As the title implies, rank tracking software is used to harvest data on the usage and efficiency of keywords on your website.  Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important parts of running a successful website, and ranking high in search results for critical keywords is a guaranteed way to generate useful traffic.  Of course, a website can be optimized without the usage of rank tracking software, but any serious webmaster should have this tool at their disposal.  Most major search engines have compatible tracking software, including video search sites, such as YouTube.  Regardless of where your SEO efforts are focused, rank tracking is vital.

What is rank tracking software?

The primary and most useful function of this type of tool is to determine how high (or low!) one’s webpage ranks in the search results for various search engines when the selected keyword is entered. Additionally, some programs provide information on how often the specific keyword is searched by users, allowing webmasters to compare the growth rate of individual keywords and estimate potential reach for specific content on each page.

Another highly useful feature that comes with most rank tracking software is a keyword suggestion tool. This feature will intelligently provide popular search terms that match the content on each page, allowing for even further optimization with keywords you may not have thought of before. Typically a comparison will then be drawn to other websites already using the keyword(s) with success. Some programs even estimate your page’s rankings if it is not listed in the search engine of your choice.

Finally, rank tracking software is typically designed with ease of use in mind. Most people interested in analysis tools like this do not have excessive amounts of time to learn complicated new software or ideas; as such, most developers create a clean user interface and present information in a way that is intuitive and easy to understand. With this in mind, even those who know next to nothing about SEO can benefit from tracking programs.

Why is it useful?

Before it became automated and largely available to the public, rank tracking was done manually by entering keywords into search engines and scouring through the pages of results until one’s website was found. Needless to say, this process was horrendously time consuming and often not even worth the effort.

Now, you can check your page’s rank at the click of a button. Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to see how well a page is doing against competition in general, it provides many related benefits. For example, if a competitor site tends to draw business away when it is too close in search rankings, rank tracking software can be utilized to make sure the two pages are never too close together for the most important keywords.

For anyone managing a larger website or family of websites, tracking programs can quickly become the most useful tool in their arsenal. With many having the ability to import from lists and export all data automatically into an excel spreadsheet (which can then be used in graphics or in its raw format), the analytic power afforded by automated rank tracking is unprecedented.

Tracking keyword ranks on a site can also end up opening an opportunity you otherwise never would have even noticed. If a specific keyword is doing extremely well compared to others, it may be wise to ask oneself: can I alter my website to either include or focus on this keyword? For example, consider a website that is dedicated to promoting a new book. The rank tracking software reveals that they keywords “summer reading list” rank extremely high; you could capitalize on this by replacing some of the content with paragraphs about summer reading lists. This may ultimately lead to higher conversion rates, as you will be reaching your targeted audience more often.

For those who truly do not have any time to devote to SEO, various programs exist that perform searches automatically and compile data into an easy to read format (such as an excel spreadsheet, or a native format viewable within the program). E-mail alerts, desktop notifications, SMS messages and simple in-program visual indicators may be used to alert you of any changes in the success of your website on popular search engines. Sometimes when the program finds an excellent keyword, it will notify you of that through the same channel.

Popular Rank Tracking Software

Many programs that perform rank tracking exist, each with varying benefits and downfalls.

Three of the most popular programs are:

Rank Tracker from link-assistant.com – this is largely considered to be an industry standard. It may not be the best at everything, but it is definitely a great tool in every aspect that it covers.

Rank Checker by SEOBook.com – this is a Firefox plugin that works similarly to Rank Tracker. Great for anyone who tests their websites in Firefox.

Advanced Web Ranking – this website provides both a plugin version and a desktop version. Notable features include: analyzing backlinks, reports about Google Analytics, quick and easily produced visualization of data, similar keyword searching, and of course the standard rank tracking.

Ultimately, rank tracking software is about fine tuning the workflow of a website’s search engine optimization. In today’s information age where a large majority of research, shopping, and daily tasks are done online, SEO cannot be compromised on. Using these tools is no excuse for proper SEO techniques when creating a website, but their use will definitely result in a boost of page views and audience accuracy. And finally, once again: software for tracking search engine ranks is indispensable for serious webmasters. Those who use it and those who do not will be clearly differentiated in search results.