Google Analytics Rank Tracker


Last week Mike Pantoliano (mikecp) of distilled wrote a post How to Turn Google Analytics Into Your Own Rank Tracker Using Custom Variables on the seomoz blog. This post is certainly not for the average Joe in analytics. Besides the basic knowledge of coding, you must know how to customize your Google Analytics Tracking Code (without ruining your site stats) and also how to play with advanced segments, custom variables and custom reports. After criticizing Mike post (for using rankings as a performance metrics) and then later being pushed by ‘Caleone’ (one of the commenter on the seomoz blog), i decided to try it out. Here our my results in my desired format:

Google Analytics Rank Tracking

Fig.1 Click to see the enlarged view


Google Analytics Rank Tracker Tool

Fig.2 Click to see the enlarged view

Contrary to my belief, this tool does show different position in search results for a single keyword which makes it relevant. Here i can easily see the impact of ranking (for different positions on Google) on my site conversions, e-commerce revenue and site usage.

This is something which you can’t get through Google Webmaster Tool or any other tool out there. Through this report you can determine your top performing and under performing keywords in organic results. You can determine where to put your focus in link building. For e.g. you should improve the ranking of those keywords first which are converting better in organic results. I picked up a non-Ecommerce site for this post, so you won’t see any revenue associated with the keywords. With e-commerce site, you can get even better insight through e-commerce data. So finally all this heavy analytics set up is worth trying.


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  • Matthias Hager

    Thanks for reviewing this. I’m working with our tech department to get it implemented within our ecommerce platform. As soon as we get some solid data I’ll probably write an overview of it.

    I’ve always thought ranking reports are mostly useless. Unless you can map ranking changes directly to traffic (and thus goals and ecommerce tracking), then it’s no more relevant a metric than Google site:domain “indexation” numbers. There are times where you can show a ranking change affecting traffic, but most sites are competing on terms that are too low traffic to really show (a few hundred searches a month). Add in the effects of personalization, localization, etc.

    Hopefully this will give a much more solid picture of things.

  • seo himanshu

    Thanks for stopping by. Do send me a link when you review this tool.

  • http://Website Brian

    Great post. Thanks

  • http://Website Jerry

    This is a great review. I will try it on our e-commerce site.

  • http://Website Amit

    Once again great post Himanshu. You are India’s pride. I hope more SEOs from India contribute like you. I am working hard to set up this rank tracking.

    • seo himanshu

      Thanks Amit. I am flattered.

  • http://Website Jitender

    awesome post. But how to implement it. I am not getting any ranks in my reports :(

  • http://Website Vikas

    Thanks for reviewing this tool. I am working with my developers to set up rank tracking through GA. Can you share the link of your custom report? Thanks

    • seo himanshu

      Hi vikas! I have mailed you the link. How your job is going on?

  • http://Website Gary

    Thanks for sharing. I like your custom reports.

  • http://Website rogue_seo

    Nice post. Looking forward to see the results on my own website.

  • http://Website John

    Very informative post. You have good knowledge of google analytics. Would you write a guide type post on custom reports and advanced segments in the near future?

    • seo himanshu

      I wrote a post on advanced segments on seomoz:

      It is a step by step guide to creating advanced segments in Google Analytics. I may write a post on ‘creating your custom reports’ in the near future.

  • http://Website Rajan

    where i can see this report in google analytics? Also could you tell me how you created this custom report. Thanks.

    • seo himanshu

      You wont see my reports by default in Google analytics. You need to create a custom report. Click on ‘custom reporting’ and then on ‘manage custom reports’. Now click on ‘create new custom report’. Add the dimensions and metrics i have added in my reports. I have used only one dimension ‘custom variable Value 1′. I hope it helps.

  • http://Website JBR2S

    Himanshu thanks for the review. I am a regular reader of your blog and truly admire your analytics knowledge. Your event tracking guide has been really helpful to me. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Php2ranjan

    One think i want to know Himanshu, Actually I am new in this field, there is any other tool available for Analytics and Tracking and also its free of cost.. If you have any on then tell me on
    Thanks i read this article. I will follow you through SEOMOZ website. I seen there, you are blogging very well.

