SE Ranking Review

 
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Review Updated August 2020

Introduction

SE Ranking aims to be an easy to use all in one SEO tool. Originally focussed on gathering ranking data for your key search terms, it has matured today into a fully-fledged and powerful Search marketing toolset. It’s not quite as full-featured as tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush but it’s actually quite close and with a price point far lower than those tools command. 

This tool will adequately serve most users well if they are looking for a cost-effective and powerful suite of tools to help them with their SEO and PPC efforts and even supports social posting to Facebook and Twitter. It’s also generous in its data limits and doesn’t lock you down with tiny user or website limits, and, as you will learn, it has lots of other really handy tricks up its sleeve.

Rank tracking and ranking reports

As the name of the tool suggests one of SE Ranking’s primary functions is the monitoring of your keyword rankings in search engines and it does this really well.

The SE Ranking rank tracking tool is designed to be as simple and intuitive to use as possible and in that respect, I think it succeeds. Compared to the complicated layouts of ranking results in desktop software like AWR and SEO Powersuite I really enjoyed the simplicity of the layout. Even with large sets of results, it’s quite easy to filter down and make sense of the data in front of you. For that, it should be applauded.

The tool allows you to have up to 5 variations for every keyword you monitor. So for example  if your keyword tracking allowance is 1000 keywords you get just that, but you can monitor rankings for both mobile and desktop for both Bing and Google and not get charged for 4000 keywords.  That’s a much more transparent way of presenting these limits and something more tools should consider. The ability to add multiple destinations is another bonus but be sure to structure things within the limit of 5 variations. For most organisations that should provide plenty of flexibility.

SE Ranking Keyword Historical Rank checking report
SE Ranking’s Historic Overview Report

I also liked some of the features of the rank tracker. The historic overview screen is great for tracking progress over time. It’s useful to be able to monitor rankings at a local level, using a postcode to set the location to retrieve ranking data against. This is great for local SEO campaigns. I think the tool could be a very nice fit for any organisation or brand with lots of localised presence they want to monitor and improve. Equally, it would work for small to medium-sized local businesses wanting to monitor their local rankings

When you sign up to the tool you can choose to monitor your keyword rankings on either a daily, every 3 days or weekly basis.  It’s great they offer this flexibility as not everyone needs daily rankings. If you do it’s good to know the tool is running in the background on the cloud. By contrast, desktop software has to be running on your machine or on a server so there’s always the risk of something going wrong and losing data.

Another new development is the completely redesigned notes feature. This makes it possible to add notes directly to your charts and graphs,  You can now create notes for any section of the Rankings module enabling you to augment the unfolding data story as you go. It’s a simple feature but so powerful for both busy individuals and teams managing lots of projects. Some of the notes will appear on the graphs and charts automatically.

I also liked how the tool marks charts with a + sign when you add new keywords to a project. Targeting new keywords obviously affects your average ranking position, search visibility and other indicators. Notes will help you understand what caused your graphs and charts to change.

The report scheduling and white-labelling of the branding are agency friendly and again makes your reporting hands-off – ideal for small or local SEO projects.

Analytics & Traffic

Having the ability to pull in your Google Analytics and Search Console data gives you all the data you need in one place. No more jumping between tabs or struggling to report on different tools you are using.  We felt the interface around the Google search console data gave Google’s own search console interface a run for its money. It works in a similar way but you have the ability to segment the data further by search type, country or device.

It’s also easy to compare and contrast different date ranges to review monthly search volume. With its clear and consistent revamped visual interface it makes all the data available through these interfaces easier to interpret from an SEO perspective however many clients you have you will have all  need  for analysis available in one place

Backlink Monitoring

Backlink monitoring has also been given a big overhaul. It’s now a very visual interface with lots of control in the form of useful filters to help simplify your backlink analysis and link building efforts. It allows you to do things like select to view only active or lost backlinks or to ignore nofollow disavowed backlinks.

Website audit tool

While rankings may be the primary focus of SE Ranking there are a couple of other tools which are going to be a value add for some users. The website audit tool does a scan of your site (the number of pages is limited by the plan you’re on) and you get a checklist of potential issues with your technical SEO. As I’ve said when using similar features on other tools we’ve looked at, these tools can be useful, but can also be dangerous in the wrong hands.

SE Ranking Site Auditor
SE Ranking Site Audit Report

The SE Ranking audit tool works nicely and the layout of recommendations is clean and easy to follow but I am dubious about some of the checks it runs. For example, there’s a robots.txt test which seems to simply check that there is a robots.txt file available on the site. You get a tick just for not having flash on your site and a warning if a page has less than 250 words.

Other recommendations are just plain strange such as;

“If you use the trailing slashes at the end of the URL it makes it pretty and clear, while the URL without slash will look quite weird.”

