Better Tools

The Best Rank Tracker

The tactical buyers guide to SEO rank tracking tools.

I’ve spent the past several weeks testing out every rank tracking tool that I could find. It’s 2020, and there are a lot of them.

This article is the first in a series that I’m calling tactical buyers guides.

My goal is to give you the full story — ranging from how the technology works, to who it’s for, and most importantly, what you should use it for. The first section is largely philosophical and instructional. I’m going to make the case for why you should sign up for a rank tracker today, and then I’m going to tell you how to use it in ways that will make you better at SEO. 

The second part is going to be offering thoughts on individual tools, in light of the prescribed strategies.

This is a living, breathing document and will be updated and enhanced over time.

I strongly suggest that you read the piece from top to bottom, but if you’re coming back for reference, here’s the list:

All Rank Tracker Reviews

Why you should use a rank tracker

Organic traffic is an inherently competitive, zero sum game. To get traffic from a particular niche, you have to carve it out and win those visits over other sites that are currently getting it. 

If you’re looking at the same data and following the same strategic playbook as your competitors, it’s likely that the differentiating (i.e. winning) factor is either age (doing it longer), investment (doing more of it, or faster), or luck. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn to generate your own insights, and write your own strategies.

Being a great SEO means being great at reading and interpreting data. More than that, to develop an edge, you’ve got to be adept at designing, collecting, and interpreting your own data. 

Giving Data Context 

Data is inert — it’s only valuable when it leads to execution. In most cases, we don’t need more data. What we need is a way to surface better, actionable insights from the data we already have. 

That’s true for nearly anything with marketing, but to be specific to this use case: knowing where we rank for various keywords doesn’t really provide any meaningful benefit unless there’s a process by which you can influence the numbers.  

You should sit down and figure out what you’re trying to learn, and then define the data points you’ll need to tell the story. 

The benefits of doing this are twofold: 

  • With SEO, there are outsized rewards for discovering strategies and tactics that aren’t common knowledge. 
  • Not all sites are created equally, so getting specific information about how your site responds to efforts can better inform future investment. 

For this, we’ll use a web based rank tracking platform. I’ve used open source and desktop programs in the past, but the truth is that maintaining your own proxies and infrastructure just isn’t a good fit for most people.  

How I use rank trackers to get better results

I don’t think you should take every keyword you care about and throw them into a rank tracker.  

Instead, put yourself into a campaign mindset. Here’s an example: 

Go review your Google Search Console performance report and look at a few of your better performing pages. Grab a list of keywords that your page is NOT optimized for that you rank between positions 8-20.  

Spend some time grouping the list into new buckets. The end result that we’re after is a list of new pages to build that are better targeted for these queries, that can supplant the other non-optimized page, and stick in the top 5.  

The reason we want to load these into a rank tracker is because it saves us a tremendous amount of time. It would be painful to check GSC every few days to see when Google decides to swap the older page for the new, targeted page. It’d also be painful to keep checking back as we add internal links into the new page in order to push it up the results.  

Another example of something I’ve done is tested adding in videos to pages ranking 6-10 for good queries. It’s really easy to compare these pages with the non-video pages in a rank tracker that allows us to create content groups. 

In short, by using a good rank tracker, we can annotate and evaluate our performance within the context of our actions.  

A word on methodology

This is not a rigorous, scientific process. I’m going to give you my general thoughts on the state of rank trackers, what they should be used for, and what features I think they should have (and why).

These reviews are not meant to be in-depth for each product. I signed up for each, loaded up some example urls and keywords and took it for a spin. I spent some time configuring and testing out each feature that was interesting to me. What you’ll see below are just my notes and observations as I used the product, followed by a quick takeaway on whether or not I think you should try it.  

I have no financial interest in any of these products, but I do know a few people who work on them. I haven’t let that impact my opinion.  

The state of the market

In general, there appear to be two types of tools — those with a real team behind them, and those without. The former is something that’s important. Rank tracking technology has to be maintained, and I’d have real concerns about the long-term, or even mid-term accuracy and reliability of the dozens of tools I found offering suspiciously cheap lifetime deals.  

