WebPosition Ranking Software Being Blocked by Google?

Aug 6, 2008 • 8:01 am | comments (27) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Optimization Tools
 

The historically popular search engine ranking software, WebPosition, has reportedly been blocked by Google from checking rankings automatically.

A WebmasterWorld thread reports that WebPosition is no longer able to process one's search rankings as of August 5, 2008. Old time WebmasterWorld member, Barbara 'WebMama' Coll, who has been a member of WebmasterWorld since 2002, said:

Has anyone else noticed that after years of threatening it appears that Google has now blocked WP Gold from reporting rankings through their tool? We called the WP support line and they said they are waiting for Google to 'do' something and have NO ETA has to when it will be fixed.

There is no estimated time when the software will begin working again. This software has been around forever and I believe Google has threatened to block it many times. In fact, Google has named WebPosition Gold in their SEO guidelines saying, "Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."

Google & WebPosition Gold

So maybe Google did something about it finally? Or maybe not. Time will tell.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: August 5, 2008
 

Comments:

Barry Schwartz

08/12/2008 03:28 pm

Scott, Thanks for your comment.... (1) You are saying that WebPosition Gold is indeed working properly and users of the software have not had any issues checking their rankings with it over the past several days? (2) You are saying that Google doesn't say that using rank checking software, such as WebPosition Gold, is against their terms of service? Really?

pageoneresults

08/12/2008 03:34 pm

Poor Scott! The powers to be at WPG sent him on a mission to bury themselves further. We had an interesting exchange at WebmasterWorld not long ago where Scott joined us. http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3716136.htm 70 messages so far.

gabs

08/12/2008 03:49 pm

Think its best not to post anything in public yet scott.. Or at least until you have the full picture..

Scott Goodyear

08/12/2008 10:39 pm

Hi Barry, No. I'm saying that Google has changed the HTML that they serve. WP needs to be reprogrammed to understand that new code. Nothing mind blowing, but still a challenge. I don't think that Google likes automated software. True enough. But associating one thing... 1) that we have to create a software update with 2) Google's dislike for automated software, and 3) inferring that Google is "blocking" WP, is factually incorrect. Engines make changes all the time and in turn we create updates for WP. I've even created some of these updates myself... Posts like your original, cause others to post that WP is "blocked" when in reality, it is not.

Barry Schwartz

08/12/2008 10:52 pm

Scott, I would not complain about my post. I reported on the thread and that is what we do. I did not state it as fact, I stated it as a question. I am sorry you have to do damage control, but please do not blame that I me. The reality is that Google does not like ranking checking software. You are saying Google did not block you, that they changed the structure of the page and code, so you need to update your software. That is fine and please do let us know when you update your software. If you like, I can ask Google for an official stance on your particular product. Would you like that?

JohnMu

08/13/2008 09:00 am

I think the information given in the Webmaster Guidelines and the TOS is fairly straight-forward: "Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google." and "5.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google." Matt Cutts also commented in a thread Scott started in the Webmaster Help groups at http://groups.google.com/group/Google_Webmaster_Help-chit-chat/browse_thread/thread/968ab54325c33870

Scott Goodyear

08/13/2008 02:55 pm

Hi Barry, I'm not here on any official damage control mission or what not. A few WP users said, hey Google's down and coincidentally, these guys over here say that Google is "blocking" WP. Is this true? So... that's why I'm putting my 2 cents in. Hi John, Thanks for the comment. As Matt posted there: "I would approach the bizdev folks at Google about how to send automated queries to Google with permission." Still waiting for a reply from Bizdev. Even so, this doesn't answer part of my question... Why point out WP when there are so many competitors that Google already has the same issue with? I guarantee you that for every WP user or "automated tool user" who Google thinks is "over doing it", there are others who Google could care less about. I have users that are like "Hey, if I check these 5 keywords once a month, seeing if I'm in the top 10 rankings, am I going to get banned from Google?" No way. Google won't enough sneeze at that. A neutral, even handed approach would be to say that G doesn't like automated programs etc. but not name any specific program, service, etc. They're pretty neutral with ~other~ policies. A bias pops up by naming WP and no other program, tools, etc. when there are so many others out there. As Matt also said in that post: "We do turn off a number of tools/bots/IP addresses that scrape us too heavily.... ...In fact, I know that just a week or so ago our algorithms turned off an IP belonging to one of the entities that you mentioned in your post." Thus... regardless of your using a tool like WP or not, for Google, this problem is not -just- a WP issue. Google turned off an IP address because of this issue, yet Matt was clear to steer away from naming that company, let alone putting them in the Google guidelines page. In a video post, on another site, Matt was saying that some guy was using a tool, to scrape Page Rank (not WP mind you, we don't scrape Page Rank) so heavily, that they started feeding him bad data. Hrm. I don't see that company or tool's name anywhere on Google. Do you see a bias yet?

missile

08/14/2008 08:34 pm

Does anyone think the industry can survive without ranking reporting?

Doug Heil

08/15/2008 03:41 pm

Hi Scott, Allow me to interject a thought. Why not change your software so that it does not scrape engines and use their resources? Why not use your software for something that is actually of some benefit to users of it, like, erm, hmm, analyzing log files and web stats? Why should users of your product have to go against Google's clear stance on this issue just to use your product that really does not help them see any kind of big picture anyway? I'm with pageone; I don't really think it's in your best interest to be talking right about now. I do agree with you that Google should name ALL the products that scrape their services that have to do with stuff like ranks that serve no benefit anyway. It would be very good to list you all in a nice and neat way on the TOS page and the webmaster help pages.

