How to Check Your Website Ranking (and Actually Improve It)
Your website ranking is like your position in a football league.
You’re in it for the long haul, and as the season progresses, your position will change.
Sometimes you’re close to the bottom; at other times you’re on top.
But the most important fact is this:
Just like your position in the leagues, your website ranking rests squarely on your shoulders.
This is good news because you can take your destiny into your own hands.
If you’re down today, you can still turn things around.
So if you’re wondering how to check your website ranking, and make real improvements that don’t feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, this post will come in handy for you!
Let’s find out how to win the league and come out on top.
What’s the Worth of Ranking on Page 1?
Ranking highly for relevant keywords could be the game changer for your business.
Studies show that the top five results on Google get 70% of all clicks—it’s no wonder that 61% of marketers rank SEO and organic search as their top priority.
Depending on whether or not your content ranks on page 1, this could be good news or a sting of truth.
Articles on Google’s page 1 enjoy anywhere from 71% (Moz) to 92% (Chitika Insights) of keyword traffic, leaving the vast majority to suffer forever in obscurity.
And what’s more, positions 1, 2 and 3 on Google’s SERPs have a 30%, 15% and 10% CTR respectively. In short, the first three results get 55% of the click-throughs.
The rest—including articles in positions 4-10—are left to fight for the remaining 45% of searchers’ attention.
Apart from a lot more traffic and higher click-through rates, ranking on page 1 also earns your brand more awareness, trust and backlinks.
More brand awareness
Apart from giving you the opportunity to be clicked on, ranking on the first page also gives you visibility. Even if a searcher doesn’t click through to your website when you’re ranking on page 1, they still see and notice your brand before looking at other options on the SERPs.
Modern SERP features like schema markup, featured snippets and other rich snippets also help to boost your brand awareness.
In short, your brand stands a chance to make an authoritative statements even if a searcher doesn’t click on your link.
Develop trust for your brand
Google’s search results favor trusted brands.
You can earn trust by appearing on the SERP for competitive search terms and ranking alongside your industry’s leading publications. When you rank highly for multiple competitive keywords, you earn the same leadership status as other leading brands in your industry.
Earn more authoritative backlinks without asking
This is one of the fastest ways to earn more backlinks at a healthy pace. Search results that appear first take the attention of searchers seeking to cite (and link to) statistics while creating content.
And this isn’t just for small websites and bloggers, either—writers from authoritative sites like Forbes and Fast Company could find and cite your material as well.
How to Check Your Website Ranking (and Actually Improve It)
The first step to improving your website ranking and enjoying all of these benefits is to find out where you rank right now.
You can’t do this by guessing. I’m going to take you through this process using Monitor Backlinks, a robust SEO tool that provides heaps of accurate data on your website and keyword rankings.
If you don’t have your own Monitor Backlinks account to follow along, I recommend that you sign up for your free trial here for unlimited access. It takes less than five minutes to do!
Once you’ve created an account, add your domain by connecting your Google Analytics account and verifying your chosen domain.
Monitor Backlinks will then start tracking and monitoring your rankings for that domain, for you to check and analyze at any time. You’ll also receive automatic email notifications of any ranking changes to make staying on top of your keyword performance even easier.
I also recommend that you add your competitors to Monitor Backlinks at this stage. The tool will track their rankings in line with yours, so you can take SEO stock and compare your performance.
To do this, simply go to the Competitor Links tab and click the “Add new competitor” button.
Add your main competitors, or let Monitor Backlinks suggest the competitors worth keeping an eye on.
Once added, you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips to check your website ranking and make real improvements.
How to Check Your Overall Website Ranking
First, let’s get an idea of your general performance by exploring how your website ranks overall.
Keywords take time to grow, and their trend information is a good indication of the strength of your SEO. With this step, you’ll get an overview of whether your keywords are trending up or down over a given period.
Start by clicking on the Rank Tracker tab.
The graph at the top of the page shows you your average keyword rankings.
In this example, the orange, pink and blue lines show the average ranking position for three main keywords (“affiliate,” “tools” and “review”), while the green line shows the average keyword position overall.
From here, you can track how your keyword rankings have changed over both the short and long term.
Click on “Average Rankings” to see your ranking movements over a certain time period—last month, the last three months, last year or forever.
