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Those with SEO clients, do you report exact SERPS/rankings to them?

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by freckletone, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. freckletone

    freckletone Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I was testing out Raven's Tool looking for a software to make nice PDF reports for clients and noticed they don't even report exact SERP rankings... its all "average position" from Google webmaster tools.. they can't scrape and provide exact position because they use Google's Adwords API and therefore aren't allowed to scrape. This to me is a HUGE TURN OFF. I thought it could scrape or provide exact rankings duh... just like all the other tools. I have a trial account and I like EVERYTHING about this tool (especially the customized Client reports), which you can drag and drop and add new widgets. It's the coolest thing ever! But no exact SERP reporting.. WTF????

    From their site it says

    The most important thing to know about the way Raven's Keyword Ranking tool works is that we're providing average rank data, rather than specific SERPs.
    Traditionally, rankings are gathered through automated processes, rapidly searching Google (along with other search engines) and skimming the data from those searches for storage in separate databases. This practice, known as scraping, is explicitly forbidden by the terms of service of most major search engines, which means we don't do it.
    Instead, Raven integrates Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools, which provide average ranking data.
    Average Rank is calculated by looking at all of the times Google/Bing users saw your website in searches for a given keyword phrase, finding the highest point your domain appeared in those impressions and then averaging them all together. This winds up being a bit more reliable than scraped SERPs, as it takes into account geolocation, personalization and other factors which may change your position for an individual user.


    I was reading an article by another person and this was one of the comments

    Focusing on keyword rankings is not enough to define success in a strategy for a client. Conversions, increased organic traffic, referrals, and ROI always need to be apart of an SEO strategy. With algorithm updates happening so fast, and ever changing, how is a tool that does the ranking reports supposed to keep up? While it's aways great showing a client Page 1 position 1, and having a tool report that for us busy SEOers we probably need to focus our efforts in other measurements of success.

    So if you are an agency or freelancer do you still report exact SERP position in combination with analytics, ROI etc... Do clients really go along with "Average position' from google webmaster tools... seems useless to me

    I like everything about Raven's tools except no exact serp reporting
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  2. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I have done this in the past and honestly if you can avoid serp reporting it's the best. Especially if you're running a large campaign because then the client stupidly will focus on just a few keywords they watch and will base their opinion of how you are doing on just a few keywords while the truth is that there are many dozen keywords that are in play. So you could be killing it, but they only see three or four of their "favorite keywords" standing still. I recommend basing your success not on keyword SERPS, but bringing your clients more impressions/visits. Impressions and visits are what really matter. If you double their traffic who gives a fuck about SERPS.
     
  3. freckletone

    freckletone Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I'm surprised that agencies can get away with not reporting SERP.... maybe because I'm used to it and also because I like knowing it for myself.... also right now the "Average position" is a bit higher than when i check manually so it's reporting worse!

    Also if anyone uses this tool; how do I get my "managed keywords" only in Raven's Tools to show in the "GWT ranking" section? Right now it's reporting a few words I didn't even add in the kw manager...
     
  4. txhepoker

    txhepoker Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I have a client that ranks for over 20 keywords for her business but she still focuses on the 1 stupid keyword she isn't! I try to avoid as much as possible and use year/year statistics...
     
  5. zebrahat

    zebrahat Elite Member

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    Other SEO metrics can be reported other than SERP, but at some point SEO strategy becomes confused with a broader website strategy if adding in these other factors. SEO pertains to the search engines, not to other forms of web traffic, and certainly not to other aspects of site planning, design or monetization. If all the other elements are to be included, the client should be informed that the job has become now a more comprehensive website optimization project, with the larger fee that work involves.
     
  6. SkyrocketSEO

    SkyrocketSEO Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    What a load of crap. Conversion come when you rank a keyword.

    I provide my clients (that are ordering monthly packages) all reports. You get average rankings, quick overview on how many keywords went up/down compared to initial rankings, and you get initial and current rankings for each keyword.

    This way you cannot BS client with fancy words, how you :" enhanced user-centric interfaces" or "evolve mission-critical functionalities" . You either ranked a KW or you didn't.
     
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  7. Aty

    Aty Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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  8. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I actually set them up with an account in Serpbuddy and let them see their rankings whenever they want... that way they can see exactly what is happening.

    I get some emails when KWs dance some but that is actually very good as you want client interaction and it is also good for the client to see there is activity happening.
     
  9. Nut-Nights

    Nut-Nights Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I send them report on monthly basis. Complete ranking report.
     
