10 Lessons About SEO That We Learned In The Past 10 Years

Dec 3, 2012


min read

In December, Advanced Web Ranking celebrates its 10th anniversary. TEN YEARS MAN, TEN YEARS!!! 

It is a time of happiness for us, with good memories to share and daring projects for the future. With great joy, we wish to thank everyone supporting us throughout this successful journey in the SEO industry.

For this event, we've put together 10 lessons we've learned during this decade and shared the most interesting facts about AWR.

Happy Birthday Advanced Web Ranking!


1. SEO is about being the first to know when changes happen (Email alerts)

This is the golden rule that SEOs learn when working with large amounts of data.

To meet this requirement, we introduced filters and email alerts so that AWR users could use predefined filters like "Moved Up" or "Moved Down" to see what went on in the SERPs.

But then it was our turn to learn the golden rule of building software: give the power to the users!

This happened when  Aaron Wall, founder of SEO Book, came with the idea of giving users the ability to create custom filters in AWR, using the criteria of their choice. This change was (and still is) one of the most appreciated enhancements in the application. (Thank you Aaron!)

In 2012, Advanced Web Ranking helps you create customized filters and receive email alerts for the information that is most relevant to your own business activity.

2. SEO is for everyone (Internationalization)

These are big words, but true just the same. No matter how much international search engines would differ, where there's a SERP there's also someone striving to optimize their websites.

Soon after the release of the first version, we noticed many AWR users were coming from different countries, not only from U.S. Thus we came up with the idea to implement support for tracking international keywords. It started with French (Bonjour a tous!).

In 2012, AWR provides support for special characters in keywords of any alphabet: Latin, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese or Korean. The Advanced Web Ranking SEO ranking reports also have support for the right-to-left direction in Hebrew and Arabic languages.

3. SEO is about bringing professionals together (Simplified workflow for agencies)

As the application became more popular among SEOs, many of our customers begun to feel the need for multiple users working together in AWR, at the same time.

It was in version 6 (2007) that we released the AWR Server solution, with a centralized database where everyone in an agency could share and manage clients together. At that time, the solution was developed for LANs and allowed a smaller number of simultaneous client connections.

In 2012, the AWR Server database is highly expandable and optimized for remote connections.

4. SEO is about adapting to the new rules of the game (Vertical Search Analysis)

Back in 2007, Google made a major change to its SERPs by rolling out the "Universal Search" on a large scale. We soon implemented the Google Universal search engine in AWR, but few users were actually using it in the application.

Four years later, Richard Baxter, Founder of SEOgadget, came with a brilliant idea. He suggested that AWR reports should display the result type next to each ranking position.This turned out to be a small change but with a great impact (Thank you Richard!).

We added the Results type column in 2011, and all of the sudden, everyone started to use Google Universal in several reports.

Today, Google Universal is one of the most used search engines in AWR. Besides seeing the result type of each position, you can also customize the properties of the search engine by selecting the exact type of vertical search results you want to track.

5. SEO is about picturing future trends (Metrics comparison in a unified chart)  

About a year and a half ago, following a discussion with Ian LuriePortent's CEO at MozCON, Philip Petrescu, Caphyon's CEO, came back with this piece of paper. He was very excited about the idea of identifying new SEO trends with AWR, and this was the first thing he showed to us:


Do you still remember this drawing Ian? :)

This is the conversation that happened that day in the office:

Philip: This is a new chart in AWR

At that time, we had no integration with analytics or link building resources, and it was hard to see beyond the shivered lines. It took a lot of research and work to integrate Google Analytics and SEOmoz data into AWR, but we are proud with the result that turned AWR into an integrated SEO software.

In 2012, AWR provides various charts and report views where you can visualize search optimization trends by combining ranking, analytics, links, and social media metrics.


I think this chart looks a lot better than Philip's drawing, right? :)

6. SEO is about stepping into your client's shoes (Customized Google Location)

It started with Google Japan and several emails exchanged with Masahiro Tsuji. In July 2011, he noticed the results he was extracting with AWR were slightly different from those his customers were seeing.

The suggestion was to have the ability to see results relevant for country level (Japan), and also for city level (Masahiro was based in Tokyo). This is how Google(loc:Japan) was born.

In 2012, the Custom Location enhancement in AWR includes several international Google domains, helping you to see the same results as someone in a different country or city would see.

7. SEO is about quality, not quantity (Authority)

This came from an interesting research that Philip Petrescu and Dana Loiz did for the "Authority building vs. Link building" presentation at SMX Advanced Seattle in June, 2012.

Initially they struggled to do things the old way, centralizing the research data in Excel sheets. But then they came up with the idea of integrating all these into AWR, and thus helping everyone with gathering and displaying authority and link distribution data in a comprehensive manner.

This was a challenging task and time was not on our side, but we managed to successfully turn this:


into this:


You can read more about this research in Philip's article on the SEOmoz Blog.

Today, AWR shows insightful information and trends of the impact of authority in the SERPs with the help of the Keyword Difficulty tool.

