There is an abundance of SEO rank checking tools on the web, each promising to deliver results on where your site ranks on Google for your chosen keywords.
For most keyword rank checking tools, all you need to do is type in a keyword, and the tool’s bot will scrape data from Google and spit out a number showing where you rank in Google for your key phrase.
Sounds like a dream come true? Well, sure. But a dream is all it is. In truth, keyword rank checking tools are pretty useless.
MORE: SEO Basics
There was a time, years ago, where SEO rank checking tools were fairly accurate and could provide a decent assessment of how your site was performing and allow you to check website SEO rankings.
But those days are over, and this is no longer possible. Google has grown increasingly more sophisticated with its ranking algorithm, and has added a host of new variables that affect how your site ranks in an individual’s Google search results page. We now encounter variables such as:
For Android users, even more personalization occurs with Google Now, which takes into account your favorite hangouts IRL and your daily commute.
These variable factors mean that it’s simply impossible for a SEO rank checking tool to determine how your site ranks because every individual users’ results will look different. One user may see your site appear in the 1st, 3rd, or 5th spot in Google’s SERPs, while another user may not see your page show up at all.
Would you really even trust this site? Looks sketch to me.
Gone are the days where users searched Google with a clean browser, no cookies, and no search history. Today web users search while logged into their personalized Google accounts, which means Google continuously tracks a user’s choices and decisions, and will alter search results based on their actions (and that’s scary for reasons beyond proving the ineffectiveness of keyword rank checking tools).
A single site can rank on thousands of different keywords and their synonyms. Even if you could get an accurate reading on where your site ranks for a pre-selected keyword, it’d be pretty insignificant taking the big picture into account. What about the hundreds of other keywords people are using to find your site?
Getting too preoccupied with a few single keywords can have the blinder affect. Attention and focus is horded by a few keywords, when really you should be examining the other, less obvious keyword opportunities.
I know, you’re sad. You came here looking for keyword rank checking tools and now I’ve rained all over your SEO parade. Well fear not, we won’t cast you upriver without a paddle or two.
Marketers want to use SEO rank checking tools in order to get a measure on site performance. Both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can help you do just that, plus a ton of other awesome stuff no keyword rank checker could ever do.
Google Webmaster Tools provides ample data as well.
In Webmaster Tools you can also see external links to your website, internal links, how Google is indexing your site, and tons more.
SEO is changing, and it’s changing fast. It’s time to abandon outdated tools and old-school SEO dogma. Online marketing will only work for those willing to stay ahead of the game and adopt new, emerging strategies and best practices. Even with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, it’s important to not get too entrenched in the ranking game and avoid becoming fixated on a few obvious keywords.
Keyword rank checking tools aren’t inherently bad (besides the fact that most don’t work). The problem is that they foster the mindset that all that matters is the keyword. This is dangerous thinking as Google continues to refine its algorithm and tries to purposefully break apart the pre-existing keyword ranking traditions.
The truth, although admittedly it sounds as corny as a Disney movie’s happy ever after, is that successful online marketing today (and therefore, successful SEO), is all about delivering quality content and not being afraid to think creatively. SEOs need to understand their audience’s intent and hone in on it like a first class sniper. Do that, and you’ll have no problem seeing yourself rise to the tops of the Google SERPs, no ranking tools required.
Megan Marrs is a veteran content marketer who harbors a love for writing, watercolors, oxford commas, and dogs of all shapes and sizes. When she’s not typing out blog posts or crafting killer social media campaigns, you can find her lounging in a hammock with an epic fantasy novel.
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