How to automatically check your rankings

ai-128x128In the past, I’ve often told people not to go crazy and check their website rankings every day because they’ll end up going crazy.  If you see your website drop down a couple of places then it’s natural to go and change something to try and rectify it but you might actually cause a worse reaction.  Rankings can change day to day (and even hour to hour) and this is perfecly natural.  If you react at every little change then you’ll have no time for anything else and risk breaking your site properly!

Of course, I don’t always follow my own advice and I like to keep a track of where our websites are ranking for our most important keywords.  In the past I’ve done it manually because I didn’t find any tools that worked well for me.  They either kept querying Google repeatedly (which is against Google’s Terms of Service) or they were unreliable and would miss out days, websites and keywords meaning that the results that I got were pretty useless.

So I reverted to keeping a few spreadsheets and tracked the most important keywords for my main sites myself.  It was time intensive so I only did it once a week but it was good because you could see the competition as they came and went.  Still, it took a lot of time!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out Advanced Web Ranking and it’s the first automated search engine ranking tool I’ve used that works well for me.  The nice thing about it is that it just works, calmly doing its thing in the background without getting in your way – that can’t be said for most of the tools out there.

It runs on my desktop, so doesn’t require installation on a server anywhere and it doesn’t screw up Google with repeated requests that ends up getting your IP banned.  I don’t know how it does it but it works in a perfectly natural way without upsetting Google – that’s a very good thing!

The key features for any product like this is that it should be able to track any number of websites, any number of keywords for those website and it should keep records so that you can see any trends over time.

AWR has all of these features and quite a few more.

Scheduling

You can set up your websites and the schedule AWR to check the rankings periodically.  So if you want to check your rankings every day then AWR will do and it runs as a service so you don’t need to have AWR running all of the time.  Of course, your computer needs to be switched on but if you’re at it all day then it’s not a big deal to schedule it to run at 11am every day.  There’s no noticable degredation in performance.

Reporting

The reporting functionality is fantastic.  You can create customised reports to show your keyword positions and schedule AWR to generate them periodically.  You can also email them – either to yourself or to your clients. So if you spend a lot oftime generation SEO reports then AWR can really seriously minimise the time you spend doing that.

Search Engines

I’ve only used AWR with Google but you can choose from a mind boggling range of search engines (regionalised or not) to check your rankings.

Graphs

current_rank

The graphs are extremely useful because, at a single glance I can see my search engine ranking and immediately check out any issues with my keywords.  By showing a trending graph of each of my keywords, if I see a sudden drop or something that doesn’t quite look like, I can address it straight away.

In the past, checking every keyword every day was pretty much impossible in terms of the amount of time it would take, so if a keyword dropped out for any reason then you wouldn’t notice it unless you chanced upon it.  But now, by combining the scheduling functions with the keyword rank graphs you can immediately see any issues as they arise.  I’ll need to update my advice so that instead of checking your ranking every day, you check AWR every day to make sure that everything is ticking over nicely!

Do I have any criticisms?  Not really.  It took me a little bit of time to understand how I should be setting it up, but I didn’t really read the manual or check out the tutorial so I can’t complain about that!

Also, if you have a lot of keywords then it can take quite a while to gather the results.  So if you’re looking for the results quickly when you first set up the project then you’ll be disappointed.  But the tool is meant more as a reporting tool than an instant ranking tool and in that respect it is excellent.

Conclusions

I’m not one to get too excited about software but AWR works nicely.  Once you have everything set up then it sits in the background and only notifies you about its existence when you fire it up or when you get an email with the ranking data.

I haven’t yet fully explored the software so there is probably much more additional functionality for those that need it. There’s also a keyword research tool. For me though, it does everything that I need and without any drama.

Prices start at $99 for a single licence for the standard edition.  For most website owners, that will be enough and you’ll make your money back very quickly in the time you’ll save for checking rankings.

For more information, check out the AWR website at http://www.advancedwebranking.com