If you want to win at SEO, having data to illuminate your results is critical.
Without it you’re thrashing about in the dark, hoping your campaigns are working, but unsure which campaigns are succeeding and which are failing.
Typically, the most accessible piece of useful data you have is this: where does my website rank on the search engine results page (SERP) for a given keyword?
Of course, it helps to know various other metrics, like how much search volume that keyword has, the average click through rate per SERP position, and what SERP features you’re fighting for.
But the core piece of information you need is: what does the search results page look like for this keyword?
Tools that give you this information are called SERP tracking tools. There are many of them, some of which do slightly different things. This article will help you identify which SERP tracker may be best for your use case.
What Is SERP Tracking Software?
SERP tracking software gives you data on what the search results page looks like for a given search query.
Many tools go beyond this basic delivery to show you where your website ranks on the SERP. These are typically called “rank trackers,” and they’re a very common SEO tool.
Others will give you historical data about the SERP itself—which pages rank, the search volume for the keyword, the CPC for the keyword, and which featured snippets show up.
Some newer tools analyze SERPs holistically and tell you not only which pages rank for the keyword at hand, but also what content is included on the pages that rank. For example, HubSpot may rank for the keyword “best SEO tools,” but in their post, what pages do they link to? These tools are called “surround sound” tools or SERP visibility tools and are increasingly used by SEOs, growth marketers, product marketers, and digital PR professionals to measure and improve brand and product awareness.
And then, of course, some tools just give you raw access to SERP data and let you do whatever you’d like with it.
This list will cover an assortment of the above SERP software types. For each software on the list, I’ll explain what it is, what it does, why I like it, and what it costs.
- Surround Sound by Semrush
- SE Ranking
- Google Search Console
- Serp Api
- Zen SERP
- Rank Tracker
1. Surround Sound by Semrush
What it is: Surround Sound by Semrush is a unique SERP Tracking tool that unlocks data on more than just your websites and rankings.
Rather, this tool lets you analyze what pages rank for a given keyword and how you can benefit. Let’s say, for example, the keyword is “best SEO software.”
Using this tool, you can see which websites rank on the top 10, 20, or 30 positions for that keyword. Then, you can see how many of those websites mention your brand or link to your website. This gives you a metric for “visibility”—essentially, what percentage of the overall SERP mentions you and your brand.
Outside of the Surround Sound product, SEMRush is also an all-in-one digital digital marketing platform with rank tracking, keyword research, competitive analysis, website audit tools, and more.
Why we like it: SEO is obviously a high-leverage marketing channel. But if you look at the percentage of clicks that go to a single ranked page in the SERPs, it’s not that high. Position one is just under 40% on average—which is not bad. But then position 2 sinks to about 11%.
But what if your brand could get mentioned on multiple listings on page one? Then your exposure and traffic would accumulate through each placement. Instead of just getting 11% click through rate for position 2, if you monopolize the SERPs and are listed on every page, then your brand coverage is universal. It provides the eponymous “Surround Sound” effect.
How it works: the tool is quite simple to use, which is a bonus. To create a Surround Sound campaign, enter the keywords that you most care about. I recommend something at the bottom of the funnel, because these will be more valuable when it comes to your product awareness.
You can actually choose multiple keywords, and will likely get more useful results if you do, so let’s add a few variations such as “best seo tools” and just “SEO software.” Then we’ll change the “SERP depth” to the top 20 positions, and add our brand name and domain. Adding competitors brings out the super power of this tool. You’ll be able to see how your coverage compares with similar brands, and where they’re mentioned (in list articles and the like) that might also be willing to mention you—thus increasing your SERP coverage!
Then click “Save Campaign” and you can see the overall dashboard and top level metrics:
You can also go into individual keywords to see what your visibility scores are for each campaign and even identify pages where you might get a mention:
Then you can click into each keyword and see which specific pages mention and/or link to your brand or domain or your competitor’s domains:
For the keyword “seo tools,” Semrush is mentioned or linked on the pages occupying spots 3, 4, 6, and 8. Spot one mentions two competitors but not Semrush. This would be a great place to start your outreach.
How much it costs: Free to try.
2. SE Ranking
What it is: SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO software that caters towards agencies and SMBs.
Their suite of SEO tools includes a keyword rank tracker, website audit functionality, on-page SEO analysis, backlink tracking, and keyword research and planning tools.
Their keyword rank tracker, in particular, fits our definition of a SERP tracking tool. It allows you to upload a list of keywords and track their position as well as the SERPs over time.
Why we like it: SE Ranking offers a buffet of great SEO tools for a wide range of audiences. It doesn’t take months to set up or learn how to use. The interface is friendly, and the rank tracking functionality is simple.