8. SEO is about discovering your true potential (Complete audit for websites)

At the beginning of this year, we made the planning for improving our conversion rate, and the first thing on the list was a full audit of advancedwebranking.com. The goal was to analyze three perspectives for each landing page:

  • on-page optimization,

  • inbound vs. outbound links, and

  • social media shares.

So we, the marketing team, used several standalone tools to extract the details and sat down to analyze them with our web designer Red. Normally he's a cool, calm guy, but when he tried to connect all the data together to make some sense out of it, he wouldn't stop protesting (I cannot write exactly what he said, but you get the idea...)

At this point we though: why not bring all these perspectives together in the same file. And so the Website Auditor was integrated in AWR, with the ability to export all the data to CSV.

9. SEO is about being fast (Trusted Proxies Integration)

Starting from 2010, major search engines became a lot more restrictive in providing results to automated queries. Especially Google implemented a protection mechanism that would ban IP addresses for up to 24 hours when detecting automatic requests.

To protect our customers, the human emulation engine that established AWR as a search engine friendly software, had to be changed to increase the delays between queries. But soon we realized that this solution affected AWR users who updated a large number of keywords.

So we faced a dilemma:


As we were analyzing all implications of these two options (and weren't happy about any of them), Paul Rosenthal, CEO and Founder of Trusted Proxies, came with a solution that worked like magic: using proxy servers specially optimized for AWR.

Thus, we integrated a proxy servers management mechanism in the application that helps you add and assign proxies to your AWR projects. This way, we managed to keep the values that defined AWR as an accurate and search engine friendly rank tracker.

In 2012, AWR helps SEOs get fast rankings for large clients and keep their activity with no disruptions. That's the power of a desktop tool! (Thank you Paul!)

10. SEO is about mobility (Sharing reports on the AWR Cloud)

One of the most interesting discussions happened at SMX London in May 2012, between Philip and Dave Naylor from Bronco.

Dave suggested that SEOs are now mobile people and that they need to have access to their reports anywhere they go, even if they get a phone call from their clients and they are stuck in traffic. This talk is the one sparked the idea and the birth of AWR and the Complete SEO report, which is no longer just a static report, but almost a full featured web app in itself.

There is also something else that started with this talk. We're going to add, in the near future, an enhancement to the AWR Server, that will allow people to see all the data stored on the server via a browser interface. (Thank you Dave!)

Looking back at these 10 lessons, we see the picture of innovating ideas brought to life with the help of extraordinary people working together and sharing their expertise. Thank you everyone for the amazing experiences shared in a decade that went by in the blink of the eye.

advanced web ranking team

Much has been said about Advanced Web Ranking in this article. After all, 10 fruitful years needed to be covered :) But before drawing the conclusion, I would like to present a few facts and statistics that are not so well known about AWR:

10 Facts you didn't know about Advanced Web Ranking

  1. AWR can save you 5,000 searches in 24 hours. In a year, this makes 1,825,000 searches, which is 0.000106% of all searches made on Google in 2011.

  2. There are 137 metrics in AWR that help you analyze all the information you gather. You can see raw data, percentages and averages on ranking, links, analytics and social media.

  3. AWR integrates currently 3,012 web search engines and this number does not even include the local search engines that you can define in the application.

  4. The largest number of local search engines tracked with 1 AWR license is 25,000+.

  5. The largest number of keywords (that we know of) tracked with 1 AWR license is 60,000.

  6. The largest website fully analyzed with the AWR Website Auditor has 9,851 pages. It is the  autotrader.co.uk website, which in 2011 was ranked the 992th largest website in the world (out of 582,716,657 websites).

  7. There are 41 core reports you can create in AWR, with 100+ options available to customize their appearance.

  8. AWR is the only desktop SEO app with a server solution. This means that more users can connect to a single database and manage customers together at the same time.

  9. All the magic behind AWR was made possible with the help of 797,444 lines of code written in Java until now.

  10. But what good is a piece of software without the people using it? To this date, 18,255 of you rely on AWR on a daily basis. Thank you!

There is also a list of facts about AWR that did not make it to the Top (and it's easy to see why….)

  • Most of the programmers are guys and most of the testers are girls (you can imagine the "wars" before each new version is released).

  • Half the team celebrates birthdays in November. This is the month when everything about AWR gets extra-sweeter (from all the cake we eat).

  • And last, but not least, an example of perfect synchronization: this year, two of our AWR programmers got married on the same day (and not to each other). What are the odds to have their children birthdays on the same day? We'll keep you up to date :)


Back in 2002 when we first started, we set a bold goal for ourselves: to develop no less than the best rank tracking software.

Did we accomplish this goal? That's for you to decide.

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Note: This article contains references to Advanced Web Ranking Desktop, a version that is no longer under active development. 

Article by

Aura Dozescu

Aura Dozescu was a Customer Care Specialist for AWR. Passionate about Internet Marketing and SEO technologies, she worked closely with SEO software developers to implement the feedback received from customers.

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