Google’s (not provided) is here to stay. As we marketeers thrive on data, we’re not very happy about this. Some have offered reverse engineering solutions from past data, someone even suggested simply asking your visitors which keyword they used and some have argued to move to a more holistic view based on landingpages. Puzzling a few of these together and you can still get a decent overview, but alas it will never be the same.
On the other hand this massively increased the need for people to track their positions in the search engines. There’s quite a few paid services available to track multiple keywords automatically, although this will often results in Google identifying your IP as a bot.
But thanks to some free tools we can now build a free SERP tracking tool ourselves. It works by using the importXML feature on Google’s spreadsheets to manually import the search engine results for each and every of your keywords. And since it’s a Google tool, no IP will ever get banned.
You can download a copy of this spreadsheet for free here. Setting it up is as simple as going to the sheet “Data and importXML” and updating the queries on the first row. If you need to you can also change the Google domain and the language to track multiple local versions of Google. Then immediately it will import the search results and show them in the same column. For your convenience I’ve also added the sheet “Standardised Results” which removes the unnecessary data and only shows the URL.
The ImportXML feature runs about every hour or so, so you will only ever see the latest results. If you’re interested in tracking evolution, you can always link this spreadsheet to your own database. To do so: go to File; choose Publish on Internet; click Start Publishing and then select your source of preference RSS / Atom or CSV. This updates at the same time as your Google Spreadsheet, so make sure to set up a cron-job on your server to handle the data each hour (or every day, …).
Hat tip to Dries Bultynck for finding this solution.