Google has been threatening…er, promising to block rank-checking software such as WebPosition for years, and even mentions them by name in their webmaster guidelines. It seems like Google has finally decided to honor its promise and block the software.
I was last able to check rankings on August 22. Since then, nada. A quick survey around the Web and it sounds like a lot of other people found their automated ranking checks were blocked on August 1, August 5 or August 7.
What does this mean for SEO? Quite a lot…and amazingly little.
It means that we cannot check dozens of keywords quickly and painlessly. Manually checking 50 search phrases for, let’s say, a dozen clients, often going onto the second or third page of Google means…let’s see…1200 manual searches. Suppose there are two dozen clients. Suppose there are 100 search terms. You can do the math and see how time consuming this would be.
However, let us for a moment suppose that we don’t do 1200 manual searches every month. Suppose instead we do occasional searches to see where a client stands for a few major search phrases? Or we check different searches on different months as we focus the campaign on different sub-niches? What if we invest more effort in building rankings than in measuring them?
Yes, we do need to measure. We need to know if we are moving forward. We need to be able to show clients roughly the magnitude of the progress. But perhaps we will be using a smaller basket of keywords and letting the long tail take care of itself.
For me, the main use of rank-checking across a broad range of search phrases was to determine which search phrases or family of search phrases need more focus as we ride the surf of algorithm changes, renewed competition and other happenings.
Of course, clients also require reporting…which we will no longer be able to do to the same level as we had been doing. So the immediate effect is that over the next month or so, I need to budget a few hours to explain to clients why lists of ranking positions can no longer be the way to measure progress.Written by David Leonhardt
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