Revisiting SheerSEO One Year Later

May 11, 2009   //   by Gerald Weber   //   SEO Blog  //  32 Comments

Last week, I was browsing through some Search Engine Journal posts from last year when I came across the following post by Ann Smarty – SheerSEO : Another Way To Track Your Google Rankings. After reading her post and noticing that the tool had some very interesting features, I decided that I wanted to try it out for myself. Although Ann wrote a great post, it was written nearly a year ago, so I thought it would be useful to share my more recent experience with
SheerSEO Historical Positions

If you want to use this tool to provide information to your clients, you can also take advantage of their white label feature, which allows you customize and brand the information that you show to your clients:

SheerSEO White Label

In Ann’s original review, she noted several shortcomings of SheerSEO. However, it looks like they have responded to her constructive criticism. Below are the shortcomings that Ann noted in her original post, along with information about any responseSheerSEO has made to them:

-direct links to the aggregated data: There are now links to these pages in the Position? column

-more backlink data: Although their Backlinks Watchdog feature could come in handy, I agree that this is one area where the tool could still be improved

-more sorting and filtering options: Currently, you can now select the Date Range, Search Engine and Search Term on the Historical Positions page

-the ability to track multiple projects: It looks like SheerSEO solved this issue by introducing a Master Account feature

One other main difference between when Ann reviewed SheerSEO and now is that while it was completely free to use when Ann reviewed it, a new pricing structure has been introduced for the tool. However, not only can you use the tool without paying for a full three months, but their paid options after the trial period are quite reasonable, as you can see from the table below:

SheerSEO Pricing

After my experience with this SEO tool, I feel comfortable recommending that all of our readers sign up for a trial account. Given the fact that you can useSheerSEO for a full three months before paying a single cent, you should have no problem deciding if this tool fits your needs during that period of time.

When you try out SheerSEO for yourself (or if you have done so already), be sure to leave a comment with your experience for us all to read!

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Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Comment Policy

  • Does using this tool violate google's TOS?

    Their quality guidelines say you aren't supposed to use software that monitors pagerank, eg webmaster gold. I can't see how they could expect everyone to know that or would penalize sites for using a service which seems very legitimate though, like this one or a server-based tracker like pagerankalert.com ??

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      gruvr music map,

      There was almost the exact same question on Ann Smarty's post a year ago. While I honestly can't speak intelligently about Google's tos regarding this type of service I'll simply quote the response on Ann's original SEJ post.

      "Google should not have any say regarding automated queries since this is exactly what they do! Are SEO experts expected to sit down and perform gazillion of search queries manually and put them in Excel?! – that would also consume the exact same resources as an automated query tool.

      Other than that – sheerseo never sends the domain together with the search queries so there is no way to know who is the originator of those queries."

      -Eyal

      • Its not a question of whether goog should or shouldn't do what they do – I agree with your opinion, but google is a monopoly and can force webmasters to conform to their idea of 'quality' to the detriment of their competitors.

        GOOG does penalize sites for violating their TOS or quality guidelines – and they block IPs who do automated scraping without using an approved API, e.g. webmaster Gold. What's to stop them from blocking users of SheerSEO ?

        <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..Map of hausham concerts</abbr>

        • Gerald Weber
          Twitter:
          says:

          This service has nothing to do with automated scraping. I'm not sure how that made it's way into this conversation. I Personally despise automated scraping programs and I report them to Google when I find them scraping my content

        • hi gerald, sorry I used the wrong term – I would actually like to try this tool but have had sites penalized before, possibly due to the TOS issue.

          I had asked in the google webmaster forums whether a similar service was OK to use, and their answer was that unless the service was accessing a supported google API, it was not OK. One difference was that the service in question was reporting toolbar pagerank, not just SERP postions.

          I can try hunting down those posts/replies if you're interested.

          <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..Aiden tickets</abbr>

  • Does using this tool violate google’s TOS?