Most tools aren’t running their own scrapers to collect data from the search engines. Instead, they rely on a handful of APIs: DataForSEO is one, Vertifire is another. Some services may not be using these data providers, but they’re probably still using residential proxy providers like Luminati or OxyLabs

I mention this because one of the first things you think about is, “how accurate are rank trackers?”

The answer is mostly pretty accurate, and that’s probably because they’re using similar technology (or in several cases, the exact same data set) to deliver your data. 

One of my pet peeves with SaaS products is that once the market matures and fills with competition the tools have a tendency to move away from the core utility. I’m critical of platforms that branch out and try to do 10 things to make comparison difficult, and high prices seem sane.  

I don’t need a wifi toaster, and I certainly don’t need my rank tracking tool do backlink management, crawl reporting, content scoring, or anything else.  

Here’s what I do need:  

  1. Track my rankings (daily preferred, weekly acceptable, bonus points if I can choose which) 
    • Show me rankings over time
    • Show me gained/lost
    • Bonus points for allowing me to create keyword groups to organize my targets
    • Bonus points for allowing me to create url patterns (to view site sections across keywords, i.e. /blog*) 
  2. Track my competitors on a keyword basis 
  3. Allow me to annotate major events to bring context to the graphs
  4. Google, Bing, Yahoo
    • These are a bonus: Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Youtube, Amazon
  5. Filter by: 
    • Mobile/Desktop
    • Country & Language (city, state could be essential for some)
  6. Report on serp features
    • Knowledge panel
    • Featured snippets
    • Local map pack
    • News, Twitter, video carousels, etc
  7. Reports
    • Email (with configurable cadence, bonus points for configurable format) 
    • On demand for various types
      • Past 30 days (or any time period based reporting) 
      • Competitor Analysis (me vs my competitors) 

What about Google Search Console? 

I’ve been using GSC every single day for as long as I can remember (and webmaster tools before that). 

One of my favorite tactics is finding queries that I rank for but have a low CTR. These have always been a great opportunity for optimization and nearly every time I improve the CTR with a new title + snippet, the page starts creeping up the serps.  

GSC also has unrivaled indexing information directly from the horses mouth. There’s serious utility here, but there’s also actionable information that just isn’t available.  

In particular, you don’t have any information about competitors, serp features, or (obviously) other search engines. Google’s important, but sometimes I also care about Youtube, or Amazon.  

Initial Observations

Signing up for these tools was largely uneventful. Rank tracking tools, as a market, have had plenty of time to mature. Each tool I selected had a free trial, live chat (mostly proactive), and required a quick email click in order to validate my account.  

The first observation was that many of the tools attempt to provide a sensible default — meaning, they try to present you with a way to add keywords to your project very quickly.  

This is more interesting than it sounds. None of the tools chose the same keywords, and the results were often longtail, or surprising for a variety of reasons.  

I can only suspect that what’s happening here is that these are the keywords that other users are tracking. It would make sense from an engineering perspective to just grab all of the results you’re checking for a client and add them to a database. That way if you have two clients sign up who are tracking the same keywords you only have to pull it once.  

This is also the reason that I suggest you don’t pay extra for competitor tracking. They’re pulling the results for you, it doesn’t require another query to see if your competitor was in them.  

So what this means is that by looking at these suggested keywords you can kind of ferret out which competitors might be using the same tool, and which keywords are important to them. More specifically, you may be able to ascertain which keywords your competitors are targeting that you have overlap on.  

One area for improvement that was shared by most of the tools was that once you enter your initial keyword list, you’re left wondering when they’ll update. In most cases, the answer is, “it’s happening right now,” but there is never any visual feedback or indication.  

After a few minutes you’ll normally be able to refresh and see your initial results.  

Having Bing, Yahoo, et al, isn’t the most actionable thing. Despite trying, I’ve rarely been able to do something to directly target DuckDuckGo, or Bing, that wasn’t already a best practice for Google. However, I still view these alternative engines as necessary (if available) because I think my reports (and awareness) are better for it.  

Many tools show CPC, which is normally based on estimated Google Ads cost per click. I don’t think that’s all that useful during the rank tracking phase — but could be during keyword research.  

Volume is a helpful addition, especially if you have fairly large keyword sets you’re tracking, but remember that volume is not nearly as important as commercial intent. I’ve had keywords with 720 queries per month produce 10x the sales of queries with 7,200 queries per month.  

