This is a post from my friend Oskar, about a tool I’m using as well. Since I’m too lazy to write blog posts nowadays, I’m happy to have him writing this. Stefano.
I’ve been working within digital marketing, content and SEO for over a decade in various ways. Since I started working in this industry a lot has changed. Back in the day links and content played a huge role. It still does, but back in the day, it was more about quantity rather than quality. Over the years the Google algorithm has developed. A lot. Algorithm updates such as the Panda and the Penguin have clamped down on sites with low-quality content and low-quality links. That was a few years ago.
Today it’s all about RankBrain, E-A-T and fulfilling the search intent.
What hasn’t changed is every SEO’s goal – increased rankings.
When we started our first SEO project within affiliation we had very limited knowledge about SEO and very limited resources. We hosted our websites on cheap shared hosting solutions and we didn’t really use any SEO tools.
An example of a daily task that was very time consuming was checking our rankings. For us, that was the easiest and best way to see if we were on track with our SEO. But we kept checking our rankings by manually typing the keywords into the browser, often several times a day, to see if it had changed. As we were checking more and more keywords, this became extremely time-consuming.
After a while, we started to develop our own little SEO-toolbox. They were not very user friendly and they required a lot of maintenance. This was long before we knew about companies like Wincher.
But it didn’t take too long before we realised that this wasn’t going to be viable in the long run. As a small bootstrapped startup we thought that the most cost-efficient solution would be owning our own tools.
At this point we didn’t even know there already was a kind of software called rank trackers. Without knowing this, we develop our own rank tracking tool, among others. But even though our crawler kept switching between different IPs to avoid getting blocked by Google, we kept getting blocked. This was not cost-efficient at all and quite soon we let our rank tracker go.
By now we had actually realised there were quite a few people who had already done this and was offering rank tracking as a service. This would be the first kind of SEO tool we actually decided to pay for. Don’t reinvent the wheel, they say.
We did give a few different rank tracking tools a try but ended up using Wincher. Little would I know, that a couple of years later I would be working with the very same Wincher.
The easiest way to track your SEO efforts
Even though the game has changed a lot since I started to work with SEO, the rank tracker is still one of the tools I check on a daily basis. There’s a lot of ways to measure and track your SEO efforts, rank tracking is just one of them. But for me, it is still the perfect ratio between data-based insights and time invested. On average I probably spend 10 to 15 minutes a day checking rankings for two handfuls of sites. For most people, even a weekly peek at your rankings would tell you if the project is going as planned.
A lot of people might argue that an increase in traffic or revenue is a far better way to measure your SEO efforts. I don’t necessarily disagree. But quite often less is more. Most SEO projects involve a lot more than a single keyword or a single page. When you are optimizing a lot of different pages for a lot of different keywords, often simultaneously, it’s not easy to know exactly where the increase in traffic or the revenue comes from.
If you are still not convinced, let me give you five more reasons.
Find out about your traffic come from
Google Analytics in all its glory will help you a lot to understand user behaviour, improve conversion and give you loads of valuable insights. But since not provided was implemented by Google a huge chunk of valuable SEO data disappeared from Analytics.
Of course, you can still get some clues combining different data sets. But it doesn’t beat the convenience of getting a quick overview of your changes in ranking provided by a rank tracker.
Google Analytics is also one of the most used tools for SEO. But I can’t affect the number of searches, but I can affect my rankings.
Understand traffic drops, penalties and how algorithm changes affect you
As useful as rank tracking might be to see where your traffic is coming from, it is as useful to find out why you have a sudden drop in traffic. Not to mention how an algorithm update affects your ranking and traffic.
You will easily be able to see for which keywords your ranking has dropped. Nowadays Google is scoring each page of your website individually. Therefore it is quite common to see individual pages dropping in rankings on certain keywords, whilst other pages might be unaffected.
If you see a lot or all of your rankings going down at the same time, it’s very likely that you have been affected by an algorithm update, or worse, a penalty from Google.
Geo specific and accurate tracking
With the risk of pointing out the obvious, your rankings will be very different depending on the location of the user. Even what device the user is using.
If your website is in a small language which is only spoken in one country, like Norwegian, you obviously want to track your rankings in Norway.
But if your website is in one of the world languages, like English or Spanish, you might want to track your rankings for a lot of different geographic areas. And believe me when I tell you that it’s a lot you can do to improve your rankings in specific geographic areas.
Wincher comes in super handy for things like this.
Show people the progress
It doesn’t really matter if you are helping clients with SEO, working in a small team or doing the SEO inhouse. Most of the time you have someone to report to. Most people also find reporting time consuming, and to be frank, quite boring.
Providing them with ranking reports is a great way to show them that you are working and that the project is actually progressing. For an outsider watching a SEO strategy getting implemented it’s usually not a lot to see. Just some magic happening in the background.
And as we all know, SEO takes time. Loads of time. Quite often you won’t see an increase in traffic until you reach the first page. Or even the very top.
With Wincher Rank Tracker the reports can be scheduled to go out automatically, tailored to your needs.
Track the competition
I wasn’t sure if I should add this one, but I do find this feature quite useful – if used right.
A lot of successful entrepreneurs and famous self-help gurus tell you to not focus on the competition! Your focus should always be on what you are doing. Your own site and your own project.
That being said, spending a little time every now and then can be healthy and can give you new ideas on how to improve your own SEO. Using a rank tracker to keep track of your competition is a good way to do that. It can also give you valuable insights of your SERPs in general.
For example, I noticed this interesting pattern by accident thanks to the competitor ranking. The black line is my site and the blue line is a competitor. This is us moving almost exactly the same way for a couple of days on the same keyword.
I’m not gonna go into further details, but I found it interesting enough to share as an example of valuable insights you can get.
I hope you found this article useful and that I managed to convince you to try out a rank tracker yourself.
PS. Did you know that you can try Wincher out for 14-days, for free?