Any experienced SEO will tell you that keyword research around your websites subject is one of the most important things you can do before starting a new site. What do you want to rank for? How competitive is it? Is it possible without spending huge amounts of cash? For this you really need a decent package, and after much searching I found the Advanced Web Ranking “all-in-one seo software” that has helped me no end.
Unfortunately, at the time I started my websites I was not experienced in SEO. Therefore the keyword research I performed was virtually nil. I had created highly optimised pages based around individual products to get me going. Now this wasn’t a bad way to start – on the contrary – it gave me some nice quick wins and was certainly enough to keep my enthusiasm going as the website grew.
The Need to Track Keywords
About 12 months later I started to rank for some of the niche subjects general keywords. Only a few here and there, but it was enough to make me realise that the time had now come to start attacking more generic key phrases. In order to do this I needed to be able to track my progress so I could learn and spot the opportunities as they arose, so off I went in search of some decent ranking tracking software. Now there are many ways to do this. Online software like SEOmoz is great for tracking campaigns, and even some Firefox extensions will do it for you, but I wanted something standalone and more in-depth. Heck, I wanted pretty progress graphs too!
So I started looking and found that like most software, there are a number of programs that will do what you want, and they all promise much. Most of them have flashy websites, nice looking graphics, and also come with a free trial so we can really get to grips with them.
However, I’m a fussy person, and the thought of installing 6 lots of trial software on my PC really didn’t appeal. Experience has told me that I would probably disregard half of these programs after the first few minutes of use, and their flashy sales talk would prove to be just as thin and empty as the programs were. So I went off in search of some recommendations first.
There were only a couple of programs that were consistently recommended by users, and that were suitable for my needs. One of them, Advanced Web Ranking, had received a glowing personal recommendation from an affiliate marketer I know. He was not involved with the company, and had nothing to gain from the recommendation so this was the first product I decided to trial.
Installation and First use of Advanced Web Ranking
Now to say Advanced Web Ranking is basic software is a massive understatement. I’ll be honest and say that when I first fired it up, I was daunted with what I saw. I was even tempted to just close it down and try something else, but software doesn’t get to be popular by being average, so I persevered. And I’m glad I did because it got easier – much easier. The tutorial that greets you when your first launch the program is a real help and whilst it doesn’t explain absolutely everything to you, it tells you enough to get going. With the help of the help section on the right of the screen, over time I started exploring more about the software and what it can do.
I started off with the basic keywords, and then expanded them to longer tail keywords as I went on. The meant I could spot patterns where I would see one main keyword improve (or decline) and see if the same effect happened on the longer tail version of it.
As well as being able to track your own websites, you can of course add in competitors too. I’ve added some direct competitors (similar size of website), but also some much bigger retailers to compare against and it does show up plenty of useful data.
Day to Day Usage
After we had trialled the software we decided to go ahead and purchase AWR. Rather than just start over again, you can just activate your trial version and so keep all your projects intact. You get a nice ‘Advanced Web Ranking Licensed to your name’ in the title bar just to make you feel a little more valued!
The updates are very frequent – almost every day there is an amendment to the search engine listings, and there are frequent patches too to help keep it ahead of the game. The latest version is especially good, and includes and much improved, and more graphical interface. This will make it easier for new users to get to grips with it.
Recent updates and additional features – such as plugging into Google Analytics to get visitor data, and obtaining link data from SEOMoz – have made the program more powerful. I’m currently using version 8.6 and it is much improved from when I first started using it.
The Graphs Go Up, But Also Come Down – Especially When There’s a Panda About!The software really has come in its own following the recent Google Panda updates. It’s always nice to follow the progress of keyword rankings as they move upwards, but since using the software I’ve learned more when following keywords back down the rankings results.
The Advanced Web Ranking graphs following the Panda update did not make pleasant viewing for some of my sites! But being able to see what keywords suffered and what didn’t really helped me target my recovery plans. To have this information to hand was immensely useful – and to be honest, I’m not sure where I would have started without it.
Why you’ll like Advanced Web Ranking
Advanced Web Ranking is not a piece of software that is going to do everything for you and tell you what you need to do, but it does give you the information you need to be able to spot opportunities and trends, and where you need to focus your efforts.
What’s also good is that you get a pretty full featured free trial so you can fully test it. No software is perfect and we were pretty thorough before investing in it – we needed to get along with it day in day out. We even called on the support guys a couple of times for help – they were excellent and on one occasion had a patch written as a result of a suggestion we’d made.
If the great support wasn’t there we’d still use Advanced Web Ranking (don’t tell Caphyon that!) but with it, we’ve no hesitation in recommending it.
The ‘Standard’ edition is extremely good value for money, and although it lacks a couple of features such as reporting and PageRank data, for general day to day use it will probably suffice. The ‘Enterprise’ version will suit most full time SEO’s and agencies, and the ‘Professional’ version will suit those in-between.
Read more about AWR and the offers available here: http://www.advancedwebranking.com/
Disclosure: I am a genuine every day user of AWR – I used it at my last company, and made my new company buy it too! The only thing I am getting out of this is a licence to use at home, and everything I have said stands true regardless of that.