- Choose last month to see your keyword ranking history for the previous month
- Choose 3 month to see your keyword ranking history for the last three months
- Choose last year to see how your keywords have performed over the previous year
- Choose forever to see the entire history of your keyword performance
Scroll down the page to learn more about the average position of your website in the keyword race. Here, you’ll find a graph that shows you how your keyword rankings compare to those of your added competitors:
And the number of keywords that are currently ranking in each position, compared to the last month, the last three months, and last year:
These graphs are a great way to get a high-level view of your website ranking in real time.
How to Check Specific Keyword Rankings
While the graphs do an excellent job of showing you a bird’s-eye view of your ranking, it’s now time to get into some more detailed ranking information.
Keep scrolling down the page to see a list of all the keywords you’re trying to rank for. You can add more keywords to track every time you create new content, just by clicking the “Add Keywords” in the top-right corner.
Monitor Backlinks shows you your ranking position for each keyword, as well as each competitor’s ranking position for the same keyword. You’ll also see important keyword metrics like search volume, competition and cost per click.
Using this information, you can easily check:
1. Keywords that have dropped in ranking
Keywords ranking down show that you’re losing your spots to the competition. You’ll notice them by a red arrow pointing downwards.
The smaller number tells you how much your website ranking dropped by for that specific keyword.
2. Keywords that have gone up in ranking
Keywords ranking up mean you’re gaining traction and winning the keyword scramble. The tool indicates this rise by a green arrow, and shows how many spots you’ve climbed.
You can compare this ranking to your competitors’ rankings in the next columns, and to the best ranking position you’ve achieved for that specific keyword by looking at the “Best” column.
3. Keywords that aren’t ranking
A dash in the “Ranking” column indicates that you aren’t ranking for that keyword, and that it’d be a good idea to review your content and look for ways to improve it.
How to Check Your Website’s Traffic Ranking
Alexa Rank is a measure of the popularity of your website compared to all other websites in the world. Your popularity is based on the amount of traffic you get, with a lower Alexa Rank indicating higher traffic.
For example, a website with an Alexa Rank of 200 gets more traffic than a website with an Alexa Rank of 200,000.
According to Alexa, a website’s rank is the position it earns due to its engagement. Engagement here would be the volume of site visitors and the number of pageviews they generate. These engagement metrics are some of the many ways that search engines determine your content’s relevance to a searcher.
You can check your Alexa Rank right from your Monitor Backlinks dashboard:
Generally, a drop in numbers for this metric indicates that you’re doing a lot of things right. But if you see this number increasing over time, you should probably go back to the SEO drawing board.
Why Your Website Isn’t Ranking and How to Correct It
Do your website rankings seem as if you’re dangling on the edges of the SERPs? Does the competition look as if it’s out to kill your business online?
Well, you might use some help. Here’s why your website isn’t ranking, plus some tips to get your pages unstuck.
1. Steep competition
In most cases, going to battle in a saturated keyword space will see all your ranking efforts go to naught, especially if you don’t have the financial wherewithal to pursue higher rankings.
If you run a small business, it’s even worse. The bigger players in these niches have the money and clout to compete, and will muscle you out in no time.
But it doesn’t have to end like that. Here are some ways to rank competitively in a saturated niche:
Focus on longtail keywords
Longtail keywords are longer keyword phrases of three or more words. They tend to be written more like statements, because humans don’t type like robots—they type in natural language.
For instance, to search for winter clothing, I’d be more likely to type “best store for winter clothing”—a longtail keyword—rather than “winter clothing” alone.
Longtail keywords are powerful because they’re more specific, and they show more conversion promise.
Unlike shorttail keywords with huge search volumes, longtail keywords focus on a specific market segment inside of the main market. While the search volume is usually lower than shorttail keywords, the traffic is often of better quality.
So instead of casting your net out wide, focus on longtail keywords instead. This is helpful in niches with stiff competition, plus the returns are quite promising.
Focus on local SEO
Google now gives preference to local businesses for local search. Big companies that aren’t based locally can still rank high, but their distance nullifies their relevance.
If you find that your business addresses a problem within your locality, then you stand a good chance of ranking well for local searches.
Focus on optimizing your content for the local audience, so Google will give preference to your website in local search over larger, more established businesses that aren’t physically close by.
You can also target more competitive keywords—34% to 50% of searchers with a local intent will visit a store within 24 hours of searching.