For SEOs and marketers who just want to get up and running with core SEO tools and SERP tracking functionality, this product is great.
How it works: for the rank tracking functionality, you simply have to choose your keyword or keywords. You can upload various sets of keywords as campaigns and see aggregate metrics for your campaigns, such as % in the top 10 and your overall search visibility.
While this doesn’t give you a ton of data on other SERP positions, competitors, or SERP features, it does a very good job at giving you simple keyword rank tracking data such as average position, traffic forecasts, and trends across time.
How much it costs: plans start at $39.20/month. This is based on 250 keywords tracked for rank tracking. They also have discounts for how often you update your tracking. If you switch to weekly updates, your monthly cost goes down to $23.52/month. More detailed pricing estimates are available on their website.
3. Google Search Console
What it is: Google Search Console is the free SEO tool set that everyone running a website should be using.
You can submit sitemaps to Google for crawling, measure the performance of your keywords (which includes clicks and click-through rate from SERPs to your pages) and track all of this based on location and device.
Also, it’s great for identifying website issues like site crawling, site speed and page speed, security, indexation, mobile usability, and structured data.
Why we like it: to start, it’s free. And because it’s from Google, you can get the data straight from the source. Also, webmaster tools like submitting sitemaps and auditing your mobile friendliness, site speed, and crawl issues are great quality assurance and management tools.
However, the data and visualizations it provides are limited on their own, so I recommend using this tool in conjunction with other SEO tools and data visualization platforms.
How it works: Data Studio, DashThis, Databox to visualize.
How much it costs: $0.
4. Serp Api
What it is: serpapi.com is different from others on this list, as it is simply an API that gives you raw data and access to the search results page.
This is great for technical SEOs and marketers who have custom use cases. In fact, that’s partially how Alex Birkett at HubSpot built the first data product for the Surround Sound strategy.
However, using a tool like this, you won’t get summarized metrics like average position or SERP visibility out of the box. You’ll have to do some data processing.
Why we like it: having raw access to an API can be remarkably useful. It can allow you to build your own tools if the ones on the market don’t suffice. Specifically for this API (because there are many), it’s nice because you won’t be blocked by Google from scraping their pages, it’s relatively affordable, and the data is accurate and location specific.
How it works: how you use this tool depends on what technical stack and programming language you use. It’s basically just raw data, so you decide how to use it.
A good high level illustration is available on their homepage. You can enter a location and a keyword, and it shows you what the SERP looks like as well as the metadata that it will give you related to that search:
When you use the API, you’ll likely be either integrating this with an existing tool or requesting the API via a programming language. The homepage also walks through various ways to do that depending on which language you use:
How much it costs: cost depends on usage, starting at $50 / month for up to 5,000 searches a month. When you want to upgrade, it’s $150/mo for up to 15,000 searches. This scales up to enterprise use cases.
What it is: Zenserp is another api that allows you to scrape search engine results pages directly and access the raw data. Again, like serpapi.com, this by itself doesn’t give you any summary metrics or position tracking, but lets you access and own the data yourself so you can build upon it in the ways you choose.
Why we like it: Zenserp is one of the most affordable direct search APIs I’ve found, starting at just $29/mo. It scales incredibly well, going upwards up 1,000,0000 searches a month.
It includes various search APIs, including Google Image API, Google Trends API, Google Maps API, Google News API, YouTube API, Bing Search API, and many more.
It’s really a complete package when it comes to directly accessing search results page data.
How it works: Similar to serpapi.com, how you use Zenserp depends on your technology stack, your use case, and your preferred programming languages.
You can try it out on a limited basis on their website and see what kind of metadata it gives you:
How much it costs: starts at just $29/month for up to 5,000 searches (this includes all SERP types). Enterprise pricing is $1599 /mo, and this includes a whopping 1,000,000 searches per month plus “custom features.”
What it is: SEO Monitor is an all-in-one SEO software marketed towards agencies. This includes a rank tracker, organic traffic analytics and dashboards, SEO forecasting, and keyword research tools. They also have agency-specific features, such as dashboards and reporting tools for clients.
Why we like it: SEO Monitor has a powerful and comprehensive set of tools, but what makes it stand apart is its focus on agencies. There are many products that lean more towards a specific feature set and have more customizable and powerful features, but for the specific things SEO agencies tend to care about, SEO Monitor offers a great solution.
How it works: Their rank tracker offers various levels of reporting, from keyword level (“best SEO software”) to keyword group level (content clusters or tagged keywords) all the way to smart keyword groups and landing page tracking.
For the basic keyword and keyword group reporting, it’s pretty similar to how other tools work. You pick your keyword, or set of keywords, and SEO Monitor gives you desktop and mobile rankings every 24 hours. This includes search volume estimates as well as SERP features, giving you a bit more holistic data than some other simple rank trackers.
