’re monitoring for your own site.

Then, use the Rankings Discovery Tool to determine if they rank for keywords you’re unaware of.

Fun fact: You can also use all keyword tracking strategies we’ve discussed for competitor analysis.

Competitor analysis is what separates the amateur rank trackers from the pros. 

Make sure you’re keeping up with your competitors’ ranks so you can adapt your strategy as necessary.

Tip #7: Use Insta-Check for Research

What about when you just want to do some keyword research but you’re not interested in adding anything to your long-term tracking list?

This is a common scenario, and there are lots of reasons people want to check ranks without adding them to their tracked terms:

  • Competitor research
  • Preliminary research on a new keyword campaign
  • Considering adding a new keyword or targeting a few new keywords with an article/page

In these cases, you’ll want to use Insta-Check, which allows you to instantly check any URL/keyword combo without adding it to your long-term tracking list. It works on a credit-based system instead of using ProRankTracker’s normal plans.

In other words, you pay as you go instead of needing to upgrade your entire plan for just a few extra keyword searches.

There are 2 ways to use Insta-Check:

  1. Filling out a manual form
  2. Uploading a CSV or Excel sheet (bulk upload)

Within moments, Insta-Check will show you exactly where your selected URL ranks for the term/s you’re researching.

ProRankTracker's Insta-Check Rank Checker

How Do I Track Local Keywords?

Local businesses used to rely mostly on word-of-mouth advertising and visibility. 

These days, they have to make sure they’re tracking keyword data that can help bring them new customers.

However, how much of the advice in this article also works for local businesses? 


Local businesses can and SHOULD follow these tips for keyword tracking. 

It’ll help you:

  • Discover new, locally relevant keywords
  • Beat competitors in your area
  • Get more traffic from Google Maps

However, there are a couple of differences between local keyword tracking and “normal” keyword tracking. 

Let’s look at how to adapt this strategy for local businesses.

Add Location Data

The first way to track local keywords in ProRankTracker is to add location data to your URLs.

This is very straightforward in ProRankTracker’s Add Wizard. 

All you have to do:

  1. Add a precise location (or multiple)
  2. Toggle the button to track on Google Snack Pack and Local Finder

That’s all there is to it! 

Any keywords you add for that URL will automatically take the location into account.

ProRankTracker will also track your position in Local Finder and the Google Snack Pack, just like on the regular SERP.

Track Your Google Business Profile

The second way to do local keyword tracking with ProRankTracker is to add your Google Business Profile info.

To add this info, use the Advanced Add tool, then click all 3 local tracking options:

  1. Organic Local
  2. Local Finder
  3. Snack Pack

Finally, add the URL to track followed by your GMB name. 

This will allow ProRankTracker to track your GMB profile on the Google Snack Pack, Google Maps, and Local Finder.

Keyword Management Solutions

ProRankTracker offers multiple pricing plans with different keyword limits.

The smallest plans can track up to 100 keywords, and the largest can track over 20,000 terms. 

We recommend starting with the smallest plan for a small business just starting with SEO.

If you discover more valuable keywords than your current monthly plan can handle, don’t sweat it — you don’t have to lose them!

ProRankTracker offers the Trash feature to easily manage your quota and store the keywords you don’t currently need. 

“Store” them in the Trash for rifling through in a future time of need.

The Trash is even searchable, which makes it a perfect storage place for potential future keywords. 

Plus, it can hold thousands of keywords.

That’s some pretty classy dumpster diving.

If you need more keyword-tracking capacity, you can always bump your plan to a higher level.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tracking Keywords

How do I track keywords on a website?

By far the easiest way to track keywords on a website is by using a rank tracking tool like ProRankTracker. They offer highly specialized rank-tracking solutions at a reasonable cost. Follow the steps outlined in this article to make the most of rank-tracking software.

What is a keyword tracking tool?

A keyword tracking tool is any tool that automatically checks the SERPs and tells you what position your URL occupies on the SERP for a targeted keyword. The best keyword tracking tools offer daily updates, white-label reports, and 100% accuracy.

What is the easiest way to find keywords?

The easiest way to find keywords is by using online keyword research tools like ProRankTracker’s Keyword Suggestion and Rankings Discovery tools. These tools are designed to help you find keywords based on your current strategy instead of random keywords like other tools deliver.

Ready to Start Tracking Your Keyword Rankings Automatically?

Following these tips will level up your keyword tracking and research. 

You should now be able to find and track the best keywords for your business, driving more traffic than ever to your site.

The most important thing to remember is that keyword tracking is no longer optional!

Any business that wants to beat its competitors must regularly use a keyword-tracking tool.

Try ProRankTracker’s free trial to see how much it can help you discover new keywords and squash your competitors on the SERP!

Happy tracking!

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