Traffic estimates are present on many, but are largely useless. I don’t really understand why these are provided, as they are attempting to estimate what your current traffic is based on click distribution for the current ranking position. Since you’re currently ranking there, you’ll know what the traffic amounts to.  

Most tools have entry level subscriptions starting at $25-$40 per month for 200-300 keywords updated daily. I recommend monthly pricing, even with the substantial discounts available for yearly commitments. Rank tracking is not trivial and requires maintenance, so the better tools of today could become abandoned and become bad tools very quickly.  

Note that most tools count each keyword + device + search engine as a unique combination, meaning that if you want to track [blue widgets] on bing, google, duckduckgo, that is 3 credits — 6 if you want both desktop and mobile.  


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Rank Tracker Reviews

Accuranker

Official Site

Accuranker is one of the more popular rank trackers within the professional SEO community. Lots of agencies and in-house SEOs that I know swear by it. 

The interface is broken into a series of screens, each with varying levels of configurability, and complexity. 

The table views are configurable in that they allow you to select which columns show, but are not able to be re-ordered. Filters can be applied and saved as new segments, which can then be applied across most screens and reports. This is how you’ll create keyword groups based on data points (such as: keywords that rank 8-20, etc). 

Accuranker feels like a premium product, and it has the price tag to match. I would not recommend Accuranker for most people. This product feels like it would be really good for an agency who needs sub accounts and robust reporting capabilities. 

Pros 

  • Great design and attention to detail 
  • Good reporting and notifications
  • Configurable, and filterable 
  • Really good tutorials

Cons

  • Quite expensive 
  • Some unremovable metrics aren’t very actionable (share of voice, traffic value)
  • No way to cancel/remove account without contacting

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, Youtube

What’s the price? 

Accuranker starts at $109 per month for 1,000 keywords. 

Unique Features

The share of voice metric look at all rankings where your site is currently between positions 1-20. Then it takes the generic CTR of those positions and multiplies them by the monthly search volume for each keyword. 

Example: 30% (CTR for rank 1) * 1,000 (search volume) = 300 share of voice. 

I’m not a huge fan of metrics like these, but I do like that Accuranker allows you to ignore certain keyword sets from the SoV metrics, which seems to help make it more usable. 

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Advanced Web Ranking

Official Site

I used AWR for a number of years before Google Search Console debuted. Back then, AWR was downloadable client-side software, and I rented proxies in order to avoid getting blocked by Google. Nearly every one of my pro-SEO contacts from 2007 to 2013 or so was using AWR, almost exclusively (most of us from the recommendation of Aaron Wall). 

Going into this, I had a lot of faith in the team. Support has always been awesome, and the tech has always been reliable. Suffice to say, I was really interested to see how they adapted to cloud based tracking. 

The cloud based service feels a lot different, and almost wholly new from the software version all of those years ago. That’s a good thing. 

There is a nice selection of search engines to choose from, and all of the language and location targeting options you’d expect.  

I like that there is a pre-populated sample project (mine was for AllRecipes.com) to play with the data. The web app also did a nice job of onboarding and providing visual indicators of progress on realtime checking for the initial keywords I requested.  

For various features, AWR provides its own cached results — a really nice touch. It’s not just a picture, either, it’s a fully clickable cached results page. 

Pros

  • Unrivaled list of search engines supported
  • Reliable team that has been doing this since 2002
  • Very intuitive interface
  • Fair pricing
  • Robust filtering capability (can save and apply to other views) 
  • Self-directed update frequency

Cons

  • No cheaper plans for solo/freelancers who only need a few keywords 

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Youtube, AOL, Abilogic, Alibaba, Amazon, Ask.com, BestBuy, Dotsub, DuckDuckGo, ExactSeek, Google Play, Refer, Shopzilla, Whatuseek

What’s the price? 

Advanced Web Ranking subscriptions start at $49 per month for 2,000 units, which is equivalent to 2,000 keywords updated weekly, or 286 updated daily.  

Unique Features

The team behind AWR has been building rank trackers since ~2002, so you can expect the product to have several seriously thoughtful reports and tricks. Here are some of my favorite: 

A surprisingly useful feature is the New Keyword Opportunities report in the dashboard. This shows you any keywords that your website was found on the second page for — which should be prime keywords to do some title tweaks, or add some internal links to bump to the first page.  