The website audit tool isn’t the strongest we have seen in similar tools, but it will help to highlight some of the more obvious issues sites have. The ability to be able to export all of the results it references as a .xls Excel spreadsheet is a bonus.

However, the tool could work harder. For example, the pages with 4xx response will list the pages that are broken but when you download that data to excel you just get a list of the broken URL’s and not the places that link to them.

 In the tool itself, you can go through each broken link and it will tell you where the links came from, but to be honest, that’s a lot of extra work to piece together if your client needs to get these links fixed.  We’d actually want the broken links, the URL’s that reference them and also any anchor text or image used for that link in order to track it down and fix it. Small details like that would really help, so if you are reading this SE Ranking, please add this to your development roadmap!

The report that allows you to compare different audits over time is a useful addition and will help you to monitor and demonstrate gradual improvement. We also liked the Page changes monitoring. This allows you to monitor specific URLs for any changes.

If you have ever managed On-page SEO changes and had things adjust by others using the website you will know the frustration that your efforts can be undone. Adding pages you are optimising and monitoring them for changes as an alert is a useful piece of functionality. It is also useful if you are delegating the task to other team members or delegating it to be done in house.

SEranking Monitor for changes tool

Competitor Research 

Since we last looked at SE Ranking, the competitor research module has had what looks like a big overhaul, and seeing what this can now do got us enthusiastic. You gain the ability to research any competitor’s PPC or organic performance. The charts and graphs it lays out are visual and easy to read, and there are no limits on the data you get back. If you have used tools like SEMrush you will be very at home with the reports in this section and slightly taken aback that a tool this affordable now offers this kind of functionality. All plans include this functionality and its a real bonus.

For those on the Plus and Enterprise packages, the competitor research tool can be white labelled which we think will be a big hit with agencies looking to give some value added to their clients.

Increasingly Organic and Paid listings in search engines overlap in their reach so having access to data on both of these areas is useful. For international campaigns, the interface also makes it very easy to jump between different national databases.

Keyword Research

The keyword research tool has also been updated in line with the competitor research tool. You can immediately see any search query’s search volume dynamics, evaluate seasonal changes to monthly search volume and see cost per click data for multiple geo-locations. You can also get an idea of how difficult it will be to get into the top 10 organic search results with a keyword difficulty score. 

The addition of similar and related keyword tabs is a big improvement helping you to broaden your keyword ideas and research in a controlled and semantically meaningful way. A lot of the tools now include this kind of functionality but the interface design on this tool is easy on the eye and does a good job of not overwhelming you with too much at once. Focus when working keyword research is a really important part of the process.

PPC Competitor Keyword Research

We have always been a big fan of tools like SEMRush for looking into PPC keyword data on competitors. So as we had access to an account we thought we would see how SE Rankings data compared in both tools for a well-known brand domain. The results somewhat surprised us. SE Ranking was able to harvest over 3 times as many PPC keywords as SEMrush. We thought maybe that was an anomaly. So we tried a different brand in SE Ranking and got 8779 keywords back. For the same brand viewing the UK database, SEMrush’s PPC keyword research tool gave us just 3,400 keywords. We tried a third domain. Again three times+ more paid keyword data. Even if we added together the mobile and desktop keyword terms in SEMrush, SE ranking was massively outperforming them in terms of raw data. Maybe it was just a paid data thing? We checked for the reported organic keywords and again SE Ranking was typically giving us twice as many organic keywords. Our jaws hit the floor!

We were able to download ad level data for all the keywords in both tools, but SE Rankings overview was so much fuller giving much better insight into overall strategies. So if you were having any doubts on the size of their database for competitive research, either run some similar tests yourself or take it as read that this tool’s dataset is deep and rich.

Results based invoicing

This is a really interesting feature you’ll find in the reports section of the tool. It allows agencies to set per day pricing for keywords to appear in certain positions. So for example, if a target keyword is in position #1 you could charge £10/ day. Position #2 £5/ day and so forth. While I don’t know any agencies who charge like this (or any clients who would be happy to pay in this way!) it’s an interesting feature and one I’ve never seen on any other tool. If this is your pricing model, or you’d like it to be then this could be the tool for you.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.22.09

 Social Media Marketing

The SMM section of the tool feels like its a little bit light. Currently, it only connects to two social networks.

The tool allows you to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to monitor the stats for your social groups and pages right in SE Ranking. You can also create and auto-post social media updates for your pages to keep your social media profiles updated on a regular basis without having to log into the networks. It feels very much like a work in progress.

 It’s nice to see this functionality under development but we struggle to imagine who would make use of this just yet. The documentation makes the point you don’t need to log into separate accounts but with only two networks available and limited reporting, it just feels too light a tool at this stage to be actually practically useful.

Our guess is that other networks and functionality will follow, so watch this space. They really do need to in our opinion if this tool is to become an asset to the suite of tools that are available.

