Search engines can be a great traffic source for your website. Do you have an idea where your site ranks when someone plugs in your keywords into a search engine? Whether you own one website, or many, if you have one client or many, tracking positions in the search engines is key. Doing it manually works, but is boring and, as I found, does not scale. I’ll share what I was using before Advanced Web Ranking, what the tool is, how it is sold, services it integrates with, reporting customization and brand-ability, and the reports I found most useful. You’ll also learn how to be proactively alerted should your site be impacted by any number of search engine (Google) algorithm changes.
The Importance of Keyword Tracking
A website can serve many purposes. For those using a website for business, at some point it will make sense to see how well the site fares against competitors in the same marketplace.
- How visible is it when searchers search keywords your site should be ranking for? What is a SERP anyway?
- What are the competitors doing that you aren’t?
- [highlight]How do your sites rankings change over time? [/highlight]
- What is the impact of rankings based on changes Google and others make to their algorithm?
As you invest in link building, the answers to these questions are important to track your success. A keyword tracking system should be able to answer these questions and more.
The Labor of Keyword Tracking
In the beginning, the only way I knew to track keyword placement in the search engines was to use an Excel spreadsheet, document the keywords, and the search engines, and periodically update it by doing the searches and documenting the results. This was time consuming and impractical.
I found myself continually tweaking and modifying the spreadsheet to make it suitable for my needs. What are my competitors rankings? On Google, Bing, Yahoo? How has that changed? How can I make a graph illustrating the keyword ranking over time? My competitors?
It became quickly apparent the time spent justified finding SEO software like Advanced Web Ranking to help with this tracking.
Beyond Keyword Tracking
While efficient keyword tracking was my top priority. It was clear that other elements may be useful to consider at some point. Take for example social. What about social media mentions, followers, and etc? With Google entering the social game with Google+, this is probably important (it is).
How does all this information fit in with my Google Analytics account? What about link data? This can all be overwhelming, but who offers these types of features, which I could learn to use after all the keyword tracking is dialed in?
What is Advanced Web Ranking
In short Advanced Web Ranking is an affordable PC based software (Windows, Mac, and Linux) that submits Internet queries to track your websites effectiveness with the search engines and visitors.
[highlight]Since all data is hosted locally, it can display charts and graphs containing a lot of data much faster than web-based solutions.[/highlight] It comes in four different versions each with increasing functionality.
They do offer a 30 day trial, so you can get familiar with the software first, and experience the different features each version provides. You can see the complete breakdown of Advanced Web Ranking versions and features here.
Annual Maintenance: At regular intervals (weekly or more) there are search engine and, less often, application updates applied to the software. Therefore they do charge a nominal fee annual fee for maintenance. I like this model, it keeps them on the hook to deliver a solid product, and I like the idea of paying a small annual fee to keep things moving forward for them and for customers. For details on Advanced Web Ranking version history, go here.
Advanced Web Ranking User Interface Review
I have been using Advanced Web Ranking for about 3 years. They made a significant change in the user interface about a year ago, and I find it to be a marked improvement. Everything is laid out in an intuitive fashion. Major areas of the application are on the left hand side. When in a given section you can go to a sub-section quickly by hitting the dropdown in the upper left.
There is a comprehensive contextual help (F1) which guides users to perform common tasks for a given section of the application the help was initiated from.
Setting Up a Project in Advanced Web Ranking
Advanced Web Ranking collects and presents search engine data based on project. Projects can be for whatever you like. Project categories I’ve used cater to a specific website, market, or clients (if you operate a consulting practice). The project setup wizard is intuitive and simple, new projects can be setup in minutes. It will take a bit longer if you aren’t certain what keywords you want to track. You can always add keywords to your project later.
Keyword Tracking Options in Advanced Web Ranking
If you have a list of keywords already, you can simply paste them into the keyword dialogue box. However, Advanced Web Ranking can also assist in finding keywords. If you want to do some keyword research to determine what the competitive landscape looks like, you can use one of the many keyword tools that are build into the product.
Some require a Google AdWords account, others require additional services.
- Google Suggest
- Google AdWords tool
- Yahoo Related Keyword Search
- SEMRush Keywords
- Google Webmaster Keywords (Enterprise version only)
Once you have the keywords in a given project and start collecting data, over time you may want to organize keywords into groups. This allows you to select a group of keywords easily, having your chart reflect only those keywords.
Monitoring impact of Google and other Search Engines changes with triggers: Been a lot of talk of the impact of search engine algorithm changes over the years and more recently. Advanced Web Ranking has a triggers feature. Allowing users to effectively say, create a report whenever keyword(s) move any number of positions up or down with a given search engines (you specify).
Scroll down to the reports section for more info. See more about triggers on their website here.
Notes: As you monitor your keywords, you will likely make changes to your webpages, site, or offsite pages (linking, etc.) and will want to have an idea if these things correlate. This is where the notes feature is handy.
