importance of tracking serps

The True Importance of Tracking SERPs: Why You Can’t Ignore It

Can your business succeed without tracking SERPs?

Is it worth it to try?

These are important questions facing every business owner! Everyone has to decide if they’ll put the time, money, and effort into rank tracking.

Here’s the deal, though. You CAN’T afford to ignore SERP tracking. 

In today’s business climate, the success of a company’s SEO efforts makes or breaks its future. So is it worth it to leave it up to chance?

NO!

In this article, we’re going to cover:

Let’s get started!

How Do Google Search Rankings Work?

Google is an enormous, constantly shifting entity employing spiders that crawl the web nonstop, ranking pages based on its ever-changing ranking algorithm.

If that sounds scary, it’s because it is.

Over 85% of the world’s searches are performed on Google, and they have developed an extremely complex system to deliver the best results to every searcher.

But how does the ranking system work, and what does it mean for your business?

Understanding Google’s ranking system is crucial for understanding how to track SERPs, so that’s where we’re going to start.

Website Crawlers

First, we need to go over how Google indexes its search engine results page (SERP) and how often it’s being updated.

Google’s spiders regularly ‘crawl’ the web and collect information from hundreds of billions of web pages and organize it in Google’s search index. 

Google’s ranking algorithm then decides several crucial things about the crawled websites:

  • Where to rank them
  • How often to crawl them
  • Whether the site deserves a Google penalty or not

Google’s SERP is a constantly shifting entity, and its crawlers are continually evolving.

If you want to stay at the top of the SERP, Google needs to crawl your site frequently. Getting crawled as often as possible requires you to produce fresh content.

In other words, you have to prove to Google’s crawlers that they’ll miss something if they don’t crawl your site daily. Otherwise, they might only crawl it every few days or weeks, causing your site to drop on the SERP.

Update Frequency

Why does it matter how often your website gets crawled?

If your website only gets crawled very infrequently, its search relevance won’t get updated either.

In other words, if Google sees that your website hasn’t changed in weeks or months, it will let other websites pass yours on the SERP when rankings are updated.

So, how often are ranks updated?

Some instances showed that ranks changed in mere SECONDS if the website was heavily crawled by Google!

An excellent example of Google’s hyperfast indexing is when there’s a breaking news story, and Google search results are updated almost instantaneously around that subject.

In other words, Google can update ranks exceptionally frequently, so ensuring that your page gets crawled as much as possible is beneficial for your site.

Local Search Results

A third important factor in Google search ranking is the impact of location on search results.

Many people don’t realize that almost half of all searches made on Google show different results depending on the searcher’s location.

This becomes especially clear when searching for something with a keyword phrase like “near me.”

Google uses the searcher’s location to provide them with the most relevant results and help them discover local businesses.

When working with your ranking on the SERP, ignoring search location is missing half the battle. 

Google Updates

Google’s ranking algorithm updates have become notorious for their tendency to strike out of the blue and knock out websites’ rankings.

There’s no way to anticipate how a Google ranking algorithm update might affect your ranks. So your only option is to make sure that you have the monitoring structure to notice any rank changes.

If you’re monitoring your rankings on the SERP with a tool, you should be able to respond to any changes a Google update might cause quickly.

In some cases, a Google update can cause websites to change strategies completely, but most updates only cause minor changes.

Why Do SERPs Matter for SEO?

Some people a website without understanding how organic traffic is generated.

When they learn about the complexity of Google rankings (Crawlers? Indexing?), they understandably wonder if they could just skip that part.

After all, how much could it hurt?

However, SERPs are one of the most critical factors for your business’s success. This is because they impact the quantity and quality of the traffic your website receives.

It’s worth taking a very close look at SEO strategy to ensure you can get to the top of the SERP.

This section will discuss why you should pay attention to the SERPs and the different impacts they can have on your website.

Visibility

You probably have a website because you want people to discover your business online.

