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  • Su Guillory

Is Keyword Tracking Dead?

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

When it comes to keyword research in 2016, digital agencies and freelance SEOs alike are putting a hyper-focus on long-tail keywords. And for good reason.

As Google’s semantic search becomes more intelligent and users search specific questions (and even full sentences), long-tail keywords can help SEOs increase organic traffic tenfold.

SEO agencies have also shifted their key performance indicators away from keyword tracking and towards the number of leads and sales generated by a website. Keyword rankings are no longer the number one priority of most digital agencies.

This shift in success begs the question, “Is keyword tracking dead?”

No, keyword tracking is not dead—it’s just less important.

Is Keyword Tracking Dead?

Keyword Tracking Shows SEO Success (and Failure)

Although SEOs are moving away from rankings as a direct measure of SEO success, high SERP rankings more often than not correlate with a higher volume of qualified search traffic to a company’s website, more contact forms and phone calls, and in turn, more website-driven sales.

For businesses that are new to search engine optimization, improved search rankings may be the only indication of SEO success. Companies buried on the third or fourth pages of Google (or beyond) may not see an increase in phone calls or contact form submissions during the first couple months of an SEO campaign. But, moving from a #40 ranking to #12 for one of your most important keyword phrases is a pretty significant jump.

And if you can use Google Search Console or keyword ranking software to prove that increase, you know your SEO campaign is generating real results (and to continue your efforts).

However, stagnant rankings or even decreased rankings are a surefire sign your campaign is in distress and often are an initial indicator of a failing SEO campaign.

Keyword Tracking Improves Competitor Research

One of the first places to start keyword research is the competition.  Like it or not, you identified another business as a competitor for a reason—they target the same clientele, operate in the same service area, or sell the same products.

Keyword tracking allows you to actively monitor your competitors and identify:

  1. Relevant keywords to target in your SEO strategy

  2. Keyword competition (how difficult it is or is not to rank for a keyword)

  3. Content ideas that work well in your industry (and those that don’t)

  4. Real-time keyword rankings for your company and your competitors

  5. Easier keywords to rank for and keywords that may require a more tactful approach to SEO

  6. New competitors in your market

Google Tracks Keywords, Why Shouldn’t You?

Digital marketing agencies and independent software companies aren’t the only ones tracking keywords. Google is too! If you have Google Search Console installed on your website (if not, you can follow these set-up directions), you can view keywords customers used to find your website in organic search for the past 90 days.

Image: Photospin

Brandon Doyle is the Assistant General Manager at Rank First Local, a Charlotte SEO company focused on growing small and micro businesses using affordable internet marketing solutions. He has a passion for helping small business owners dominate their competitors in local search and generating more leads and sales from the web. You can reach Brandon on Twitter or visit

#keywordtracking #longtailkeywords

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