Each graph also has the ability to add Google algorithm updates as annotations.  

The keyword dashboard also lists the serp features thrown on the query.  

You can also see how many pages (and which) rank for each query, at a glance. This is pretty nice.  

You can see which serp features you win vs your competitors, and which type of serp feature it is.  

In addition to the above, I also dig comparing search engines against each other. 

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Agency Analytics

Official Site

It might be unfair to Agency Analytics to include them in a rank tracker buyers guide because rank tracking is just the tiniest piece of what they do. It’s popular software though, and through my own research I continually saw it recommended on Reddit and other places for people looking for rank tracking solutions. For that reason, I think it’s fair to include them, even though they really don’t have any chance at being one of the better options — mostly because they’re not trying to be. 

It’s clear that this is a great product, but it’s not a great rank tracker. It’s great because it’s an all-in-one reporting suite, even though none of the reports are particularly in-depth. 

It’s built for agencies who need a birds-eye view of all kinds of activities and services, and I have no doubt that it’s highly valuable for this use case. 

To get into specifics on the rank tracker side, the most obvious flaw is that there is no way to track competitors. Each of the limited reports lack depth, and really would not satisfy anyone outside of a C-Level high-level overview briefing. 

Just suffice to say, you probably know if this product is a good fit for you, and if you are considering it for rank tracking alone — it’s not. 

Pros 

  • Probably best in class for agencies looking to track huge amounts of channels

Cons

  • No competitor analysis 
  • Probably not a good choice for freelancers or those focused solely on SEO 
  • No way to cancel a trial subscription

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Bing

What’s the price? 

AgencyAnalytics starts at $49 per month for 500 keyword rankings. 

Unique Features

40+ integrations (in addition to the rank tracking). 

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Ahrefs

Official Site

Ahrefs is one of my most used tools, but I rarely use the rank tracking capabilities. Most of my usage is centered around competitor research, and I don’t think there is a better tool on the market today.

I think that you should have an Ahrefs subscription, but I do not think that you should use their rank tracker tool for the tactical approach I laid out in the top section of this article.

One utility it does have, however, is every week I get an email with keywords that my sites were found for that entered the front page. I like this report, and sometimes I do get campaign ideas based on some movement, similar to what I describe using GSC above.

Pros

  • Nearly a must-have all around tool.
  • Handy, surprisingly actionable weekly email summary.
  • If you do get it, you have all of their other really good tools.

Cons

  • Not a great fit for the tactical campaign approach.
  • Not as configurable as many other options.
  • Expensive if just being used for rank tracking.
  • Only tracks Google.

Which search engines are supported? 

Google

What’s the price? 

Ahrefs starts at $99 per month for 500 keywords.

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Authority Labs

Official Site

Authority Labs used to be one of the larger service providers for rank tracking. They were always a tad on the expensive side, but they were reliable, legit, and had a really great API. 

The product was acquired a while back and seems to not have been improved in quite some time, and compared to other rank trackers, it’s really not up to snuff. I imagine that most of the enterprise level API users are still hanging around because they’ve got legacy tools that rely on the data, but in pretty much every way, there are better options today. 

Upon first registering you’re given the option to list several domains. I took this to mean I should list my primary domain and the competitors. The next step was to list keywords, which I thought would be applied to all of the listed domains, since I had added them all to the same group. Once I was finished, I found that what had actually happened is that I had added all of the domains, but only the keywords to the first domain. That’s not intuitive, and it’s not really all that useful.

Pros 

  • Unlimited users 
  • Refresh on demand is quick
  • Does a good job showing serp features

Cons

  • There’s no quick and easy way to compare and contrast the domains against each other.  
  • The dashboard is quite limited, even for a focused tool.  
  • Poor choice of search engines.

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yahoo, Bing

What’s the price? 

Authority Labs starts at $49 per month for 250 keywords. 

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Nightwatch

Official Site

Nightwatch isn’t like most other rank tracking tools — it’s more of a data visualization suite with some sensible defaults for rank tracking.  Pretty much everything you see is configurable, and that’s because for the most part, you’re just looking at pre-created reports.  

