But even with all of the available tools, we still perform manual rank checking
for our clients, and we insist on it for you too. Here’s why:
• Manual rank checking is more accurate than automated checking. In the ever-
changing search engine results landscape, it often takes a human to determine
whether your listings are surrounded by directory sites, partner sites, or even
• Manual rank checking keeps you in close touch with the goings-on in the search
engine ranks for your target keywords. We want you to drink in the details.
Keep an eagle eye out for your competition and any interesting or unusual
results. Who is ranking well, and are they doing well on more than one engine?
Have you spotted any possible cheaters? Did an unexpected page of your site (or
a PDF or DOC file) show up? These are the kinds of things you can find if you
take the time to look.
• Most search engines, including Google, frown upon automated rank-checking pro-
grams because they perform multiple queries that can create a burden on the search
engine. Many of these tools actually violate the engines’ terms of service (TOS).
If you absolutely
use an automated system (for example, your organization
has a need to track a large number of keywords on a monthly basis), we recommend
that you sign up with Digital Point Solutions, mentioned earlier, and get a free Google
application programming interface (API) key (Digital Point provides instructions). If
you do that, you will be in compliance with the Google TOS, and that means you will
have our blessing too.
The Scenic Route
As we touched upon earlier, your manual rank-checking task has fringe benefits: it pro-
vides a great opportunity to watch out for “uglies”: bad snippets, broken links, or any
other interesting, mysterious, or undesirable results your website is showing in the
search engines. Be sure to make a detailed note (or even a screen shot) of anything out
of the ordinary (use the notes column in your Rank Tracking Worksheet, or enter it in
your Task Journal) so that you can return to it later.
Feel free to slip on your headphones as you work: rank checking is one of the
more tedious SEO tasks.
Go to your Rank Tracking Worksheet and fill in today’s ranks. Write any interesting or unusual obser-
vations in your notes column or Task Journal.
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