2. Shabby on-page SEO
On-page SEO is the direct optimization you do on your content or webpage. Ranking for a reasonably competitive keyword demands attention-grabbing, insanely-relevant, actionable content. But even more, it requires a deliberate SEO strategy for these articles.
If you find that your content is ranking poorly for a lightly contested keyword, here are a few things you can correct on your page:
Include your keyword in your titles
This technique is a no-brainer. Always include your keyword in your titles—it’s one of the most critical pieces of information that Google spiders pick up when indexing your article.
Internal linking is an efficient way to spread your keyword reach to other pages on your website. If you’ve secured a quality external link, a strong internal linking strategy can improve your ranking.
Add social share buttons
Social media is the internet’s famous night bar—you’ll find everyone there. And because everyone is there, you can get the word out about your products quickly.
While Google hasn’t given any definitive answers yet, SEO experiments show that social media engagement correlates quite strongly with rankings. In fact, Matthew Woodward was recently able to rank #1 for a competitive keyword all thanks to social media.
Make your content easy to share, and add those share buttons now.
Avoid keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is old news. Keep your keywords within a reasonable limit relative to the article length, or else, be ready for Google’s hammer.
Search Engine Watch recommends that you keep your keyword density around 2%.
Include optimized images
The easiest way to go about improving your on-page SEO is to include quality images. If you have the funds, you can even take it a notch higher and create custom videos for your posts.
Image searches account for 12.5% of total searches, and visitors to your website will remember as much as 65% more of your content when images are attached. This means better engagement, lower bounce rates, and more top rankings.
3. Shallow content
Shallow content is fluff. It says a lot and means nothing. It doesn’t solve a problem, and even when it attempts to, it only skirts around the core message.
Avoid it at all costs. Here’s how:
Research topics thoroughly
Nothing is new on the internet. It’s an age-long truth. If you notice that you’re outputting shallow content, it’s time to check your research habits.
Use tools like BuzzSumo to find out what your audiences love to read and share on social media. Then, create better articles using the insights you gain.
Be deliberate about choosing your keywords too. Compare your keyword’s search volume with the competition before you decide to write—the best combination is low competition and high search volume. If possible, target longtail keywords more often.
Write longer articles
Google seems to correlate the length of articles with relevance. Use this to your advantage and consider publishing content longer than 2,000 words.
But remember that quality still matters. The Google algorithm has matured enough to detect fluff-stuffed articles and penalize them accordingly—don’t let that article be yours for the sake of a higher word count.
Hire a content writer
We all have limitations. You could be a fantastic business owner, but a terrible article writer. Instead of letting your business suffer for this skill gap, contract the job out.
Look for quality content writers with superb portfolios and let them handle content creation for you. That way, you can rank higher by focusing on your strengths.
4. Shady link building practices
Stay far away from all black hat SEO and link building techniques, unless you’re interested in running your business aground very fast.
Notable link building practices to avoid are:
Opting for link schemes is one of the easiest ways to see your pages deleted from Google SERPs. Google describes link schemes as any technique that attempts to manipulate PageRank, including trading and exchanging links, and using tools to create automatic links to your website.
The punishment for using strategies like this will depend on the gravity of your offense. It can range from dropping your rankings to the complete removal of your pages from Google’s index.
Instead of going this shoddy route, you should work to gain healthy links naturally.
Create high-quality content that engages your audience and attracts lots of backlinks, then find relevant link sources that resonate with your message and share your content with them.
Google is clear on this violation. Don’t use article spinning software or duplicate material to create content.
You should also avoid creating content from another article without adding value to it.
Don’t confuse click bait for link bait.
Click baits are spammy links that promise a lot and deliver nothing. The anchor texts are cleverly selected to pique the interest of the unsuspecting visitor. When they click on this link, they find that the destination is either a malicious page or entirely unrelated to the anchor text.
Instead of getting the search engines to hate your site, do this instead:
- Don’t deceive visitors with links to unrelated pages or that download spammy apps
- If you have a product you intend to sell on your site, create a proper landing page for it and link back to it naturally
- Don’t cloak your links
5. Poor technical SEO
On-page and off-page SEO are the buzzwords on SEO blogs, but without strong technical SEO, you’ll be wasting your time (even if you get the other two right).
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your site’s technical needs. This includes things like site speed, HTTPS and SSL certificates, host and server reputation, schema markups, CDNs and the like.
