Ranking Reports are Dead!
History of Ranking Reports
In general it is our belief that a majority of small businesses who have ever hired an SEO company to perform search engine optimization for them they automatically think of keywords and ranking reports. The might not understand link building, schema mark up or virtual silos but they do understand keywords and ranking reports. Ranking reports have been an integral part of SEO since the inception of search engine optimization. Every SEO agency would do ranking reports a little bit differently for example some seo agencies would create ranking reports in Microsoft excel on a spreadsheet, some other seo agencies and seo freelancers would take it a step further and do things like adding screenshots to the ranking report spreadsheets, etc.
How we used Ranking Reports
Here at Blue Fusion Digital we have a core value of being transparent with our clients so we never conformed to the spreadsheet method because it wasn’t really providing any tangible proof to our clients of how their seo campaigns were actually performing. Instead we invested heavily into our ranking reports because we wanted super accurate data and we wanted our clients to be able to see everything for themselves (even though they trust us).
Thus we created our super transparent ranking reports and our ranking reports were badass! Our Ranking Reports worked on multiple levels – they monitored the top seven search engines:
- Google Organic
- Google Maps
- Google Mobile
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
On those seven search engines we provided a live link on the ranking reports so our clients could check out their positions for themselves, we provided a SERP screenshot, search volume and was geo-proximity based. Trust us, we loved our ranking report software and services! However, Ranking Reports are no longer accurate in today’s world of search engine optimization.
Why are ranking reports dead?
Manipulation of the ranking reports
One positive of ranking reports going away is the fact many seo agencies were easily manipulating what a successful seo campaign looked like. For example, the might have got a website ranked #1 for keywords that had no relevant search traffic while the keywords that actually drove traffic were not being optimized for but the seo agency could say, “we have you ranked #1 for 10 terms”
Unpredictable Algorithm Changes
Search Engine Optimization is constantly changing, in fact Google has said that the algorithm changes 500-600 times per year! That’s 1-2 times per day! Most of those changes are very small and less than .01% of all websites even see the impact of those changes but Google has also launched a few major shake ups to it’s algorithm over the last five years.
Notable Major Changes to Google’s Algorithms
- Personalized Search
- Rank Brain
- Mobile First Index
Inaccurate Ranking Results
As we outlined above their are just so many variables that hinders these various third party tools to drive accurate results. For example did you know there is actually three different Google search engines now? Google Organic, Google Mobile and Google Maps.
A huge part of determining accurate search results is where the searcher is in relation to the product, service or business they are searching for.
For example, if a person is searching for “auto glass repair” Google will first determine if the person is on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone before showing what search results to display. If they are on desktop they will take into account the IP address of the desktop and where that is in the world and will alter the search results to show what they deem as the most relevant to that search. If they are on a smart phone Google will display google mobile search results which offer more clickable search result actions such as a clickable phone icon.
Take that same example and add “la” to the end so “auto glass repair la” well how does Google know if you mean Los Angeles or Louisiana? They use search proximity to help them determine that and show which search results to display. The most accurate search results are going to come from a person searching in that geo-location.
However what if a person is on a business trip in Dallas, TX and is searching for a new seo company in San Diego, Ca.? That person in Dallas, TX is going to see different search results for “seo company san diego” than a person who is physically searching for “seo company san diego” if they are in San Diego, Ca.
Frequency of the crawlers
These third party crawlers also crawl at different frequencies meaning you don’t really know if they are crawling daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
When you take all of those factors into account you can easily see why these third party ranking softwares cannot be accurate. In our experience and extensive research and usage many of the top third party ranking report softwares are/were located in the UK so their crawlers are searching from the UK which will deliver inaccurate results for someone based in the USA.
What replaced Ranking Reports?
The bottom line for every search engine optimization campaign is to provide Return on Investment. Companies like ours take pride in offering customized solutions to our clients so they not only get amazing R.O.I. but they understand how and why. We don’t like operating in a gray area – we enjoy everything being as black and white as possible when it comes to measuring the success of our seo campaigns. Here is how our seo firm replaced ranking reports and instead measure with dependable metrics.
Tools to measure
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the two best tools you can use to measure a SEO campaigns success. Here is why – it is providing data that is directly from Google! They are both 100% free to use and sign up and implementation is also a breeze.
Google Analytics is going to offer you insights into the data of the people actually visiting the website associated with the Google Analytics account. Some of the key metrics we measure for all of our SEO campaigns on a monthly basis are:
- Organic Sessions
- New Users from Organic Search
- Bounce Rate
- Time on Page
- Pages Per Session
- Goal Completions
- Email Forms Completed
- Live Chats
- Where the searches are coming from
Google Analytics also allows you to set up goal tracking so you can better measure your R.O.I. the most common way to measure is how many contact form requests you get per month. This is set up by creating a contact form on your website and then re-directing the person who fills out the form to a thank you page and google analytics will count that as a goal completion.
Pro Tip: Make sure the thank you page is set to “no-index” so the only way people can trigger it is via the contact form.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is also imperative for every proper SEO campaign because again it is pulling data directly from Google’s search engine. Once inside Google Search Console you are able to view search data and view data up to 90 days old. The way we use Google Search Console is by comparing the last 28 days of data to the previous 28 days of data we utilize the following metrics.
- Queries (Keyword phrases)
- Click Through Rate (CTR)
- Device Breakdown
Reporting Is More Than Just Data
At the end of the day – whether ranking reports are dead forever or if they make a comeback it is our responsibility as a premiere Digital Marketing Agency who specializes in SEO to make sure our clients don’t just get ranking reports or reports from Google Analytics and Search Console but instead they are easily able to measure the R.O.I. of their seo campaigns.
Blue Fusion Digital Reporting
We love our clients and want nothing more than for them to succeed with our custom SEO campaigns because if they are happy with the leads they are getting than they are happy with us and everyone wins. The reason our clients stay with us for so long is because we take our reporting to the next level and offer amazing transparency into the data insights but even more we truly measure the R.O.I. of their marketing efforts. Not only do our clients get a monthly report that shows all of the metrics we discussed above from Google Analytics and Google Search Console but we also integrate call tracking and a live chat service so they can truly understand how many leads we generate for them on a monthly basis.
Here is how call tracking works – we simply add a snippet of code to your website and will then dynamically swap your original phone number to a call tracking number. You own your phone number and will still answer the phone like always but the caller will be displayed one of our call tracking numbers and we are able to record the call so you can play it back at a later time and listen for things like lead quality, call quality or even critiques of how your staff is answering the phones.
In summary, ranking reports may be dead but SEO reporting is now better than ever! Easily measure your return on investment with Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Call tracking!