Having tried a range of keyword research tools over the last decade, my favourite is Rank Tracker by SEO Powersuite. Within this Rank Tracker review, I want to show you six ways I use this powerful yet affordable tool to improve my websites’ performance.
I first discovered SEO Powersuite from Matthew Woodward blog years ago. Up until a few years ago, I haven’t seriously investigated them. I’ve used or at least trialled all of the major SEO tool suites available including Ahrefs, SEMrush and Ubersuggest.
The appeal of SEO Powersuite is simple. They provide agency-level tools at an affordable price tag with excellent customer service. Buying tools when running an affiliate website or two can easily get expensive. Most of these tools are designed for agencies, not solopreneurs.
I started to use Rank Tracker when I had about 150 posts published to check keyword position each week. The task had become too large to do manually and I didn’t like the idea of having to trawl through endless data from Google Search Console!
At the time, I was still using Ubersuggest to generate and validate keyword ideas. Not my best idea, but I quickly moved everything over to Rank Tracker and haven’t looked back since.
Like the other tools from SEO Powersuite, Rank Tracker is a desktop program that lives on your computer. It isn’t available as a web app (well, not yet). Some don’t like this as they prefer to use online software rather than having to use up their RAM running software.
I appreciate that some won’t want to use a tool that has to be downloaded. However, it’s just the way they’ve chosen to do it and doesn’t really affect how you use the tool. Just ensure your computer has a good amount of RAM and the latest version of JAVA.
As a powerful tool, there’s plenty to discover and learn. I by no means know everything there is to know about this tool. I still rely on the support team (Inessa, Olga, and Alexander) to help me when I get stuck.
That said, hopefully this rank tracker review will open your eyes a little and help you discover a really affordable keyword research tool.
#1 Rankings Summary
The first feature worth talking about is the Ranking Summary tab. Located under Target Keywords, this report enables to you view a snapshot of how your website is doing.
After updating my keyword positions, I usually load this report and look at the Visibility Progress Graph. It shows how my keywords are performing over time. The more keywords on the first page, the more visible your website will be.
By using this graph, I can easily see if my SEO efforts are paying off. I can also see if my website’s rankings have tumbled, which could mean a new algorithm update or a penalty.
As one of my KPIs is the number of keywords ranking in the top 3, the next box (“Keyword Rankings“) helps me quite a bit. I can easily see the spread of keyword rankings, including the number of keywords that aren’t showing up at all.
The final box shows the number of keywords that moved up and down. Again this allows me to see if I have a problem, some work to do, or that I might deserve a chocolate bar for doing a good job!
Of course, this snapshot doesn’t tell the whole picture, but it’s a great way to benchmark performance and quickly identify issues.
#2 Rank Tracking module
I’m slightly ashamed to say I only look at two of the five reports in the Rank Tracking module. That said, you can see a ton of actionable data. The two reports I use are “Keywords & rankings” and “Rankings progress“.
The Keywords & rankings tab is the main report I use as I can easily add new keywords, check keyword data, and see which keywords are ranking. When you update positions, the software will tell you where you rank for each keyword and what URL is been shown.
I recently noticed that the software will try and report any mismatches for keywords pointing to the wrong landing page. Being able to spot this is gold as it could be an easy fix.
For example, say you have an article about men’s loafers and another on why every man needs a pair of brown loafers. Google decides to show the second article for both keywords, ignoring the first piece.
The software will realise the same page is appearing for two keywords and place a warning next to the second URL, allowing you to see that you need to re-optimise that article.
For each keyword, you can track historic data such as ranking change over time and change in visibility over time. I don’t often look at the visibility chart, but I do monitor how my top-performing content ranks over the long term.
If I want to see what keywords have been dropped, fallen or risen, then I look at the Ranking progress tab. If you’re tracking hundreds of keywords, then this report is really useful, plus you can easily apply filters and drill down into the data.
#3 Keyword Map
I have to admit, this is a feature I’ve only just started using. In some ways, I wished I had played around with it when I was learning Rank Tracker as it’s a pretty cool feature.
You can easily create Keyword Groups of keywords you’re targeting, allowing you to see how you’re performing by topic/niche or blog vs product pages, for example.