However, you probably won’t accomplish that purpose if you’re not on the first page of the SERP. Less than 5% of all web traffic goes to results beyond the first page of Google.

importance of tracking serps 1.2

In other words, your searchers are essentially going to pretend that the second page of the SERP doesn’t exist. So if you aren’t on the first page, you aren’t going to get seen.

Ever.

The SERP has a MASSIVE impact on your company’s online visibility. Since visibility is an essential part of making sales, it’s safe to say that SERPs are important to your business.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

Visibility doesn’t do much good if people don’t click on your website.

The 10th position on Google has about a 2.5% CTR, meaning only 1 out of every 40 people that see the 10th result will click on it.

The third position has an 11% CTR. The second position has a 15% CTR.

The first position on Google has a whopping 25% CTR! 1 out of 4 people that sees the first result will click through to the website!

What does that mean for you?

It means that your position on the first page of the SERP has an impact on your visibility and your clickability!

Competition

What’s the easiest way to beat your competition? 

  • Lower prices?
  • Better customer service?
  • Better customizability?
  • More options?

What about beating them on the SERP?

The 3rd position on Google has an 11% CTR, and the 1st position has a 25% CTR. So that means you’re more than TWICE as likely to get clicks if you’re at the top.

If you can beat your competitors by just a position or two on the SERP, you can give yourself a MASSIVE advantage over them.

Even if you’re competing with someone who offers lower prices, you can probably beat them if you rank higher on the SERP.

Foot Traffic for Local Businesses

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, your position on the SERP could push tons of customers to you.

97% of the people on Google use it to look for local businesses. So if you can place your business near the top of those searches, you can gain many new customers.

The local SERPs include:

When working on your SEO, it’s essential to consider the effects your position on the SERP could have on your physical location!

Why Is Rank Tracking Important?

Getting to the top of the SERP is easier said than done.

It takes careful planning and preparation even to target the right keywords.

However, even after targeting the right keywords, it still takes careful monitoring.

Unfortunately, people often forget this last step. They think targeting keywords is enough, but they lack the data to improve their keyword strategy over time.

In other words, failure to track your ranks can lead to a failed SEO campaign.

Nobody wants that! Let’s look at 3 primary reasons why you NEED to be tracking your ranks on the SERP, then we’ll show you how.

Evaluate Your Strategy’s Success

How do you know if your strategies are working? 

Do you just measure traffic to your website?

If so, you’re missing out on some of the key performance indicators that can tell you how well your strategies are working:

  • Ranks compared to your competition
  • Local search rank
  • Total change in rank over the last week, month, or quarter

Without these KPIs, it’s almost impossible to know if your keyword strategy is successful or not.

On the other hand, tracking the SERP gives you access to all this data and more, allowing you to evaluate your strategy’s success.

Make Strategic Decisions

After looking over your ranking data, you’ll probably learn that some parts of your strategy aren’t working as well as you’d hoped.

Maybe your keyword strategy isn’t specific enough, so you aren’t getting an outstanding share of the search volume for a particular word.

Maybe your local business appears more frequently to people in the wrong city or state, meaning you need to work more on your local keyword targeting.

Without a detailed understanding of the SERPs, it’s almost impossible to make these specific strategic decisions.

In other words, strategy without SERP tracking data is more like guessing!

Monitor Your Competition

The success of your competition has a significant impact on your business’s success, so it’s worth your time to keep track of it well.

Using an online SERP tracker allows you to keep track of your ranks and your competitors’ ranks, making it easy to compare them.

You should understand your competitors’ ranking strategies as well as you know your own. Without detailed rank tracking, there is no way to understand your competitors that well.

We’ll talk more in a moment about HOW to monitor your competition. But, for now, we just want to highlight precisely how critical competitor tracking is to your business’s success.

Why You NEED a Rank Tracker 

Now that we’ve firmly established how essential rank tracking is, let’s talk about the different tracking methods.

