SEMRush: How to Establish Baseline Position Tracking

I’ve been a fan of SEMRush ever since I made the switch from Moz a few years ago. I wish they enabled the SEMRush Google Data Studio connection for subscribers on the “pro” tier, but the keyword position tracking alone is worth the price.

SEMRush Position Tracking

Since organic search results have become so personalized, it’s impossible for one tool to provide 100% accurate data on where your website ranks in search engines. Too many factors are in play for that to be possible.

What SEMRush excels at is providing data to benchmark your SEO progress. But that’s only if you set it up correctly. You should take the following steps whether you’re monitoring your keyword rankings in-house or outsource the work to an agency.

Setting up position tracking

SEMRush Position Tracking screenshot

If you haven’t set up position tracking yet, go to Projects > Position Tracking and click Add keywords in the dashboard navigation.

You have the option to import manually, from a different SEMRush campaign within your account, from Google Analytics, or using a .csv or .txt file.

Prevent artificial fluctuations

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to take note of the keywords you’ve added on Day 1.

If you add 50 keywords when setting up SEMRush position tracking and throw in another 100 next month, it’ll show an artificial increase. That’s because your tracked rankings are bound to rise the more keywords you track. That doesn’t mean your organic traffic is necessarily increasing.

Just by adding a few keywords to my personal account, I was able to show a 20% increase in search engine visibility. Did my organic search engine reach really increase that much? Of course not.

SEMRush Position Tracker artificial increase

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is easy to for unscrupulous SEO agencies to exploit. If a client’s SEO project isn’t going as well as predicted, adding in some new keywords you know the site ranks well for (and which may have little or no competition) can buy you another month of billable services.

Tag keywords

The easiest way to filter out these fluctuations is to tag your Day 1 keywords. In the screenshot below, I’ve used the tag “baseline” for this.

Adding baseline keywords to SEMRush Position Tracker

Adding the tag to the keywords I just added to my personal project changes the week’s Visibility Trend progress from:”

SEMRush Visibility Trend Increase

To this:

SEMRush visibility trend baseline

Retroactively tagging keywords

While it’s always easiest to start things off the right way, sometimes you inherit someone else’s data and you have to make the best of it.

To find the Day 1 keywords, go to the first day of historic data available in your account. Filter out the keywords with no data attached. They look like this:

Missing data in SEMRush Position Tracking

Add the tags the keywords with data and now you have your baseline.