Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
I’m always on the lookout for an effective keyword tool that doesn’t cost a small fortune. Luckily, there are quite a few free versions of tools out there, so it’s easy to find something that fits my needs. And today, I’m taking a look at the free version of Rank Tracker from Link-Assistant.
If you don’t know, Link-Assistant actually has a suite of four SEO tools available. Although, I am only focusing on Rank Tracker in this post. The others may warrant their own reviews, which I may do later on.
In any case, this one is probably one of the more interesting that I’ve come across.
What is the Free Version of Rank Tracker?
Rank Tracker is part of the SEO Suite offered through Link-Assistant. Unlike most other keyword tools, this one isn’t web-based. This means you install it directly onto your computer system.
It’s available for all operating systems and can optimize phrases in a slew of languages.
This tool focuses on keyword and phrase research by pulling data from a variety of platforms into one location. It supports a variety of other search engines such as Google, Bing, Ask, and YouTube.
In order to really use Rank Tracker to its fullest, you’ll need to connect Google’s Search Console, Analytics, and Keyword Planner. Thus, you’ll need to authorize the connection, which prompts Google to launch its two-step verification system.
Once the connections are made, Rank Tracker will begin pulling keyword data from Google while storing everything in the Keyword Sandbox, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
This data includes keyword difficulty, average searches per month, competition rankings, and more.
In the end, you could easily wind up with a massive list of phrases and terms you could use for future blog posts. As a free keyword tracking tool, you get quite a bit when using this program.
What Can You Expect from the Free Rank Tracker App?
This is easily among my favorite keyword tools thus far, and I’ve used the free versions of quite a few. Since it uses exact data from your Google accounts, you can get current information regarding how well your site is doing in search.
As a free rank tracking tool, all of the features it provides surpass a lot of them that are on the market.
Connect to Various Google Tools
As I said earlier, you’ll have to connect your Google tools to Rank Tracker to really get the most out of this app. This is so Rank Tracker can pull all kinds of immediate and relevant data to help you find good search terms.
For instance, you can connect Search Console and quickly look up any URL on your site to see how it’s ranking for various keyphrases.
Comparing the Competition
The free version of Rank Tracker comes with several features for analyzing the competition. You can compare how your site stacks against others and essentially take a look at how they’re making content.
Another feature I like is the Keyword Gap between my websites and competitors. Here, I can see what keyphrases the competition is ranking for compared to my own.
The Keyword Gap function has given me a lot of ideas regarding blog posts I haven’t written yet.
Various Autocomplete Tools
The autocomplete function of search engines is a common way for creators to find keyphrases for future content. Knowing what people are looking for can help you tap your target audience.
Rank Tracker has several of these elements built-in. This includes the basic autocomplete for Google as well as searching through the “People also ask” section all from one screen.
The autocomplete tools in Rank Tracker work for:
So, if you plan on doing more than just blogging like I do, then you have quite a few options available. I’m looking forward to using Rank Tracker more for YouTube and Amazon, personally.
The SERP Analysis section gives you the ability to scan a massive number of search engines to see what websites are ranking for which term. It also provides estimated searches, PPC cost/month, and difficulty for any keyword you enter.
This can provide quite a bit of information regarding other websites and help you develop strategies to surpass them.
The Keyword Sandbox is one of the most prominent sections in Rank Tracker, even in the free version.
Every bit of research you do in Rank Tracker, whether it’s the data of your website from Search Console or analyzing the competition, is stored on this page. This means you can easily amass a huge list of keyphrases to use.
Plus, the sandbox will create keyword groups to help you find topics easier. Not to mention that you can create your own if you want keywords and phrases specifically stored.
Unable to Save the Free Version of Rank Tracker
There’s no denying that I really like Rank Tracker. Unfortunately, the free version comes with a massive caveat – you can’t save your progress. In order to save any project you’re working on, you need to upgrade.
This means that if you spend four hours doing keyword research, you’ll need to write those words down somewhere else. The moment you close the app, you’ll have to reconnect all of your Google products and start from scratch.
Upgrade to Enterprise to Export the Keyword List
What about exporting your list of keywords? Not unless you upgrade the free version of Rank Tracker to the Enterprise level. This will set you back about $350 per year.
