Did you know that Google Webmaster Tools provides a Free Keyword Rank Checker? Most people don't and here is how to access the data if you are not familiar. I am assuming you already have Google Analytics installed on your website along with Google Webmaster Tools. If not, you will not be able to view this keyword ranking data.
- Log into Google Webmaster Tools
- On the left click “Search Traffic”
- Under “Search Traffic” in the dropdown menu then click “Search Queries”
- Scroll down and you will see Impressions, Clicks, CTR (Click Through Rate), and Average position.
The important metric you want to think about are your CTRs and your Average position. CTR means the amount of people clicking through to your website compared to how many times someone has seen it come up in a Google SERPS (search engine ranking pages). Impressions means how many times your articles and posts get viewed in the Google's SERPS. (It doesn't track other search engines, not that you should really care though.)
What's great about this data is that it is obviously very useful but it is also free. The reason I am mentioning the SEO (search engine optimization) keyword tracking in Google Webmaster Tools is that a lot of people are spending $30 bucks a month or more on sites and software that do this. If you are an SEO firm or company that is handling a lots of client's websites then it is definitely useful, but pricey. Tracking keywords in the SERPS (search engine results page) is how these companies make money, so it only makes sense to want to track client's sites carefully.
Using an external keyword rank checker and tracking tool in my opinion is not necessary for smaller sites and bloggers in my opinion. The reality is if you are not ranking for certain terms, you can work on it, but it will be hard to go up against people with better SEO knowledge and experience.
For most using the free rank checker data within Google Webmaster Tools is going to work just fine for tracking keywords. If you agree, disagree, or want to recommend a SEO rank checker that you use please let me know.