It’s 1997 — Google is just a fledgling search engine, a mere tadpole battling huge toads like Yahoo! and AOL, and it’ll be a few more years yet before everything changes as we know it. SEO was a simple sport in those times. You would spam a few keywords in the Meta sections of your HTML sheet, and search engines would eat that up like magic. One single rank rules the land of search: if you are the No.1 result on Google, that’s it across the globe. You’re the undisputed champion of that search query.
Fast forward to 2017, and it’s another universe, a whole different ballgame. Every search is personalized and geo-targeted, tailored for every unique user to get high-quality search results. Doing SEO has never been a more refined art. Long gone are the simple days of old when there was a single universal rank for every keyword. In an SEO reality, when a single rank is ancient history, where everybody essentially sees a personalized search result, how can you reliably track your ranks and get the actual relevant results you need? This post is exactly about that.
This is where SERP trackers come into play—specifically those that can track local ranks with cross-platform differentiation, which is the real industry standard for SERP tracking. Not only do ranks change based on the location the person is searching from, but also on what platform they are using (desktop or mobile), what the mobile OS is, and more. Google’s geo-targeting abilities are so incredibly precise that ranks can vary every few miles. And this is just for desktop searches. Searches for mobile are pinpointed to the person’s exact location, and the SERP you get (including Snack Pack results you see on the map) will depend on that location. For example, a person searching for “vegan sushi takeout” from Neighborhood A in New York will see a different SERP than a person who searches for the same term from Neighborhood B a few miles away. Naturally, if you promote that sushi place website, you would only care about the relevant local ranks and Snack Pack ranks that are in the vicinity of that restaurant. Anything outside the service zone would simply make no sense (unless it’s some pilgrimage foodie location that needs awareness in an extended radius). This level of geo-targeting is ultimately very beneficial for everyone who searches the internet, even if it makes SEO a bit more complex, because it gives more relevant results and helps stop SEO spamming practices.
Pro Rank Tracker recently made an important system update. You can catch up here in more details:
PRT’s new algorithm allows you to track ranks to unprecedented levels of accuracy and resolution:
Exact – exact tracking is the most advanced SERP tracking currently available on the market, with the ability to track down to those much-needed neighborhood-level resolutions of geo-targeting:
Exact tracking is the future of SERP tracking and the go-to method for high-level SEO professionals and any beginners that want to launch their career in an exceptionally high-quality approach to SERP tracking.
Near – a more traditional rank tracking approach – this will give you the rank most people from a selected city get:
This is the most common use currently for SERP tracking, suitable for the average SEO expert.
Exact and Near fit different use cases – is the rank most people see in a given area enough or do you need the most accurate picture you can get by today’s technological limitations? It’s up to you to figure out the best approach for the type of business you’re promoting and which best suits your strategy.
Tracking for the ranks most people of a given area see is a transitional rank-tracking method which will likely remain relevant at least for a couple more years, but it is reasonable to assume the “Near” rank tracking will eventually become deprecated for certain tasks, and exact tracking will become more and more mainstream. The discussion of what makes a rank accurate is already a tricky one, and will only become more refined as Google’s algorithms evolve. Anyone who understands SEO, takes his craft seriously and wants to stay ahead of the game realizes you simply cannot track ranks reliably with the old approach, and you must use a good SERP tracker that can track to the highest levels of geo targeted accuracy as needed. What makes a SERP tracker a good tool for professionals (or anyone striving for quality rank tracking and results) is measured by many standards, some of which you can read about in these articles:
The main standards to measure by is accuracy, rank types diversity, and high resolutions for local. Some SERP trackers on the market are still stuck in 2010, when giving you an estimated rough rank of a whole country was still forgivable. Not only are some SERP trackers unable to track down to local levels and have cross-platform differentiation, but they are also so inaccurate that the ranks they show you can sometimes be off by a margin of 10-20 places from their real positions! Because many people aren’t aware of SERP tracking subtleties and don’t fully understand how ranking works these days, the SERP trackers in question won’t bother having a major system update when giving the lowest possible results is enough. So be mindful of any SERP tracker that doesn’t show their accuracy rates and doesn’t offer substantial multi-platform local rank tracking.
So in a nutshell, here is what you need to figure out before you start tracking your keywords:
- Near or Exact, or both + Relevant locations
- Which platforms will you be tracking – Desktop, Mobile or both?
- What OS for the mobile platform (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)?
- What language is the Google UI that you are about to track? Most of the time it’ll be English but be aware that users across the globe see a different language UI for their Google accounts based on their personal settings or by default based on their location. A Google UI from Spain will most likely be in Spanish unless set otherwise by the user. Choosing a language will make the ranks you get even more accurate!
- Is Snack Pack relevant? If yes, make sure to choose it.
- Search Engines – Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Yandex, etc.
- The localized version of that search engine (if US keep as .com)
For a more in-depth breakdown of all the rank tracking types you can do with PRT, check out our previous article about the subject:
You must have the right strategic diversity to get the widest spread and know the most accurate picture of how your websites are doing on search engines. It is not uncommon for large SEO agencies and e-commerce websites to be tracking hundreds of different ranks per keyword to get the best picture of their SEO! (which is why you see monthly plans such as the Enterprise899 where you get a rank tracking quota of 50k ranks, with one of the lowest price-per-rank ratios on the market).
Having many SEO experts and agencies as our users, we get familiar first hand with the difficulties even real accomplished experts face with this concept. Hopefully this post cleared up the rank reality of 2017! Obviously, this will only keep evolving and changing, and PRT is always evolving along with search engines to give you the most relevant and up to date SERP tracking available on the market. Join Pro Rank Tracker today and stay ahead of the game!
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