Keyword Tracking is so 1990s

August 20, 2020
Posted in General
August 20, 2020 Niall Flynn

So today’s post is about SEO reporting and specifically keyword rank tracking. I have made a call to move from a generic tool called SEMRush to a more active and on demand setup via ScreamingFrog.

Both tools do a lot of the same things from a real SEO point of view.

Why are Keywords Less Relevant in 2020/2021

  • The science is no longer accurate
  • The tools cannot give you a real view of your rank
  • GSC now has most of the data you need here, for free
  • Keyword reporting is vanity reporting, so you are #1 for 500 random keywords, this is not a real metric its a lead indicator at best
  • Google in the Ireland (or any non US geo) vs the US is a different product, not just a different skew of the same search engine
  • Geographic tagging is not accurate
  • Most of these tools use a fuzzy logic, the rationale is not always correct, broken links are a very common one
  • The cost has not decreased, this is an industry which milks its clients
  • Zero real COVID relief, well from SEMRush at least, I cannot speak to the others

Why Traffic & Conversion Goals are and should be your only KPI

  • Traffic I track via www.clicky.com not GA, so lets not confuse the fine tool that is GSC with the super poor Google Analytics or GA
    • Anyone using the free version of GA is not getting real data, period/full-stop! Sampled traffic numbers are the root of all evil in data science!
    • Traffic to a page is now a better lead indicator than rank, rank data can also now be seen in GSC, so why pay for it?
  • Google is becoming more and more like Baidu, folks do not always click the first 1-5 spots, despite the misinformation to the contrary
    • When I say conversion I mean in the dictionary sense of the word not a Google conversion/hits etc, emails, phone calls, products purchased, the real KPIs!
  • Change is inevitable and this is one of those pivots, remember Page Rank, its still a thing but no one tracks it and if they do, again its vanity reporting and a very specious logic is needed to connect it to anything bar the very obvious

Site Health & Speed Tracking – ScreamingFrog vs SEMRush

  • Still very important metrics and ones I will now be manually tracking in a more diagnostic mode weekly via ScreamingFrog
  • This approach is far more live and real, the scanner is a local environment tool with cloud infrastructure as needed
  • The results are accurate, the data is live, a more realistic view of your site
  • Its far faster
  • Free vs Paid with ScreamingFrog is a good investment

Clients Can Use Screaming Frog Locally for Free

One thing I love about it is its got a fair pricing model, the free/entry level tool is excellent, the paid one has enterprise services attached that are fairly priced, checkout more here:

In Summary

  • Paid Keyword trackers are not worth the investment
  • Paid site health scanners are less that reliable these days
  • All of these companies have the same issues this is not SEMRush related, but they have done little in the last 5 years bar adding more pointless reporting tools and vanity data
  • KPIs are and should be connected to your bottom line, not to made up metrics like Share of Voice and other vanity chart builders, where you see heaps of graphics for no real data
  • Technical SEO tools will always be relevant, the code is what Google/Baidu/Yandex and all major SEs consume
  • Fuzzy logic is not a good way to learn or sell SEO
  • GSC has come a long way, it is now a fine tool
  • GA is as always an up-sales tool built like a slot machine for AdWords, GA is not a tool to use in any shape or form for any size business, traffic aside Google cannot be trusted with this amount of global data, no one should be!

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