SEO: How To Monitor Hundreds Of Keywords

John forwarded me this question, posted in the forums:

how do you monitor hundreds of keywords? Any ideas?

[Puts SEO agony aunt hat on...]

Why would you want to?

What is the point of ranking, for any keyword, if the keyword doesn’t result in traffic? The way to monitor multiple keywords is to examine visitor logs. Then go one step further. Monitor what actions the visitors who use those keywords take.

Do the visitors do what want them to do? If not, then what’s the point of ranking for those keyword terms? You’re potentially missing opportunities elsewhere by focusing on the wrong metric (i.e. rankings that don’t return value). Rankings aren’t valuable, in themselves. Rankings are only valuable if they lead to a measurable desired outcome, such as a conversion, a sign-up, a bookmark, a click-thru etc.

There are exceptions.

Some people might argue “well, there’s also exposure – brand awareness”…which is true, although I’d question how much value is actually being created if visitors repeatedly click on other listings. Competitive intelligence can be useful, although, again, it can be difficult to determine if your competitors rankings are translating into desired action. Also, some clients like ranking reports. Personally, I’d wean them off ranking reports. For the reasons stated above, rankings aren’t a particularly meaningful metric, compared to examining keyword behavior in a more holistic way.

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