The product shots on the marketing pages show robust dashboards populated with a multitude of traffic, rankings, and backlink data, sliced several ways.  

So while you can connect Nightwatch to Google Analytics, and Google Search Console, I didn’t. For my own purposes, I’m really only worried about rankings. Across the industry, ranking visualizations are primarily limited to a table, and a graph. The graph is for the trend, and the table is for the detail.  

On the rank tracking side, there are two types of reports: keywords and graphs.  

Keyword Reports

Some of my recommended keyword views for Nightwatch:  

  • Position for knowledge panel + is present 
  • Position for featured snippet + is present 
  • Search engine + is + [Google, Bing, Yahoo, Youtube, etc] 
  • Ranking Full URL + contains + [blog, product, review, etc] 
  • Keyword + contains + [brand name] 
  • Keyword tag + is + [custom tag] – I use this to identify content I’ve made a change to that I’m currently testing. For example, this could be all queries that I’m targeting that I have added a video to the ranking page. 

If you have any that you’re finding useful, please share them with me (and let me know if I can share them here).  

It’s clear that the team behind Nightwatch cares about UI and UX. Out of all of the tools I’ve tested, this is probably the cleanest, and most intuitive to use. I also really enjoy the dark color scheme.  

Nightwatch has multiple data sources integrated into the dashboard:  

From Moz:  

  • Page Authority 
  • Domain Authority 

From Ahrefs:  

  • URL Rating 
  • Domain Rating 

From Majestic:  

  • Citation Flow 
  • Trust Flow 

There’s a set of core visibility metrics on the dashboard to help you ascertain what’s going on.  As with any rank tracker, the devil is in the details. Let’s take a look at exactly what they mean.  

Average Position – Exactly what it sounds like, this is the sum of all rankings divided by the number of keywords you’re tracking. It can be a bit of a noisy metric, and not one that I really pay much attention to. Having a good score is often due to only tracking keywords we already rank well for — so expect to have a bad average position if you’re constantly adding new targets in need of improvement.  

A word on average position metrics

You can avoid the above critique on average position metrics by segmenting your keywords. Most of what I’m looking for with a rank tracking tool is solid segmenting capabilities, and one benefit is that this brings back the usefulness of average position metrics. We can create segments of mature keywords: branded, pillar content, etc that shouldn’t be in flux too often. Said another way, we can carve out the noise and hold a small canary group that lets us know when something actionable might have happened.  

Search Visibility – This group of metrics includes three categories:  

  • Indexed pages 
  • Search visibility % – Nightwatch assigns a 100% score to position #1, with the rest of the ranks being proportional to their average CTR values (below). This is a confusing metric, but it’s supposed to give you an at-a-glance view of how visible your site is. 
  • Click potential – How many clicks you’ll get at the current rankings based on the following CTR estimates: 

Keyword Distribution – Shows the amount of keywords that rank within four different buckets: top 3, top 10, top 100, and no rank. Again, this is another metric that could be easily skewed to look less than impressive if you were being aggressive about how many new keywords you were adding into this system.  

You can expand and collapse the graphs at the bottom, too.  

The dashboard also has sections for traffic (if you connect to Google Analytics), and backlinks, both of which I didn’t use. As I mentioned in the overview, I’m using a rank tracker for very specific reasons and I’ve got other tools that can do these things for me.  

Keyword View

Most of your time will be spent in the keyword view. The boxes up top contain the same information as the dashboard, but in a condensed space.  

There are 3 keyword views created by default: All Keywords, Keywords went down, and Keywords went up.  

I also signed up for  https://ranktrackr.com/, but upon attempting to log in I was told that I already have an account. I reset the password and the email came from Nightwatch.io — so they’re running more than one brand for the same back end. Additionally, the Delaware address is for a popular online Delaware registered agent (I’ve even used it in the past).  

Based on this IndieHackers interview with one of the founders, this is a previous version of the Nightwatch product:  

” Nightwatch is actually a successor to our previous tool, RankTrackr, which we started a little over five years ago.” 

