SEO Tip #25: Will Google provide a rank-checking service?

Matt Cutts: Well I wouldn’t call it going to war with these other programs. Our guidelines have said the same thing for years, which is essentially please don’t hit us with automated queries.

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.”

Then 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. 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’s Tools console at, where you can sign up and see the sorts of words that you are ranking for and the sorts of words that people click through to your site for.

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. It’s 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 3 or 2 or 1, or queries where you rank on the second page and you could maybe move to the first page.

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 it’s 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 than 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 bit of background about how we feel about it.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.