In the world of search engine optimization, metrics matter above all else. This is why—just a few, short months ago—Raven Tools was dealt a considerable blow by Google. After an annual Adwords audit, makers of SEO tools Raven were given an ultimatum: stop providing scraped search engine results page (SERP) data, or lose Google API access. Naturally, this put Raven between a rock and a hard place. But rather than lose the all-important API, they agreed to their terms and quit providing scraped data in early January.
It’s unfortunate how things played out, but in the end Raven did what was best for their business. No use crying over spilt milk. We still love Raven Tools and use that to manage a large part of our workflow. This also isn’t as large of a loss as it would’ve been in the past; ranking data is becoming less relevant because there are a plethora of factors in play when it comes to search results.
We’ve heard many in our industry say “rankings are dead,” and “personalization has killed rank tracking,” but every agency and competitive SEO I know tracks their rankings, even if just a few. Why? Because rankings give you a data point that you just can’t get from anywhere else.
More importantly, our clients like to see reports on their search engine rankings. I think this is because 1) they are used to seeing them, so taking that away is a bad answer, and 2) rankings are a large part of how they quantify the effectiveness of our campaign efforts. While I think there’s a compelling case to make that looking at ranking data is a “vanity metric” and our team does emphasize the value of our services in terms of leads and sales, it’s still valuable to examine that ranking data.
We love our Raven Tools and they made the right decision, but Valeo had to look elsewhere to get the ranking data that we needed.
The Search Begins
Because Valeo is currently developing a “software as a service” (SaaS) application, we knew that was the area we wanted to look into right out of the gate. What’s great about the SaaS movement is that there is an always-growing market, with new products coming into their own all the time. But we had a few needs in particular that were necessary before choosing a service to fill the void left by Raven’s loss.
- Young, fresh SaaS products are great; they make sure the top dogs can’t just sit comfortably, causing others to constantly push themselves to make the best service available. But experience is important; history teaches us a great deal, especially in the world of software.
- We need the ability to schedule reports on a regular basis. It’s absolutely critical to our own metrics, and for our clients’ satisfaction; they need to know their money is going towards spreading their online presence, and hard numbers are the best way to prove it.
- Google is great. Awesome, even. But we need the ability to pull data from other providers should we so choose, like SEOmoz and SEMrush. Grabbing data from a variety of sources gives us a better, well-rounded view of where clients stand online.
- We wanted to be able to get the data we want, when we want it. We didn’t want to deal with bothersome limitations.
After over two years using Raven Tools, we’d built up quite a bit of history across out 30+ client accounts. This data and ranking history is a fantastic tool to have, and we didn’t want to lose it. So it was extremely important that we were able to import our Raven data into the software we went with. Some of the smarter SaaS providers offered this, but others didn’t, surprisingly. For so many online marketing and SEO firms, we often use one software and want to test drive another. So to lack the feature of being able to import data was a total deal breaker for Valeo.
Thankfully, we feel like we found the perfect match in Advanced Web Rankings. It meets or surpasses our expectations in a variety of areas.
- The ability to schedule recurring, up-to-date reports for ourselves and our clients.
- Advanced Web Rankings gives us API integration, letting us pull ranking data from SEOmoz, and pay as we go.
- API integration with SEMrush, also allowing us to conveniently pay as we go for the API calls we need.
- Custom reporting that meets our needs, allowing us to pull the data we want, when we want, and how it how we want.
- Tools to import exported Raven data, finally. It would be an absolute nightmare to start from scratch without Advanced Web Rankings’ ability to upload this information. We were able to keep all of our clients’ historical ranking data for future comparisons.
One of the things we absolutely love about the it is the ability to track an infinite number of keywords, all at a glance: more than we could ever possibly need, and in the best way possible. It enables us to see keyword use in near real-time. The metrics let us know before these keyword-based surges will correlate to a traffic increase on our clients’ end; it’s like getting the traffic report and being able to see where the traffic is growing, and where it’s headed.
That’s just one of the features we love. Others include interactive data charts, competition monitoring, secure and locally-stored databases, the ability to collaborate with others in a centralized area, keyword difficulty and suggestions, user profiles, and more… Its full feature list is just staggering, and even incorporates social media tracking and analysis into the mix.
Over time, it’s expected that there will always been some shuffling around in terms of software for online marketing and SEO companies; it’s essential to finding just the right fit. For us, it’s no different. And while we may swap one for another, from time to time—a piece of software here, a web app there—we’re certain we’ll be sticking with Advanced Web Rankings as cornerstone tool for a long time to come.