This is a sponsored post written by SE Ranking. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.
We track rankings every day to stay up-to-date on their dynamics.
Doing so helps us assess the results of our work and lets us provide proof of progress to clients. But most importantly, it enables us to react immediately to sudden position decreases.
Fortunately, abrupt ranking drops are an extreme situation that doesn’t happen that often.
Most of the time, we get information on our rankings but there’s not much we can do about it. That is, we fail to move past analyzing the data on to driving actual results.
This post will show you how to get real value from your SEO routine and turn mundane ranking checks into actionable insights.
1. Group Keywords by URL to See the Actual Ranking Distribution
As a rule of thumb, we sort keyword positions by the particular landing pages we’re promoting.
That way, it’s visible which keywords got top rankings for the page, which resulted in the 10-20th positions, as well as those that failed to rank.
This method works well as it allows you to assess the results of your own work and define where extra efforts should be directed.
However, if you group queries by the actual URLs they’re ranking for, you’ll see the flip side of the ranking/page relations.
For each URL, you’ll see what keywords it ranks for, its position, and what keywords require special attention.
Let’s see what actionable insights you can get out of this information.
Find Pages That Rank Without Your Efforts
The pages you’re promoting aren’t the only ones that can come up in search.
To spot such pages, group keywords via your rank tracker tool by URL and pay attention to the pages that rank for one or two queries. Most of the time, these are pages you didn’t expect to see in search.
In order to decide what to do with these pages, analyze whether you need them to rank for the given keyword in the first place. Sometimes aiming to rank a page for an extra keyword can be harmful.
In fact, it can be just a simple mistake like an irrelevant keyword on a page.
Let’s say you have an ecommerce website, but the query that should lead searchers to the category page (with lots of items for sale) brings them to a particular item page instead.
Consequently, the users don’t get the expected information from the page and leave the site.
Another example: a non-target URL can compete with a target page that’s ranking for the same query (we’ll discuss the pitfalls of this scenario a bit later).
So, if the page got ranked in search for the wrong query, de-optimize it by deleting the keyword from the content and meta tags.
If the query is appropriate, then it makes sense to continue optimizing it further to get higher positions.
Find Keywords That You Don’t Rank For
With your queries filtered by URL, pay attention to those in the “Not found” folder. These are queries that none of your pages are ranked for and you need to decide what to do with them.
What are your options?
Either delete them (you don’t need them but you’re still paying for their position checks) or figure out why you don’t rank for them (they’re irrelevant to the website, you don’t have a matching page for them, etc).
Also, you may have had pages that ranked for some of these queries before. In fact, you can check this by clicking the gray link icon – you’ll see the URL that’s ranked for the given keyword as well as the last date when it ranked.
The date may even tell you why you lost the position. How?
You can check the page in the Web Archive for this day to see whether there have been content changes on that page on that specific date.
Find Keywords That Several of Your Pages Simultaneously Rank For
In some cases, we can have several pages ranking for the same query at the same time.
According to our research, for about 15% of the queries we see in Google’s top 30, there are two or more pages belonging to the same domain.
The thing is that we usually optimize a particular page for a keyword. This target URL works as a landing page that converts users with a specific intent that fits the query.
And if more pages are ranking for the same keyword, the “target” page can rank lower than the “wrong” one.
Plus, Google ranks non-target pages higher for more than half of the queries (based on our analysis of 500,000 queries with a set target URL).
What are the risks in such situations?
If the keyword brings users to the wrong page, it won’t convert as well as the correct one, and all your optimization efforts will be nullified.
How can you discover an extra page that’s ranking for a query?
To do this, always point out the target URL for each keyword you want to rank high for.
There’s an option that allows you to do this in SE Ranking’s Keyword Rank Tracker. It will show you if several of your pages outrun each other in a search for a given keyword:
You’ll see a red figure indicating the number of times the target URL was outranked by a non-target page. You’ll also find the URLs of non-target pages and the dates when they ranked higher than the target URL.
Once you’ve found all the queries with such issues, take a look at the pages that are ranking for them.
Your basic options are to promote all of the pages, de-optimize some of them, or delete the wrong page and redirect to the right one.
2. Use Competitor Data to Uncover Keyword Potential
In addition to tracking your own rankings, you can monitor positions of your competitors.
For example, in SE Ranking you can add up to five competitors and track their rankings for the same queries as yours.
Meaning, you’ll see the full information on your competitors’ search visibility for the queries you’re interested in. You can compare the dynamics and identify the keywords requiring extra efforts.
What Insights Can You Get From Such Analysis?
Remember when we learned how to find keywords none of your pages rank for? You should check your competitors’ positions to assess the potential of these keywords and what pages are already getting ranked for it.