As I said, I haven’t used this feature much and is something I will go back and apply to my main websites as I can see how powerful it is. It does show a ton of data, so don’t be alarmed if you go down the rabbit hole and spend hours playing with the data it shows.
I’d advise picking two or three KPIs to monitor in this section and focus on improving them over getting lost in the data.
#4 Keyword research options
There are 10 methods for generating keyword ideas out of the box using Rank Tracker. And rather than covering all of them here as that would be a lengthy discussion, I’m going to show you my favourites.
If your page is already indexed, but you’re struggling to rank for your target keyword, then you’ll want to paste the URL into the box found within the Ranking Keywords tab. You’ll see it pulls lots of data and should help you discover a new keyword or two you can target.
As I’ve talked about in past articles, the easiest keywords to target are questions your target client is asking. Rank Tracker makes finding plenty of these super simple. On the left-hand menu, look for Related Questions. Enter a seed keyword and wait for the tool to work its magic.
It will generate hundreds of options. Some of these will be junk, others are gold. I like to use the Keyword Sandbox to edit the list down and find golden opportunities.
The Keyword Sandbox is highly useful as it collects all the data from the other keyword research modules and also allows you to input your own ideas to validate them.
With a long list of ideas in the sandbox, I like to update the number of searches and Keyword difficulty score. You can either select one or a few columns, or use ctrl+a to select the entire list. Next, right-click and find the update keyword data option and click it.
On the pop-out box, tick the first two options (SEO and PPC analysis and Keyword difficulty). Give the software a minute and it will populate with data.
Finally, I delete any keywords with 0 search volume or any with a keyword difficult over 65 (as you’ll probably never rank for them!). From there, it’s a matter of finding and sorting ideas into a content strategy that makes sense.
#5 SERP Analysis module
Anyone who knows me will know I dislike hype or hyperbole. Frankly, it’s usually misplaced. That said, Rank Tracker’s SERP Analysis module is epic and is a new addition for 2021.
For it to work, you need a Google API key, which takes a minute to generate (externally) and configure within the software. But once you’re up and running, it’s a really powerful tool.
A simple search for any keyword in the search bar and choose which search engine you want to pull data from. It will then show you a ton of data, including who’s currently ranking for that keyword, how strong their domain and page are. You’ll be able to see how many keywords they rank for and a website traffic estimate.
But that’s not all. By plugging in a Google API key, you can see the Core Web Vital score of each page. No other tools currently does this. And as your user cares about speed (not to mention the search engines), it’s worth paying attention to this score.
In short, this module allows you to view actionable data in one screen. If you were to do this in any other tool set, you would have to have multiple windows open and run each page through several tools. I know that I prefer a single tool that does it all!
#6 Domain strength
Oddly named, this feature reveals more than just how many backlinks your website has. And without getting into a debate whether or not the amount of backlinks is the main determining ranking factor, you’ll want to look at this module often.
SEO Powersuite claims to use a complex algorithm to calculate domain strength, with backlinks being one factor. I take it with a pinch of salt as we don’t know fully how the major search engines evaluate and rank websites.
I use this module to check how many pages each of the major search engines have found. Also, I look at the breakdown of backlinks the tool has found. Having a snapshot of your link building efforts is useful.
That said, there are better tools within the SEO Powersuite range for link building and monitoring. I’ll get to them in future posts.
#7 Bonus: Scheduling
A feature I don’t use but should is task scheduling. I don’t like programmes running in the background, so I prefer to run them when I need fresh data. For example, on Monday mornings, I add new keywords and update all rankings. I also update the domain strength module.
That said, it’s easy enough to get the software to run automatically without needing too much input from you.
Rank Tracker review: Is it the ideal tool for you?
If you’re looking for an affordable keyword research and monitoring software, then Rank Tracker is ideal. However, if you want online software that’s accessible from anywhere then it’s not for you.
Hopefully, this Rank Tracker review has shown you a few different ways to use the tool to find, manage and track hundreds of keywords you can rank for. Again, this is far from a complete in depth review but should give you a taste of it.
Remember, unless you have a lot of cash to spend on links, you probably want to look for keywords with a difficulty score of less than 35. Doing so will ensure you rank quickly on the first page of the search results.
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