Pros 

  • It’s attractive, intuitive, and reliable.
  • Best in class configurable filters and views.
  • Feels very configurable, yet simple to use. 
  • Good selection of search engines (would like to see Amazon, though) 
  • Best in class privacy features

Cons 

  • No way to remove non-used features from dashboard. 
  • Does not have Amazon, App Store  

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, Youtube

What’s the price? 

Nightwatch personal plan subscriptions start at $19 per month for 100 keywords checked daily.  

Unique Features

Nightwatch offers a weekly “Discover Keywords” report. The table also includes your current ranking position, location, and search volume, which is actually pretty helpful. I don’t typically add from this list, but I do take a look at it and go, “huh, interesting,” and I feel better informed for it.  

I want to mention that Nightwatch is also the best example I found for respecting your privacy. In the settings you can configure certain data tracking services. This is outstanding, and I wish all other products would do the same.

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Pro Rank Tracker 

Official Site

Pro Rank Tracker has been recommended to me several times, and to be fair, I have used it in the past and it’s been a solid and reliable option. 

The problem is, it doesn’t really stack up to the competition anymore. It’s not particularly intuitive, or attractive, and it doesn’t offer any non-obvious features that competitors don’t do, often in better ways. 

I was unhappy to find that competitor analysis is really just looking at the cached serp results for each keyword. You can add the competitors as secondary domains, but it’ll use twice as many keyword credits.  

The daily breakdown report is probably the page that I’d use as my dashboard to get a view of where everything is. In order to get everything on the same graph though, you have to select all and click “multiple terms graph”, which then opens in a popover. I wish it were much simpler, and I wish you could see this basic graph front and center on a dashboard of some kind.  

The app gives you a few ways to look at your data:  

  • URL View 
  • Term View 
  • List View 

At the end of the day, PRT is reliable, and gets the job done, but there are better options.

Pros 

  • Good support
  • Good search engine support

Cons

  • Poor competitor analysis capabilities 
  • Interface is not as intuitive as other options
  • Cached serps are just a list, not fully cached 
  • Credit based system not ideal for competitor research
  • No way to delete trial account

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Ask, Excite, Amazon, Youtube

What’s the price? 

ProRankTracker (PRT) subscriptions start at $25 per month for 200 keywords updated daily. 

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Rankitor

Official Site

Run by the people at PRT (ProRankTracker), but made much simpler. There’s not much else to say about it — if you’re on a serious budget, this might be the tool to try first, but for serious operators, it’s not worth considering.

Pros 

  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Not a very robust option
  • Not an intuitive interface
  • Limited reporting capabilities 

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, Youtube

What’s the price? 

Rankitor pricing starts at $5 per month for 20 keyword combinations. 200 keywords is $15 per month.  

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Rank Ranger

Official Site

Rank Ranger is a service that does pretty much everything you’d expect it to. Somehow, they’re able to integrate a ton of different services and reports without making SEO feel like an afterthought.

I didn’t test out any of the SEM, or social, or other integrations, as my needs are still just for rank tracking. 

To get the most out of Rank Ranger you need to be creating custom graphs, widgets, and reports, most of which I can’t be bothered with. 

It seems like a good product, but there are simpler, and more actionable platforms that require fewer clicks, and have optimized interfaces (AWR and Nightwatch) that ask for less per month in subscription fees. The problem is there isn’t anything unique here, and that means nothing to help it stand out amongst the crowd.

It’s solid, but to a fault.

Pros 

  • Lots of integrations for other channels outside of SEO 
  • Many specific Google Serps (hotel packs, jobs, etc) 
  • iTunes and Google Play tracking
  • Robust reporting

Cons

  • Complex, non-intuitive interface
  • Lack of great tutorials
  • Confusing, non-standard campaign oriented flow
  • No way to delete trial account without contacting support 

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Google Play, Yahoo, iTunes, Bing, Yandex, Youtube

What’s the price? 

Rank Ranger starts at $69 per month for 350 keywords tracked daily. 

Rank Fluctuations and Behavior – You can see a series of metrics: 

  • Stable keywords
  • Unstable keywords
  • Improving keywords
  • Declining keywords
  • Cannibalization (which keywords have multiple pages ranking) 
  • Opportunities / At Risk (falling out of, or entering top 10) 

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RankTracker.com

Official Site

Next up is the tool with probably the best domain name in the niche. 