Thus, you’ll be able to decide whether you need to compete for the given keyword.
Because you have access to the full history of your rivals’ rankings, you can check if they saw any position jumps recently.
If there were such, go to the Web Archive to see if they resulted from page redesign. Or check their backlinks because they could have obtained a valuable link right before the increase.
By doing so, you’ll know what strategy can bring you the same positive result.
3. Capture the Difference Between Desktop & Mobile Results
Desktop and mobile search results can be significantly different. This difference depends on the niche, but to see if it impacts your business, you need to know your rankings for each channel separately.
After Google announced “mobile-first” indexing, the mobile versions of websites became a determining factor in the overall search success.
If you have a responsive design, you need to track your mobile SERP rankings separately because they define your total search performance.
And, in case your mobile positions are much lower than that of desktop, you should focus on boosting them.
Using Keyword Rank Tracker, you can compare your desktop and mobile positions side-by-side. The queries for which you have a big difference in positions are the ones needing your special attention.
Also, the gap in rankings can result from different user search intents. Meaning, Google can think mobile and desktop users need different things as they’re searching for the same query.
To check whether that’s your case, use SE Ranking SERP Tracking tool (SERP competitors in your account). This tool tracks the top 100 search results for each of your queries.
Analyze the top 100 for both mobile and desktop search: which URLs recur in both SERPs, and which don’t?
What’s special about the content of mobile results? Perhaps the mobile SERP displays only videos or some other form of mobile content for a specific target query.
Knowing what you missed by comparing your site to others, you can enhance your mobile positions.
4. Track & Tag Good Domains for Link Building
In the SERP Tracking tool, you can see all the websites ranking for your queries. This data can be used in your link building strategy.
With the entire map of the SERP for your queries in front of you, you can define the websites you want to link out to you.
These are business catalogs, blogs, directories, media outlets – all informational resources in the search results for your product queries.
Informational resources ranking for your keywords are your top-target websites to get a backlink. Such links serve not only link-building values but also earn you extra presence in the top SERP results.
Within the SERP Tracking tool, you can tag the websites you are interested in to see their dynamics and stay on top of everything.
When acquiring links, tag websites depending on their response:
The ones that agreed to publish your link or, at least, mention you.
Those that refused publication.
Those you haven’t reached out to yet.
And don’t forget to check the SERP regularly to spot any new potential link publishers.
5. Monitor SERP Features for Your Queries
Google’s first result page often features lots of elements that complement the usual suspects – the top 10.
The featured snippet, images, maps, news, videos, ads – all of these elements can attract traffic that would otherwise go to the organic results.
This, in turn, effectively distorts the allocation of traffic. So if you managed to get ranked at the top for important queries – check if there are any SERP features.
For example, a featured snippet is ranked at position zero and its CTR is higher than any other links on the page.
This means that you’ll have less traffic from queries that have the featured snippet among its results than from queries with no instant answers in SERP.
So you need to track the appearance of SERP features for the keywords that matter the most to your SEO efforts.
If a local pack for your target query appears in search – register your company in Google My Business. Add optimized media content to your target pages to push them into Google Images and Videos.
For getting into a featured snippet, shape and optimize your content accordingly.
But you should bear a couple of things in mind here.
Your chances of appearing in Google’s instant answer snippets are much higher for pages ranking in the top 10.
Over-optimizing a page for a particular SERP feature could harm your rankings. Be mindful about adjusting your content and meta tags when attempting to get into any of these boxes.
Rank tracking data is a rich source of insights that, if used wisely, can help you with lots of things:
Find pages that rank without your knowledge and can harm the conversion rate of your target pages for the same keyword.
Discover and delete keywords that you track (spend money on) but don’t rank for them.
Find queries that several of your pages are competing for at the same time.
Use your competitors’ rankings data to check if a certain keyword is worth fighting for and what works.
Track both mobile and desktop rankings to comply with mobile-first indexing requirements.
Find, select, and tag websites for building links via the SERP Tracking tool.
Monitor SERP features for your most important queries.
SE Ranking’s Keyword Rank Tracker helps to solve all these tasks and more. Give it a try for free.
Featured Image: Image by SE Ranking. Used with permission. In-Post Photos: Images by SE Ranking. Used with permission.
Local search is probably more visible than it has ever been since the advent of Google Maps. Yet, paradoxically, there’s almost no consumer-facing innovation taking place. There’s Google, Yelp, Facebook (somewhat) and a range of specialized vertical apps and sites, some of which have simply survived but aren’t thriving.
