Will Google provide a rank-checking service?

Will Google provide a rank-checking service? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Mark Lykle from Oslo, Norway asks, “When will Google create a software similar to WebPosition so that SEOs, spam fighters and regular webmasters can check rankings etc without violating the guidelines?  Why not make a better product instead of going to war against these programs?” Well I wouldn’t call it going to war,  I mean our guidelines have said the same thing that they’ve said for 5,6,7 years,  Which is essentially please don’t hit us with automated queries And, the reason that we’ve said that is that because people do hit us with automated queries and that takes up some server capacity So when someone is scraping Google, if we know that person, we might write to them and politely say  “hey, please stop scraping, it does violate our guidelines, it does take server capacity, we’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t scrape us.” We do have automated systems to protect ourselves from denial of service attacks, scrapers… there are some viruses, and trojans, and malware that try to spread themselves by doing searches on Google for vulnerable software and so we try to find those things and block it. So if something is taking up a sizable amount of server resources we do have automated systems that attempt to stop that. That said we do have tools for example in the Webmaster Tools console;  So at google.com/webmasters where you can sign up and you can see the sorts of words that you are ranking for and sorts of words that people sort of click through onto your site for And I think we have a philosophy that it doesn’t do you as much good to pay really a ton of attention to ranking reports;  its much better to look at your server logs to see what are the queries people are really showing up for. And maybe try to find queries that you rank at number five or number four that you could rank at number 2 or 3 or 1 or queries that you rank on the second page and you could maybe move to the first page. And then you could also look at those queries and try to improve your ROI so if 1% of the people who land on your site convert into people who subscribe to your newsletter or buy your products; If you can improve that so that more people convert that’s a much faster way to improve your bottom line than just trying to rank for everything when it isn’t necessarily relevant.  So I think its a little bit of philosophy that we don’t want to encourage people to get obsessed with their rankings when in fact they should be paying attention to what they already have in their server logs. And thinking about how to convert better and thinking about those sorts of terms rather then getting obsessed with ranking That said I would support, if we had more ability for people to see the sorts of things that they rank for in Google’s webmaster console, it’s just a question of resources. Is it better to support something like the canonical link tag which takes an engineer working on it? Or ranking reports? And, at least historically we’ve said ok let’s have these newer features. Let’s show you all of your backlinks, let’s show you what your latency looks like when Googlebot fetches your page  and not concentrate or obsess so much about ranking reports. So that’s a rough little background about how we feel about it.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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