It’s interesting to note that I was shown a site stripe banner for 40% off due to “covid” that expired today — except I saw it every day for weeks. Feels a little fishy. 

For the most part the product is … fine. Some of the visualizations leave me scratching my head: 

Above each of the reports is a filter bar which allows you to filter based on a bunch of different things. It’s a very good filter. The problem is that I can’t save my filters and apply them to other views. 

Some of the reports feel a little disingenuous — such as the SEO/PPC savings report, which purports to show you how much money you’ve saved on PPC by ranking. Anyone who has operated in competitive, profitable industries knows that it’s not zero sum and just because you rank for something doesn’t mean you won’t need to run PPC on that phrase. 

Pros 

  • Fairly clean interface
  • Serious discounts available
  • Great domain name
  • Affordable starting price (and they don’t give you the extra tools)

Cons

  • Covid marketing “today only” is actually every day 
  • Can’t save filters 
  • Disingenuous reports
  • No way to cancel trial account

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, Youtube

What’s the price? 

RankTracker starts at $8 per month for 50 keywords. 

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Rankwatch

Official Site

There are five key metrics displayed on the dashboard: 

  1. Positive impact (keywords that entered first page) 
  2. Negative impact (keywords that left first page) 
  3. Keywords Down
  4. Keywords Up
  5. Stable keywords 

In terms of filtering capabilities, you can filter by: 

  • Value (top 10, top 20, top 50, etc) 
  • Change (gone up, gone down, no change) 
  • Snippet (SERP features) 

You can tag keywords, but there is no way to save a filter or keyword set for applying across the metrics. For that reason, Rankwatch isn’t a good fit for the campaign oriented SEO strategy. 

I don’t mean to be shallow, but the dashboard contains several elements that are not aligned, or are blurry due to low resolution images. It doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence about the product. 

I thought perhaps it was just my browser, so I checked in multiple, and yep, it’s still the same. 

I don’t get it, because the marketing site has really nice landing pages. 

Couple that with the email that I received a few days into my trial that purported to show me a new competitor running ads on my keyword… only it was the site I had told Rankwatch was mine. 

Pros

  • Only tracker I found that can target Seznam and Naver (f that’s important to you) 
  • Screenshots of serps (with your site highlighted) are nice

Cons

  • No way to remove trial account
  • Poor selection of search engines 
  • UI / UX feel poorly constructed 
  • Email notifications could be inaccurate

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, Seznam, Naver

What’s the price? 

Rankwatch starts at $29 per month for 250 keywords tracked daily, or 1,000 keywords tracked monthly. 

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SE Ranking

Official Site

SE Ranking, despite its name, is more of a suite of SEO and digital marketing tools. In addition to rank tracking, you’ve got: 

  • On-page audits
  • Backlink checking
  • Page change detection
  • Keyword suggestion
  • A marketing plan tool
  • PPC & Competitor research
  • Social Media tools

Despite having all of these features, the product doesn’t feel cramped or cluttered. SE Ranking takes a project based approach, which feels intuitive and logical, and better than some of the others that use a URL based approach. 

Like many tools, the dashboard has a few metrics that I don’t find particularly useful, namely: traffic forecast, and search visibility. The good news is that you can turn the graph off in the dashboard settings. 

In terms of filtering capabilities, SE Ranking feels really limited. You can select, or deselect columns on tables, and once you drill down into the detailed keyword ranking report you can apply some simple filtering: 

  • Groups
  • By URL
  • By Tags

You can’t save filters for re-use. 

SE Ranking seems like a well made tool for the way that many people use rank tracking, but not for the way I recommend that you use it. It’s certainly not a bad tool, but I just felt very limited, having used much more configurable options prior to testing. 

Pros 

  • Clean, focused interface
  • Really good competitor analysis

Cons

  • Lack of filter capabiilties 
  • Confusing, complex pricing structure 
  • No way to cancel trial account

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Youtube

What’s the price? 

SE Ranking starts at $39 per month for 250 keywords tracked daily. You can also choose to check rankings every 3 days ($31.20 per month), or every week ($23.40 per month). 

Note that many of the people I spoke to that use this tool got it on a lifetime deal, so if you’re interested, I’d keep my eyes peeled for another one.