  10. naskootbg

    naskootbg Power Member

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    I think @ThopHayt is right! You can complete tons of work on-the site, that will not even touch wanted keyword SERP, but is base for ranking. BTW it depends by many factors, because ranking for 1 keyword for e.g. e-commerce site is very hard task and needs tons of work, which is all SEO related. I had such client and the main keyword is not even ranked in top 10, but he is very happy from my SEO work, because he stop spending $1000s for advertising, because the organic traffic come to the site. SEO is not just ranked keyword!
     
  11. innosoft

    innosoft Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    for that purpose you can either buy some software or service that can provide you exact SERPs.
     
  12. sudorank

    sudorank Power Member

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    The only problem I see with this (Speaking as a predominantly lead gen SEO) is that no two keywords are the same in terms of conversion rate. Despite a million articles banging on about long tail keywords, the head term is almost always where it's at in terms of pure lead gen - conversion rates differ by crazy amounts between the head and obscure long tails.

    With this in mind, my clients are almost always looking at 1 maybe 2 keywords at most - simply because that's where he action is.
     
  13. naskootbg

    naskootbg Power Member

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    If somehow site optimized for 1-2 keywords get ranked, than one day it will be hit by panda or penguin because over-optimization or other kind of easy visible by the radars SERP manipulation stuff! I get huge drop in the sells when stop telling the clients that will rank their favorite keyword (about year ago). It's very hard to explain on the people, that knows almost nothing for SEO this point and 99% from them thinking that the only important are the backlinks.

    It's BHW, so why not getting people's money by ranking terms for short time before penalty, so as I say before it depends :).
     
  14. PandaDomo

    PandaDomo Senior Member

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    I no longer have any clients (I only ever had a handful though, eventually ended up dropping them for personal reasons), but I did the same thing.

    I don't own my own tracking service like you though :p I just referred them to SerpFox or something to keep track of rankings.

    In my experience, I believe having FULL disclosure and honesty in the beginning kind of helps a lot in developing a relationship. Why would you want to keep your client in the dark anyway? Only thing I could think of where you would want to do that is your specific linking techniques. Other than that, to me, if I asked for how my rankings are going along (which isn't what they're paying you for?) and the person I hired tries to hide it, I would find that suspicious as fuck.

    I suppose if you aren't confident in your abilities to get any type of result (which in this case I have no clue how you managed to retain clients), then I suppose hiding rankings and whatnot would be the way to go.
     
  15. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    You're right, which is why it makes it tough when some client doesn't understand it.

    You might rank for #2 in one keyword and #37 in another. BUT the one you rank #37 in is a highly valuable keyword and even though it is only #37 you get ten times the traffic from it that you get from the #3 ranked keyword.

    Which is why the bottom line of traffic, impressions, and views for the clients site. It doesn't matter how you do it, the fact is that getting extra eyeballs is really what any client wants. In fact the shadiest tactic I see in SEO is when a company completely ignores traffic and the traffic value of keywords and just feeds clients flat ranking increases in easy keywords. Essentially tricking them into thinking they got a great deal because they rank #1 for "Toronto pickle diner restaurant review" while their site has seen ZERO actual benefit.

    In the end, make your client rich and they'll love you regardless.
     
  16. freckletone

    freckletone Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    What do you guys think about this... From Raven's tools blog http://blog.raventools.com/search-queries-average-position-brand-keywords/

    The problem with rankings

    There are a few big problems with scraped ranking results:

    • They?re retrieved by a computer that doesn?t represent the typical user experience.
    • The ranking result only represents one instance of that search. With the onset of universal search, geo-influenced results, search history and Google+, where your site actually ranks varies greatly.
    In fact, the only truly accurate way to measure where a keyword ranks for your site is with average rank.
    What is average rank?

    So what exactly is average rank? Google, which calls it ?average position,? defines it as ?the average top position of your site on the search results page for that query.? This is how it?s calculated:
    To calculate average position, we take into account the top ranking URL from your site for a particular query. For example, if Jane?s query returns your site as the #1 and #2 result, and David?s query returns your site in positions #2 and #7, your average top position would be 1.5.
    A scraped result might report a keyword ranking result as #2 when in reality it actually averages out to #4 or #5 based on real-world usage. That?s a significant ? and important ? difference.


    Why is Top Searches data important?

