New features: Search queries, average rank and more

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What’s better than inaccurate, scraped ranking results from Google?

Accurate search data that includes impressions, clicks, click-through rate and average rank – directly from Google Webmaster Tools.

And that’s what you get in Raven, starting right now.

Our new Top Searches tool collects search queries data from Google Webmaster Tools once a day and displays change over time for query count, clicks, impressions and click-through rate. It also keeps track of average rank changes.

Top Search Queries from GWT

It’s the perfect – and more accurate – replacement for scraped ranking results.

The problem with rankings

There are a few big problems with scraped ranking results:

  • They’re retrieved by a computer that doesn’t represent the typical user experience.
  • The ranking result only represents one instance of that search. With the onset of universal search, geo-influenced results, search history and Google+, where your site actually ranks varies greatly.

In fact, the only truly accurate way to measure where a keyword ranks for your site is with average rank.

What is average rank?

So what exactly is average rank? Google, which calls it “average position,” defines it as “the average top position of your site on the search results page for that query.” This is how it’s calculated:

To calculate average position, we take into account the top ranking URL from your site for a particular query. For example, if Jane’s query returns your site as the #1 and #2 result, and David’s query returns your site in positions #2 and #7, your average top position would be 1.5.

A scraped result might report a keyword ranking result as #2 when in reality it actually averages out to #4 or #5 based on real-world usage. That’s a significant – and important – difference.

Why is Top Searches data important?

The Top Searches data provides valuable campaign insights. You can quickly determine targeted keywords that may rank well but have low impressions or clicks. As a result, you may decide to tweak the page title and description for the related page or choose to remove the keyword from the campaign altogether.

Another way to use this tool is to discover keywords that have a high CTR, but low average rank. From there you could add those keywords to your campaign (to the Keyword Manager) and focus on campaign strategies to improve the overall average rank.

The data is also exportable, so if you put the data into a spreadsheet, I suppose the possibilities are endless 🙂

Get started with Top Searches

Top Searches data is available in two places in Raven. You can access it via Site > Webmaster in the Google Webmaster Tools section or by going to Metrics > SEO in the new SEO Metrics section.

In order to retrieve the data from Webmaster Tools, you will need to create a restricted user account. It’s easy to do, and we provide instructions when you set it up in Raven.

Once you do that, you’ll have plenty of ways to take action on the insights you’ll see.

You can add a keyword to the Keyword Manager or research the keyword in Research Central.

Add to Keyword Manager

You can filter results by keyword and/or brand (more on that in a minute).

Search data

You can export all of the data to CSV.

Export to CSV

And most importantly, you can create a quick report or a custom report in the Report Wizard.

GWT Top Searches Report

Branded keywords

We’ve also added a powerful yet simple way to segment out branded keywords throughout the platform. You can now go to Site > Settings and enter up to five keywords and phrases that match your brand.

Branded Keywords

After you segment your keywords, you will see new filter buttons that will allow you to quickly change the data to Branded or Non-Branded. You’ll find these options in the Keyword Manager, Research Central, Google Webmaster Tools and SEO Metrics.

Brand Segmentation Filtering Options

And yes, you can report on branded and non-branded keywords too!

Your turn

We’re excited about these new additions to the Raven platform, and the valuable insights we believe these tools will bring to your work – and your bosses and clients.

Let us know what you think about Top Searches, average rank, branded keywords or any of our other 20+ tools in the comments.

We’re listening.

Photo Credit: EvelynGiggles via Compfight cc

  • This is great news! What about bing SERP?

    • We want to integrate Bing Webmaster Tools too. Once we do that, and if that data is easily available to us, we’ll include that too.

  • Jason

    Sneaky sneaky, you drop scraped serps, and hint that its useless data, hint some more about having something better long term, and here we are today. I would not have been as impressed but the explanation of why scraped data is jaded and what you have today helps your plight. I am very tempted to return back to a paying customer.

    • RavenCourtney

      Glad you’re digging it. 🙂 We definitely didn’t mean to be sneaky about it – I think we would have planned things better if that’s what we were going for! We just made it our goal to innovate out of a less-than-ideal situation. And we’re pretty excited about what we came up with!

