Tracking Organic Keyword Rankings in Google

When Keyword Rankings Matter

The value of keyword ranking reports has been hotly debated over the years. Many search marketers argue that traditional ranking reports offer little value and provide a short-sighted view of your overall organic search visibility. Marketers can be mislead when top rankings are being reported, but for keywords with little to no search traffic volume. The emphasis of keyword ranking monitoring should be focused on the right keywords, actually driving traffic and conversions.

Google Referrer String Change

Google has recently begun rolling out changes to its referring URL format to include some small changes and the addition of several new parameters. One of the new data points included in this new referrer string is search ranking data. That’s right, search ranking data. This ranking data tells you exactly where in the search results your listing appeared when the user clicked.

Example of new Google referrer strings:…

The “cd” parameter in the referrer string above identifies the search listing ranking that appeared when the user clicked through to the site (i.e. search ranking = 7)

New SiteCatalyst Reporting

Omniture recently announced that we are providing new reporting capabilities in SiteCatalyst to segment reports by organic keyword rankings, based on this new Google referrer string change:

This new functionality allows clients to breakdown keywords by the actual search engine rankings driving traffic to their sites. This solution will be provided through our Engineering Services Group.

This first iteration is still a work in progress and we are actively testing new advanced solutions to make this data more actionable (e.g. trending average keyword rankings, utilizing alerts to track top keywords, etc…). Stay tuned to this blog for an additional post with more details on these advanced solutions.

Our hope is this new functionality will provide our clients a deeper level of insight into their organic keyword optimization efforts and can help better balance their organic vs. paid search efforts, further optimizing ad spend.

Important Issues to Note:

  1. For more information on getting this report implemented, please reach out to your Account Manager
  2. There is no guarantee this ranking data will be permanently included by Google in their referrer strings. Our hope is that Google will continue to provide this useful information, which could also help lessen the burden expended by automated keyword ranking query tools on their data centers.
  3. Google has not rolled this out completely. The roll out is currently limited to the US-only and is currently impacting only ~10% of searches
  4. Ben Gaines will soon be posting more information on the Omniture Blog regarding additional “gotchas” and FAQs regarding this new solution.