Are the efforts you're putting into search engine optimization (SEO) actually working? Learn how to use search ranking reports to measure you success.

rankingreports.jpg Did you know that 72 percent of all global desktop search traffic comes from Google? Or that Google receives more than 69,250 searches every second? Clearly, SEO rankings remain the single most important way to set your website apart from the competition, and search ranking reports let you assess the effectiveness of your current strategy. Not sure how to check your search engine ranking? No worries, we've got you covered. Read on to learn more about where to get a free report and how to evaluate your website search engine ranking.

How to Know Where You're Going

Okay, I don't mean to get all sappy here, but to quote Maya Angelou, "You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been." The same holds true for SEO rankings. In order to assess the effectiveness of your current SEO strategy, you have to know where you've been. In the SEO world, that means getting your hands on a digital marketer's favorite tool, the search engine position report. Check out this free tool to get your live search engine rankings now. Just enter your URL and email address to gain instant access to keyword ranking data for your website. This includes metrics such as:
  • search volume
  • organic traffic
  • keyword phrases
  • search trends
  • changes in keyword phrase ranking over time
With this information, you can assess how your current SEO strategy is working and so much more. Read on for quick ways to use this report to measure your success, set actionable goals, and refine your future efforts.

El Dorado & Keyword Rankings

Sixteenth-century Spanish conquistadors searched for the fabled golden city of El Dorado in droves. Even the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh got in on the action with a couple of failed expeditions. Despite the mass obsession, their efforts came to no avail. Attempting to rank #1 for all of your targeted keywords can feel as futile as searching for El Dorado. But it's just one of many metrics you can utilize to assess your SEO performance. While it's crucial to track how well the targeted keyword phrases on your website perform in search engines, don't get obsessive. What's more, if you do crazy things like keyword-stuff content, Google will punish you. According to Forbes, "The 'good old days' of gaming Google by buying links and over-optimizing keywords is over and in its place is a super-smart machine learning algorithm called RankBrain. Like most forms of artificial intelligence, RankBrain is getting smarter as it identifies patterns and penalizes those unscrupulous actors that attempt to game Google."

Working Smarter Not Harder

RankBrain keeps getting smarter, and so should you. Bid farewell to the SEO shortcuts of yore, and move on. That said, how can you use your search rankings results to improve your website, increase traffic, and encourage more sales? Start by identifying the low-hanging fruit. These are keywords almost ranking on your site. While this might seem counterintuitive, remember that sometimes all it takes is moving up one position to significantly increase traffic. For example, if one of your keywords ranks #11 (the top of page two), focus on an attainable and actionable goal like bumping it up just one spot to #10 (bottom of page one). Why? You stand to more than double your traffic. Clickthrough rates continue to increase dramatically as you move up page one to the coveted #1 ranking. But instead of obsessing over that #1 ranking, work on moving up the ladder by focusing on that low-hanging fruit. Traffic will increase significantly.

The Nitty-Gritty

Now that you understand the concept of low-hanging fruit and why small improvements lead to big results, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of getting there. Effective ways to boost keywords include:
  • Updating page content
  • Including more internal links to the page with the keyword you want to boost
  • Featuring more external links to your page with the keyword you want to boost
Always strive to make your content better than that of your competitors. After all, Google's ultimate goal remains simple: to provide its searchers with the best answer to their question. This means the most useful, relevant, and thorough resource on the internet. Keep this in mind while revising the page content for your low-hanging fruit. Rewrite, augment, and update it to provide the best answers to your readers' questions. Your content should serve your reader rather than sell them, and so it needs to be accurate, comprehensive, informative, and clear. Remember that iconic line from Field of Dreams? "If you build it, they will come..." Once you've improved the quality of your content, established trust with your readers, and moved up in ranking, the traffic and sales will follow. So, focus on being the best resource for your industry. As for links, make sure you point more internal links to the pages that you want to boost. As for external links, build relationships with bloggers and other small businesses who would find your content helpful and are willing to link to it. Again, high-quality content represents your ticket here.

Get Organic

As you move through this process, monitor your organic search results. Why? Because they indicate how many people searched for a topic, found a link to your website, and clicked on it. Unlike most good things in life, organic reach costs you nothing. So, do the happy dance when you see climbs in your organic search results. These prove your site matters to Google. In other words, Google suggested your company as a useful and relevant resource on a given topic, and searchers agreed by following your link and viewing your content. So, how do you drive organic traffic to your site? Tried and true ways to capture more organic search traffic to your site include:
  • Improving keyword rankings
  • Creating more useful, relevant content
  • Using click-worthy titles and meta descriptions on your site
Again, improving your content takes center stage here. Bring your SEO "A game" by focusing on frequently-published, click-worthy content containing your targeted keywords. Organic searches also let you know what your audience longs to learn more about. So, monitoring this activity remains an excellent way to provide the best value to your readers.

Search Ranking Reports

Search ranking reports allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. They show you what your readers want to know more about. They indicate where you can make significant improvements by revamping pages containing keyword phrases that almost rank. Interested in learning more about search marketing for your small business? Check out our recommended SEO tools for the resources you need to improve your site rankings. Or, browse our search marketing articles by topic for more quality resources.




Search Engine Marketing Columnist



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Search Engine Guide > Robert Clough > How to Use Search Ranking Reports to Check Your SEO Strategy