I can’t remember why I even chose to download it again – it might have been Aaron Wall’s face looking at me telling me to do it – but I found myself downloading a trial copy of advanced web ranking and setting up a new project with it.
I definitely did get a little bit overwhelmed when I opened it; probably the same reason I hadn’t fully committed to using the software up until this point. Walkthroughs are nice and everything but if you’re not in the right mood when you first see the “hey welcome to our software, let us walk you through this jungle” popup, it might be the last time you open it. Muscle through and read everything there; it shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes to feel completely comfortable with where everything is and what it does.
Similarly, Java is great and all – I love having support in all OS’ – but when it messes with the window management and how a program works, it might get to my obsessive compulsive brain. The first really unforgivable problem I ran into was not being able to display the entire window. On my 1440×900 pixel display, the bottom bit of the actual application window was, and still is, utterly unseeable. The green maximize button brought the application to the full width of the screen but wouldn’t adjust the height to fit my screen. Even Cinch, an app that sizes windows appropriately, was unable to change the size of the window, I assume because of the Java issue. Granted, this didn’t pose much of a problem – I missed out on a few keywords and update notifications that were below the cut – but it still struck me as unpolished for a ten year old piece of software expressly developed for this platform.
But I digress. We need to talk about what the software was built to do – track your web rankings.
I was initially really attracted to the pricing model of the software. Being a risk averse person, I would much rather pay a lump sum than a recurring monthly payment. A lifetime license at AWR is $399. You get updates for twelve months, should you like updates after those twelve months, you pay ~$120. Similarly, if you’re going to be tracking links, that isn’t free. AWR gets its link info from SEOMoz on their link credit system. Read more about link credits here and don’t let this scare you off; they’re totally reasonable if you need them.
You can track all the keywords you want on as many projects as you want for as long and as often as you want. Previously, we had been using a few rank tracking apps, but RavenTools was what I most used and trusted due to its wealth of information and reasonable price at $99 a month. Still, at $99 a month, I could have bought 3 AWR licenses for a year of Raven. They are different products, don’t get me wrong, but in the light of Raven and SEOMoz losing all their rank tracking abilities this month, if you’re looking for rank tracking software, your options are becoming fewer.
If you’re going to be using it for the next year, I don’t think there’s anything out there than can hold a candle to the price you pay for this software.
As I tend to, I jammed in way too many keywords to track. Focus is important but the prospect of tracking as many keywords as I wanted got the best of me. The allowed use of Proxy servers around the globe will assure that the rankings you collect are the same rankings that your clients see. Importing data from whatever rank tracking software you have used in the past is totally reasonable. Simply tailor a csv file and import it to have access to whatever history you have. Tracking the competition has never been easier, either. Because of the unlimited keyword searches, feel free to track your competitors and see what their strategies are, how they rank compared to your site and what they’re doing to get there.
The searches are all done from your computer so it needs to be on to collect data. As mentioned above, you can set up proxies if you want to keep your IP clean for any reason, but I can assure you that after a month of searches, I haven’t seen a single captcha before a SERP in my browser.
Arguably, the best feature of the software is the ability to keep our clients updated on how their rankings are performing. Every week we have the application automatically generate a report and subsequently upload that report to our server so that the client can, at any time, come to our site and see how their rankings have changed in the last week with some pretty fancy white label flavour. The data looks good, it’s easy to navigate and it makes us look awesome.
AWR will also keep track of a few things aside from a website’s rankings. Integrate analytics, get a little more info in the reports and fill out the site’s profile within the app. Why go to google when it’s open here? It will also keep track of what’s happening across a couple social networks. Twitter and Facebook also integrate nicely into the application to show you and your clients what’s been happening on those social networks as well as tracking social shares automatically. The research tools are a nice addition as well. While I tend to optimize a site naturally first, I still find it nice to use simple little tools to determine what the competition is like, which keywords might make more money than others and what can be tightened up on page. AWR has a surprisingly round set of tools for research considering it is meant to be a web ranking tracker first and foremost.
Of all the big names tracking keywords in the SERPs, I don’t think you can do better for your money than Advanced Web Ranking. After you’re in (and as long as your screen is tall enough) using the software is easy, pretty and totally usable. There are programs that integrate better with your OS, but beggars can’t be choosers and I appreciate that it had to be built on Java for accommodation’s sake. Still, you should use this software if web rankings are valuable to you or your clients. Consolidate all your ranking data into this one, ten year old, very comprehensive application built expressly for tracking the SERPs.
To deal with the issues of the window not fitting my monitor, all you have to do is go to settings, click on application settings and change the sidebar menu size to small. The sidebar was too long and pushed the window beyond my screen’s capabilities. I honestly think the small sidebar looks better anyway!