  • Carl Gale

    Looking good. Will the time frame of the data be limited to the 6 weeks or so offered in WMT or will you store more historical data?

    • carl gale

      Can’t get this to work. Have authorised WMT, have added the raven user with limited access etc and when I try and connect I get We couldn’t find that siteDid you allow this application access to that site from within Google Webmaster Tools?

  • Matt Mikulla

    Regarding the brand filtering. If I add a brand keyword does it filter as exact match or if contains?

    Let’s say I sell Nike stuff. I’m gonna have tons of keyword queries such as “adidas shoes”, “adidas shirts”, “adidas golf hats” and also some misspellings like “adidus shoes”

    • If you only add “adidas” then it will match all variations of phrases with the word adidas in it. If you only add “adidas shoes” it will only match phrases that have that exact phrase in it (e.g. “small adidas shoes” or “adidas shoes sale”).

  • Matt Mikulla

    Not bad so far. I have lots of requests but one immediate. I’ve sent a message but I’ll throw it out there for discussion.

    Add the average rank change percentage in the report table for PDFs. Similar to the old SERP Tracker reports. The change percentages are displayed when in App so the data is there.

    • We plan on adding that. Just keep sending requests to support and we’ll see if we can address them. Thanks Matt!

  • Dan

    Is “daily” the only time-frame option available? Plans for weekly/monthly in the future?

    • Daily exports give us (and you) the most detailed information. You can still analyze the results based on a weekly or monthly date range, and also do it comparatively if the system has retrieved the data for that time period..

  • Joshua Lauer

    This is great! I’m particularly excited by the branded vs non-branded terms. From past experience, I know some brands are commonly misspelled. How does Raven deal with that? I’ve set up Advanced Segments on Google Analytics with as many as 20 filters for branded terms including misspellings. Any chance up to 5 could be up to 20?

    Also, I’m really stoked about the webmaster tools Avg Pos integration, but some of my colleagues have expressed that they don’t think webmaster tools data is accurate. They’ve described scenarios where they would log in month-after-month and see data for clients hasn’t been updated. Do you know for certain that Google is making this information more accurate and more frequently updated?

    • We don’t handle misspellings yet. Keywords have to contain at least one of the brand terms entered exactly.

      Regarding more than 5, there are length limits with the live API calls we’re making and we’re concerned with running into problems with that. For now we’re observing how well it works and will increase the number of terms if we can.

      Depending on who you talk to, the data is either completely accurate or awful 😉 Based on our tests and observations, we’re able to get the data we’re expecting to see on a daily basis. However, it can sometimes lag behind a day or two.

  • Darryl M

    Yet Analytics have told the same story with the use of a filter for KW position. Besides, slot 1 RE does not equate to high CTR or ROI. KW analysis from the searchers kaleidoscope advantage to land page value (for bounce) holds richer insight.

    • RavenCourtney

      “slot 1 RE does not equate to high CTR or ROI” Yes! That’s exactly why we added clicks and CTR side-by-side with average position. There’s a lot of insight to be gleaned from what’s ranking best as compared to what’s being clicked on most.

  • George Bounacos

    Well done, Team Raven. We use real position displays like this all the time. It shows clients the real activity, especially when parsed out daily or weekly. Great work!

    • RavenCourtney

      Thanks! Glad you think we’re on the right track. 🙂

  • Dave Macdonald

    Another awesome addition to an already awesome tool! Nice work people.

    • RavenCourtney

      Thanks! 😀

  • Susanna Kirk

    Thanks. We’ve been manually adding this report using Google Analytics. It’s great to have it integrated. Could you replicate the “branded” vs. “non-branded” functionality to accommodate (let’s say) 4-5 top search “categories”? In the external report we’ve been generating we did the same tagging mechanism for brand/non-brand as a first pass, but also used it to segment out common search types (e.g., all long-tail variants of X), so that we could review drivers of traffic coming from common search interests. It’s a hassle setting it all up with Excel. Would love to have it all streamlined here!