  • http://Website Sajeet

    Hi Himanshu,

    I am a newbie at this with very scarce knowledge of programming, was just wondering what exactly is the parameter “cd”, as i was not able to find that in the google search results URL, also can you please tell me where to post that php code that has been mentioned in the seo moz post?

    • seo himanshu

      The cd parameter contains the exact ranking position of the search listing. You will not always see this parameter in search URLs. You have to paste that PHP code in your Google Analytics Tracking code. Do it only when you know what you are doing. If you messed up with the code, you will no longer be able to track traffic through Google Analytics.

  • http://Website Sajeet

    Thanks for your honest opinion, really appreciate that. But i am testing it on my website and am trying to learn new aspects of GA, so i can afford to lose out on some data as long as i am learning :) . Correct me if i am wrong, but i was asking about the PHP code “”
    I am aware of the code changes to the GA tracking code. So exactly where do i paste the above mentioned code?

    • seo himanshu

      you will paste the PHP code between your Google Analytics Tracking Code after the _trackPageView().

  • http://Website Sajeet

    The PHP code somehow did not get copy pasted. This is the code “”

    • seo himanshu

      Sorry i didn’t get your code.

  • http://Website Sajeet

    <?php preg_match("/cd\=(\d+)/"

  • http://Website Sajeet

    this is the beginning of the code, somehow i could not copy paste the entire code

  • http://Website Sajeet

    Also one more doubt i had, lets say a user is searching for my brand term, ideally Google would show atleast 2 pages from my website. Now lets say in one session a user clicks on the first page, the query string for that search term will get appended to 1, now in some other session the user clicks on the second result for the same search term, the query string cd gets appended to 2. Will Google analytics show different value of custom variables (in our case the rankings) for the same keyword or will it override the rankings. Also lets say the ranking of my keyword is 14 in week 1 and 17 in week 2, and i select 2 weeks as my date range how will the data be shown in Google Analytics?

    • seo himanshu

      Hi Sajeet! Google Analytics shows different value of custom variable for the same keyword. For your second question, you will see different rankings for the same keyword i.e. 14 and 17. Once you will see this report it will be more clear to you.

      • http://Website Sajeet

        Thank you for your reply himanshu, i have been following your blog posts for quite some time now and must say your posts are really AWESOME!!!! Could you please also provide an answer to my question regarding the php code that i have pasted above my ranks question i.e. where do i paste the PHP code mentioned in the SEO moz post. The start of the code is “<?php preg_match("/cd\=(\d+)/"

        • seo himanshu

          Hi Sajeet! The PHP code is the difficult part. I can’t show you where to actually paste the code. It is not as simple as copy paste. You have to actually modify certain part of Google Analytics tracking code.

  • http://Website Sajeet

    i guess i am getting really confused here, there are two aspects of the code, one is the modified Google Analytics code with the if statement and the main php code that stores the cd value in the $rank variable. So are you suggesting that the code varies from website to website and i will have to edit the code at my end??

    • seo himanshu

      Here is what i did with my Google Analytics code:

      <?php if ($rank != '' )
      echo "\n"
      var _gaq = _gaq || [];
      _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-XXXXXXX-X’]);
      echo “\n”;
      else {
      echo “\n
      var _gaq = _gaq || [];
      _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-XXXXXXX-X’]);

      echo “\n”;

      (function() {
      var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
      ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘';
      var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

      I hope it helps you in customizing your analytic code.

  • google webmasters for anilitic

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  • almairafashion bali

    Thank you for your contribution

  • Mary

    I had no idea you could do this in GA!

    My friend just launched a free rank tracker that’s very simple and clean compared to this. I have the small plan and track 50 keywords, but the free plan let’s you track 10:

  • edwinfranklin

    Nice post for me. I was also looking for this kind of
    post. For my WordPress blog I am also using google analytics. You can use another seo tool Serplab check the result of Google SERP of
    any website. It also instruct me that what I have to do to develop my site. I
    have used many tools to check my site’s health in Google SERP. But it is
    totally free better than any premium SEO tools.