Search engine spiders work best in certain conditions. If these conditions are absent, they’ll crawl your website sub-optimally.
And on the human end of technical SEO, people aren’t going to wait an eternity for a webpage to load. Everyone wants speed. If your website doesn’t load fast, it loses SEO juice.
Improve your technical SEO with the following tips:
Optimize your site structure
A logical, intuitive site structure is good for your visitors because it’s easy for them to find their way around your site. It’s helpful to search engine crawlers too.
Avoid nesting too many pages and increasing the hierarchical depth of your site. This is bad for both users and web crawlers—a flatter page hierarchy wins every time. It shouldn’t take more than three clicks to get to any page on your site.
Keep your link format simple
Don’t complicate your URLs by adding dates and other unnecessary filler symbols. Keep only the necessary keywords and do away with the rest.
Also, separate each word with a hyphen instead of leaving them as a cluster.
Add breadcrumb menus
Breadcrumb menus are links to other pages that users can use to navigate around your website. If you use WordPress, the category page is a breadcrumb menu.
Search engines find it easier to crawl pages with this type of structure, so you should use it wherever possible.
Optimize XML sitemaps
XML sitemaps keep a list of all the pages on your website. Make sure your sitemap is easy for search engines to understand—avoid stuffing it with unnecessary information like the author name and post date.
Keep only pages, posts and categories included in the sitemap.
6. Low or no backlinks
To improve your ranking, you must leverage link building. You want to win quality, do-follow backlinks from authorities in your niche.
A healthy backlink portfolio signifies to the search engines that your page is authoritative and your content is relevant to searchers. Getting backlinks, therefore, is a must for every site owner who’s out to win.
Here are some tips to win quality backlinks:
Promote your content
Build relationships with relevant influencers in your niche, and then create content that’s targeted to them. Quote them in your content and link back to their sites.
As soon as your post goes live, send them a polite, friendly email (or connect with them on social media) to let them know about it. You can get a lot of great backlinks this way, but remember that it’s always more effective if you have a genuine relationship with these influencers as they’ll be more willing to link to you.
Target resource pages
Resource pages contain links to the best articles on any niche topic. So, to secure a spot on them, your article must be of high quality.
If you have an article that qualifies (or can create one), reach out to the owners of these resource pages and let them know about your resource. If it’s a genuinely high-quality addition to their list, they’ll add a link to it.
7. Lacking authoritativeness
Authority is the currency of the web. The higher your authority, the better your chances of ranking higher on search engines.
If you’re a small business, the chances are that you’re still unknown in your niche. To help build your authority, here are some techniques to put to work:
Use statistics and facts
In your articles, ensure to bolster your points with relevant facts and statistics. You can get a good number of compelling statistics on your topic or niche with a simple Google search of “keyword + stats” or “keyword + facts.”
Create niche content
Don’t try to optimize for too many keywords, and don’t try to appeal to a broad, diverse audience at once. Write to target a select audience (the more niche, the better) and ensure to fact-check your articles.
You’ll grow a following faster this way.
Create in-depth and lengthy content
With longer content, you can provide more in-depth information about a topic. Your readers will appreciate the effort you put in to it and help share your site with others.
You can connect more personally and earn trust pretty quickly with a webinar. It also helps to promote user engagement as your audience will connect better with you and your brand.
8. Poor mobile experience
Your mobile audience is too huge to ignore. The worldwide smartphone user base is nearing 2.5 billion, and people are now spending nearly 70% of their media time on a mobile phone.
Plus, 57% of mobile users say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poor mobile experience.
So how do you optimize your website for mobile?
Create fluid layouts
When designing your websites, ensure that the layout is responsive and adapts to fit multiple screen sizes.
Make sure all your content is available on mobile
Don’t restrict some content to PC and bigger screens alone. Create a dynamic website that will allow for your content to show on all devices.
Compress images and use a CDN
Mobiles come with small screens, so you should reduce your image size to cater to this need. It’ll help load your sites faster on mobile and improve user experience.
You should also use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver images and media files, which will help boost your site’s mobile friendliness.
Final Thoughts on Checking (and Improving) Your Website Ranking
You can check and improve your website ranking in a relatively short time—but it’s important that you follow only tested principles.
This guide gives you a head-start in the right direction.
Remember that hard-earned results don’t come in an instant. Be patient with your techniques and keep working the process—higher rankings will soon come!
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