I’m Back, but Moz and Raven’s Ranking Tools Won’t Be

Hi! Nice to see you! It’s been a minute!

I shuttered the blog back in July after I decided to publish the first year of my rantings as a Kindle e-book on Amazon. They have a program for Publishers that lets you make royalties if you make your book available to Prime members for borrowing, but you have to give them exclusive access to the digital format for 90 days, so I looked on it as a good opportunity to take a break. I was actually stretching to have things to write about, but now, like Kramer said to Jerry, “my brain, is mossy!” A Very Big Deal happened this past week in the world of search engine marketing, as such, I was inspired to write again!

(Oh, I also received a promotion at work, to Director of Retail SEO, so I haven’t even been able to catch my breath. Feel free to congratulate me in the comments J )

So the Very Big Deal that happened was that popular SEO tools SEOMoz and Raven Tools both were forced to discontinue the aspects of their products that check rankings, for violating Google’s TOS. From said TOS:

“Except as expressly permitted by Google under a Google product or service feature, you shall not use any automated means (for example scraping or robots) other than the AdWords API to access, query or otherwise collect Google-related information from Google, the AdWords Program or any website owned or operated by Google or a Google partner site that displays Google advertising (collectively “Google Scraping”).”

What it comes down to, is that Google doesn’t want people scraping the SERP to figure out exactly what their rankings are for exactly what keywords at any given time, for two reasons (at least):

  1. It would make it way too easy to reverse engineer the algorithm, if you could have accurate, instant rankings for too many keywords.
  2. It’s a lot of work for their servers to keep up with automated requests for thousands of database calls, and a lot of wear and tear on the hardware as a result.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Raven and Moz were able to get away with this as long as they have, and I expect many of the other tool makers to disable the parts of their software that “scrape” or face extinction.  The writing is on the wall, here- between this change and the ever-expanding percentage of (not provided) keyword data in the Analytics, SEO’s are getting less and less data all the time. Of course, if you pay for PPC ads, some of that data comes back. Yes, Google has a profit motive. Shocking, right? I mean, who the hell are they to protect their business interests?

Anyway, the writing is on the wall. Stop focusing on the number of keywords you’ll work on, and stop focusing on rankings. Search Engine Optimization isn’t about either one of those things- it’s about effectively going after missed opportunities so that the client doesn’t leave money on the table. Optimize the clients’ entire online marketing, not just their site! Focus on traffic and conversions, not rankings! Think ahead! Plan and strategize, if you always do what you’ve always done you won’t necessarily get what you’ve always got- in the SEO world, at least.

This is an opportunity for we marketers, a bulletproof reason not to ever send another ranking report. Let’s use it, shall we?

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