Thanks for the news - this has certainly been an onging saga. Google has long been clear that they don't want to see automated rank checking, so it's not a surprise.
Given that they sometimes serve bad data to automated PR checkers, I'm actually surpirsed they didn't just start poisoning the ranking data, too. I guess that would be too much bandwidth, though.
[edited by: tedster at 9:42 pm (utc) on Aug. 6, 2008]
Yep, Even with a Google API, I am unable to get any ranking reports from Google.
can anyone tell why Google doesn't have an official rank checking tool... added to their webmaster tools for example?
they're driving a lot of traffic through organic search, and results of their pages are in direct relation to both the income of websites and web search ad campaigns.
it's not like Google doesn't have an interest in BigCompany not setting up AdWords campaigns for keywords they already rank top 3 for on organic.
It's a legitimate question, and not some 'SEO trick' to see where a website is ranked at. Not only is it necessary in SEM ( although which process any SEO can script / do manually anyway ) but also it's a matter of transparency.
Yet, they don't offer an official tool. this is like as if stock markets told brokers that no, we don't have a ticker because if we had one you could 'game the system'.
One reason may be that there's no longer any one answer for "where do I rank on this phrase?"
erm, but what about the wmt tools, I've found them rather accurate,I just wish they'd go back to the 1 week data thing.
ok , you can't determine which phrase you're checking
But bye the way guess who has such a tool,,,,,, live.com :)
|One reason may be that there's no longer any one answer for "where do I rank on this phrase?" |
... sure, but they *did* put up ranking data for the most popular / highest traffic keywords, so I don't think they'd use this argument. As for 'mismatching' rankings - the magic word used on WMT was 'average position'... which makes sense.
...but even if they used words like 'snapshot' or 'current' or 'estimated' no one would mind if the figures would be slightly off. That is if they'd be 'real time', and for phrases chosen by webmasters / SEMs, and work on at least the top 100.
The tool could basilcally be Google Web Search, with a different interface... ( isn't that what most non-API trackers do ? ) and is only meant to keep your eyes from going sore / typos off of market analysis reports *heh* ( 'lookie we rank #1... oh no I mean #11... so Mr.MarketProfessional... is there a difference?' )
Also, I think we're used to everflux by now. Few of us expect to find the same results twice a day ( or from two computers, served from two datacenters... whatever ).
None the less, major trends could still be followed, which is - i think - the only valid point, but at the same time a very important point for checking rankings by the bulk.
Eveflux and its averaged positions / 'snapshots' and 'estimates' are just two more reasons why Google *doesn't* have to be cautious in this case.
And so I ask again...
why then that they don't provide an official rank checker tool?
[edited by: Miamacs at 2:05 pm (utc) on Aug. 6, 2008]
I've noticed this happening since August 1. First it was just the Google.ca runs that weren't returning results, and now it's Google.com as well :(
I am effected by this as well. Argh.
It isn't only WebPosition, either. Online tools such as those found at a site I frequently reference are down, and I suspect that lots of other offline tools besides WebPosition are suffering the same.
[edited by: tedster at 8:12 pm (utc) on Aug. 6, 2008]
We are switching ranking tools. I would rather not report on ranking and just report on traffic - but reporting on traffic under specific keywords requires access and trust in a client's traffic analysis package.
Some of the information now available on Google insights will help but it isn't something that as easily digestible by client executives.
|the magic word used on WMT was 'average position' |
And WMT gives the authenticated site owner access to that ranking data for their own website. That's quite a different proposition than publicly offering ranking data to anyone for any website.
Ranking reports for one site are one thing, but offering to help reverse engineer the algorithm (or at least key parts) is another.
Just throwing this out there but I wonder if Google's recent transition to a more customized search result experience (dated 7/30) had anything to do with this, unintentional or not.
I'm assuming that the API key is being affected by this as well. My API key will give back 100 results per day before it fails.
|Ranking reports for one site are one thing |
Yeah but that's exactly what is 'asked for' and which they don't have. They could have a ranking report tool on WMT or Analytics or even AdWords listing the keywords of the webmasters' choice, ( at least 50, ckecking the top 100 ). Isn't this a completely valid request...? I'd call it even absurd that Google has a phobia of ranking checks. Querying their website is a ranking check. It's just bothersome and inelegant.
|help reverse engineer the algorithm |
sure, but reverse engineer with what, rankings? If they'd be afraid of this then they could as well shut down web search for I can get those numbers just by querying their site.
besides, they should know that ranking reports aren't even meant for SEOs but executives.