    Their quality guidelines say you aren’t supposed to use software that monitors pagerank, eg webmaster gold. I can’t see how they could expect everyone to know that or would penalize sites for using a service which seems very legitimate though, like this one or a server-based tracker like pagerankalert.com ??

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      gruvr music map,

      There was almost the exact same question on Ann Smarty’s post a year ago. While I honestly can’t speak intelligently about Google’s tos regarding this type of service I’ll simply quote the response on Ann’s original SEJ post.

      “Google should not have any say regarding automated queries since this is exactly what they do! Are SEO experts expected to sit down and perform gazillion of search queries manually and put them in Excel?! – that would also consume the exact same resources as an automated query tool.

      Other than that – sheerseo never sends the domain together with the search queries so there is no way to know who is the originator of those queries.”

      -Eyal

      • Its not a question of whether goog should or shouldn't do what they do – I agree with your opinion, but google is a monopoly and can force webmasters to conform to their idea of 'quality' to the detriment of their competitors.

        GOOG does penalize sites for violating their TOS or quality guidelines – and they block IPs who do automated scraping without using an approved API, e.g. webmaster Gold. What's to stop them from blocking users of SheerSEO ?

        <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..Map of hausham concerts</abbr>

        • Gerald Weber
          Twitter:
          says:

          This service has nothing to do with automated scraping. I’m not sure how that made it’s way into this conversation. I Personally despise automated scraping programs and I report them to Google when I find them scraping my content

        • hi gerald, sorry I used the wrong term – I would actually like to try this tool but have had sites penalized before, possibly due to the TOS issue.

          I had asked in the google webmaster forums whether a similar service was OK to use, and their answer was that unless the service was accessing a supported google API, it was not OK. One difference was that the service in question was reporting toolbar pagerank, not just SERP postions.

          I can try hunting down those posts/replies if you're interested.

          <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..Aiden tickets</abbr>

  • Ann Smarty says:

    Thanks for the link :) Your review is definitely more detailed than the one I did last year.

    Good tool and very low rates, so everyone just should try it out and see if they like it.

    <abbr>Ann Smarty’s last blog post..How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities</abbr>

  • Ann Smarty says:

    Thanks for the link :) Your review is definitely more detailed than the one I did last year.

    Good tool and very low rates, so everyone just should try it out and see if they like it.

    Ann Smarty’s last blog post..How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities

  • Jim Summer says:

    Nice article G. Thanks for (re)pointing out this resource :~) My [day] company is on the verge of spending a good chunk on additional reporting tools, a 3 month trial should provide additional insight so we can make the most informed purchasing decision possible.

    Thanks,

    ~ Jim

    ~ tweet: @seo_web_design

  • Jim Summer says:

    Nice article G. Thanks for (re)pointing out this resource :~) My [day] company is on the verge of spending a good chunk on additional reporting tools, a 3 month trial should provide additional insight so we can make the most informed purchasing decision possible.
    Thanks,
    ~ Jim
    ~ tweet: @seo_web_design

  • … to clarify what I was saying, although you don't transmit the domain name it's still easy for GOOG to correlate your domain by noting the IP address of a SheerSEO user is the same as that which manages a domain in the GWT tool…

    <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..CHIODOS tickets</abbr>

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      This service does not strike me as something with malicious or black hat intent. i.e. It’s purpose is not to manipulate Google results but only to check existing rankngs. I see no harm in that. I think you are being over paranoid my friend.

  • … to clarify what I was saying, although you don't transmit the domain name it's still easy for GOOG to correlate your domain by noting the IP address of a SheerSEO user is the same as that which manages a domain in the GWT tool…

    <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..CHIODOS tickets</abbr>

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      This service does not strike me as something with malicious or black hat intent. i.e. It's purpose is not to manipulate Google results but only to check existing rankngs. I see no harm in that. I think you are being over paranoid my friend.

