If you’ve dipped your toe (or done a full swan dive) into the world of SEO, there’s always one question in the back of your mind: “Is my website ranking?!” Doing keyword research, optimizing your on-page copy, and making sure you have a great user experience isn’t most creatives’ idea of a fun afternoon — so you want to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. Here are some tools to help you see how your website is ranking in search results and measure the impact of your SEO efforts.
Related – Get our guide: SEO for Photographers
Can I just Google myself?
Well, yeah. And no. It’s always good to check out what’s showing up in search results for your name because (it’s fun, and…) if the first thing you see is your middle school honor roll announcement, high school lacrosse stats, and wedding registry, it might be a hint that you need to step up your website SEO.
However, not all Google searches are made equal. Like any good algorithm, Google personalizes results based on what it thinks is most relevant to you. So depending on location, previous search behavior, time, etc., different people may receive different results for the exact same search. In other words, Google might know you spend a lot of time on your website, so when you search a keyword, you may see your website first. But your Aunt Susan in Kansas could search the same thing and get totally different results.
And finally, while you definitely want to be showing up when someone searches your company name (what we call “branded keywords”), what really matters is showing up when people who don’t know you are searching for keywords that are relevant to your biz.
4 Tools to Check Your Website Ranking
SEMrush is one of the most robust SEO tool on the market, which makes it a good place to start if you need a baseline to measure the status of your SEO efforts. This is a paid service, and the monthly price is rather steep if you’re not totally committed to focusing on SEO. However, there is a 7-day free trial, which gives you enough time to do a check-up and see if it’s something you’d like to invest in.
When you enter your website URL, SEMrush’s audit tool will tell you alllll kinds of information, like how many keywords you’re ranking for, where they fall in the search rankings, how many other websites link to yours, and so much more. You can also use it to perform keyword research and see what competitors are ranking for the same terms that you’re trying to optimize for, as well as track any PPC ads you’re running. We recommend giving it a try and playing around with the wide variety of tools it offers.
Another popular SEO tracking software is ahrefs. It offers many (but not all) of the keyword ranking and site audit features you’d find in SEMrush, and it’s also a paid service, with plans starting at $99/month, which is slightly less expensive.
There’s no free trial, but ahrefs does offer a totally free Webmaster Tools, which is well worth joining. With this tool, you won’t be able to do much competitor or keyword research, but you will be able to check the search ranking performance of any websites you own. To sign up, you will need to verify ownership of your website.
3) Google Search Console
Another great totally free tool to get a high-level look at how your website is performing is Google Search Console. There is some setup required to verify ownership of your website, but then you’re all set and can access the tools and recommendations forever.
This tool doesn’t need to be checked every day, but serves more as a diagnostic to make sure Google can find and read your pages. It’ll tell you what pages Google can see, whether you have any dead links or usability errors, and monitor how much traffic you’re getting from Google search, including breakdowns by queries, pages, and countries. For each of those breakdowns, you can see trends for impressions, clicks, and other metrics.
4) Google Analytics
If you’re ready to dive deeper into learning about your website performance, Google Analytics is another incredible free tool. Once you’ve set up Search Console, it doesn’t take much extra work to start using Google Analytics, and it integrates nicely with our website platform of choice — ShowIt.
Google Analytics offers a lot of those Search Console tools, but it also shows you how many people are coming to your website, where they’re coming from (search, social, email, etc.), what they’re doing when they get there, how much time they’re spending on each page, the order they tend to navigate your website, and soooo much more. If you’re new to this world, Google Analytics might feel a little overwhelming, but if you’re interested, it’s a really fun way to explore your website data and gain insights about how people are using your website.