Advanced Web Ranking (AWR) Review

 

This review is part of the SEO tools comparison report. View the entire report here.

Introducing the tool

Advanced web ranking logoAdvanced Web Ranking

Advanced Web Ranking* is one of the first “SEO tools” I ever used. Back when a Raven was, well a Raven, and SEO was about keyword rankings and getting listed in DMOZ Advanced Web Ranking (or AWR to the lazy writer) was powering the keyword ranking reports being produced by SEO agencies the world over. These days AWR is still the de facto solution for anyone looking for a reliable desktop based rank checking tool but with its latest incarnation the AWR team have included a number of additional features which take it beyond just a very good rank checker and position it as a contender in our all in one SEO tools comparison.

Unique to the tools we’re looking at here AWR is a desktop tool rather than an online SaaS solution. The issue with that is your data is essentially confined to one physical machine rather than being available online (in my past agency life we actually had a dedicated AWR machine which even sat in its own office!). There are also a few benefits to a desktop application – stability and uptime being the most obvious but also speed. Where Raven, SEOmoz et al can take days to return your ranking results, AWR will start updating as soon as you setup your report. There’s also no limit to the number of keywords or ‘projects’ you can setup with any version of AWR, unlike most of the other tools here which cost more the more you use them.

The software works on PC and Mac and costs from $99-$1500 depending on the version you go for.

Rank checking

Advanced Web Ranking, given its name and the fact that rank checking used to be its raison d’etre, is, as you’d expect a heavyweight contender when it comes to the best rank checking tool we’ve looked at. There’s a lot of good reasons to use AWR as your rank checking solution even if you’re running the other all-in-one tools we’ve gone through here. Because AWR runs locally there’s no keyword limits so you can check the rankings of 10,000 keywords on every search engine, everyday if you so wish. You’ll need to set it up to retrieve data via proxy servers if you are serious about extracting this much data from Google and this requires the Enterprise version ($399) or higher. If you set the request rate low enough (the frequency with which you make a request to Google) you can get away with retrieving keywords in the thousands per day without a proxy though. Just bear in mind the more keywords you track, the more difficulties you’ll run into, Google does not like you using this type of software or doing any rank tracking really.

Advanced web ranking ranking report

Excellent keyword ranking analysis in AWR

The biggest benefit of AWR’s rank tracking is the granular, daily keyword analysis you can conduct. This is especially useful for closely analysing keyword historic data. If you’ve recently felt the effects of Google’s algo updates where your keywords may be bouncing on a daily basis then this can prove to be a very useful feature and the fast, clean AWR interface is the best tool for this sort of job once you’ve got used to the slightly overwhelming UI.

Link management/ analysis

AWR’s ‘Links’ tab does contain some link analysis information, although this stops short of what you might call ‘link management’ – there’s no CRM features like Raven or BuzzStream and you can’t add or delete links, instead AWR really just shows you your backlinks and their related metrics as reported by SEOmoz’ linkscape index. This is a fine added bonus to the rank checking tool and if you’re not actively building links will give you some insights. The historical view of link data in particular is nicely implemented but this is severely hampered by the infrequency of updates to the Linkscape database. This would be far more useful if it used Majestic SEO data (which is more up to date) and then provided SEOmoz’ mozRank scores next to each link which Majestic discovers. If you have a lot of links or are a heavy user of AWR with multiple sites you’re likely to need to pay for API credits to use the links tool in AWR.

High level link analysis but AWR links function lacks depth

High level link analysis but AWR links function lacks depth

Its worth noting the makers of AWR have a sister product designed wholly for link management

Onsite optimisation

AWR's site auditor tool has some nice features

AWR’s site auditor tool has some nice features

Under the ‘research’ tab in AWR you’ll find a few tools which help with onsite optimisation. The website auditor tool is the most useful, similar to the SEOmoz Web App the dashboard will show you errors and warnings about things like broken links but dig a little deeper and you’ll actually find that AWR have built a pretty decent we crawler tool into their software which similar to something like Screaming Frog or Xenu will crawl all the pages on your site and show you technical info like response codes, page titles, whether the page is indexed by Google or blocked by Robots.txt. These are impressive features and may save you purchasing an additional tool to perform this sort of analysis on your site.

Price

As we mentioned at the start AWR is the only tool we’ve looked at which doesn’t tie you into a recurring monthly subscription – we like this a lot. The standard software costs $99 and has most of the features any solo SEO is likely to need but agencies are probably better suited to the $399 enterprise edition which lets you use proxy servers to gather rankings and export your data for other applications. The software comes with 12 months of support, after that you need to purchase an extra support licence (but only if you need support with something). There’s also an extra charge for ‘link credits’ to use the linkscape API data. This is fairly reasonable (cheaper than running a separate SEOmoz subscription if you’re using that just for link data) but honestly if you’re serious about link building I would probably go without this feature of AWR and invest in a more robust tool for measuring and monitoring your link profile. All in all though AWR represents great value and a far more affordable long-term solution than any other tool we’ve looked at. (See plans*)

Conclusions

Although some might see a desktop solution as old-hat, I really enjoyed not having to login to a slow web app every time I wanted to check some rankings – other tools should take heed of this – right now every web based tool I’ve looked at has had website performance issues (actually to be fair I noticed this less with AnalyticsSEO). If you’re offering SaaS and charging hundreds of dollars a month you need to be reinvesting in some decent servers capable of bearing the load.

AWR has certainly come along a long way since I first used it and some of the non-rank checking features are really good, especially the site auditor tool, while others like the links and social tools seem a bit like they’re there for the sake of calling it an all in one tool (Raven are also probably guilty of this with some of their 3rd party integrations). Ultimately though I see this as an ideal solution for small agencies and in-house SEO’s who manage large websites but actually anyone who needs to monitor lots of keyword rankings on a regular basis should already have a copy of AWR for its rank checking alone.

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