When tracking keyword rankings, there are two key variables that determine your results: The specific keyword you choose to track, and the exact location you set. You can end up with very different results depending on these two variables, because changing either of them means you're doing a completely different search.
As an example, let's assume your client is a pizza restaurant in New York, and you want to understand how they rank if someone searches for pizza. When using our rank tracker, the most straightforward method is to use the keyword "pizza" with the location of "New York". However, you could also put the location inside your keyword, for example using the keyword "pizza New York" along with the location set to "New York". Another option is to use the keyword "pizza New York", with the location set to "USA".
Each of the above will give you slightly different results, so how do you choose which is best?
There's no single rule when deciding on keywords and locations, but we've got some best-practice tips below to help you you get the most from our keyword rank tracker.
Should I put the location inside the keyword?
The answer here is "it depends". Are searchers typing the location into the search box, or are they leaving it out? Do they sometimes do both? This should guide how you choose your exact keywords to track.
To help you decide, we provide national keyword search volume for each of your keywords. You can also check your Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools queries to understand how people are arriving at your site via organic searches. This should help you determine whether it's worth tracking the keyword "pizza New York", or just "pizza".
Regardless of whether you choose to put the location in the keyword or not, you'll have to assign a location to the keyword as well. Search engines always provide location-specific results.
Which location should I choose for my keywords?
This depends on where your target market is located: Are your customers located in one specific city (or state), or are they nation-wide?
If you want to attract people within one specific area, it makes sense to set the location to that specific area.
If you're tracking keywords for a gift shop in New York that doesn't offer shipping and can only realistically cater to New York residents, the location should be "New York" (the rest of the United States just isn't relevant to this business).
If the business services a cluster of cities in one area, you might choose multiple city locations (for example, using the locations "New York", "Manhattan", and "Brooklyn").
If the business is a hyper-local Pizza place that only delivers to certain parts of a metro area, then you'd probably choose to track by ZIP code (or multiple ZIP codes).
Alternatively, if you're targeting people within an entire country, it makes more sense to set the search location to the entire country. This is usually the best choice for online stores, or for national businesses with customers spread across the country. For example, if your client sells pizza cutters to the entire United States, you'd probably want to set the location to "USA".
Sometimes even nation-wide businesses have specific cities that drive a large amount of their revenue. In this case, you might add those cities as keyword location as well, to keep track of how you're ranking in those key areas. For example, if 60% of your pizza cutter sales come from New York and Chicago, it would be smart to track rankings in those locations (as well as tracking rankings for the United States as a whole).
Your results are highly dependent on the location(s) that you set, since this is the location where the actual search takes place. In general it's best to choose location(s) that are the most important to your target market, and to be as specific as possible.