Visualising Search Engine Rankings by Keyword in Excel

blue gloves

Originally posted on SEOmoz, this post still has legs, having been recently referred to in a number of Excel related posts including Mike’s Excel Guide to SEO. I thought it would be great to revisit the post, give it a bit of a rewrite and share it with our readers.

Despite what some say, tracking rankings for your target terms is an important part of an organic search marketing campaign. On occasion, SEO people who follow specific niches tend to describe ranking fluctuations with smart looking charts describing ranking position, by keyword over time. If you’d like to be able to build those charts quickly and easily, you’ll need this step by step guide. By the end of the guide you’ll have a rankings chart that looks just like this:

the finished product

Step 1: Collect your data

To be able to produce a chart like the example above, you’ll need Microsoft Excel, and a rankings checker that will export rankings data, by search engine and by date. For tracking rankings over time, I’m using Advanced Web Ranking.

Start by putting your data in an Excel table named “rankings” just like this:

data from excel

Create a pivot chart

Pivot tables were designed for exactly this type of application, and making them is heaps of fun. Let’s start by selecting “Insert > PivotTable >PivotChart” in the options along the top of your Excel ribbon.

You should see a window appear like the one below. Make sure you’ve named the correct range (our table name: “rankings”) and select “New Worksheet“, followed by OK.

create a pivot table with Excel

Drag and drop your legend, axis and value fields

The cool thing about making a pivot table is the drag and drop functionality when you’re creating the row labels and values for the table. Here’s the visual explanation of where to put your keyword, date and position data:

pivot table field list from microsoft excel

Now, filter for the keywords you’d like to create a chart for. It’s quite inpractical to create a chart with hundreds of keywords, but you can add a good number for comparision purposes. Head to the “Column labels” drop down and filter for the keywords you’d like to build the chart for:

select your column labels in excel

Filter by search engine

If you’ve collected data on multiple search engines, you’ll need to add a filter. Drag the “Search Engine” field down into the “Report Filter” section, and select the search engine you’re interested in using the drop down at the top of your pivot table.

fliter by search engineFormat your chart nicely

If you’ve followed the instrutions so far, you’ll see a slightly noisy and weird looking bar chart, so next we’ll create a line chart to show the positional changes over time.

For pure charting awesomeness, a simple right mouse click on the chart, followed by “Change chart type > Line“, will do the trick. Finally, you’ll need to reverse your Y axis, leaving position 1 at the top and your lower rankings at the bottom. Using your right mouse button, click on the axis and select “Format axis” – you should see a window like this:

select your axis options

The end result

After spending some time having fun with formatting, you can create really nice charts. Here’s mine:

the finished product

Hope you find this approach useful – it’s certianly handy for visualising rankings over time. Enjoy!

[twitter-follow username="richardbaxter" scheme="light" count="yes"]

Image credits:


  1. Ralph du Plessis

    This is starting to be a tired old record here, Richard, but you keep posting stuff just when I need an example or solution to something. One day, if we ever meet face to face, I will buy you a pint for every useful nugget you have given me :-)

  2. Damion

    Can anyone help me with exactly how you output the results from Advanced Web Ranking?

    AWR has dozens of permutations I’ve tried in terms of types of reports, inclusions in reports, sort-by’s and whatnot.

    I’m going slowly crazy trying to output just the data in the first screenie of the Excel table above. It keeps spitting out excess data, wrongly-sorted, I feel like I’ve tried everything!

    AWR, great program but too many options (for me to comfortably work with anyway) :-)

    Any and all help gratefully received


  3. richardbaxterseo Post author

    Hi Damian

    You need the enterprise licence – do check that’s teh case. If so:

    Project > Project settings > Export > Data Export > New Data Export > Current Rank > All Data > Format CSV > Next > Generate Report Immediately

    It’s a bit of a mission! Hope that helps!!

  4. Damion

    Hi Rich,
    Ahh ya got me — I have the Professional license, not the Enterprise.
    If I come up with a sensible hack for non-Enterprise users wanting to play with the data I’ll let you know.

  5. Vince

    Great article as with all the other articles on this exceptional blog,
    I had a question for you please, on your final graph the dates are shown as weekly, even thou within the spreadsheet the dates are set daily. I have produced my graph but having issues with getting it to show the weekly dates, I have followed the pivot steps but keep on getting the daily dates within my graph.

    Could you please let me know how I can get this issue resolved?

    Many Thanks,