You can specify a note so it appears right on the chart. Mouse over the line and a balloon containing the text of the note appears. Notes can be general, or very specific down to the site, search engine, and keyword. If you prefer not to have notes appear on the charts, it’s simple to disable.
Advanced Web Ranking Review of Google Analytics Integration
The folks at Advanced Web Ranking (Caphyon) understand that many website owners have also integrated Google Analytics for their blogs and websites. They have given website operators the ability to bring that data right inside Advanced Web Ranking.
This is a relatively new feature, and something I’m really liking. Here are a few standout features:
- Use with Multiple Google Analytics Accounts– Easy to get traffic info for all your websites.
- Historical Google Analytics Data– For specified time period (assuming you have GA on the site for that period of time).
- Goals tracking– Using Goals in Google Analytics is not only smart, it is essential in measuring ROI. This is available right within Advanced Web Ranking.
- Revenue by referral source– With this info, you can make smart decisions in your business.
- Date Comparisons– Overlay graphs to see traffic comparisons of two different periods of time.
- Import Google Analytics Keywords– This is big, now you can track the keyword rankings of your targeted keywords, but also import the ones that you may have missed in Google Analytics. If those are converting keywords, now you can optimize and rank better for those keywords.
If you want the complete list of integration features from their website find them here.
Advanced Web Ranking Integration with SEOMoz
Another newer feature offered in Advanced Web Ranking, is the ability to get link data from SEOMoz. This isn’t something I’ve used just yet, but I plan to. I often use the free SEOMoz tools to determine domain authority, but there are so many other valuable things that SEOMoz offers. Many of these things are now available from right within Advanced Web Ranking. The product includes 2000 credits, and the option to purchase more credits if needed.
This functionality helps you understand competitive analysis based on backlinks. You can configure the system to fire an update whenever SEOMoz updates their Linkscape database (roughly monthly).
Advanced Web Ranking Reports Review
There are several things I use regularly and find useful when it comes to reports.
Automatic: Using the scheduler component to run rank checks, you can configure the system to generate a report immediately after the software has completed a rank check. The reports can be delivered via:
- FTP. Have a server to host reports on? Load up the FTP credentials and it can upload the reports you’ve configured directly to the server.
- Email. Prefer to email reports on a regular basis? Configure an SMTP server, and viola, they are set to be emailed.
- Folder/File output: You can also have the reports write to a directory of your choosing. I find this helpful as I use Dropbox [LINK] for that directory, and the files then sync over to my other systems where I have Dropbox configured.
Brandable: This is big for agencies and online marketing/SEO consultants. Within the reports editor of Advanced Web Ranking, it’s easy to drop your logo, custom footer, and contact information within the template itself.
Report File Type: One thing I wanted specifically, was the ability to output reports in PDF format. Advanced Web Ranking allows for that. It also supports other output formats such as HTML, XML, and RTF.
The system also allows you to configure the naming format [highlight]per project[/highlight]. This allows you to specify a path structure for specific clients, etc.
There are over 20 reports available, and several nice ‘hybrid’ report options for you to cross reference data from Google Analytics with keyword ranking data.
For those interested in the granularity the reports offer, it can run reports manually as often as you want, you can also run it on a scheduled basis multiple times a day along with the rank checking.
Tip: If you take that course of action, be sure to enable “Be nice to search engines” feature in options, or setup proxy servers so the search engines don’t block you for too many queries in a short period of time. The proxy service I use is here.
Useful Advanced Web Ranking reports I use regularly include:
Visibility Report: which is a combined calculation of overall rankings for a site or group of sites across the entire keyword set.
Overview Report: Simple report, lists the keywords for the project, their current rankings on your selected search engines (I use Google and Bing), compared to a previous time period, I choose 7 days prior.
Top Sites Report: This report lists the top sites for a given keyword you specify for the search engine you specify. Similar to the overview report, it compares for a previous time period, so you can see how the rankings are changing among competitors.
Bottom-line on Advanced Web Ranking
Keeping track of your rankings is something online marketers should have familiarity with. Tracking it manually works, but as you grow, it just doesn’t scale. Either hire a firm to track them, or use a proven tool like Advanced Web Ranking to do it for you, sending you only the reports you need when you want them. Other than applying updates to the software from time to time, once you have a project setup, scheduler and reports configured, it’s pretty hands off.
[highlight]I’ve tested quite a few rank checking tools over the years, and always came back to Advanced Web Ranking as a tool of choice.[/highlight] It allows you to store things over the long-haul, the user interface is faster than web UI competitors, and I’ve never had a service outage (as with web-based tools I’ve used). It also combines social mentions, Google Analytics, and link data (extra fee after 2000 link checks) in an easy to use intuitive way.
If you are looking for a decent rank checking tool, after 3 years of use, I encourage you to test drive Advanced Web Ranking. They also offer a 30 day trial here.