The search engine ecosystem is rapidly changing, so it might be time to revisit your choice of SEO rank tracking platforms.
SEO rank tracking services for Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others have been around for many years. You probably have your favorites, or perhaps you prefer to check rank manually on a fresh incognito window from a public IP address to eliminate some of the personalization that skews results. Perhaps Webmaster Tools data at Google and Bing is your favored source of data. If you work at an agency or are managing the web presence of a mid-to-large site, you’ve probably found that you’re best served by using one or more rank checking services to supplement and enhance the information you gain from Webmaster Tools or via manual checks.
Search engines have changed a lot over the last several years, with adaptive search results pages segmented by device and specialized search results, like shopping or maps. Having or achieving a great rank in each of the important SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) remains critically important to many businesses, and therefore is important to anyone doing SEO for that business.
Here’s the bad news: if you’re a marketer with one or more brick-and-mortar locations or an agency serving those kinds of clients – you’re probably checking Google, Bing, and Yahoo SEO rank incorrectly. It’s likely that you aren’t taking into account the mobile, app-driven, and local desktop results – all of which are heavily influenced by geography and also (to a lesser extent) by login status.
Both the tools and the people manually checking rank with the tools are ignoring the surge in mobile searches and local searches happening on desktops and tablets. Based on many conversations I’ve had with hundreds of marketers over the last couple of years, most SEO professionals are not allocating their time, resources, and energy to the mobile and in-app SERPs in proportion with their huge importance for hyper-local marketers and even some marketers with only one location.
Recently, I had a chance to review a few rank checking platforms and tools, including Pro Rank Tracker, a service with “numerous state-of-the-art features to make sure you always know exactly where your websites are ranking, saving you time and maximizing your profits.” Seeing their platform reminded me just how much more sophisticated SEO rank checking has become.
Some features you should look for in any “next gen” rank tracking platform include:
- Good Engine Coverage, Including YouTube: After all, YouTube is a huge search engine in its own right. If e-commerce is your thing, you’ll also want coverage on Amazon.
- Mobile Rank Tracking: You simply can’t ignore mobile rank these days. The percentage of search queries happening against your target keywords could be significantly higher than 50 percent of total queries. Top position is even more important on mobile devices because of limited small screen real estate.
- Local Tracking: Where do you show up in local searches? It’s great to get your rank results drilled down to country and city. This is important not only for small businesses. Local Map Pack SERPs currently show only three listings, making it even more important to watch this area.
- Daily Update Reports: The ability to see exactly what’s going on each day and change notifications by e-mail, makes tracking more transparent, efficient and easier. Obtaining automated scheduled reports also keeps clients happy.
- API Access to Data and Reports: This can be really handy if you want to mash up data from several sources, include more than one ranking service, or if you want to combine site-side data with ranking data.
- Multi-Lingual Capabilities: This isn’t just valuable for international SEO. Within the U.S., there are large international communities whose members are searching in their native language.
- Longitudinal Time Tracking on Rank: It’s not just important to know current rank; you need to see trends and changes.
- Fresh Data: Old ranking data is useless. Make sure your data is fresh and that you select a platform that assures fresh and accurate data.
- Responsive, Mobile-Friendly GUI and/or an App: Like most consumers, you probably spend a large percentage of your day on your smartphone. There may be times where you need to access ranking data on the go to address a particular need, or you just want to be more efficient with your time.
- Visual Data Representations: Charts and graphs tell a story more effectively than tables of data. Take into account the user interface design of the ranking tools you use.
- Security: No need for proxies.
If you’re an agency, then one additional and highly important feature of the rank checking platforms you use will be the availability of White Label Reporting. When combined with API access, a great White Label Reporting Interface can make your job a lot easier by providing clients and internal teams with valuable information.
You may decide you only need one rank checking platform, or you may decide to hedge your bets and have more than one. One thing is clear, the industry is changing rapidly, so you might want to take a fresh look at rank tracking options to make sure you’re keeping pace with the changes.
This article was originally published on http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2429044/next-gen-rank-tracking.
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