SEOs already know, that exaclty because of everflux, regionalized, timeofday, dayofweek, random, buggy results... it's a noisy indicator of trends and that's that. ( heck, one site I track ranked for its key target anywhere from #1 to #4 the past week within the same 10 minutes! I'm gonna 'report back' one of these numbers to execs, we'll see the overall trend and no one will - be able to - reverse engineer anything. It wasn't in the top 100 two months ago, now it's top 4, all we did was pure white hat Google itself promotes as necessary. Do I really have to use pen and paper to track these changes ? Why ? )
As an SEO I query Google by hand, sometimes fast enough to get filtered out for being a bot. Rank checkers are not flexible enough to get to the bottom of the why's and how's, can't analyze things / spot patterns the way I do. That's not what they're for.
|My API key will give back 100 results per day before it fails. |
uh... if you're talking about SOAP having a daily limit of 100 queries, don't worry.
It always had?
Thank you Google! Now maybe we can get some work done instead of fussing over cheesy ranking reports, they serve little purpose these days due to inaccuracies in the data. Sure, they may provide some baseline data but that is all it is.
I do believe its more about Visibility these days which of course comes via ranking. But, visibility is a very "deep subject" and it comes from all angles, not just rankings. ;)
I haven't had to run a ranking report since 2000, I believe that was the very last time and it was with WPG. They had the marketplace cornered for years. And then WebTrends bought them. Think about it, why would Google let a competing analytics package mine its data for rankings?
Thank you Google!
Try explaining this to a client
|Try explaining this to a client. |
I have. And, I do when the subject comes up which is rarely these days. There are far too many other metrics to review and assimilate that have far greater value then a ranking report. And, since the data is not 100% accurate, it's a guessing game.
And, what exactly do you do with those reports? How do you act on them? Do you sit there and micro-manage each fluctuation in ranking? How? And then what does the report show you next time? Same thing?
I agree and we also report on other KPIs such as ROI but nonetheless the clients I deal with are still infatuated with visibility!
|And, what exactly do you do with those reports? How do you act on them? Do you sit there and micro-manage each fluctuation in ranking? How? And then what does the report show you next time? Same thing? |
We mainly use them as benchmarks and monitor improvements over time. reports are uploaded onto our server on a daily basis.
I'd agree with pageoneresults that not having to discuss this topic with clients will be beneficial - but clients still want some barometer of how they compare against the competition and keyword rankings were one source of public information that helped them visualize where they stacked up. Not saying its the best, but it helped.
Overall visibility is more important but grabbing a large volume of information is time consuming (hence why we still used WPG). I've talked to a few people who were trying to build some form of solution but it has never gotten farther than that. If anyone has/knows of alternative software, I would be interested in checking it out
Don't most of these products rely on the Google API? My understanding is that the data being fed through the API is not the same as that which is seen at the public level. There are differences.
I don't use ranking software or tools. I simply let the fluctuations occur and I go about my daily business of trying to improve my site and services to my users.
I'm guessing Google is going to be taking away more and more of the visible webmaster ranking information as time goes on. Folks can "game" any system when they have too much information.
|Don't most of these products rely on the Google API? My understanding is that the data being fed through the API is not the same as that which is seen at the public level. There are differences. |
I wasn't using the API key but was using polite search. The bigger challenge is personalised search which sometimes made the results a bit misleading, nevertheless it was still a good benchmarking tool.
|brotherhood of LAN|
I've never noticed them. Granted:
1) Searching per x100 results produces more indented results
2) The IP you use for checking affects the results (depending on which Google TLD you hit too)
3) Fluctuation in SERPs
Well worth checking still IMO, as long as it is automated for saving time of course :)
|Well worth checking still IMO, as long as it is automated for saving time of course. |
Heh! If I were Google Engineering and had the task of minimizing the impact of automated software queries, I'm coming after this industry first! We have abused the tools made available to us 10,000 fold. I don't blame Google one bit for putting their foot down and closing that door. Too many clients are fixated on rankings. It's a volatile fixation! And, it turns into a volatile business relationship. If that is the type of environment you work in, more power to you and I'm not dissin' ya'. If it works for you, great.