Unique Features

Page Change Monitoring alerts you to any modifications to your/your competitors site. This can be useful to see what kind of things your competitors might be testing out. 

The competitor analysis module is quite good, perhaps the best out of any other tool I’ve used. 

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SEMrush

Official Site

I view SEMrush similarly to Ahrefs — both are excellent tools in their own right, but aren’t built for the specific use cases that I need for rank tracking. 

Specific to rank tracking, if you have to choose one or the other, I think SEMrush is the better tool. You have significantly more grouping, tagging, and filtering capabilities. I also tend to use SEMrush for keyword research a lot more than I use Ahrefs. I think the interface is cleaner, and the keyword level data is more intuitive and useful. 

My favorite part of the SEMrush rank tracker is the landscape reports, specifically the serp features. It’s always useful to see which buckets I’m tracking, or my site is associated with, that throw serp features. From that, I can intuit which to focus on and build out and have some level of clarity on the potential impact. For the campaign oriented approach, you could use this to track which of your pages have flipped over following some code changes to support any particular feature. 

Some might find it useful that there’s a mobile app for both iOS and Android. I don’t often check my rankings on the go, but I could see being bored sitting on a flight or somewhere without my laptop and taking a peek. 

Pros

  • Solid competitive analysis
  • Great serp feature reports

Cons

  • Google Only
  • Expensive if only used for tracking. 

Which search engines are supported? 

Google

What’s the price? 

SEMrush starts at $99 per month for 500 keywords. 

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Unamo (formerly Positionly)

Official Site

Unamo offers a suite of tools for digital marketers. At the time of writing there are 3 such tools: Unamo SEO, Unamo Social Media, and Unamo Image Monitoring. I spent a couple of weeks using the trial for Unamo SEO, and here are my thoughts. 

Pros

  • Well designed
  • Serp screenshots are great 
  • Serp feature tracking is great 
  • Mapping keywords to landing pages is awesome
  • Easy to cancel and delete account 

Cons

  • Serp screenshots are additional cost 
  • Search volume / traffic estimates are additional cost 
  • No annotations 

One of my favorite tools is the serp features timeline. It’s a great visualization of which features were available at the keyword level, and which you owned. It’s often very useful to see if Google is testing new serp features, or changing up the serps based on newly discovered query intent. 

At the time of this review, Unamo is the only tool that directly allows you to map keywords to specific landing pages and then see summary reports based on presence in the top 100. This is directly actionable for the strategy laid out in the first part of this tactical buyers guide and something I’m really excited to use going forward. 

Many tools have serp screenshots, but the utility of the ones at Unamo appear to be very good, and very actionable. Being able to go back and forth through time is useful, and having fully rendered html (with all interactivity preserved) is great. 

Search volume and traffic estimates are an additional add-on for $2 per month per 100 keywords. I don’t particularly like these for the rank tracking phase, so I’m appreciative that I don’t have to have them and can easily remove the columns from the tables. 

The landing pages summary report is also quite good, giving you clear information about which keywords a particular page ranks for (at least that you are currently tracking), and a quick graph that could let you know if something major happened in either direction. 

The upcoming industry intelligence tool look really promising as a way to keep tabs on your entire niche over time. I’ll be kicking the tires on it as soon as it’s available. 

Which search engines are supported? 

Google, Yandex, Yahoo, Bing

What’s the price? 

Unamo starts at $19 per month for 100 keywords tracked daily. 

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Wincher

Official Site

Wincher appears to be a fairly new tool by a team based in Stockholm, Sweden. I signed up for the 14 day free trial. It was very fast, and accurate — surprisingly fast to pull in the initial results.  

The onboarding experience is fairly good, and completing all steps earned me a 90% discount on my first month of service.  

The annotations feature is solid, and worth using. Notifications and reporting seem fine, too.  

I like that competitor analysis is a clear focus point. It’s very easy to see how your site compares to your competitor sites. 

Pros

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Easy to use 
  • Decent reporting
  • Annotations

Cons

  • Keyword groups only, no content groups
  • Can feel limited 
  • Only Google.com
  • No serp features

Which search engines are supported? 

Google

What’s the price? 

Wincher starts at 10 euros per month + 3 euros per website. Each site comes with 100 keywords. 

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