There are 2 rank tracking methods:

  1. Check your ranks manually
  2. Use an online SERP tracker

Method number 1 is almost entirely obsolete, as there are now fantastic affordable tools available on the market.

Using a rank tracking tool provides better data, saves time, and can EARN you money.

Let’s look at the 4 most significant benefits of using a rank tracking tool over the manual tracking method.

Automatically Check Your SERP

The first benefit is time savings.

If you have 30 keywords that you’re tracking, how much time would it take you to gather all the data you need about those ranks?

It could take hours! Then, you have to repeat that process EVERY DAY.

Compare that to a rank tracker. It automatically checks your SERPs and gives you the data already organized in nice columns and rows.

The time you save on CHECKING your ranks can be used to IMPROVE them in the future.

That isn’t even to mention the fact that the data you get from the tool will be:

  • More accurate
  • More in-depth
  • More comprehensive

Automation is a good thing for businesses trying to get to the top of the SERP!

Compare Platforms and Search Engines

You probably haven’t thought about Bing or Yahoo in a while, but they still exist (and they’re still important!).

Using a good ranking tool to monitor SERP activity allows you to instantly check your ranks across all the major search engines–including YouTube and Amazon.

In addition to checking multiple search engines, rank trackers can also check different search platforms!

  • Android phones and tablets
  • iPhones
  • iPads
  • Desktops

Unless you own each type of device, it’s impossible to check your ranks for each device without a rank tracking tool!

Even if you have all those devices, it’s a massive waste of time to manually check all those devices’ rankings. Using the tool makes it super quick and easy.

Monitor Your Competitors

If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, they’re probably beating you on the SERP.

However, it can be tough to monitor your competitors without a rank checker. Their keyword strategies are just as complex as yours, so you need to understand each of their ranks.

With a good rank tracker, you can keep track of your competitors’ ranking data alongside your own.

Then, you can quickly compare your performance for a competitive keyword with your competitor’s performance. If they’re beating you, you know it’s time to make strategic adjustments.

This kind of strategic information is only available with a rank tracking tool, but it’s crucial to your company’s success.

Client Reporting

Once you get good at managing your SEO and ranking data, it might be time to sell SEO services as a white-label provider.

White-label SEO can quickly turn into a profitable business, but you need a rank tracker to make it work.

Client reporting involves detailed, automated reports full of your clients’ data. For example, a rank tracker’s reporting tool generates reports that would be extremely time-consuming to create yourself.

However, you shouldn’t ignore this aspect of SEO. Client reporting is the most crucial aspect of growing as a white-label provider.

Later in this article, we’ll discuss the type of reports you can expect to see when using the best SERP rank tracker.

What to Look for in an Online SERP Tracker

As manual rank checking became counterproductive and obsolete, SEO experts outsourced rank tracking to external tools.

Ultimately, that change lead to today’s saturated market full of tools of varying degrees of quality.

Naturally, not every tool on the market can be the best. For example, not all SERP trackers can check your ranks daily (and some can but won’t).

So how do you decide which of the 100s of rank trackers will work best for your business’s needs?

The 5 questions you need to ask about the main functions of your current or future SERP tracker are:

  1. What is the accuracy rating of the rankings I get?
  2. How freshly updated and relevant are the ranks your SERP tracker shows you?
  3. Can I automate the SERP checker to save myself time? 
  4. Is the SERP tracker easy to use?
  5. Does the SERP tracker fit in my business’s budget?

Let’s take a look at each of these questions so you can make the best decision for your business.

Accuracy

Does your rank tracker show you your actual Google rank as it’s currently listed in their search index, or is it off by a few places?

You wouldn’t believe how many rank tracking tools on the market can have accuracy as low as 60%!

The reasons for this can vary, but it generally has something to do with update frequency, which is what we’ll talk about next.

You should only ever use a rank checking tool if they can guarantee the 100% accuracy of their rank data!

ProRankTracker uses the most accurate algorithm of any rank tracking tool on the market, so you can trust their data every time.