I know there are a lot of free tools online that allow exporting. However, they are usually limited to a set number of entries you can export. Rank Tracker will literally show you thousands of terms for free.
So, it all comes down to how committed you are to having an exported list of keywords and phrases.
Re-Authorize Google Every Time
As I said, once you close down the free version of Rank Tracker, you’ll have to reconnect to Google the next time you run the program. This can quickly become quite tedious as Google will send an authorization to your phone with each connection.
That means you’ll need to authorize Search Consoles, Analytics, and Keyword Planner individually from your phone.
I don’t mind 2FA, but it gets annoying when you have to reconnect every time you use the app. This, alone, is one of the biggest reasons why I am debating upgrading.
Tools for YouTube and Other Search Engines
Perhaps another selling point of using the free version of Rank Tracker is that it’s not just centered on Google. You can look up images, thumbnails, videos, Amazon shopping, and more from this one app.
Now, this probably doesn’t matter much to beginner bloggers. But as I use YouTube and Amazon quite often for WriterSanctuary and selling my books, this is quite a boon.
Will I Keep Using Rank Tracker for Free?
There’s no doubt that Rank Tracker has a lot of functionality in its free version. As it will also help me compare my articles with that of the competition, it provides a ton of insight.
I could spend hours trying new phrases and searching for the best terms to use for the next article.
The only drawback I can see using this tool is actually quite a massive one. Spending hours doing proper research only to not be able to save is an incredible pain.
However, I have a spreadsheet where I store keyword and phrase ideas that I plan to use later on. So, the workload isn’t a complete loss. I just don’t like having to start from scratch each time I close down the program.
Nonetheless, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me. As I said, I keep track of the keyphrases I want to use in another spreadsheet anyway. It’s actually the spreadsheet I use to plan all of my blog posts.
What I usually do is take a morning once per month, conduct a lot of keyphrase research, and then copy the best terms I want to use.
Would I Consider Upgrading from the Free Version of Rank Tracker?
As a free keyword rank tracker, this app is exceptionally useful, even without being able to save. However, I would like to keep track of target keywords and competing websites, which is only effective if I’m able to save the project.
Aside from the simple fact that I hate re-authorizing Google each time I load the program, upgrading Rank Tracker is something I am seriously considering.
The sheer amount of data you can collect just using the tool for an hour is massive. Having access to this list as a saved project would be amazing…even though I’ll still use my spreadsheet to plan out the content itself.
When you consider that it’s only $149 per year, this is perhaps one of the more cost-effective keyword solutions I’ve come across thus far. I’ve seen similar keyword tools run around $300 per month!
For less than what I spend at Caribou Coffee each month, I could have a very massive database of relevant terms to all of the sites I manage.
Something else you might want to keep in mind is that you can also track client websites. Even if you don’t have access to their Google login credentials, you can still conduct a ton of keyword research.
This includes comparing your client’s website with competitors for keyword gaps.
In a nutshell, yes, as soon as I have the extra $149, I’m definitely upgrading Rank Tracker from the free version.
Do You Need Keyword Tools as a Blogger?
You don’t absolutely need a keyword rank tracker in order to build a blog. I know plenty of people who simply share their day and have several people reading each post.
However, if you want to build a blog to attract people looking for specific information, you need to know what they’re taking to Google to find. Free tools like Rank Tracker can help you determine those terms and identify search intent.
This is especially true if you plan on making money from your blog. Because the more visitors you have, the more you’re going to make. So, you need to offer quality information to those who are looking for such.
Now, depending on how serious you are, you probably don’t need anything extravagant to get started. Personally, I’ve been using the free version of Rank Tracker for about a year now.
Yet, there will come a point when you need just a bit more umph to get your articles where you want them in search.
Speaking from experience, the articles on all of my blogs that center around researched topics, words, and search intent outperform any blog post I wrote just by winging it.
And I didn’t get one of my clients up to 200,000 visits per month without knowing what their consumers wanted to read.
Using the Best Tools for Your Needs
Because Rank Tracker offers a free version, you really don’t lose anything but time by trying it for yourself. That’s true with a vast number of keyword tools out there, actually.
The best online rank tracking tool to use is the one that fits your needs the most. Some like Ubersuggest while I tend to gravitate more towards Rank Tracker and Semrush.
It’s all a matter of perspective and what you feel the most comfortable using.
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