In this continued overview from Part 1 we look at what went into the new Ranking History 2.0. Thanks to customer feedback, we improved the old Ranking History to include richer data, an easier way to read the information, and stronger usability. In this article, we will review the more advanced options.
Track how Individual Content Ranked
Looking back at a domain’s track record on its top keywords (in a niche, or keywords they lost, new ones, etc.) helps you follow its overall performance. When your research is really focused, though, you can track the past rankings for a URL on its important keyword groups. That gives you the flexibility to track:
- Subdomains like “braingames.nationalgeographic.com” (X)
- A single blog post
- An external company page like a Yelp entry, a LinkedIn company page, or YouTube videos.
- Product or category pages — like Benjamin Moore’s “home painting ideas” section.
Let’s run with the last one. If I drop that Benjamin Moore section’s URL into the SpyFu search bar, it brings up results for that specific page. It shows the keywords that page ranks for, any ads that use this URL as a landing page, inbound links to that page, and more. What we’re looking for is the Ranking History tab.
Benjamin Moore is a major paint brand, so their site includes (and ranks for) specialty paints, exterior trim suggestions, faux finishes, and showroom locations. If you’re researching only “interior colors” or want to measure just one section of the site, the URL search helps you narrow your focus to how that specific part of the site did. We can see beyond benjaminmoore.com’s domain-wide organic ranking and get more relevant results for just the URL.
This lets you look back at how a tight section or a single piece of content ranked over time.
Filter to the keywords at the center of your research
Just like with a traditional domain search inside Ranking History, you can search for the URL’s rankings on a set of specific keywords. I’m going to tighten the focus to seeing how the “Home Painting” section on Benjamin Moore’s page ranks for keywords related to “interior” painting.
At any point, you can also add keywords to the chart to see how the URL ranked on them. We expand on that example more in Part 1.
What we didn’t yet cover though, is how you can single out one of the keyword history paths and drill into it for more information.
Zoom In on Details
At this point, you’re hyper-focused on a section’s ranking patterns for interior painting – current rankings and past. When a certain keyword catches your eye, you can drill in even further. Click the drop-down arrow for the keyword on the left of the chart.
Here, you can see the exact URL that ranked, along with its best and most recent (last) ranks for comparison. The screen shot link takes you to our cached SERP page for solid evidence that this page appeared in the results at that position. We include the SERP screen shot for every keyword/ad/rank claim we make: It erases any doubts and helps you make confident decisions based on our accuracy.
Back to keyword detail…
We’ve included metrics right here on the chart. Comparing the cost per click, the search volume, total monthly clicks, and estimated value helps you measure how important a strong ranking is (for this keyword). The Ranking Difficulty figure gives you a sense of how much work (and domain reputation) it takes to rank on that specific search term. If this is a keyword you’re trying to rank on, it’s something of a gut check for how much work is ahead of you. If you’re reviewing competitors, look at Ranking Difficulty as a quick gauge of how likely it will be for them to hold that spot.
You can also hover over the keyword detail box to highlight the history path in the chart.
It helps you make sense of its ranking patterns without getting clogged with other keyword activity.
If you click the keyword (instead of the arrow), we will open a new page for you to show you that keyword’s ranking history.
Keyword Ranking History
This is where we flip the view. Where before you saw how a domain or page ranked on its top keywords over time, now you can look at how different domains/URLs changed ranks on the same keyword over time.
The functionality and chart features match what you found with a domain’s ranking history, but without the keyword filter. You can still add domains to the chart and compare their rankings against Google algorithm updates. It uses pre-set filters for an easy start, and these are similar to the filter categories you used on the domain chart:
Click above for an expanded review of each filter.
Toggle Top 10/Top 10
Another usability feature we added to Ranking History is a zoom view for top rankings. It works in the keyword history view you just saw as well as the domain history view. Instead of seeing the chart span across 50 rankings, we adjust to a little more breathing room. You will see the domain ranking on the same keywords, but here we zoom into the spots where the page reached the top 10 results. It opens the chart a bit for a better look at micro changes in its top rankings.
Let’s go back to the Benjamin Moore example and choose the “Gained Ranks” pre-set filter. It automatically loads the chart with keyword searches where this URL moved up in ranks from last month. (You will notice that the “interior” filter stays in place.)
The Top 50 view lets you see how the page took big dips on some of its top keywords. (The top 10 spots are highlighted at the top in green.)
If you toggle to the Top 10, the keywords don’t change. The rankings don’t change. The only difference is a closer look at how the page’s ranks changed within the top 10.
This helps you understand nuanced patterns that emerge within the page’s top rankings. It’s hard to miss times where the domain took a big tumble, but if it’s a dip from spot 3 to spot 6, that isn’t glaring. That doesn’t mean it’s less important. In fact, being able to see the page dip on a few of its top keywords help you uncover how a simple change (or Google update) might have hit them harder than anyone else realized.
More Usability Improvements
We heard from many of you about the way you work. Some told us that they hunker down and focus on past rankings for a few domains at a time—one after another. That’s why we show you Ranking History results for every new search. Unless you choose another tab (like Main or SEO Keywords), we will assume you want to keep seeing Ranking History for different domains and keywords.
It saves you a few clicks along the way.
And finally, after you’ve filtered to the right keywords for your page, you end up with a client-worthy report of how you’ve grown their rankings. (Or make a case for where they need stronger focus).
Turn off/on any Google algorithm updates you want to include on the chart, and hit “Print” in the upper right. Those markers stay on the printout, pinpointing important changes that affect how sites rank. It helps stay on top of what might have caused a site to drop on the SERPs.
You can also export these filtered lists to CSV. It lists the keyword, the URL/domain that ranked, the position and the date – all for you to sort and save as you see fit.