keyword rankings google seo

Case study: How keyword rankings differ in rank trackers

Recently, I discussed the top reasons why Google search results are different from rank trackers. In this post, I’m going to take a look at how keyword rankings differ in rank trackers.

There are many rank trackers on the market. Some come with features and metrics that others don’t and vice versa. However, the first intention behind these tools is monitoring keyword positions in search engines.

We have analyzed Google positions of 4 tools and compared them with our SERPWatcher. It was kind of benchmark for us. Furthermore, we were also curious how different the results would be.

The comparison is based on the results from following rank trackers:

  • SERPWatcher
  • AntRanks
  • Pro Rank Tracker
  • SEMrush
  • Rank Tracker

Results of the case study

We created a tracking for randomly selected domain “” with 20 keywords in all tools (except SEMrush as it allows 10 keywords in the free plan) for the location United Kingdom. You’ll find the tracking in SERPWatcher demo trackings.

Here are the results. All of them are from the same day.

Keyword SERPWatcher AntRanks Pro Rank Tracker SEMrush Rank Tracker
human rights 5 4 4 5 4
basic human rights 4 3 1 5 3
universal declaration of human rights 2 1 1 2 1
list of human rights 4 3 3 4 3
what are the human rights 50 50 42 50 49
declaration of human rights 2 1 1 2 1
human rights list 3 2 2 3 2
the human rights 16 14 15 15 13
human rights articles 8 7 5 8 5
international human rights 2 1 1 1
about human rights 12 8 8 8
un human rights 2 1 1 1
universal human rights 2 1 1 1
world human rights day 1 1 1 1
fundamental human rights 2 1 1 1
what are my human rights 11 10 10 10
human rights declaration 2 1 1 1
un human rights council 8 14 8 11
the declaration of human rights 1 1 1
protection of human rights 1 1 1

As you can see, the results are identical in many cases. Some positions differ only by one. One or two keyword rankings are significantly different.

Max. change: “what are human rights” 8 positions.

Avg. change: 2.05 positions.

What’s behind different keyword rankings?

There are reasons for different results in rank tracking tools. All tested tools refresh the ranks every 24 hours but that doesn’t mean they do this at the same time. Not to mention that SERP keeps changing all the time.

To sum it up, the differences are most probably caused by:

1. Various times when the positions are refreshed.

2. How particular tools read the positions if there are any featured snippets, video snippets, or carousels in the SERP.

3. Anomalies caused by different technical problems or data outages, which can happen in every tool.

4. Many rank trackers parse the first 100 results at once, which don’t usually reflect how the search results page actually looks if you went one by one.

5. What Google data center is used to retrieve the positions by the tool provider based on their server location(s).


I can peacefully say comparing keyword rankings in rank trackers is something you don’t need to spend your time on. We did it, instead. Hence, the positions are almost identical.

The main point of rank tracking is following the overall progress of keyword positions and their impact on the organic traffic so don’t bother yourself analyzing the discrepancies in various tools. Be effective. Focus on optimizing for keywords that matter.

Are you new to rank tracking?

Worry not. Head over to our rank tracking basics article which includes factors influencing the rankings, the best practices and much more.