SEO Powersuite’s Rank Tracker Review0
When it comes to Article Submission and Search Engine Optimization, little is more important that rank tracking, except, of course, keyword research. Everything always starts with keyword research before any meaningful can be accomplished, but once the campaign is under way, tracking your progress is crucial to the overall campaign’s success. There are many levels of rank tracking software available, from simple to complete and generally there are two types of software as well, locally run programs or hosted subscription plans. Rank Tracker by SEO Powersuite is the former – a local application.
On the spectrum of simple versus complete solutions, Rank Tracker is certainly at the end of the “complete solution” side of the scale. We have been using Rank Tracker for years and are very glad that we made the investment in it. Rank Tracker is designed for power users or those that have multiple websites, though it is simple enough to use for anyone to get full benefit.
Local Versus Hosted Rank Tracking
There are really two different approaches when it comes to rank tracking software. Either you purchase a program and do it yourself or you can pay a service to track for you and you just login and look at your data. Both approaches have their distinct pluses and minuses. The big advantage of a monthly online service is that it is done for you and automated and also that you can access the data anywhere you have Internet access. The disadvantages are that you are locked into whatever feature set they offer and generally have numerous restrictions on number of projects, domains and keywords – not to mention a recurring monthly fee.
We have always done our own rank tracking and primarily use Rank Tracker for about 95% of our needs. We do occasionally use Market Samurai to handle tracking of double listings and projects which span multiple domains (see below where we talk about what we don’t like). The reasons which we prefer a locally installed program like Rank Tracker are primarily centered around control and flexibility. We track many thousands of keywords for dozens of clients and our own arsenal of sites, doing so with an online solution would be cumbersome for us due to various limitations we’ve encountered with most online solutions. Furthermore, through intelligent configuration and customization of Rank Tracker you can set it up to automate most of the tedious tasks such as emailing reports or updating ranking stats.
Rank Tracker works on a domain metaphor, so you start a new project by assigning the domain to be tracked and then adding keywords. Next you simply go out and update your ranking data. It really can be that simple. However, the real power of Rank Tracker is all of the inherent flexibility that is built in and the virtually limitless level of customization available.
To start with, you can view a variety of vital data all at once in a simple to read grid format – keyword, rank, search volume data, change in rankings since last checked, the URL that is ranking and many, many other fields depending upon your current workspace or your personal customizations. Rank Tracker defines many different standard workspaces that you can choose from that will show you different pieces of the puzzle, but the best part is that you can simply define your own as well. In fact, the workspaces can be 100% user definable if you so desire. You can select what data to display, the order of the columns as well as different filtering of data that is applied to the workspace. For example, I use a workspace that I call my “Money Makers” and another one I call “On the Verge”. My money makers workspace uses filters that only look for keywords that meet specific search volume requirements as well as only looking at keywords that are ranked in the top 5. This is a quick and easy way to see the core performing keywords. I also setup a “On the Verge” workspace that shows me keywords that are sitting in positions #11 thru #15 so that I can quickly see good candidates for that little extra effort to bump them onto page #1. Changing these “views” (or Workspaces as Rank Tracker calls them) is super easy and makes using the tool quick and efficient.
At every level you will find that Rank Tracker has been built and designed for a pro. For example, you can select with search engines you want to check rankings for from dozens of countries as well as dozens of different search engines. Little touches really make the difference between simple tools and power tools and Rank Tracker doesn’t let you down. For example, there is a “notes” column that you can add to your workspace and it is user editable so that you can attach any textual data you want at the keyword level. I use this frequently when sorting or grouping keywords, or for prioritizing as well. Across the top of the keyword listing is also a quick filter. This is super easy and lightning fast. You can select what fields you want to filter on and just type in a quick keyword and it will only show you the results that match your filter. This is great for reducing the number of keywords that you’re looking at to just a few tightly grouped or related keywords that all might contain a specific word, for example. Or, as I frequently use it, in conjunction with the user notes which can also be filtered.
The first thing to understand is that Rank Tracker will store all of your historical ranking data. This is imperative for any Rank Tracking software so that you can look back and see historical performance data. This data is displayed onscreen and is also, of course, available via reports. The reporting engine of Rank Tracker is exceptional – not just good! First of all reports can be generated in HTML and automatically uploaded to a site if you wish, or created as PDF files and automatically saved locally or emailed. There are tons of options here so that whatever your need, it is likely support.
However, Rank Tracker doesn’t stop there. There are numerous reporting output formats and including my personal favorite, SQL. That’s right, you can directly export your data (and, yes, this can be automated as well) so that it can be easily loaded into your own database. The way that it works is that it creates a big text file of SQL INSERT statements that can be batch executed. With a little creativity you can have Rank Tracker automate the task of updating the rank data, automatically create the SQL for the data and then automatically upload that data to a location of your choice. Then a simple cron job, for example, can automatically batch process all of that information and load it into your own custom database. This is powerful stuff. But don’t worry, if you don’t need all of that functionality, Rank Tracker works just fine in its base configuration as well and provides extreme value no matter what you’re looking for.
