As an SEO analyst, you are supposed to know the ‘why’ of rankings. Customers always come at me with questions like ‘why is our traffic down?’, ‘why did we go from page one to page five?’, ‘why is our website not ranking for our top 10 target keywords?’ and so on. Every time I am faced with such questions, I immediately dive into data and start my quest to find answers. SEO is tricky business to say the least, ‘why is our traffic down’ will have a different answer for each customer, same goes for all other questions. There is no universal truth when it comes to SEO, no such thing as one-answer fits all. In this article, I will create a hypothetical case study and walk you through the process of analyzing rank tracker data.
We will first look at the graph of five keywords over the course of 12 weeks and analyze them collectively as well as individually. Let’s begin.
Keywords: keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3, keyword 4, keyword 5
Let’s say we start tracking this data on June 24 and establish a baseline. Since this is neither a real website nor real keywords, I will go ahead and make a table of what the rank tracker data looks like:
|Keyword 1||…||Desktop||USA||58||Campaign 1||6/24/2020||3500||3.5|
|Keyword 2||…||Desktop||USA||84||Campaign 2||6/24/2020||7000||7.2|
|Keyword 3||…||Desktop||USA||45||Campaign 3||6/24/2020||1500||1.5|
|Keyword 4||…||Desktop||USA||32||Campaign 4||6/24/2020||3000||2.4|
|Keyword 5||…||Desktop||USA||25||Campaign 5||6/24/2020||7900||8.5|
This establishes a baseline for my rankings as I set off on the different on page and off page SEO tasks and try to improve my rankings. The tasks obviously include link building as well as making design changes, implementing relevant schema, trying to improve page load time, reviewing the content on the pages and more. I continue to do these tasks and get my rank tracker report 7 days later:
|Keyword 1||…||Desktop||USA||58||Campaign 1||7/1/2020||3500||3.5|
|Keyword 2||…||Desktop||USA||72||Campaign 2||7/1/2020||7000||7.2|
|Keyword 3||…||Desktop||USA||45||Campaign 3||7/1/2020||1500||1.5|
|Keyword 4||…||Desktop||USA||32||Campaign 4||7/1/2020||3000||2.4|
|Keyword 5||…||Desktop||USA||25||Campaign 5||7/1/2020||7900||8.5|
This tells me that all keyword ranks are stable at the moment and keyword 2 improved from 84 to 72. I quickly take note of what I did differently with keyword 2 but everything I did for keyword 2 I also did for other keywords, which tells me that my strategy isn’t a game changer but it is effective and will help me improve the rankings slightly. I continue to bring links and make on page improvements and get week three data.
|Keyword 1||…||Desktop||USA||46||Campaign 1||7/8/2020||3500||3.5|
|Keyword 2||…||Desktop||USA||66||Campaign 2||7/8/2020||7000||7.2|
|Keyword 3||…||Desktop||USA||42||Campaign 3||7/8/2020||1500||1.5|
|Keyword 4||…||Desktop||USA||28||Campaign 4||7/8/2020||3000||2.4|
|Keyword 5||…||Desktop||USA||35||Campaign 5||7/8/2020||7900||8.5|
This data shows an across the board improvement in all keywords except keyword 5, which dropped 10 ranks and went from 25 to 35 in a week. Now, to figure out the ‘why’ of it and fix it. I quickly check the url of keyword 5 to see if I am getting a 404 or something else that’s out of the ordinary. I see what changed on the page during the last couple of weeks. I check the page load time and find out that some high res images were uploaded on the page while improving the UX and the load time is now 17s up from 2s. I also find out that some of the new content added to the page has a higher keyword density and the content itself is almost the same as that of bigger competitors (not plagiarized but still pretty close). I also see that the page is calling a lot iframes that are not needed and that is causing an html bloat. I also check the link profile of that page and do not find anything wrong there.
Now that we have identified a few problems with the page, we take our remaining four pages and check them for these issues as well. Two of the other four pages also have similar issues so I feel lucky that their rankings haven’t dropped, but I know that they will drop soon enough if we don’t fix these issues.
I work with the relevant people to fix these issues on all three pages and get another set of rankings data from Rank Genie the next week. This is what it looks like:
|Keyword 1||…||Desktop||USA||47||Campaign 1||7/15/2020||3500||3.5|
|Keyword 2||…||Desktop||USA||72||Campaign 2||7/15/2020||7000||7.2|
|Keyword 3||…||Desktop||USA||38||Campaign 3||7/15/2020||1500||1.5|
|Keyword 4||…||Desktop||USA||29||Campaign 4||7/15/2020||3000||2.4|
|Keyword 5||…||Desktop||USA||29||Campaign 5||7/15/2020||7900||8.5|
This tells me that the drastic measures we took worked for keyword 5 and its rankings improved slightly. We were already expecting a drop in the rankings of keyword 1, 2 and 4 because the pages had the same problems as keyword 5 but the effects hadn’t kicked in last week. We are now expecting these keywords to improve next week.
When analyzing keywords on a quarterly basis, we look at the data in two ways: collectively and individually.
In the collective approach, I will take the average of all rankings and see how they are doing month over month. Let’s look at the first three months of rank tracking:
|Keywords||Month 1||Month 2||Month 3|
So if we look at the average monthly rank, it went from 43 to 41 and then to 42. This shows a slow and consistent improvement in some keywords and decline in others. This means that the SEO strategy we have adopted and the on-page and off-page activities we are performing are not making a huge difference. My key takeaway from this data set would be to do a deeper dive into the competition, given that we have all on-page elements in control and are constantly building links. My hunch is that we need better links and a better link building strategy in general to go from an average of 40+ to 30+ and higher.
Now to look at this data individually. In my experience, looking at the data individually is best done in the form of a line graph. If the line graph is going down, the ranking is improving and vice versa.
Looking at the keywords individually, you can see that keyword 5 is the only problematic keyword and is losing rankings at a higher rate. If analyzing data that way, you will want to jump into the ‘why’ of it and focus on keyword 5 more than others.
To conclude, there are multiple ways to analyze rank tracker data. The biggest benefit of looking at this data weekly is that you get to keep a close eye on whether or not your SEO strategy is working and you can make quick decisions about on-page and off-page moves to improve your rankings. I hope you found this article useful. Do try our rank tracker to get same day data at an affordable price. Sign up for the 7-day trial today.