Update Frequency

Not checking for rank update frequency is like investing in a gaming computer and not checking what graphics card it has.

In other words, it’s crazy!

Some SERP trackers on the market only update your ranks once per week. However, they offer this service at a low cost and making it seem like you are getting a good deal.

The hasty shopper might miss the small print about update frequency and think they’re getting a good deal. In reality, they’ll be paying for a stale, week-old rank each time.

Your goal is to keep your website fresh enough to get crawled every day, so you need a rank tracker that updates EVERY DAY! Otherwise, you’ll never be able to trust the data you get from it.

Even if your website is rarely crawled, Google ranks can change daily, so update frequency is crucial.

When looking for a rank tracking tool, ensure you find one that offers at least daily updates. Ideally, you should also have the option to update more frequently than that.

ProRankTracker updates all their ranks daily (even on their cheapest plans). In addition, users on Pro-level plans and above get additional daily updates on demand.

Automation

Many SEO experts also sell their services to multiple clients, meaning they have to keep track of hundreds or thousands of keywords. Automation is key to making that process manageable.

Even if you aren’t managing multiple websites, automation is still an invaluable resource for saving time. 

However, automation isn’t just for saving time. It also ensures that you stay up-to-date even when you’re too busy to log into your rank tracker and check your ranks. In addition, it guarantees that you look at valuable data regularly.

In the next section, we’ll talk more about ProRankTracker’s industry-leading automation options. But, no matter the size of your agency, ProRankTracker has a plan with everything you need.

Ease-of-Use

If your rank tracker isn’t easy to use, you probably won’t use it!

There are TONS of tools available that offer about a thousand different features, and it can be tempting to pay a high price tag for their supposed versatility.

Unfortunately, many of those tools are not very user-friendly. I’ve personally used many, and sometimes it feels like you need advanced knowledge of computer science just to check your ranks.

If you want to get your money’s worth on your online SERP tracker, you have to use it regularly. If you’re going to use it regularly, it has to be easy enough to learn to use (even with limited technical knowledge).

The best way to make sure you can use a tool is by trying out their free trial. ProRankTracker offers a 30-day free trial so you can make sure it works for you.

Price

Many young businesses don’t have a huge SEO budget.

That shouldn’t keep you from accessing the best ranking data on the market. You shouldn’t have to pay $199 a month just to track your ranks on the SERP!

As you’re looking for ranking tools, make sure you find one that fits your budget. They’re out there!

ProRankTracker’s plans start at just $11/month, and they give those plans the EXACT same data as their larger plans!

How to Use ProRankTracker to Track Your SERPs

ProRankTracker offers the most accurate ranking data available, but how do you use it?

Before we wrap this article up, let’s go through the basics of how to track SERPs using ProRankTracker.

This section will also address some of the best ways to use ProRankTracker to benefit your SEO strategy.

If you want to follow along with this guide, we highly recommend signing up for a free trial. During the trial, you can learn:

  • How to use the platform
  • How to automate your rank checking process
  • How to benefit strategically from ProRankTracker data

Add Keywords and URLs

To use any of ProRankTracker’s SERP tracking features, first you have to add your tracked keywords and URLs.

The easiest place to add them is in the Add Wizard section.

  1. Type your URL.
  2. Type all the keywords you want to track for the URL, separated in lines.
  3. Choose which platforms and search engines you want to track.
  4. Input location data for local tracking.

1

Repeat this process for all of the URLs and ranks that you’re tracking.

If you want more control over the details of the keywords you’re tracking or if you want to bulk add, use the Advanced Add.

2

Once you’ve entered all the tracked terms and URLs, ProRankTracker will automatically examine the SERPs and start giving you the freshest ranking data.

Full SERPs Page

If you want to have a super in-depth understanding of the SERPs, the Full SERPs tab is going to be your best friend.

