How to Use Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker to Track Your Ranking Progress
Ahrefs released a super visual and feature-rich Google rank checker tool in August 2017. Fast forward 9 months we made it even better.
Read on and know how to get the most out of the always improving Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tool.
What is Rank Tracker?
It is one of the multiple Ahrefs SEO tools that help you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.
This article will tell you how to use Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tool to its full potential, plus we are going to reveal some of the new and cool features that have been added based on our customers’ feedback.
And of course, the blog post is spiced up with some actionable tips to help you get the most out of tracking your Google rankings.
Let’s get into this thing.
How to set up a new project
First, we will quickly set up a project to give you a bit of context before we actually get into the reports.
Most of the project setup is self-explanatory and pretty standard among rank tracker tools, so we will just skip it. What we want to do is just note a few things.
#1. When you’re choosing your protocol, we recommend leaving this part to “http + https” which will ensure that Rank Tracker picks up ALL of your rankings accurately.
Next, you’ll need to enter in some keywords to track.
So you can type in your own list and separate each keyword with a comma like this - website traffic, keyword research, seo tools, seo tips.
Or you can copy and paste in your own list, which will automatically add the commas for you.
OR you can click here to upload your own txt or csv file.
Since these are all keywords that we’re targeting through our blog, we can add a tag here to stay organized.
And right below that, you’ll see a list of keywords that you’re already ranking for and some data. So we’ll just add a couple more here to our list.
Once you’re ready to add these to your project, you can click the “add to list” button and you’ll see your keywords appear on the right side.
Here, you can add locations where you want us to track your keywords from.
And we support ranking data from around 170 countries and update them regularly depending on your account level. Users of both Advanced and Agency plans get updates of their tracked keywords every 3 days. The Standard Plan allows our clients to see updates every 5 days. And the Lite Plan provides weekly updates.
Since Ahrefs has customers worldwide, we’ll type in “United States” and select this one from the dropdown.
And we’ll actually add Australia too.
The last thing is to add competitors and you can add up to 5 of them.
This step is quite important because we have an entire report where you can compare your organic search rankings against your competitors, which we’ll get to in a bit.
For now, we’ll just click a few from this list, which is based on websites that rank in the top 10 for the same keywords as the site you’re tracking.
Alright, so we already have a project that’s been set up with historical data, so we are just going to switch projects and we’ll go through these 4 sections.
- Keyword Metrics
There are 3 main parts to the overview page.
The filters, some expandable graphs, and the raw ranking data.
We are going to outline a few of the filters. First, you have a toggle where you can switch between your desktop and mobile rankings.
Then we have the tag filter where you can isolate your data to only the keywords within the categories you have set. So if you change this to ONLY the blog keywords, then you’ll see all of the data change here.
Here, you can isolate your results set down to just the countries you want to see ranking data from. So if you remember when we set up the project, we chose to track from the US and Australia.
The positions filter is pretty cool too where you can isolate the data by keyword position. You can even just look at the keywords that have improved or declined in rankings or you can set your own custom filter.
So for example, you can narrow down your data set to just keywords that rank from positions 11-15, which is the upper half of page 2 of the Google SERPs.
And after running the filter, you can see in the data that one of the pages is our post on long-tail keywords.
And clicking through to the article, you’ll see that the post is about one and a half years old, so this one might be due for an update or perhaps this is an article that we’d want to build more links to.
The last filter we want to touch on is the SERP features. This one is a bit more advanced, so we’ll just give you one quick tip on using this filter.
If you want to optimize for featured snippets, you can click the “you don’t rank” radio button and then select only “featured snippets.”
What this does is it shows you all of the keywords where a featured snippet is present in the Google search results, but you don’t currently own it.
From there, you’ll know which articles to optimize so you can fight for the so called “position zero.”
Alright, now let’s take a look at these really cool graphs.
For instance, you can set the date range to the past year, so you can really see what the data looks like over time.
So with any of these little mini graphs, you can click on it, and then click on it again to hide them.
So if we click on the “traffic” graph, you'll see that we've had some nice steady growth across all of our tracked keywords.
Also, if you look at these flags here, these show you when more keywords were added or removed which can also influence traffic growth.
Next, we’ll show you the SERP features graph. And this is one of the new updates in Rank Tracker which is a very helpful and a unique feature.
Here, you can see the total percentage of SERP features you own. And right below that, you can see the dynamics of your progress, so you’ll see that we had a nice little “features” bump around February, 2018.
And to your right, you’ll see a nice table with a breakdown of the features you own as well as the features that exist for your tracked keywords that you don’t own.
Now with SERP features, they generally steal clicks away from the SERP results. So by looking at this graph, you can see if a certain feature type is growing.
You’ll see that the number of featured snippets has increased quite a bit for our tracked keywords. So this would probably be something we’d want to optimize for.
Another actionable takeaway would be to look at the Adwords bottom and top numbers.
If you see this growing, then it means that your competitors are likely paying for your keywords.
So if we click on the “Adwords top” feature, you can see that in Q4 of 2017, our competitors were paying for ads on the keywords we’re targeting.
Also, you can use these graphs to better understand keyword intent.