    The Top Searches data provides valuable campaign insights. You can quickly determine targeted keywords that may rank well but have low impressions or clicks. As a result, you may decide to tweak the page title and description for the related page or choose to remove the keyword from the campaign altogether.
    Another way to use this tool is to discover keywords that have a high CTR, but low average rank. From there you could add those keywords to your campaign (to the Keyword Manager) and focus on campaign strategies to improve the overall average rank.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have also seen some mainstream articles including those on MOZ blog saying that SERP reporting is outdated..... Also that effective SEO's isn't just about ranking keywords but can also affect popularity of the brand and even referral traffic (for example, if you put put content that goes viral etc)

    http://moz.com/blog/death-of-keyword-ranking-reports-whiteboard-friday

    Now, we all do keyword ranking reports. We've been doing them for several years. I do them. I still do them today. But I'm talking to a lot of agencies, a lot of big time agencies. They're actually starting to turn the corner and stop delivering those keyword ranking reports to clients. There are a lot of reasons for that, and a lot of them have to do with recent changes with Google. But a lot go back to just the deficiencies that keyword ranking reports have always had.
    So we've all got these emails in our inbox, every single one of us, that promise number one rankings for a number of really obscure keywords. That goes to the point that these keyword ranking reports may not be reflecting metrics that are important to either your SEO campaign or your business objectives.

    The big problem is anytime you rank a keyword, you don't know if that keyword is sending you traffic. Back in the days, when we actually had keyword data in Google Analytics, you could see that the keywords you were tracking only comprised a small portion of the keywords that you were actually ranking in your keyword ranking report. You were actually missing out on 50% to 80% of that data. So no matter how good your keyword ranking report is, it's always going to be missing a lot of that essential traffic, and it completely misses the long tail, which is another problem, because generally when you do keyword ranking reports, you're generally choosing those high traffic or you're trying to choose those high traffic terms. Again, you're missing out on a huge portion of that traffic that's sending you those numbers.

    Hummingbird, big changes this year in Google, where what you type in, the keyword that users type in may be actually sort of rewritten in certain ways by Google. We're seeing more and more instances of Google returning results that don't actually contain all of the keywords you type in. It will be pretty close. But if you're tracking this keyword and it's being sort of rewritten or triggering different results by Google, it makes it slightly less valuable to be reporting on every week.
    Also, changes in SERPs. Google, if you look at Dr. Pete's recent post, the Mega SERP, you can see all these different SERP features that Google is introducing that sort of make positions irrelevant in the traditional keyword ranking. If you're ranking number one, that guaranteed like 18%,

    19% of your traffic. But then if the SERP has a lot ads, it has a lot of photos in it, the ads on the side, a number one or two ranking might be less meaningful. Then, again, if you have something like an author photo, Google did a study, one of their own studies, showing how that can greatly impact click through, and a number four ranking, a number five, six, seven can have a higher click-through result than a number one ranking.
    So, for this reason and a lot of other reasons, keyword ranking reports are just simply dying. Now, it's still important to track those keywords, but what we do with that information is changing. So I'm going to talk about some different things that we should be reporting to our clients, reporting to our bosses, and reporting to ourselves for better SEO results.
    Keywords

    1. Rank Indexes

    The first thing, this idea was introduced to me first by A.J. Kohn. I'll link to his post in the transcription below. It's the idea of a keyword index. You can do this with lots of different tools. You can do it with Moz. You can do it with Advanced Web Ranking. You can do this with most good keyword ranking tools.

    That is you can create keyword groups. So let's say these were my keywords here -- iPhone case, iPhone speaker. I would create a group of keywords, checking all the boxes, where I'm tracking just the words with iPhone in them. Then I can get a metric. I can pull them out into a spreadsheet and just get one number that shows me if I'm moving up and down for keywords that contain iPhone.

    Now the huge advantages of this system is it gets the long tail, because I know if my keyword index is going up for iPhone, that those long-tail keywords that I'm not tracking are likely going up and down too. It's not going to be a one-to-one relationship. They're not all going to go up and down at the same time. But I know, in general, that I'm capturing a much broader sense of where my keywords are performing.

    It also simplifies it, because instead of tracking 50 keywords, I'm just tracking 1 index. That's the number I'm reporting. My iPhone visibility in the SERPs is increasing or decreasing. Now, that's something that the client is going to care about.
    Reach

    2. Organic Traffic

    3. Referral Traffic

    4. Social Traffic

    5. Total Traffic

    A better metric to report to clients -- reach. Now a lot of us already report organic search traffic. We do it in our weekly reports, and that's traditionally been the SEO's realm. Organic search traffic, we report it. But this is really a lot more important than this. Something I'm going to encourage you to start doing, that something a lot SEOs are uncomfortable with, is also reporting a lot of other traffic, such as referral traffic, because if you think about it, if your content is earning links, if it's getting shares and mentions, that means it's going to be coming through those referral links and not through Google, Bing, or that organic traffic. Not that you have to take credit for all that referral traffic, but you certainly influence it. It's important to the client. It's important to the boss. So you should be reporting it.

