How do I Track Where My Site Ranks in the Search Engines for Various Keywords and Keyword Phrases?

SEO Question: Do you know of any tools that would let me check all the ranking of my site by just givin my url? I mean, I want to know where I am rank right now, even for keywords I have not intended to rank for, any ideas?

SEO Answer: Rule #1: It really only matters that you rank if people are actively searching for a topic.

Most sites probably rank for hundreds or thousands of phrases that might be searched for once a year, so it is not important just to get the data, but also look for ways to make it useful.

Log Files and Analytics Data:
Using analytics tools or log file analysis tools can help you see what are your most common search terms that drive traffic toward your site. Analytics software packages can even show you how well you are converting for various phrases.

Most analytics software programs run from $50 to $150 a month. Stuff like Omniture is far more expensive. On the low end there are free tracking scripts like SiteMeter. Google Analytics is also free, but some webmasters do not like sharing all their conversion and traffic data with Google.

Automatically cross referencing sites and rankings:
There are some tools that automate cross referencing common search terms and rankings across a wide variety of sites.

GoogSpy allows you to cross reference terms and sites. GoogSpy is free, but their data is a bit shallow and may be dated.

Companies such as HitWise and AdGooroo sample search data, but searchers that tend to participate in those tracking programs tend to skew data toward lower end surfers (missing out on much of the B2B traffic).

Value vs Perceived value:
Many top keyword lists tend to point out the same search queries to many webmasters, which creates an artificially hyper saturated markets. [Mesothelioma] is a great example of a keyword market polluted by too many unoriginal me to websites.

Quickly responding to market changes and thinking creatively to create content about whatever news is in fashion or will be in fashion will help you find more unclaimed gold than any widely promoted list of keywords.

I know what keyword phrases I want to track:
If you already know what keywords you want to check your rankings for DigitalPoint has a cool free keyword ranking monitor tool.

What is a Keyword? Should I Focus on Single Words or Keyword Phrases?

SEO Question: What you often hear though is that ideas presented very often work for combined keywords or not so competitive keywords but much less for keywords in competitive areas especially if they are single keywords.

We are building a portal hence single keywords are of interest to us.

SEO Answer: The whole advantage of owning a large portal with a large amount of relevant related content is that you will match for many various longer search phrases.

Sure eventually you can rank for competitive single word search terms, but typically conversion rates are higher for longer search phrases with more implied intent in the query.

One thing you have to remember is that if you are starting a new site from scratch that it is going to have a long way to go to catch up with old trusted estabilished sites. Another thing you have to remember is that if your competitors are not idiots they will be reinvesting profits into further promotion, so it can take a while to rank for short search phrases in hyper competitive commercial categories.

On the page problems with being too focused on a single word:
Some people who chase the single word phrases end up stripping out many valuable modifier terms out of their content to where they no longer have relevant documents for a wide array of longer search queries. The focus on concepts like keyword density also ends up creating mechanical sounding content.

Off the page problems with being too focused on a single word:
When linkage occurs naturally there is a wide variety of anchor text associated with the links. Focusing too heavily on a specific anchor text set may give a site an unnatural linkage profile that prevents a site from ranking in the search results. Many quality sites will not fully allow you to control the anchor text they use to link at your site with.

Links from quality trusted sites help you rank across the board even if those links do not contain your keyword phrases in them.

If you like videos Dan Thies offers a free 75 minute keyword research video.

Do You Still Update Your List of General Directories?

SEO Question: I wish I had a list of free good directories that I could auto submit to, and the paid inclusion list as two separate tools or checkboxes or something. Do you still update your directory list and do you offer anything like this?

SEO Answer: I don't update my directory list very often for a few main reasons:

  1. most general directories are pure garbage

  2. I believe in many ways many search algorithms are moving beyond the level of valuing many of those links since they are surrounded by many low quality outbound links, have much of their link popularity come from overlapping low trust sites, and general directories typically do not drive too much traffic.
  3. the return on my time in trying to track what is generally a fairly sleazy quick buck no value add business model with maybe only a dozen or two dozen legitimate players would be better spent studying and learning other stuff
  4. a few others I will mention below

Generally the auto submit it bad stuff. If you believe that there are good link vs bad link algorithms (as I do: see my review of the link spam mass research paper or my article about directories and trustrank) then listing a site next to a bunch of other spammy autosubmitted sites likely has at least as great of a chance of hurting as helping.

Also imagine that search engines get better at doing duplication detection during crawl time and look closer at the context of a link. Is it a natural pattern for many links to have the same anchor AND same description right next to them? Nope.

I use Roboform to help save time with directory submissions, but I still mix the anchor text and descriptions when I can.

Editorial Quality Votes Are Key:
Many directories list any site that has $20 to pay for submission, and thus links from those types of sites are not legitimate editorial votes of quality.

Sure everyone ends up with some spammy links, but I think it is only probably worth getting links from around 10 to 50 directories depending on your niche. Beyond that you want to look for other links that are serious votes of editorial quality.

If your site can't get those sorts of links then eventually you are going to need to change the site profile if you want to compete in Google in a competitive marketplace.

I recently interviewed Greg from BOTW (a directory owner) and he said he believe for most sites directories should only be a small part of your link profile. Directories can carry sites in uncompetitive industries, but they are typically easy links for your competitors to get, and if you ever think your industry might get competitive you should spend some time digging around elsewhere as well to do like Stuntdubl says, Balance the Link Equation.

What do I put in a Frames Website to Help it Rank?

SEO Question: I'm going to be working on a site that was written in frames. I heard that there is some tag you can put in the code so that search engines can spider a frames site. Do you know about this? And if so, can you tell me how to do it?

SEO Answers: The first step with frames is to convert the site to a non frames site.


Because if your site is framed it becomes much harder for people to deep link to your content since they dont know the actual url of the interior pages unless they view the source code.

There is the noframes element, but it's just as easy to use PHP or server side includes for the navigation, etc. and avoid using frames all together.

If you want to use noframes HTML Help has a good page on the noframes element, but I would recommend avoiding using frames alltogether.

Where Do I Learn How to Develop a Landing Page?

SEO Question: Aaron, In you opinion, what is the best resource to obtain for learning how to developing landing pages? SEO Answer: An area of limited experience here, but here are my thoughts...

  1. When Jason Lexell releases his landing page guide it will be good. You may want to shoot him an email and say Aaron Wall sent ya...will help motivate him to finish publishing it and I promise it will be good.

  2. I have yet to read them, but I am certain the offerings from WilsonWeb
    and MarketingSherpa are good as well.

  3. Future Now is good stuff for conversion marketing tips. They have a couple great books for sale and offer a free newsletter at Grok dot com.
  4. Usability consultants are good. you can get a custom review at an
    exceptionally affordable rate from Usability Effect.

  5. The Big Red Fez is a decent quick cheap book that may give you a few ideas.
  6. Some marketers selling software and electronic information that push affiliate marketing hard have landing pages that convert well.

    Looking at the top selling Clickbank products will help you find many great sales letters / conversion techniques for different selling products at different price points.

For expensive items it may work best to capture the lead via email before selling too hard and then pound away at them with an auto-responder system.

A couple basic landing page tips:

  • Be sensitive to the audiences needs with the tone of your content.

  • Landing pages that seem like self help pages which fixed problems the writer also had convert well.
  • People like to see pictures of other people near testimonials and the like. If you can get audio testimonials those will likely help out quite a bit.
  • Limiting options by doing things like striping out site navigation can improve conversion rates.