When a domain’s ranking URL changes for a keyword, it can indicate that Google can’t find the best URL for the SERP, causing visibility, ranking and traffic instability. The Toolbox includes a URL Changes feature which shows you the changes contributing to this issue and gives you detailed information about ranking history for desktop and mobile devices.
Where to find URL changes in the SISTRIX Toolbox
The section “URL Changes” is part of the SEO Module of the SISTRIX Toolbox.
To access the feature, type the domain you want to analyse in the search bar 1 and then click on “URL Changes”2, which you will find in the menu on the left of the screen, inside the category “Structure”.
However, before starting to exploring the issue, let’s focus on the different options and how to use them to extract data for your further analysis.
The table options are located on the top right corner of the screen and serve different tasks:
- Options: select different options for the table (see below).
- Export: export the table as a CSV file. To do this you’ll need to use some credits.
- Shortlink : share the table on Social Media.
A click on the “Options” button will let you select further features for the table:
- Date #1: defines the initial date to be compared in the table.
- Date #2: defines the final date to be compared in the table.
- Select Columns: lets you add or hide different table columns and then save your preferences as a separate entry.
- Filter: if you made a filter combination you really find useful, you’ll be able to save it for future use. Here you can also load your saved filters or delete them.
- Data source: choose between mobile or desktop data.
The filters are placed just above the table and allow you to sort and define the results.
You can use the quick filter “Search keyword” to see all the results that contain a specific text. You can also edit the filter to show only the keywords that don’t contain the specified text.
Click on the green button “Filter now” to open additional filter options for the table.
After selecting a filter, the Toolbox will show a short explanation of its effects above the drop-down menu.
The “Expert Filter“, that you can select from the button “Options”, gives you the possibility to further refine your filter combinations by adding the Boolean logic features “And” and “Or”.
Which domain URLs are being swapped in the SERP?
Thanks to the URL Changes table you can easily see which URLs have been swapped in Google’s search result pages between specific dates.
1 Keyword: keyword for which the domain is ranking
2 Date #1: ranking position of the first URL (red) for that keyword on the date shown as column header
3 Date #2: ranking position of the second URL (green) for that keyword on the date shown as column header
4 Red URL: URL that was ranking on date #1 and it’s not ranking anymore on date #2
5 Green URL: URL that is ranking on date #2
6 Snippet preview : preview of the Snippet for that specific keyword in the SERPs and of its most important characteristics
7 Show keyword history : ranking history for the domain and keyword combination
8 Show SERPs : shows the SERPs for that specific keyword
In front of the URL, the Toolbox also shows other symbols that can help in your analysis: accelerated mobile pages will have the AMP symbol near them, while those that use an SSL protocol are preceded by the icon . Finally, the icon will open that page in a new browser tab.
If the URL is too long, the Toolbox will make it shorter by showing only the text that has changed: hover the mouse above it to see the entire URL.
As we said before, the icon will give you more information about the URL Snippet: you’ll just have to hover the mouse over it to see how Google shows the result in the SERP. Besides the ranking keyword, the position and the position change in comparison with last week, the Toolbox warns us whether the Snippet title and text have been both shortened (like in this example), and tells us other characteristics of the result and of the SERP in which it’s ranking. These are important information in order to optimise your website’s snippets even further and attract more users to click on them.
Practical examples on how to use URL Changes
The Toolbox section “URL Changes” can be used to spot so-called “Keyword cannibalisation” problems, which means that two or more URLs of the same domain rank for the same keyword, at the same time. This phenomenon can damage the Website for many reasons, which you can find out in our cannibalisation tutorial.
In the example above we were able to discover the URLs that dropped from the first to the second result page between the two dates, thanks to the filters. If we focus on the last one, “cedarwood”, we see that the two URLs are very similar.
If we click on the icon we’ll see that the ranking history of the domain for this keyword has become very unstable over the past year: its rankings swing from the first to the third result page, and now have stabilised on the second page.
From the table right below the chart we see the source of this issue stems from the two URLs we saw before, which are being swapped in the SERP by Google because they have very similar content.
Another interesting way to use the feature “URL Changes” is to monitor a relaunch in order to check whether all URLs have been correctly interpreted by Google.
For example, the domain whsmith.co.uk redirected its directory https://www.whsmith.co.uk/dept/ to its other directory https://www.whsmith.co.uk/stationery/.
The filters of the section “URL Changes” will help us check whether the rankings have been negatively impacted by the relaunch.
We’ll just have to put as date #1 the week just before the relaunch and as date #2 the week on which the relaunch has ended. Moreover, if you want to check the lost Top-10 rankings, you’ll just need to add the filters: Position #1: 1 to 10; Position #2: 11 to 100.
Now you can immediately see the URLs that ranked before the relaunch and those that rank now, which is very useful to evaluate which SEO measures need to be adopted in order to improve the situation.