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SEO: How to Rank Keywords in 2016

The question used to be:

“What’s our rank?”

Now, the question should be:

“What’s our click through rate?”

Organic keyword tracking is not the beacon it used to be. Rankings are now scattered across an ever expanding amount of places. These days, it doesn’t matter if you’re third or fifth, but it does matter how many people are clicking on your links. Here’s a quick guide to ranking your keywords.

 How to Track Your Google Traffic

1) Get Google Search Console Data

It’s the most relevant keyword data available, and is somehow often overlooked. Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) tells you what your keyword click through rate is. It indicates how much traffic is being lost, which is the first metric you should be looking at. Ranking first is great, but how often are those people clicking on your link? Are paid, local and knowledge graph getting 80% of the clicks? Keyword rankings is a competitive game, so the first measurement should be against what others are getting.

2) Include Paid

Dr. Pete Meyers tweeted a search result (we’ve posted it below) that has 4 Adwords ads rather than the traditional 3. This dominates the page real estate. Paid and organic are arguably the same medium, and they all come from the same place: Search. Considering that Adwords is dominating the same search results as organic, shouldn’t it be included in rankings? Why separate the two if it doesn’t matter to the user?

3) Of Course, Track Keywords

Knowing their historical position explains a lot, but isn’t the beginning and end of organic. A few good keyword trackers we’ve seen lately are Accuranker and STAT.

Watch Your Keyword Locations

Rankings in New York are different than rankings in Vancouver. It’s common to first panic at a low average position in Google Search Console until you localize the filter. If you have a restaurant and rank for the term “restaurant,” people from all over the world may be influencing your overall position.

Google also does a great job of localizing searches. You may rank highly in Edmonton, Alberta but low in Hong Kong. Make sure you know your rank in the city you’re targeting. Authority Labs has postal code level targeting.

Mobile vs. Desktop

We’re seeing slight differences in rankings between mobile and desktop. They’re not the giant discrepancies that people were afraid of when Google announced the Mobile Update in April, 2015, but there are some inconsistencies between the two. This is a key factor to consider because if you’re #1 on desktop and #5 on mobile, you’d have to consider yourself as #3.