    The same with social traffic. Even if you have a social department in your company or business or there are other social people that are responsible for those metrics, you should be reporting it too because everybody contributes together. If you're doing your job as an SEO and your content becomes more popular, of course it's going to be shared more, and it's a synergistic relationship between all those departments working together. But it's definitely something you want to report, because, again, it's something that's important to the client, and it's something that you had a part in. In general, what everybody really cares about is that totality of traffic. If you can relate that to your efforts, then you're going to be much more highly rewarded, and you're going to have a better experience.
    Endorsements

    6. Classic Links

    7. Mentions

    8. Press

    9. Social Endorsements

    So after reach, endorsements, and endorsements is a broad word that we use for what Google is looking for. We say Google is looking for links, but that's not really true if you think about Penguin and the way they discount links. What they're really looking for is editorial endorsements, and this can take different ways of links, mentions, local citations, press mentions, social authority. If you can report these, it's sort of like you're reporting on your good marketing skills.
    You can use a lot of different tools to do this. Every week we use Fresh Web Explorer. It's a paid tool here at MOZ. But there are different other tools that you can use, such as Mention.net. We actually rank all the new links that we've seen during that week through Fresh Web Explorer. You can do it through Open Site Explorer, any of your favorite link building tools
    -- Majestic, Ahrefs.

    The benefit of reporting endorsements is not only does your boss or client like it, but for you, it actually makes you a little better at your job because it creates an SEO feedback loop. When you see your new links and your new mentions coming in, through these various tools, that gives you an opportunity to either reach out to the people and form a relationship or leave a comment or find new link building opportunities, find new social authorities, and it strengthens the whole thing, and it actually improves you visibility overall.
    KPIs

    10. Business Objectives

    Finally, the most important thing you can report are your KPIs, because this is what the boss, the client, and you care about the most, your business objectives. In Google Analytics, maybe it's your goals, your conversions, and your assisted conversions. We're often scared to report these, as SEOs, as inbound marketers, because we feel like we only had a small part to do with those metrics. There's an entire sales team, there's an entire website, there's a development team.
    But these are the most important things. This is what we are trying to achieve, and we shouldn't be scared of reporting them. If you can show how your efforts resulted in achieving these KPIs, those are the SEOs, those are the inbound marketers that make more money and get raises. It's not about claiming all the credit. It's about sharing the credit and taking claim for your part in those actions and showing the client, showing your boss how you helped achieve those things.
    So keep measuring those keywords, but let's say goodbye to those individual keyword reports. That's all everybody. Thank you very much.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So what do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  17. Aty

    Aty Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    That's a hell of a copy-paste!
     
  18. freckletone

    freckletone Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    another thing I noticed with Raven's tools is along with the "average position" it also reports "impressions" and "CTR" in another column... so it does offer more info than just straight serp i think

    with that in mind would you prefer reporting "average position" or exact match?

    Yea i did paste a bit much above but the gist is that some think average position is more accurate since serp results can be affected by if the searcher is logged into google, their search settings, google plus activity and also the Hummingbird update which changes the way surfers are typing in things sometimes...

    "
    To calculate average position, we take into account the top ranking URL from your site for a particular query. For example, if Jane's query returns your site as the #1 and #2 result, and David's query returns your site in positions #2 and #7, your average top position would be 1.5.​
    A scraped result might report a keyword ranking result as #2 when in reality it actually averages out to #4 or #5 based on real-world usage. That's a significant - and important - difference."
     
  19. Gyuman82

    Gyuman82 Elite Member

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    Yes you need to report rankings to your clients. I would say most clients gauge the impact of your services based on improvements in rankings.

    Even though of course traffic in my opinion is the most important, obviously rankings and traffic go hand-in-hand.

    I think you will find most clients have set keywords in mind at the start of any SEO campaign, and they will judge the effectiveness of your service by the ranking improvements of these.
     
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  20. Ben1123

    Ben1123 Junior Member

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    Precisely. I have yet to meet a client that didn't have set expectations on rankings at the start of a campaign.