Reports

I like the automated reports created by SE Ranking which can include keyword rankings and other reports like results from the website audit and visitor data from Google Analytics (if connected). You get a wide selection of ready-made templates and can add multiple sections to the report, reporting on any of the data within the toolset.

Rankings, Analytics and traffic, competitors, Social Media, Website Audits, Marketing Plan and an overview Account report can all be mixed matched and dice together. for each element of the reporting section, you get all sorts of filters and controls to fine-tune what is shown.

SE Ranking Report tool

The Interface is simple to use and feels intuitive. You can add in Titles, Text Bocks, Custom Page breaks and images which makes customising a report to your own style much easier. Adding images is a simple but powerful addition allowing you to include screenshots and any other type of custom data should you need it. Altogether it’s a robust reporting tool. Reports can be output as PDF, Excel or Html reports. 

The reports produced are colourful and clear.  You can save your own custom templates making it easy to scale up reporting without the need to create custom reports individually for every account. There is also automated report scheduling which is a huge time saver if you have a number of different projects you are managing.

 It not only runs the reports but you can schedule them to be emailed, and control and adjust the time periods the automated report covers. Altogether this aspect of the reporting suite has time-saving and power written all over it.

Marketing Plan

Good SEO is often about making sure you have covered all of the bases to ensure your site performs better than it did and outperforms the competition. Some things you do have quite quick results, others take much longer and are a slow burn. Success is often about persistence and commitment to the process. 

That’s where SE Rankings Marketing plan come into play. It’s effectively a built-in to-do list. It comes auto-populated with a large number of elements that need attending to. As you complete them you can check them off. Again it’s a simple tool but in terms of ensuring where you are at with multiple projects, it’s a good one.

I also liked the way you can add your own steps and processes into the list. More seasoned SEO types will love that. If you are following current best practice this enables you to update and evolve what you cover in each SEO engagement. The Marketing Planner then is a great tool and I think a lot of organisation will find this aspect of the suite particularly powerful as its so customisable.

SE Ranking Pricing

As a hosted SaaS tool you pay for SE Ranking as a monthly or annual subscription with prices ranging from £23 to £535/ month or larger plans for enterprise users with lots of keywords to monitor. Compared to other tools in this space, Pricing plans are flexible allowing you to monitor keywords daily, every 3 days or every week (less frequent updates are cheaper).

 In competitive sectors, I’d recommend you monitor keywords on a daily basis but for smaller sites, local businesses or slow-moving search results weekly ranking reports are absolutely fine. The flexibility to choose and to gain a big discount on tool cost is really good. Checking weekly rather than daily can save you up to 40%.

In past reviews, we have questioned SE Ranking’s value for money depending on your use of it and the type of organisation you are. With all the features that have recently been added, SE Ranking, now provides what we think is excellent value for what it offers. You get a powerful SEO and SEM fully featured toolset for a fraction of what some of the other all in one suites offer. 

With the inclusion of PPC data and updating of the whole interface, SE Ranking will particularly appeal to anyone who has used tools like SEMRush with similar levels of power and functionality to boot. What you wont get however is the ever spiralling cost such tools like that can heap upon you as soon as you want to add more users. SE ranking allows for unlimited users and for their mid tier pricing they offer white labelling. For a proud brand, or for an agency that’s a big plus in SE rankings favour.

At the enterprise level SE Ranking may appeal to agencies with a lot of keywords to run regularly for clients. It helps to avoid the logistical hassle of downloading and storing thousands of keyword rankings on a daily basis. While £500/ month may seem expensive to some, distributed across 10 or 20 paying clients, it soon pays for itself.

Conclusion

There is so much in the new SERanking that we really love. A few of the toolsets clearly need more time to develop. The site auditor definitely has room for improvement and the Social Media Management module is still to grow into something useful in my opinion. However, Rome was not built in a day and if the metamorphosis that has clearly been going on in 2020 continues, I think those weaker less developed tools will soon be developed into real strengths. 

With the flexible price and generous data allowances, this tool make it a very strong contender in the full SEO suite arena. We’ve been fans of it for a long time as a rank checking tool but all these recent upgrades give some of the top end and most popular tools a serious run for their money.

Top-flight tools are more developed but they come at a premium price. Prices can escalate to thousands of pounds a year when you start adding in more properties and more users. That’s not the case with SE Rankings price structure. What the development team as SEranking have done is really a remarkable transformation and we applaud them. So in conclusion, SE Ranking is powerful, covers many bases and in our opinion one of the most affordable all in one solutions we have reviewed in 2020.

If you are using another tool, we would encourage you to play with the demo and or take our the 14-day free trial. It may just cause you to seriously ask “Which of these do I love more?” With all the functionality I explored, I personally found this a hard question to answer and I may just have to switch. Competition watch out. SE Ranking may well be coming after you on a mission to win.

You can get SE Ranking on a 14-day free trial. There is also a Live demo which you can play with to see the different features and functionality.

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