  • Hi Gerald – I agree that I may be overly paranoid, but my experience is one cannot be too paranoid when one company controls the vast majority of your search traffic :-) Still, I don't mean to raise undue concern and would like to try this tool myself.

    In fact, I noticed that just today Google Webmaster Tools introduced historical SERP data (just for the top 20 searches) – which is very like the data captured by these tools.

    For reference, here is the actual language from the Google quality guidelines: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answ

    "Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."

    It would be much easier if google did not say both that these are 'just guidelines' and that they can be 'violated'

    • simon says:

      gruvr music map,

      let me play devils advocate and throw this out there regarding rank checking software….

      How could Google tell the difference between you (the site owner/webmaster) checking your own rankings and a competitor checking your rankings via one of these tools? IP detection? doubtful, you could always just go to the public library or a friends house and use their computer. If they penalized sites or banned sites for using these tools, then I (and lots of other SEOs) would be continuously checking my competitors rankings every day with one of these tools so that they would get penalized.

  • Hi Gerald – I agree that I may be overly paranoid, but my experience is one cannot be too paranoid when one company controls the vast majority of your search traffic :-) Still, I don't mean to raise undue concern and would like to try this tool myself.

    In fact, I noticed that just today Google Webmaster Tools introduced historical SERP data (just for the top 20 searches) – which is very like the data captured by these tools.

    For reference, here is the actual language from the Google quality guidelines: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answ

    "Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."

    It would be much easier if google did not say both that these are 'just guidelines' and that they can be 'violated'

    • simon says:

      gruvr music map,

      let me play devils advocate and throw this out there regarding rank checking software….

      How could Google tell the difference between you (the site owner/webmaster) checking your own rankings and a competitor checking your rankings via one of these tools? IP detection? doubtful, you could always just go to the public library or a friends house and use their computer. If they penalized sites or banned sites for using these tools, then I (and lots of other SEOs) would be continuously checking my competitors rankings every day with one of these tools so that they would get penalized.

  • Well it'd be just like goog detecting you clicking on adsense ads on your own site. They can and do detect/penalize this.

    Sure, some would evade by using public computers (not just different locations with your same laptop/cookies.. ) but that becomes quite inconvenient especially if you rely on downloaded apps.

    The malicious attack doesn't work because IP/cookie correlation would only match to your site's GWT account etc…

    <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..NICKELBACK tickets</abbr>

  • Well it'd be just like goog detecting you clicking on adsense ads on your own site. They can and do detect/penalize this.

    Sure, some would evade by using public computers (not just different locations with your same laptop/cookies.. ) but that becomes quite inconvenient especially if you rely on downloaded apps.

    The malicious attack doesn't work because IP/cookie correlation would only match to your site's GWT account etc…

    <abbr>gruvr music map’s last blog post..NICKELBACK tickets</abbr>

  • I think Google has some good plans for their analytics tool which has already rolled out with some new features over the last few months. I ti sin their best interest anyways, that info is valuable.

    <abbr>Nick Stamoulis’s last blog post..Submit Your Sitemap To Ask.com</abbr>

  • I think Google has some good plans for their analytics tool which has already rolled out with some new features over the last few months. I ti sin their best interest anyways, that info is valuable.

    <abbr>Nick Stamoulis’s last blog post..Submit Your Sitemap To Ask.com</abbr>

  • Ryan Nelson says:

    Automatic scraping stinks.. Be are ripping off other peoples hard work. and if you don’t report them they get the upper hand with the search engines… PLEASE REPORT SCRAPPERS!
    .-= Ryan Nelson´s last blog ..SEO Consulting Firm =-.

  • Ryan Nelson says:

    Automatic scraping stinks.. Be are ripping off other peoples hard work. and if you don’t report them they get the upper hand with the search engines… PLEASE REPORT SCRAPPERS!
    .-= Ryan Nelson´s last blog ..SEO Consulting Firm =-.