    • RavenCourtney

      Hi Susanna,
      We somehow missed your smart idea for a new feature and I’m so sorry about that! I will pass your idea on to our development team and see if we can make that happen in the future.

  • Susanna Kirk

    One suggestion – on the Average Position column, you have the Up / Down percentage relative to the previous month color-coded with negative numbers red and positive numbers green. Without the previous month’s number, that’s hard to interpret. Do you have plans to add the previous position to the report?

    I double-checked to be sure what this +/- % figure meant. If I was at position 10 last month, and am now at position 15, it will show +50%. This should be color-coded red to reflect a negative outcome. Whereas the reverse — an improvement from 15 to 10 — would show up as -33% and should be green. I wonder if a simple up/down number of points would be easier and more meaningful for users to interpret, like you had on the old SERP reports?


  • Two big thumbs up, Raven. Keep on Rockin’.

  • Accelerate Media

    Hey Jon or Courtney, can you comment on Carl’s original question, will the Average postion data be automatically stored beyond the 3 months it is natively available in WMT?

    • Yes. Right now the system exports and stores it indefinitely on Raven for comparison and reporting purposes.

  • James

    Except the scraped data was accurate and current, versus this info which we have no idea how old it is. Just manually checked and 4 out of the 10 keywords that they said were on the 1st page, can’t be found in the top 10 pages.

    • RavenCourtney

      Hi James,
      This info from GWT updates once a day. If you’re seeing inaccuracies, please let us know at and we’ll figure out what’s going on. We want this data to be as reliable as possible.

  • keesjan

    sure no scraping is involved? tells the api only exports crawl errors…

  • Christopher Skyi

    Not bad but a little disappointed. Some observations:

    The data displayed in Raven is a limited version of what’s displayed in GWT, e.g., only seeing changes in Avg. Rank (and that should be an absolute number, not %, as it is in GWT) and no change data for the other columns. GWT provides all this data, and in a format that’s easier to understand. You guys should at least duplicate what GWT is providing.

    Second, no data import from “Top Pages.”

    Third, given that there is no data import from “Top Pages,” there’s no way to get this, but what I was hoping for was a way to “marry” the “Top Queries” & “Top Pages” data. In GWT you can click on a single query to see the URL(s) and the ranking positions averaged across all the URLs. (if GWT had specific URL – avg. ranking position, that would make GWT even better, but that’s probably too much even for them to do right now).

    By marriage, I mean I’d love to see something like this in the data and report:

    Query – URL- Avg. Rank Position.

    From GWT you can download the query and top pages reports and in principle you could manually build a report that shows query by URL by rank position (and there may be more than 1 URL associated for the same query).

    The only advantage I see is that Raven keeps a full history and GWT doesn’t (but you can download an save the reports and have a full history that way), and the Raven report system supports pdfs where GWT does not. But the data presentation in Raven is “thin” as not a useful as what GWT provides — and GWT is free, which is a BIG plus for them.

    Business wise this was probably a hard decision for Raven, i.e., why put time and resources into a building a tool that Google gives away for free? And Google could at some point provide, for free again, the feature I’d really like, i.e., a marriage of the query and top landing pages in one easily downloadable report

    • RavenCourtney

      Hi Christopher,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share such thorough feedback with us! We’ve actually made a few upgrades to the data since this post was published. You can see something closer to the report you’re looking for now in Keyword Manager:

      And coming in the next few weeks is a brand-new rank tracking tool that sort of “remixes” GWT data to provide even more insights. You can get a sneak preview here:

      Meanwhile, I will make sure to pass this feedback along to our development so we can continue to make Raven more useful and insightful.

      • Christopher Skyi

        Hi Courtney,

        You’re welcome. Yes, if you guys could pull out and build a Query – URL- Avg. Rank Position data set from GWT, that would be great.

  • chirag

    I think Webmaster Tools API is not providing search queries stats data using Oauth. So i guess you are getting all linked website data using your restricted account?
    Or Is it different?