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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Question of the Week

December 19, 2012

To go along with this week’s article on the death of automated ranking reports I asked my social media followers:

++What do you think of the fact that soon many SEO tool providers will no longer be showing keyword rankings?++

Here's how they responded:


JGshort: A little bummed, with (not provided), rankings have been one data point that I look at to see what keywords are driving traffic.

ZakNicola: Back to numbering results with a plug-in and tracking in a spreadsheet. Should help with the unemployment rate haha...

klagden: Actual traffic via keyword is a better metric, but I find ranking useful to see if keyword is moving and how.
Question of the Week
DavidWallace: There is much better data than rankings, like traffic & conversions!

Dave_Lawlor: Like everything else G does, we will take it and adapt. There will still be tools out there, just none nicely integrated.

nick_eubanks: Oh NO! They will need to start paying attention to metrics that matter, like conversion rate and revenue. :P

smstaupe: I love it…no more focus on rank! Let's talk convertible traffic!


Diane Aull: It's long overdue. :)

Carrie Hill: I'm mixed. I don't think chasing rankings is a great use of my time – BUT – I do like to watch rankings to see if any weird issues pop up. Most of the time I can catch issues in Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) before they cause a ranking issue – but sometimes that just doesn't happen. A ranking checker that showed me a quick "You moved + /– this many spaces this month" saved me a lot of manual work. I'll get along without it...I understand WHY they're doing it...just makes a bit more work for me.

John Mills: Depends on how clients measure success and finding rankings manually is a pain.

Dianna Huff: I agree with John. I don't use ranking tools but it is nice to know your work is paying off.

Daphne Marshall Talbot: I'll miss them. When optimizing, I like to leave those pages alone that are doing well for a good keyword. Why fix something that isn't broken?

David Jonah: 15 years after we all started this Mad Hatter's Tea Party of an industry journey, keyword ranking is a dynamic moving target heavily influenced by the relevancy accorded to it by social mavens, and the real measurement of continued investment is now, whether the site POS hiccupped, burped, beeped, swiped, or bounced away for another remarketing message day. [See more of David’s comment here:]


Tom Bowen: Not a big hit to me. We don't publish any such reports to our customers, and have not for at least 6 years. We measure traffic, and traffic referred by search engines and specific keywords. We also communicate that, with the growth of personalized search results, a ranking report has little accuracy anymore anyway.

Tim Colling: Here's what it's done for me: I've discontinued one of the two "tools" that I was using, and am just using one now.

Joshua Gill: I think it is a bummer because of the comfort level we have in using these tools over the years. That doesn't mean that the value in these tools was what it was in the past, just that change is hard to swallow. I do find that being able to view the overall trend of rankings, especially when you are working with a brand-new site, will be missed. Not that the client needs to see all those reports, but it is a good gauge of a new site's progress, but Google Webmaster Tools and no doubt other tools and ideas will help fill the gap.

Michael Regan: We haven't used the 'Keyword Page Rank' as metric in our reports for over a year. We have a few customers that still ask about their 'Page Rank' - I just been telling them the numbers are no longer available. Nice not having to lie to them :)?

Wade Armstrong: It's a challenge! When targeting specifically search traffic growth, it's hard to manage all of the variables without knowing ranking. A spurt in traffic -- was it moving up to the top position or changing our title and description to improve our CTR at the same rank on the page? But, as Tom Bowen says, maybe this is just the kick we need to get weaned off of these at-best-semi-accurate numbers in a world of SSL and personalized search.?

Jill Whalen's Response: I have to say that I’m pretty shocked at how many SEOs have continued to rely on ranking reports as part of their measurements for success. While it made sense before we had tools such as Google Analytics, as my article from today points out, there are just so many reasons why ranking reports are a fool’s errand. I guess when you haven't looked at them in so many years, it's just hard to fathom it as something worthwhile.

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 Pamela Ravenwood said:
I am kind of bummed that said tools aren't including SERPs anymore. While I understand what you are saying in regards to rankings and I say the same thing to clients, having a ranking report still assists me with a 'temperature' of where a client's website is at. This measurement weighed in with analytics doesn't provide all the information but at least a glimpse that optimized pages, title tags, content, etc has worth the client's investment.
 Michael Sweer said:
The only ranking that counts is conversions, if the phone is not ringing or the cash register is not chinging then there is a problem with your products or services that go beyond the location of a few trophy phrases on a SERP. It amazes me the massive number of businesses that have bet their future on being attractive to a third party entity on which they exert zero influence. I love what Google is doing, making the old new again, AIDA and ABC, your site better sell for you when your not their to do it yourself. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action; Your site, content, messaging better be able to grab the viewers attention. Through valuable compelling content it better build interest in your services. The message or Value Proposition must build a Desire for your service that drives the viewer to take action. The site Action stimuli must be intuitive and non-threatening reducing the perceived risk of action. ABC is self explanatory - Your messaging must always be closing for the conversion action. Having high page ranking is like saying your the king of cold calls, for those of you over 30 you now what I'm talking about.
 David DuVal said:
As Google decides to provide less data, it means others will follow. More data will be private including web content, and the goal of building the best search engine is further distorted. A search engine is most complete when data is most transparent. This is a move in the opposite direction.