The Full SERPs page is one of the 5 Rankings Views on ProRankTracker. It gives you a beefed-up view of the SERPs where your URLs are ranked.

Each URL is accompanied with extra data, including:

  • A link to the Whois page for each URL
  • How long that URL has occupied its current rank
  • The top rank that URL has occupied in the selected time frame
  • The bottom rank that URL has occupied in the selected time frame

3

To get a closer historical look at your SERP, switch the Full SERPs page over to Chart mode.

4

In Chart mode, you can follow the detailed movement of each URL on the SERP over the selected time period. Hover over any of the URL’s timelines to get even more detailed information about its ranking.

Rankings Views

The other 4 rankings views each provide a different look at your ranks. Let’s take a brief look at each of the views.

The dashboard is your go-to view for understanding the current health of your entire SEO strategy. It doesn’t go into detail, but it’s great for monitoring big-picture changes.

5

The URL View shows you each URL you’re tracking. Under each URL, you can see detailed information about the each keyword being tracked for that URL.

ProRankTracker also gives you key information about the URL, including:

  • Average rank of all terms being tracked for that URL
  • Highest rank
  • How many ranks have changed in the last 24 hours

6

The Term View is just like the URL View, but organizes information according to keyword instead of URL. This is a great view if you want to compare yourself with your competitors on a specific keyword.

7

The Daily View gives you a detailed and customizable historical graph of a keyword’s ranking changes. It also highlights any important changes, like if the rank changed from an organic result to a featured snippet.

8

Using all of the Rankings Views regularly will give you a well-balanced view of your ranking progress. Over time, your understanding of this data will help you make better strategic choices for your SEO.

Automate With Reports

Automation is key to efficiently using a good rank tracker.

There are 2 types of reports offered by ProRankTracker:

  • Triggered notifications
  • Scheduled reports

Triggered notifications are sent when a certain event occurs. For example, you can set up a notification to trigger when one of your ranks drops 2 places.

Scheduled reports are detailed reports of your ranking data that are sent on a specified schedule. Even if nothing changes, your scheduled reports will still send automatically.

ProRankTracker offers more than 20 total reports and notifications to choose from.

9

Using a combination of the different available reports will give you the best look at your ranking data. It’ll also save you tons of time to be sent the most important information without ever having to log in.

Historical Data

Historical data is key to understanding the success of your SEO campaigns. We recommend using:

  • Daily View
  • Historical Progress Reports
  • Benchmark Reports

The Daily View, as we discussed earlier, shows you a day-by-day look at how your ranks have changed.

Historical progress reports are similar to the Daily View, but they allow you to look at your historical progress in a daily, weekly, or monthly format.

10

Benchmark Reports allow you to compare 2 days, weeks, or months. For example, you can compare your performance this January to your performance last January. This type of report is especially helpful for identifying ranking trends.

11

A clear understanding of how your ranks have changed over time helps you chart a better course for your future. Every strong SEO plan will involve careful analysis of multiple types of historical data.

Updates on Demand

Before we conclude, let’s talk about on-demand updates.

From our discussion on update frequency and Google crawlers, it should be clear that you should want Google to crawl your site frequently. If it doesn’t crawl your site frequently, your ranks can slip.

If your website is being crawled frequently, it’s just as important for your ranking tool to update your ranks frequently. Otherwise, your data could be out of date and inaccurate.

ProRankTracker’s pro-level and agency-level plans offer updates on demand. That means you can update your terms more than once per day for when you’re involved in a really intense rank battle.

While starter-level plans don’t have access to updates on demand, they still enjoy daily rank updates on ALL their terms.

Conclusion

Tracking your SERPs is one of the most crucial parts of improving your ranks. Unfortunately, many people don’t give it the attention it deserves.

By following the tips in this article, you should quickly have access to super fresh ranks. You should also be able to put that ranking data to good use to improve your ranks online.

Improving your ranks isn’t an overnight process, but you should be well on your way with an SEO SERP rank checker.

Good luck!