I've worked with the "ranking fixated" client in the past, I FIRED them. Tis not part of my package to sit there and chase "where you rank today". The client can take that responsibility on themselves with a little bit of training and the right tool. Let them get their IP banned (temporarily) running reports if they step over that "gray line" in the middle.
Time to let go of the 90s. :)
<added> The word "temporarily" because it really isn't a ban. More of a throttle device to keep you from abusing the system Do it once too many times and there may be further challenges to contend with. Ya, I know, proxy.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 3:04 pm (utc) on Aug. 7, 2008]
Still a good benchmarking tool
Has anyone seen any official comment from Google about this? We're a medium sized SEO firm with about 20-30 clients, checking rankings manually would be a huge burden on resources for us...
|If I were Google Engineering and had the task of minimizing the impact of automated software queries, I'm coming after this industry first! We have abused the tools made available to us 10,000 fold. I don't blame Google one bit for putting their foot down and closing that door. Too many clients are fixated on rankings. It's a volatile fixation! And, it turns into a volatile business relationship. If that is the type of environment you work in, more power to you and I'm not dissin' ya'. If it works for you, great. |
Several have asked why would G do this? Whew, I thought this had been beat to death here at WW. Let's look at the basics.
In a nutshell, the primary purpose of a ranking tool would be for webmasters to use to tweak their web sites to rank against the software the search engine uses to list.
A web site is suppose work to serve the consumer/reader and the search engine is suppose to work to recognize that. A ranking tool works against that.
You don't want people to see now you are processing filters. If you have a naughty word filter on a blog, for example, you don't show the users exactly what words kicked it off--that would only help users find away around it.
I suppose it is possible white hat SEO pros might use these tools carefully, but I do not see now. I'm not an expert, however. But, G has obviously decided it's really not in their best interest to support it and I agree.
WP should be embarrassed because the simple workaround is to use a big list of anonymous proxy servers which other tools already do to avoid Google blocking them.
The worse thing that could happen is Google blocks all the proxy servers which wouldn't get me to shed any tears.
|We mainly use them as benchmarks and monitor improvements over time. reports are uploaded onto our server on a daily basis. |
Did you say on a daily basis? I'll assume that you've got a very large client portfolio. Daily basis? Wow! That's a lot of time invested for ranking reports. And, that's a lot of resources to use.
Commodity SEO + Ranking Reports
That's where most of the report abuse is coming from. Those who are fixated on their positions each and every day. I've come across prospects who check once an hour all day. What purpose does that serve other than to create a very volatile situation between client and consultant?
STOP THE MADNESS NOW!
A long time ago, I learned that the ranking fixation is something I don't want to contend with. Those are usually short term thinkers and that is not the type of person I want to work with. I want to work with someone who looks at their GA and asks me how to improve the drill down of a specific area where visitors are becoming more prevalent. I want to work with someone who asks me how to improve the "Time on Site" metrics. You know, all that neat stuff that really matters when it comes to the bottom line. Yes, rankings matter. But tracking them minutely like this is more of a hindrance than anything else for both consultant and client.
If the client is fixated on ranking reports, that means their campaigns are probably not producing the expected results. That's my thinking on it. My clients are so busy expanding their internal processes to deal with the new business that they could care less where they rank today. They don't even look at their GA. They send me an email asking me questions. I send them the link to their GA login along with a GoToMeeting ID and I show them.
Client training in this area is a must. It comes before the campaign/site is launched. I don't want them having "any" preconceived notions. These are the areas you want to pay close attention to when we first launch and then we can start digging through the nitty gritty as the data becomes available. I won't even mention the term ranking reports anymore. I hear that word and I think 1990s all over again, I really do. I also think "Commodity SEO". Ranking Reports are the benchmark of many "cheap" SEO service providers. < General comment only, don't take it personally.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 4:01 pm (utc) on Aug. 7, 2008]
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