How much it costs: you can check out the pricing calculator on their page (it’s based on keywords tracked). Starting price, with a minimum of 4,000 keywords and just one website, is $217/month. Pricing changed based on keywords and number of websites.
What it is: Accuranker is one of the most powerful keyword rank trackers and SERP tracking tools. Unlike some others on this list, they’re not an all-in-one SEO suite, and specialize purely in rank tracking and SERP analytics.
Why we like it: First off, instead of updating your positions and rankings daily or weekly, you can update your data on-demand. This real-time tracking is powerful, especially if you’re an agency working with several clients or if you run a large content operation with several subsets of keywords.
They also give you historical data about the SERP, including changes in SERP features as well as rankings.
Finally, they track at scale, allowing multiple sites and upwards of millions of keywords (though that will get pricey).
How it works: Their basic reports are like many other rank trackers: just input your list of keywords, and track them over time. Simple UI, which you can use to explore your reports, and you can also email your team updates at a regular cadence.
How much it costs: pricing starts at $109/mo, and this allows you to track up to 1,000 keywords. If you want to scale up to 50,000 keywords, this will cost you $2,149/mo. Anything more than that is enterprise custom pricing and you’ll have to talk to sales. Pricing is based on the number of keywords tracked.
What it is: The name is “Ranktracker” so it’s obvious that it tracks the rankings of keywords.
But they also have other tools, like “keyword finder” where you can get a list of related keywords from a single input keyword.
They also have website audit and project management functionality. Finally, they have a “SERP checker” where you can analyze the current state of any search results page.
Why we like it: First off, the tools are simple and useful. While they may not have every SEO tool you need, their keyword research tool is easy to use and gives you a ton of ideas you may not have considered. Their SERP checker is also a great and simple tool to see if it’s worth competing for a given keyword.
Finally, their rank tracker is also simple and gives you nice clean reports.
How it works: It all starts with your list of keywords, but branching out from there, you can enter your website and the country, region, or city you’re interested in. This lets you see what you rank for in which locales.
They also let you toggle between mobile and desktop views, so you can check your SERP rankings on different platforms
Two cool features: daily email alerts and white label reports.
Daily email reports, because who has time to manually check this stuff all the time? And white label reports are a really excellent feature for agencies looking to add a nice branding touch.
Finally, it’s the most affordable tool on our list, so it’s great for solopreneurs and those on a budget.
How much it costs: This one is the most affordable on our list, starting at just $7.20/month. This only allows you to track up to 100 keywords, but it’s a great starter price point. You’re locked into several other limitations too, such as only 2 users on this plan, and only 50 keyword difficulty checks.
If you’re at scale, I could see these limitations start to bog you down.
But luckily, you can scale up to their Hex Data plan at $83.60/mo, which allows up to 2,000 keywords tracked.
What it is: SERPStat bills itself as a “growth hacking tool.” It’s made up of a few different modules catered mostly towards SEOs—rank tracking, backlink analysis, keyword research, site audit, and competitor research.
When you break it down, they do offer a lot of interesting features within those modules, including:
- Competitor analysis in paid and organic search
- In-depth keyword analysis
- Batch analysis of keywords and domains
- Analysis of contextual advertising
- Text analysis
- SERP crawling
- Team management
For our purposes, though, it does two SERP tracking things: crawls SERPs and tracks your keyword rankings.
Why we like it: As mentioned, it’s very feature rich. For the small SEO or marketing team, it gives you a ton of the tools you might want all in one bundle.
For its rank tracking, you can get pretty granular as well. It shows you historical data. You can split by local search and device types.
And interestingly, you can see the distribution of traffic for your keyword set:
How it works: All you have to do is add your keywords and tag them to whichever category you’d like to.
From there, you can see your reports in different formats, such as aggregate, or my favorite, time series:
How much it costs: basic pricing starts at $69/month. This gets you 15,000 position checks per month as well as access to their API (all plans include API access, with the basic plan giving you 100,000 credits). Enterprise pricing goes up to $499/month.
When looking for SERP tracking software, the first question you need to clarify is “what exactly do I mean by SERP tracking?”
Because, as you’ve seen on this list, many tools give you data related to the search engine results pages. But each of these tools shows you a different angle of the SERPs.
Some, like Surround Sound by Semush, give you a holistic look at the SERPs, including not only where your website ranks, but what other pages rank and what they link to.
Some are rank trackers that progressively track your website or keyword positions over time.
Some are simply APIs to give you the raw data on the SERPs, so you can do whatever you want with it.
But no matter what your use case or your complexity, this list should supply you with the tool that’s right for the job.