When we talk about the search rank of a site, we’re not just talking about one number. Search ranking is different for every keyword out there. Since literally any combination of letters, numbers, and symbols can be a search query, there are infinite combinations and infinite possibilities. That’s not something one person can conceivably monitor.
Of course, no sane marketer is going to check all of that. What we do is come up with a list of our most relevant keywords and key phrases, search queries where we want to appear. It doesn’t matter if your site shows up when someone types “haf;ewkl;jasdf” into Google; that’s not a useful query and it’s not going to lead to a customer. But something like “new red shoes” would lead to your shoe store, and that’s a valuable search.
If you’re tracking your rank, you’re tracking it across a handful of different keywords, maybe a few dozen, maybe a hundred. It depends on how many keywords you want to track, how many you think will be relevant, and how many can be useful to you. Coming up with this list is one thing, but it’s not something I’m going to talk about today. Besides; we’ve written about it before.
When you have a list of 100 different keywords and you want to know where you rank for them now, versus where you ranked for them a month ago or a year ago, it’s a lot of work. You need to run 100 different Google searches, find your website and which pages are ranking, save the data with dates correlated to it, and graph the results, over and over and over. It’s a ton of work and can practically be a full time job on its own.
That’s why there are a whole lot of different services and tools out there that will check your rank for you. Some of them will only check it now, while others will save historical data. Some are free, some are not. My goal with writing this post is to provide you with a list of free rank tracking tools (and their limitations).
This isn’t the first time we’ve covered this subject. However, the old post is from 2014 and is critically out of date. Rather than update it directly, I’m just covering it all anew. I’ve divided up the rank checkers into three categories. The first are plugins, which can integrate with your WordPress dashboard and monitor your ranking for various keywords right in your admin console. They also include browser plugins. It’s convenient, but often limited.
The second set are free web apps that will check your data for you. They can be quite effective, but often won’t maintain a historical index to view your changes over time. Finally, the paid tools that have free trials you can use make up the third category. Sure, free trials are limited in time, but they might prove to you that it’s worth spending money for a better service that is otherwise much less restricted.
Category 1: Plugins
SEOBook Rank Checker for Firefox – Interestingly, this is one of the few dedicated SEO tools available these days that is aimed at Firefox rather than Chrome. Usually you see these things limited to a Chrome audience.
SEOBook is a great and trusted name in SEO, and this tool is pretty great. You need to make a free account, but it’s not a temporary account; using the tool is free indefinitely. You can track up to 100 keywords at a time and you can export the data to a CSV file, so you can manipulate it later as need be.
SEO SERP Workbench – Unlike the SEOBook plugin, this one is made for Chrome users. It’s an app, not just a small script, and it’s made not just for your own rank checking but for competitive comparisons as well. You add your site and your closest competitors, and it will track ranks of all of them. You’ll be able to see your progress relative to your competitors at a glance. You don’t have a limit to your keywords, but you can’t make a list; you have to check them individually.
Wincher Rank Tracker – This one is a WordPress plugin. It will track an unlimited number of keywords, along with mobile versions of those keywords and the ranks of up to five competitors on those keywords. It gives you graphs with the ranking history, email notifications when your rank changes, data exports on CSV or PDF. They do require that you contact their support to unlock their abuse limiter if you’re trying to track more than a thousand keywords, though.
The only hesitance I have with recommending this plugin is that it hasn’t been updated in over a year. Generally, the older a plugin is, the more likely it is to not work properly, or open you up to security holes. Be careful if you want to use it, and start small.
RankScanner – The second WordPress plugin on this list, it does basically the same thing as the one above, by with different development and different code. Unlike the above, it links up with other plugins developed by RankScanner, including an SEO auditor and a mention monitoring service called Buzz. The dashboard is also cleaner and I like it more, but that’s personal preference.
The biggest downside here, in addition to the same “over a year old” concern, is that you need to make a RankScanner account. This might be a bit of an issue, considering their website is now focused on rental cars. I’m frankly not sure the plugin still works, so you’ll have to try it out yourself.
Category 2: Free Apps
Traffic Travis – The name might be a little goofy, but this app is a downloadable piece of software that lets you track your rankings and performs an SEO audit on your site while it’s at it.
