I use a range of tools on a daily basis including SEOmoz and Raven but neither are great for tracking rankings. SEOmoz has limits and can be expensive if you want track hundreds of keywords. The data output of Raven is pretty poor, and the interface isn’t so slick. Step in Advanced Web Ranking.
I work agency side in Central London. I have a lot of accounts and one aspect of agency side SEO is that there is a lot of reporting involved. Transparency is key and we report rankings progress across all keywords we optimise for. Raven is ok but I needed a tool that would run in the background, and with a few clicks I could export the data into an Excel pivot table and send over to the client. That’s exactly what Advanced Web Ranking allows me to do.
Some will argue that SEO should focus on traffic and not on rankings. Maybe in some kind of utopia perhaps but my clients what to know what the rankings are of the keywords they are spending money on and we deliver it to them weekly. There are instances where we’ve had a sudden loss in traffic (such as the Google Mayday algorithm update) and if one is tracking a wide variety of keywords, you can start to identify areas where traffic has been lost.
In addition, I use Advanced Web Ranking to track competitors. I follow the ranking of the hero (aka vanity) terms for my client and track our progress against everyone else in the top 30.
Simply create a project, select the search engines you want to track and enter the keywords. It’s really that simple. The software then fetches the search results in a search engine friendly way. What that means is that it doesn’t query hundreds of keywords in one go and delays between keywords. If you have a lot of keywords then it may take a while for all of your rankings to collect. If this is the case then the opt for the enterprise version.
The software has a few other uses beyond simply tracking rankings. I’ve inherited an account from a previous SEO agency that bought lots of page authority loaded links. In the December 2009 algorithm update, Google penalised a large amount of these links and rankings dropped. The task became to identify all of these links and get them removed. Advanced Web Ranking has the capability to capture the Page Rank of all given websites. I simply generated a list of my clients backlink profile and imported the list of websites into Advanced Web Ranking to find out the Page Rank of each linking site. Easy. Other features include a keyword research tool although I’m yet to try it.
In the past I’ve encountered issues with ranking software. Especially between algorithm updates, Google will bucket test different algorithms. Some in the community believe in ‘traffic throttling’. I don’t necessarily subscribe to it, I do however have a keyword that occasionally sits on page one for part of the day and page three on for the rest. I haven’t yet encountered any issues with Advanced Web Ranker around these areas. Raven does screw up sometimes, with some weeks reporting very strange rankings that I can’t replicate on my browser.
There are different pricing options for Advanced Web Ranking. Prices start at just $99 one time fee (note: no monthly charges) however I’d strongly recommend that you steer clear of the standard edition unless you constrained by your budget. Most importantly it lacks Excel output. Another feature that standard lacks is the ability to automatically save reports to a given folder. I leave Advanced Web Ranking running in the background and it will automatically put the reports into the relevant client folder ready to be attached to an email at a later date. The website documents clearly what levels there are, standard, professional and enterprise and what features each one includes or lacks. Take a look at the feature page for the website ranking reporting differences.
I personally opted for the enterprise edition for a few reasons. Firstly (and most importantly for me) was that it allows you to export project raw data in XML and CSV format. Currently I report rankings in Excel, but going forward the ambition is to feed the XML data into a SEO dashboard. Secondly given the amount of clients and keywords that I’m tracking, it became apparent the need for multiple proxies to get through fetching all the necessary rankings. Finally only the Enterprise edition collects Page rank data. If you can afford it, get the Enterprise edition ($399 one time).
All being said, there is still room for improvement. I’m a big fan of Excel and I try to output all data I have from software into it. Advanced Web Ranking does have facilities to export to Excel, and generally they far exceed other options however I’d like the flexibility to determine how exactly data outputs in regards to columns and rows. I emailed the producers of the software and feedback I got is that this could be included as a feature in a future release. I do hope so.
Given I output most of my data I don’t use the charting facilities in the software. Perhaps under pressure from a client for a quick chart on the particular movement of a given keyword I would use it. It is however not that pretty and hopefully could be improved. It’s absolutely fine for myself, but a client may have to put it in a Powerpoint presentation and accordingly aesthetics becomes far more important.
Advanced Web Ranking is not perfect but is far better than all other solutions I’ve tried for tracking the movement of keywords. It’s ability to export in Excel format allows you to create reports for your clients looking exactly how you want. It’s friendly when collecting the data and essentially limitless. Differing to software such as SEOmoz, the pricing is a one off. It comes with a 30 day free trial (for any of the packages), so above all , I certainly encourage you to give it a try for search engine ranking tracking.