For example, if you’re seeing that a lot of your tracked keywords have a ton of video SERP features, then it might be a sign to create video content around these topics in addition to your blog posts.
In our case, you can see that the “People also ask” feature is quite prominent. And if we click it, you can see that there’s been quite a bit of growth on this feature, which tells us that with the keywords we’re targeting, people usually have additional questions or just want answers that are short and sweet.
Finally is the positions graph and this one is pretty cool.
You can see the progression over time for clusters of your position rankings. So you can see that they're all color coded here.
So the darker the blue, the higher your rankings. You can see that we've had some success in both ranking for more keywords as well as increasing our top 3 Google rankings across the board.
If you scroll down, you’ll see the raw data with some self-explanatory metrics, so we won’t bother going through all of these. But we do want to make a quick note on a few.
The first is the SERP features. These are color coded, where blue means that you own that SERP feature, and the grey ones mean you don’t own it, but one of your organic search competitors do.
Now, this graph icon here is SUPERRRRRRR cool.
If you click the icon, then you can see BOTH your desktop AND mobile rankings plotted on a graph over time.
The other dropdown here, “SERP”, shows you the top 10 pages on Google’s search results page for this keyword.
And you can see that it highlights your tracked website too.
Now if you want to see more results, you can click on one of these buttons at the bottom to see the next 10 or all 100 results.
The last two things on this page are these tabs.
If we click on tags, then you can get a snapshot of the performance of your groups of keywords for the selected time frame.
And the pages tab shows you the URLs that are associated with your keyword rankings.
And it’s worth noting that this “traffic” number doesn’t represent ALL of the search traffic the page gets.
This is based on JUST the tracked keywords.
So if you want to see the other keywords this page ranks for, you can click on the “organic keywords” dropdown.
From here, you can click the checkboxes and click the green button at the top to add more relevant keywords to your project.
Alright, on to our FAVORITE part of Rank Tracker. And that’s the competitors section.
This report is all about seeing how you match up against your competition. And we recently updated the UI here to make it SUPER user friendly.
So here, you can see that it has the same 3 parts. The filters, the graphs, and the data table.
You can use the filters as we did before to narrow down the data you want to see.
Again with the graphs, they’re all clickable, but the key difference is that you can see your competitors on the same interactive graph, which makes it super insightful and actually quite fun to monitor.
As for the data table, it is very easy to skim.
Each column here shows you the domain and the position ranking as of the last update.
So look at this one for the keyword phrase “broken link building.”
You can see that it's a keyword that all 3 of us have created content around. And if we click on the icon here, it’ll pull up position's explorer where we can now see the progress of EVERYONE’S ranking history.
And if we set it to the past year, you can see ALL of our rankings literally for every single day since we started tracking this keyword.
There are also a few extra filters here where you can switch it from the positions view to the traffic …….. or SERP features view.
And just like the overview section, there’s a tab to see a quick performance report for your tagged keywords based on visibility percentage or traffic.
Finally, there's the “pages” tab, which is REALLY helpful.
Since we pull the top 100 search results for every single keyword you put into Rank Tracker, we aggregate this data to show the total “market share” of the keywords across all pages and websites that were found in the search results.
So here, we can see the pages that also rank for our keywords and the percentage of total search traffic the pages account for across our list of tracked keywords.
You can also see the total number of keywords that the page ranks for based on your tracked keywords.
So, when you’re using this report, it might make more sense to filter by tag so you can focus on specific niches or topics and see who dominates them.
Now this sub filter here, “Domains,” is ULTRA cool because it shows you ALL of the other organic search competitors based on your tracked keywords.
So you can see here that Monitor Backlinks and Wordstream get a decent amount of traffic for a good number of keywords that we're tracking.
So it might be worth adding them to our list of competitors.
All we would need to do is click on this “add to competitors” dropdown, then we’d probably choose “domain.”
And if you wanted to narrow this down to just you and your tracked competitors, you can easily just toggle this switch here.
The third section, Metrics, acts as a nice little shortcut.
As you can see here, all of the important keyword metrics that you would normally find in Keywords Explorer are available in this table.
So you can use this as a quick reference if you wanted to check in on the keyword metrics for your tracked keywords.
And we automatically update all of these metrics every month, so the search volume and clicks data will always be fresh.
Finally is the grossing section.
It shows you the increases and decreases in your keyword positions over set periods of time.
And it literally takes no longer than one minute to look at these to spot big changes that might require your attention.
Finally, if you’re not the type to obsess over your keyword rankings and check every day, we’ll send you an awesome email report either weekly or monthly depending on your notifications settings.
So you can quickly go through your rankings report on your commute or whenever it’s convenient for you.
We’re constantly evolving our rank tracker tool, and actually ALL of the SEO tools within Ahrefs. And it’s because of the awesome feedback that we’ve gotten from community members like you.
So we encourage you to go into Rank Tracker and rather than looking at your rankings and thinking, “sweet, my rankings increased” or “darn..my rankings are dying”, to go in with an analytical approach and use this data to get more traffic to your website.
So from all of us here at Ahrefs, we want to thank you guys for caring and contributing to make Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tool the best it can be.