Little or no ‘horizontal’ innovation. Part of the lack of “horizontal” innovation in local is likely the result of venture capital not wanting to fund anything that goes up directly against Google. The company may appear to many investors now like an insurmountable juggernaut in local/mobile search.
Any new local-consumer startups, therefore, are likely to appear in specific industries or otherwise offer specialized use cases. Such is the case with Hotspot Law, a new legal search site that hopes to bring ZocDoc-style appointment scheduling to the legal profession. It also seeks to provide a more reliable and cost-effective flow of leads to consumer attorneys.
The legal vertical has a quite a few competitors, including Avvo (Internet Brands), LegalZoom, FindLaw and several others. Despite this, Hotspot Law founder Felix Shipkevich believes he’s solving two unsolved problems in the legal vertical.
“The legal market is in dire need of an upgrade,” argues Shipkevich.
Making direct connections with lawyers. “Once you’ve finished searching online, you have to start calling,” he said. “You don’t get to speak directly to attorneys, you typically talk to a gatekeeper.” He points out that this process of getting to a lawyer is time consuming for people who need legal help. “None of these [completing] platforms directly connect the consumer with an attorney.”
Shipkevich, who is an attorney and faculty member at Hofstra Law School, said he was inspired by ZocDoc and the way it enables direct connections between doctors and patients. Similarly, he wanted to remove the friction in lawyer-consumer matchmaking. Shipkevich explained that also sees Hotspot Law as a way to make “justice” more accessible to consumers.
Why you should care. Legal lead-gen is costly.Shipkevich believes that existing legal sites and ad solutions don’t serve lawyers particularly well either. “PPC advertising can be extremely expensive; in New York it can be $60 to $80 per click.” He adds that “Yelp is expensive. Sometimes it takes $2,000 to $4,000 to bring in a case.”
He wants to solve that problem with simplified reasonable pricing for lawyers who may be struggling to find clients. But he also sees Hotspot Law evolving into a platform to help attorneys manage existing clients. Currently the site only operates in New York, with plans to expand geographic coverage in the coming months.
For the time being Shipkevich will need to rely on SEO for discovery but over time he hopes to build a branded consumer destination. It will be very challenging given the current structure of local SERPs. One has to admire the ambition and chutzpah.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.
About one year ago, everything changed for me and for our community.
A tragedy that struck home so hard it shook us to our core.
A dear friend, brilliant mind, adored father, respected colleague … the list goes on, left us in a way that hits straight to the heart and wakes you up like very few other events can.
I certainly woke up that day. That alarm screamed as loud as it could and I still hear it to this day.
I know I wasn’t alone. So many of my peers experienced similar emotions, sensations, and reactions.
We Could No Longer Ignore the Problem
Sadly, this wasn’t the first tragedy we’d encountered that year – we lost other friends and colleagues as well.
But we knew we couldn’t stand to lose any more amazing people.
We couldn’t look away. We couldn’t just carry on anymore.
So we started talking.
I have been blown away by our internet marketing community. Many of us have never even met face to face and yet the comradery, the friendship, the support among us run rampant!
Never before have I seen a group of people come together so quickly and so openly as when we were forced to face this tragedy.
Groups were formed. Calls were made. Texts were sent. Face-to-face get-togethers were had. Columns like this one were created.
And the best part of it all? It didn’t stop!
We saw the need to stay connected. We recognized that we are a family that needs to support each other. And, perhaps most of all, we saw that we were not alone in our struggles.
It has been amazing to see the openness and honesty that has become so commonplace over the past year. I have seen people that once felt they couldn’t risk being seen without their mask on break down and lay themselves out in the most vulnerable ways.
I include myself in that list. I have become more able to reveal myself to the world around me. That has only been made possible by others sharing in that journey with me.
In leading up to this piece, I knew that I wanted to really find a way to focus on the positive changes that our community has seen because of Jordan Kasteler.
I wanted to honor him in a way that really brought some form of good to this incredible loss that we all experienced due to his passing.
Where Are We Now? Thoughts from Our Community
I reached out and asked a few people in our community if they would share some words of how they have been changed for the better as well as how they have seen our community as whole making changes to support each other over the past year.
Here is what they had to say:
“Working days, nights, and weekends was normal for me a few years ago. However, at that time I couldn’t say that I was really happy. I didn’t understand at the time that my work-life balance was completely off, and I now know that that could have developed into something truly horrifying.
I eventually reached such an emotionally unstable point that I hit a time where one week I was super productive, but the following week I felt hugely demotivated and absolutely miserable. (I know this is a familiar story with many others as well, I hear people telling similar stories and sharing similar experiences regularly.)
Over the past while, I have been working diligently to save myself from this emotional trap. This new focus has led me to investing more time into things that are not related to work and putting more time into the things that help to create a happier life for myself.