Furthermore, the reports themselves can be completely customized and modified via an internal scripting language extension that is built in to Rank Tracker. This is really powerful and a godsend. You can design whatever type of report you can think of using their scripting language and I have created several of them. For example, we expand the reports for our clients and “explain” them more with additional textual information so that they are not quite so overwhelming. We also exclude certain data that we don’t generally report on to keep the reports a little simpler and cleaner. To modify a report its pretty easy, but if you don’t have any scripting or programming background you may be better off opting to just outsource it. What I did was simply copy one of their standard reports and then “modify” if to my liking and got it about 90% to what I wanted. Then I emailed support and they got me the rest of the way. By the way, their support is also exceptional.
There are several tasks which can be completely automated with Rank Tracker and this is where its power really shines through. For example, you can setup and schedule recurring tasks that will check all of your rankings for a certain project or an entire list of projects. This is very simple and straightforward to do. Simply select the frequency to run the task and assign a time and frequency.
Rank tracking can be automated and so can reporting – the two most time consuming tasks. This means that you can set it up to check your ranks every night and email you a report, for example. The reports, by the way, are also “brandable” so that you can alter their design and branding to reflect your company. Though they do not allow you to seamlessly setup multiple companies, this, unfortunately is a manual process (another item we’ve been working with support to help develop).
There are so many features with Rank Tracker that I am certainly leaving some of them out. However, I wanted to touch upon some more key extra features that Rank Tracker supports. The first of which is support of software proxies. If you’re doing any seriously amount of rank tracking, you’re going to get irritated quickly when you start getting temporary Google IP bans from repetitive searching. There are many things you can do to minimize that and Rank Tracker “knows” all of those tricks. But in the end, if you’re dealing with thousands of keywords, you’re gonna need a software prosy. For those that don’t know a software proxy allows you to simulate like you are coming from a different IP than you actually are. This can be very useful for escaping the temporary IP bans because it makes Google think you are sending in requests from a bunch of different locations. We rotate through about 50 different IPs and can just fly through the ranking updates this way. This is highly recommended if you’re tracking more than a 100 keywords or so.
Another surprising feature (we used the software for months before we even knew this hidden gem existed) is that you can actually use Rank Tracker to help you perform keyword research as well. It will use your existing keywords as seed text and then go out and bring back a ton of suggestions for you if you like. It even has some very diverse sources for keyword data – not just Google. For example, it is currently the only tool I am aware of for keyword research that will allow you to find Google Suggestions keywords. Google Suggestions are those little drop down suggested keywords that show up when you start typing a keyword in the Google search box. These keyword suggestions do not necessarily align with Google search data from the External Keyword Tool and can be a great way to find hidden gems. Think of it this way, if Google feels that the keyword deserves to be on that suggestion list then it is effectively saying it’s one of the 10 most popular alternatives – that’s good to know. This can be especially useful for low traffic keywords where you may not have much, if any, data available.
What We Don’t Like About Rank Tracker
As happy as we are with Rank Tracker, it is not without shortcomings, though for most these will not be significant. There are really two areas that we feel it just doesn’t do well and for both of these features we end up turning to ranking tracking within Market Samurai. The first deficiency is with regards to tracking double listings. Quite simply, Rank Tracker doesn’t have support for it and this is a limitation that frustrates. It will only report on the first match it finds and will not show you if you have another URL also ranking for the same keyword.
The second limitation is that it does not allow you to create a project that spans multiple domains. Each project much be focus around one single domain. Neither of these limitations is severe, but we have been actively working with support to get them addressed and have been told that both will be coming in a future release.
Rank Tracker comes in different versions and even a free version so that you can test it out for yourself. There is also a Pro version that is $99 and an Enterprise version at $249 (that’s what we use). Many of the best features are found in the Enterprise versions – such as custom reporting, exporting features, as well as other features. One thing to consider is that the SEO Powersuite can also be purchased as a bundle and will include SEO Spyglass (review coming soon) – another big recommendation of ours. By purchasing the entire suite you can combine pricing and save money.
Rank Tracker Bonus Offer
Rank Tracker Software is by far one of our favorite and most crucial applications that we use. And when you start watching your rankings climb you may require some content for your website to keep things fresh or maybe for distribution to get you some more links. If you purchase Rank Tracker through our link we will send you five (5) FREE 100% custom created articles for whatever keywords you are marketing after. The articles are provided by ArticlesOnTap.com, so you can be assured they are top quality, 100% unique articles between 400-450 words. You will also receive a 10% off coupon code for any future orders of articles from ArticlesOnTap.com. To redeem your bonus simply follow these Rank Tracker Bonus instructions. Once we confirm your purchase was made through our link, you will receive your bonuses.