Monitoring rankings is an essential part of any good SEO’s regimen of competitive analysis, as well as to keep tabs on large scale keyword campaigns. While there are many free and paid solutions on the market, I’ve found the Advanced Web Ranking software suite to the most comprehensive, robust, and well supported application on the market today. AWR as it’s commonly known offers many SEO features, including a keyword research tool, and depending on which version you purchase, also includes Advanced Link Manager which is a complete link management and acquisition tool. That said, the features I find myself using the most include the core ranking analysis components which help with monitoring client search engine rankings over time, rankings in regional search engines, and creating professional reports for clients.
I’ve used AWR since 2007 while at another organization, but evaluated the trial version 6.9 very recently and wanted to write a short review of the latest and greatest features AWR offers:
Monitor Local Maps Rankings
As a Local Search expert, I regularly monitor multiple business locations all over the country for a range of keywords. Monitoring Google maps results for 1st page rankings used to be an absolute nightmare in the past, but it’s easy to do using AWR. When setting up any project, one of the first things one can do is set up the specific type of search engines that will be monitored for rankings. In my case, I generally choose either Google Canada, Google Canada Local Business Results, or Google.com if I’m reviewing US results. You can also choose to further localize your search by selecting Google Canada (French) for example.
Over a randomized test of 500+ ranking checks over the course of a month, I found that that AWR was accurate 99% of the time, with errors only occurring if a business showed up more than once on the same results page. Creating ranking reports is also a extremely easy, especially given the number of preset reports such as keyword rank, current rank, overview, and the top sites overview.
Measuring Historical Data
I check ranking updates between twice to thrice a month, given that a good SEO program will maintain steady rankings rather than have them bouncing all over the place. It’s interesting to see the correlation between the growth of a site’s global link popularity, along with a rough fit of the corresponding rise in rankings, and AWR gives you a good view of this by graphically mapping ranking shifts for different keywords over any specified period of time.
AWR also offers a delayed and randomized ranking check process so that the search engines don’t ban you temporarily for too many search queries at the same time. You can also use proxies to emulate IP diversity while you check rankings. Lastly, one neat feature that AWR offers is scheduled reports that can run while you’re away from your computer, which can then be automatically compiled into a neatly branded report, and backed up via FTP if needed. The folks at Caphyon, the makers of AWR have also taken great measures to make the query requests from AWR look as natural as possible to the search engines, although I am not 100% sure on whether this is user-agent based or some other type of solution.
Automatic Search Engine Updates
AWR checks for search engine updates against its local database every time you boot the application up. This is a neat feature because the speed of the updates being released is a major advantage over its competitors. Prior to using AWR, my company at the time used Web Position, which later became a defunct solution after Google blocked all queries resulting from that software.
Evaluating the Competition
I almost never run a ranking report without comparing my sites versus that of the competitors website ranking. While setting up a project, you can add more than one website to be measured in ranking reports for a variety of keywords. Ranking data for competitive evaluation purposes can be a high-level or as nitty-gritty as you want to get i.e: You can view a list of the number of top 10 rankings a competitor has, and also dig in deep to see where your site is placed versus a competitor’s for a particular keyword theme.
Google Preview Tool based on Geo-Location
This function is only available in the Enterprise version of Advanced Web Ranking, and emulates the same features as the Firefox Google Global Extension by Redfly Online Marketing. Instead of using a proxy based solution, AWR can append strings to the search being conducted, and localize it to a particular city or town. If your clients are geographically dispersed using this type of tool is critical to ensure that you’re seeing the same results and rankings that your client is seeing in a live search results page.
Pricing & Recommendations
Advanced Web Ranking is priced at $199 for the Professional edition that includes a lot of features for the solo SEO professional. I’d highly recommend getting the Enterprise version for $399 instead, since it comes with some key extra features such as the aforementioned Google Preview modules, as well as a project manager, user profile support, exporting data to CSV & XML formats, and the ability to use multiple proxies while running ranking reports.
There’s a couple of indispensable tools that should be in every serious SEO or web-master’s tool shed and Advanced Web Ranking is certainly one of those key tools in my books. I wasn’t paid to review the software, but I know it’s got quiet praise from many an SEO that I know, and definitely deserves the coverages as features SEO/Internet marketing tool of choice. For a full list of features, which extend far beyond the scope of this post, visit their features page here.
You can test drive a full featured Enterprise version of AWR as well as the Advanced Link Manager software for a 30 day trial period, by downloading the software suite here.