I can see that more people in our community are becoming more aware of the need to make this sort of a switch to their schedules and priorities as well, which is brilliant to see!”
“In the past year, I have noticed a massive shift in our community not being ashamed to reach out and ask for help, advice, or just a kind word. I feel like masks have been dropped, and people are not embarrassed to discuss what make them “real”; I love it!
I think many people used to feel they had to have public persona that was acceptable, and now they know we all have issues and it is OK to talk about.
I have a picture of Jordan out that I see every day. I moved past the guilt and the pain when I looked at it, and he is now a daily reminder to stay present with my friends as much as I can.
And, it is a reminder to me to stay focused on my well-being as well. I tend to overwork and do too much for everyone and end up exhausted. I take steps now to take care of me more than ever before.”
“Though I’ve been in the industry for years, I’m still a somewhat newer member of the SEO community. Call it fear of rejection, social anxiety, whatever, I’ve always been nervous to put myself in a position to be judged by my peers.
It really wasn’t until I was invited to an amazing Facebook group made up of a small close-knit group of industry peers focusing on supporting each other through the day-to-day struggles that I realized that nearly everyone shared the same fears, anxieties and experiences that I have.
What a relief it is to know there is a place where we share what we are feeling and have so much empathy! Finally I have a place I can turn to where people understand me.
Even if I don’t share as much as others, I have peace of mind knowing there are people there ready and willing to listen and help, where there’s no judgement, just open arms.”
“We’ve definitely made a lot of progress over the past year as a community. However, if I’m being completely honest, we still have a long way to go. I’m still hearing about issues of bullying. I’m seeing people piling on people they disagree with on Twitter.
While, thankfully, these are in the minority, the polarization and black-and-white thinking needs to stop. The judging and assuming needs to stop. The trolling and “mob mentality” needs to stop.
We need to stop fighting each other and start lifting each other up – treating everyone like human beings. Nobody is perfect, but I hope we will continue to see more people be able to let go of their hate and negativity to accept love and positivity into their lives. I know that will continue to be our aim with Friday Focus – to remind everyone that they are not alone in their struggles.
Ultimately, though, I am so happy to be a part of something so positive in our community – and it’s great to see so many others jumping onboard, too.”
Kim Krause Berg:
“It’s easy to assume that your peers are generally doing better than you, making more money than you, and are super successful in every way. It is only in the past few years that I realized this is baloney.
I respect people who remove their masks and show who they really are. We are people with lives and struggles, heartache, depression, and pain.
In the past year I have opened up more and made new friendships as a result. We have more in common with each other than we might think.”
“Over the past year I’ve seen an incredible shift in our community.
Social media itself breeds an environment where we see only the best of our peers and post the best of ourselves and being in marketing, needing to be on social media, needing to market ourselves on social media and seeing only the best version of those trained in presenting the best version of themselves – one can feel very alone in difficult times. Compounding that we face an often isolated profession where even sitting beside someone, we are focused on a screen and all they contain.
Sadly, we all know too well what that leads to, and over the past year we collectively recognized that we are human. That those around us are human. That others need support and perhaps most importantly, that we do too.
We finally heard the words spoken all too often after those tragic events, “If only they had asked for help.” And we took it upon ourselves to do so.
We finally knew to listen, to watch and to find out how those around us were doing, lest we face the loss of another friend who we would have dropped everything for, ‘If only they had asked for help.’
The community has grown it’s heart and soul over the past year.
There is still a lot to do. There are still many who don’t know where to turn. Many who don’t know who to talk to. But each time we reach out and each time we talk about challenges openly, share our own and listen to theirs … each time we do that, the community grows it’s heart a little more.
It has been a incredible year of change. While we will forever mourn the spark, the now burning fire keeps us all warmer.”
“One thing that has changed dramatically in our industry over the last year, is that as individuals, we’ve become a lot more vocal about asking for help when we need it.
I think most people are more than willing to help each other. They just have to know that someone needs help. Now that people are starting to open up more about their personal struggles, the community is able to better support them.”
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you – whether I know you in person, whether I know you online, even if I don’t know you at all –- thank you for being here.
Thank you for caring and sharing and being a part of the positive change that we are all working so hard at creating.
Keep being a force for good in our community.
Together we will make a difference.
This piece is written in memory, honor, recognition, and gratitude of Jordan Kasteler. For all that he gave us, shared with us, taught us and left us with. We are eternally grateful.
***PLEASE DO NOT STRUGGLE ALONE! Reach out, ask for help and know that you are valued. CLICK HERE for a list of phone numbers for Suicide Hotlines around the world.***