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Is Google at War with SEO Professionals?

DBS Interactive
Graphic of RavenTools Logo

Raven Tools, a popular search engine optimization and PPC metrics tool provider recently announced that it will be discontinuing its rank checker tool. The decision by Raven Tools to stop displaying SERPs rankings and keywords within its tool set, was made in favor of staying on Google’s good side and retaining access to the AdWords API.

Many within the industry rely heavily on tools such as the one provided by Raven Tools to gain insight and perspective on their SEO efforts. By analyzing ranking data scraped from Google’s search results pages, search engine professionals use these tools to continually increase the effectiveness of SEO campaigns.

What does it mean for the future of the industry? What were Google’s motives? How did it all come to this?

Looking Back on the Past Year

To try and forecast what the future holds, let’s take a look at the steps Google has taken leading up to the most recent event involving Raven Tools.  Market Samurai, a popular all-in-one SEO desktop client announced via a blog post on January 29th of this year it would switch from Google to Bing after Google made changes to its services that prevented Market Samurai from operating properly.  Since the switch, Market Samurai has continued operation using a mix of data from Google and Bing.

The next domino fell on November 14th when SEOMoz announced its API access to Google AdWords had been revoked by Google. SEOMoz failed to explain why access had been revoked, but with SEOMoz being one of the largest and most influential SEO data providers we can only assume that that a failed annual Google AdWords audit was the reason for the revocation of its API access.

What is Google’s Motive?

Google’s terms of service are crystal clear: Any product or product feature that collects scraped data or uses scraped data acquired from another source is not allowed and will result in revocation of access to the AdWords API. However, these rules have been largely un-enforced for years.

So why is Google now enforcing the rules on products that use scraped data? Perhaps this is as simple as Google cuttings costs. It is no secret that Google carries huge expenses with its data centers and the vast amount of automated queries being generated by 3rd party programs, like Raven Tools, only increases those expenses. The other possible answer behind this move could be that Google is very close to launching their own premium tool for analyzing rankings and this is an attempt to rein in the amount of data that 3rd party competitors have access to for their offerings.

Implications on SEO

Recent developments in search engine optimization have been trending toward an emphasis on quality content. Individual keyword rankings only represent a small portion of the overall effect of a properly executed search engine optimization. Metrics such as search engine traffic are better indicators of the health of a search engine optimization campaign considering that search queries are trending towards more long-tail. As opposed to individual keyword rankings, search engine professionals will likely use filters to show the impact SEO is having on larger “categories” of keywords.

What Does the Future Hold?

Is this the newest front on Google’s war against SEOs? Will the trend continue and access to the API be revoked for other 3rd party services? Will Raven Tools follow Market Samurai’s lead and switch to Bing for its SERPs and Keyword data? Right now, the questions far outweigh the answers. However, it is safe to assume that an all-in-one solution will likely cease to exist for SEOs in the very near future.  Unfortunately, for now, that is all we can be certain of. but rest assured that DBS is on watch and will keep you up to date as developments within the field arise.