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An amazing, transparent, and direct post by Patrick. There are some big implications for the SEO tool industry here, as evidenced by this quote:
"Raven wasn’t singled out during this AdWords audit. We know that two of our third-party data providers have lost AdWords API access at some point in the past two years. Google seems to be universally enforcing its terms of service regarding scraped Google data, which it has every right to do as a business."
What do you think? Is rank and data-scraping going extinct?
I don't think rank tracking is going extinct, but people need to understand that just tracking the rankings of a keyword is not enough. You need to also look at the number of customers you get from that keyword and how much value they bring to your business.
Although I have to admit, having 50% of the visitors in GA coming from "not provided" is not going to help that much. And it will only get worse.
But in the end, there comes a point where you need to ask yourself:
Why did I spend 6 months building links to that keyword for which I now rank no. 1? After all, it only brings me 50 visitors a day and none of them are buying my products.
That's when you realize something went wrong.
It can not go extinct as for google there is no real way to stop them, we are already using highly advanced algos with human emulation and every thing possible and thousands of servers spread across the globe so there is no way google can really stop this, that is why even in this case the reason they were to stop raven was because of their Adwords API. If raven was not using adwords API it would not give a shit to google ... Google themselves scrape all the data from every possible place .. Ratings, Reviews, travel information, Google;s knowledge graph are all examples of google scraping data and then telling people not to do the same :D
Come on atleast change your slogan from "Do no Evil" to "We are Evil"
Patrick was right about everyone in the industry getting hit - here's us getting hit: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/11/16/important-update
I don't think scraping will go extinct - you can never put all your eggs in the Google basket. That said, we chose the same path Patrick disclosed.
Looks like Google is cracking down on this. It's unfortunate, but Raven is going to lose a lot of customers due to the loss in functionality.
i can second you on that!
Yeh we already got 50+ signups in last 12 hours, and being from SEO agency bag-round we understand that Rankings are the most important data set which a SEO client requires. No matter how much personalization happens still ranking will continue to play an important role. Isn;t it what google actually started with, ranking websites !!
Tough break, but I'm uncomfortable with the SEO industry relying on "authorized" Google data. Keep in mind that the Adwords Keyword Tool and the Adsense API exists solely to increase paid bids on millions of keywords. The data favors "commercial" keywords that folks are likely to bid on, and the "competition" score is based on bidding competition, not organic keyword difficulty that SEOs look for.
Phooey... we're better off learning to rely without it.
This is seriously rough, it's ironic that Google strips the ability of us to look at ranking trackers right after I wrote my post about ignoring the ranking trackers LOL. The sad thing is that this has been a long time coming, it will be a fun conversation to have with clients but the truth is that as Patrick said, Geographical & personalized results have skewed so much of what Ranking results used to show that it has become so unstable that it is basically worthless. I hate this for Raven but I'm sure they will overcome and have a bright future.
I'm still using MIcroSiteMasters for rank tracking, and since they aren't using any Google approved data then they won't be shutting this down. Just an alternative if people are looking for one.
This is really a bold step by Raven, Google itself crawls the whole web and scrapes data and ratings from all kind of sites and when people do it they don't like it and their slogan is "Do no Evil" We @ RankWatch have the coolest and the most accurate tool out there : Giving 20% discount to all raven users using coupon code "Raven" http://rankwatch.com/blog/raven-users-welcome-to-rankwatch/
I just wonder to myself is Google trying to kill organic SEO, or are they trying to remove all the free data we currently use to sell it back to us at a later date?
sure why not... include it as a feature in premium analytics...
They want to tell people that they are the only company who can scrape sites and no one else has the right to scrape other than them.
This announcement makes me sad. I really enjoy having this feature on Raven.
However, I completely respect Patrick and their decision and understand it. Too bad there wasn't a way for Raven to allow a 3rd party integration or to import data from another SERPS tracker. I really enjoy having the data/reports in one place.
The SERPS tracker was the first reason we went to Raven Tools. It isn't why we stayed. There is so much more valuable data n the reports, but we will miss this feature.
I think the SERP tracker is probably the best feature of Raven, It's like Moz's OSE, without it it's almost rendered useless. So it's a very disappointing loss.
I'd rather see the Adwords API turned off. It's all well and good to say "rank tracking isn't that important" but anyone who has worked with clients knows that they treat them as the number 1 indicator of success. In most cases it's the very reason they engaged in SEO in the first place so they don't forget that in a hurry.
I honestly don't think that this is as "transparent" as everyone is making out.
If I was to hazard a guess, I would think that Googles crackdown on scraped data doesn't stop at loss of their AdWords API.
Deep pockets and truck loads of lawyers, probably results in something a little harsher… I wouldn't be surprised to see a more aggressive campaign from Google very soon.
You do have to marvel at the Google hypocrisy. RankWatch is right, Google are scraping data themselves then telling people not to. Exactly the same sentiment as them condemning peoples so called 'incentive' behind whats commonly labelled grey or black hat SEO and doing it themselves, in taking away Keyword data (not provided) and claiming its for security, when its obviously to hold the monopoly for their ad network.
"Don't be evil" what a farce!
Interesting stuff and one that throws up many questions about wider strategic trends & approaches in SEO. If we think about the factors stacked up against keyword-level granularity it certainly seems like it's on the way out as a useful reporting metric, or even as a rough indicator of progress:
- No longer any such thing as "universal" rankings; personalisation, local results, mixed results, etc
- The curse of "Not Provided"
- Now the demise of "official" ranking tools or at least anything that combines API data with scraped rankings
And then if it is the case that keyword-level granularity is on the way out, how to we adapt? Patrick Keeble and others say things like: "I’d rather provide tools and data that prove ROI, conversions and goals, not simple rankings" which is clearly right, but in my experience keyword rankings are still the main metric of interest for clients. Educating clients about broader metrics and goals is a long, slow process that I still haven't managed to crack. People still want to know that they're climbing the rankings, plain and simple.
Without being able to monitor rankings, you are missing one part of the puzzle (Links -> Rankings -> Traffic -> Conversions)
Understanding every part of the cycle helps you run a better marketing campaign, and I think a lot of us would be handicapped if we didn't have keyword ranking related info.
Google has been working over-time to try and make life harder for SEOs:
1. Introducing (not provided) to Google Analytics - something users never demanded
2. Cracking down on third party tools trying to use scraped data from Google
3. Deterring online marketing companies from using the Adwords API
4. Cracking down on Adwords advertisers who sell anything related to SEO or Link Building
But, then again, why would they not try very hard to make life harder for the SEO? We do afterall, drive revenue away from Google Adwords, their bread and butter.