by John Eberhard

So you’ve done keyword research and found the best keywords to target. Then you’ve done search engine optimization on your web site. Then you’ve started link building, with blogs, article directories and press releases. So how do you know when it’s all working? How do you track your success?

Well fortunately, as with many things on the Internet, in this case it is possible to track your success very closely.

Basically what you want to do to track your success with search engine marketing and link building, is to track two things:

  1. The traffic you’re getting monthly from the big three search engines, Google, Yahoo and MSN
  2. Your site’s ranking on the big three for each of your list of target keywords

The first thing is probably pretty obvious. Because the more successful you are at SEO and link building, theoretically the more traffic you should be getting from the search engines. That’s the goal of the whole process. You can check this by having Google Analytics or any other quality web statistics program on your web site.

But why do you care about your ranking on search engines for all the keywords? Because the whole process of selecting keywords, doing SEO on your site, and then doing link building with blogs, articles and press releases, has as its goal: raising your rankings on the search engines for your targeted keywords.

The higher you rank for each of your keywords on the big three search engines, the more traffic you will get. The thing is, it will really start happening when you break the top 20 for a keyword, and especially when you break the top 10, i.e. on page one. That’s when you’ll start seeing real traffic from search engines.

The way you check your ranking for a list of keywords is not to do it manually by going to each search engine and entering your keywords. You can do it that way, but it takes forever. It’s better to do it with software that checks your rankings for a list of keywords. There are two excellent software packages that I have used for this purpose: Internet Business Promoter, and Market Samurai.

In the last six months or so I have started using Market Samurai, since I did Ed Dale’s Thirty Day Challenge training program in August 09. It’s great for keyword research and will also do search engine rank checking for you. I like Market Samurai because it will check your rankings down to the 500th place.

So let’s say you have a list of 100 keywords that you have selected and that you are targeting with your various actions. By using one of these software packages you can get your ranking for each one of the keywords.

I do the reports for each of Google, Yahoo and MSN, then put the results into a table, once a month, like this:

Keyword – Monthly Searches Google Dec 09 Yahoo
Dec 09
Dec 09
Keyword 1 Not top 500 326 153
Keyword 2 Not top 500 52 Not top 500
Keyword 3 Not top 500 Not top 500 Not top 500
Keyword 4 372 19 109
Keyword 5 18 Not top 500 Not top 500
Keyword 6 5 35 185
Keyword 7 227 117 Not top 500
Keyword 8 6 1 5
Keyword 9 41 14 73
Keyword 10 37 27 140

The above is an excerpt from one of my clients’ monthly report, with the actual keywords taken out of course.

Then I add up all the #1 keyword positions, top ten positions (including the #1s), the top 20 (including the #1s and top tens), top 100, and top 500. Then I track it monthly like this:

Number 1 and top 10 positions Aug 09 Sept 09 Oct 09 Nov 09 Dec 09
Keywords with #1 position 1 3 4 4 6
Top ten keywords including #1s 3 4 9 11 23
Top 20 keywords including #1s and top tens n/a 8 26 29 41
Top 100 keywords including #1s and top tens, top 20s 19 33 57 67 81
Top 500 keywords including #1s, top 10s, top 20s, top 100s 36 65 69 88 102

The above is actual data from one of my clients where we are doing aggressive link building. Note that over a 5 month period we are seeing good progress. Note also that it doesn’t happen overnight.

So if you mainly get traffic from search engines when your keywords reach the top 20 or top 10 positions, why do I track or care about the top 100 or top 500? Because, as I do more link building a blog posts and so on, more and more keywords will be added to the list of ones that are ranking. But they won’t start out in the top 20, they’ll start out way down the list. So I believe this is an effective way to track what we’re doing with link building. The monthly totals really tell the story, and tell us whether the strategy is working.