Technically it’s a freemium app – they have a paid version – but the free version is free indefinitely. You can track up to 500 keywords for free, which is a fine limitation considering it’s still using your internet connection to make these checks. That means you need either a VPN or Proxy to make the most of it without getting rate limited or running into captcha issues with Google.
Microsite Masters – This free web app is aimed at small sites, or microsites, that only care about a small handful of keywords and can ignore the rest of their industry.
When you build a microsite, it’s generally aimed at ranking for one specific keyword to the exclusion of all else, so the focus is fine. You can track up to ten keywords for free – paid versions can go up to unlimited keywords but costs $600 for it – and you get a few other useful features as well.
Category 3: Free Trials
Authority Labs – This is probably one of the best paid services out there. They have campaign-based tracking, with about an hour or so between adding keywords and getting your data. They can run anywhere from 250 keywords to an actual unlimited plan, based on tier of pricing. They have an API, too, so you can build a custom dashboard or export your data directly to a spreadsheet and update it on the fly.
Their free trial is 30 days, which is pretty good in a world where seven or fourteen is the norm. After those 30 days, pricing can be a little steep. The smallest plan tracks 250 keywords and is branded, but gives you mobile tracking, daily updates, and unlimited users. It’s $50 per month. From there it scales up: $100 gets you white label service and 1,000 keywords, $225 gets you up to 2,500 keywords across 300 domains, and the $450+ plan scales the number of keywords as high as you’re willing to pay.
Moz Pro – Moz is possibly one of the biggest names in SEO. Basically everyone reading this is aware of them, though you might not know that one of the tools offered in their pro package is a rank checker. They can also check your rankings for local search and for mobile-specific search, which gives your data more flexibility. On top of that, they have a wealth of other tools, plus access to their Open Site Explorer with detailed data, which is invaluable.
The trial is 30 days, after which you get to pay the price. For $99 – their cheapest plan – you get up to 300 tracked keywords and up to five keyword reports per day. They have a bunch of other features as well, of course, but that’s the main one. You can see how each of their higher tier plans scale by checking out their pricing page.
Advanced Web Ranking – This is one of the best services for your money when it comes to rank tracking. They might not be the biggest name, but they have a lot of great features. For example, their cheapest plan starts at 2,000 tracked keywords, with unlimited reports, unlimited websites, SEO reporting, analytics, and social media integration. All of that is just $50 a month. Their free trial is 30 days, which matches the services above.
Tiny Ranker – The free trial of this service only tracks 10 keywords at a time, and it only lasts for 30 days. However, it’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum as far as other rank checkers go, once you get into paid alternatives. You can track up to 100 keywords for just $20 per month, along with mobile rankings, competitor rankings, daily updates, and unlimited users for the app.
SEMRush – Another big name with another great tool, this one is on the other end of the spectrum. They give you a ton of features. You can group keywords by tag so you can monitor whole groups at once. You get all of the different variations on mobile and local tracking. They even have competitor discovery, so you can see who is up and coming and who is dominating your industry.
The basic plan of SEMRush is $100 per month and gives you a ton of access, with up to 500 keywords, 3,000 reports per day, and a whole lot more. The only caveat is that the “free” trial is not actually free. It’s a seven-day money back guarantee. To use it for free, you basically need to use your money as collateral. I think they have an actual free trial that’s only available if you sign up via an affiliate link, but I’m not an affiliate so I can’t provide one for you.
Web CEO – Yet another premium tool with a free trial. They’re a bit below average, with a meager 14-day trial instead of a full month like so many other options on this list. All of their plan levels, including the trial, include local ranking, keyword research tools, a customizable dashboard, a lot of SEO audit features, email alerts, and dedicated support. The cheapest level of plan starts at $100 per month, but has an interesting caveat for their keywords tracked. They will track up to 200 unique keywords for you. Simple variations on keywords – like different locations, for example “furniture in Detroit, furniture in Chicago, furniture in New York City” as a set of three – all count as a single keyword. If you’re smart with your variations, you can get a lot more out of it than you might think.
Do you have an alternative you want to put on this list? Let me know. I know I’m a bit light in a couple of the categories, and I know there are dozens more apps out there. If you can recommend one that stands out in some way, I’d be happy to see it.