Radicke

08/16/2008 01:40 pm

Could anyone here name a tool in the market that (legally) uses the Google API for rank check? I do like to run rank checks regularly, because it helps me to compare my client to the INDUSTRY. I do not care if a keywords ranks at 6 or 7, but if a competitor suddenly improves majorly, then we can look into that to see what has been changed... Very helpful in my opinion...

Robert

08/18/2008 07:37 am

Hi Scott, I can't help but point out that is Google themselves that name WebPosition Gold. "Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google." This post was done as a question. You answered it by saying that it wasn't being blocked. Case closed. However it is worth pointing out that Google are obviously doing their best to make it very difficult for WP to run. By doing your updates are indeed finding new ways of breaking that Term of Service. Argue that if you like, but Google quite simply have said that you break their terms. But agreed that they aren't worried about a handful of end users, it's the power users they are doing their best to block.

phil

08/18/2008 05:12 pm

lmao...Doug, please understand that many of us reverse engineer the algo by looking at ranking reports to see changes over time. Take a look at some of the advanced SEO materials on the net if you are interested in taking your SEO efforts to the next level :)

Doug Heil

08/21/2008 05:34 pm

Hi Phil, "reverse engineer"; gosh; such big words you are using. Little o'l me is not knowledgeable enough to decipher those type of words used by the "experts" who use these "advanced SEO" thingAmaGiggy technique thangs. Please write in ways I can understand Phil. :D Well Phil, considering I don't really care about any algo changes that Google could possibly have, I have no need to reverse engineer anything at all.... "never" have. That said; if I ever did feel that need; the log files or a stats program does the same exact thing nicely..... and better. And guess what? I don't have to violate the TOS of any search engine doing it either. How's them apples? Red I hope. :)

No Name

08/22/2008 12:31 am

Scott, Any update on when WP will work again?

Laura Thieme

08/24/2008 04:59 pm

Okay so it's been a couple of weeks since I weighed in on this. Paid search KPIs, and traffic/analytics KPIs are to serve a purpose - a metric against which you can improve something. Marketers deliver data on paid search KPIs as well as traffic stats and are measured by whether or not they improve any or all of these metrics. If a conversion rate on a popular ecommerce site is only 2.5%, a company will look to hire someone to improve that conversion rate within time. If your paid search KPI reports show that traffic is down, or conversions are down, and then you note that your average position has slipped from 2 to a 4.5 due to Q score, and your competitors are offering a deal in their ad you can't compete with - then you look for other ways to show up for that term, or you cave to your competitors. If you slip in position, whether it's organic or paid, you can lose business, plain and simple. What we really need is for a business model that understands the value of paid search, traffic and organic KPI reporting. Google and other search engines could make a revenue case out of companies having access to organic KPI data, as it is just one way that a company can earn traffic that equates to revenue. Google provides this data through a revenue model paid search KPI. Many KPIs cost money, but also generate revenue for the search services. Thus, Google could create a business model here and keep services from scraping HTML code. No one, I guarantee you, wants to scrape as a service. We'd rather pull from an API data service anyday, provided the API data is accurate and reasonably priced. In closing, I wish Google would make this easier on us. We get access to Paid Search API with an affordable quota price - now we just want a Traffic API, and an Organic API. We'd gladly pay for all, with similar pricing to the Paid Search API. Laura Thieme, President Bizresearch

Laura Thieme

08/24/2008 05:09 pm

One clarification - Google does not do this yet for Organic KPIs - we're suggesting they do - for a API service fee.

Keith Holloway

08/25/2008 08:35 pm

Laura, I couldn't agree more. I would pay any day for API access to search rank results rather than scrape through WebPosition or any other means. To Doug Heil: Yes, we can search for a keyword and check it's rank manually any time, but what if you are tracking several hundred keywords? Don't you find it useful to match ranking data with web analytics data? Isn't it useful to track how your activities are helping or hindering your rankings? Of course rank reports are a tiny part of real SEO services, but they are an important part if you know how to use them.

Steve

08/28/2008 02:15 pm

Is it just me, or is Doug sincerely the most ignorant contributor in existence? And that ignorance has clearly affected your ability to provide a service to your clients. Good lad.

Chris G

09/09/2008 12:38 pm

It's weird to me that anyone would ignore a whole source of data, like ranks. It's not the whole picture but what is? If traffic changes, why not know all of the possible reasons, so you can try to do something about it?

FPMarcil

09/10/2008 02:36 pm

@Doug Heil: Clearly, I disagree with you. There is value in knowing the actual visibility "picture" of a site.(And just like Laura said, CEO's don't like to waste time on the web when they could just look at a report and get relevant answers in a matter of seconds) Sure it's not very precise, reliable and you have to educate your clients on what the actual numbers means. But...visibility is part of the branding process, heck, Adwords gives you ranking stats. Reality check time! Google doesn't like Web Position because of the costs associated with it. Period. My level of attention to Google's opinion about WPG value is nill. Because... Search engines are not your friends, they are not the law either, they are, at best, business partners, at worst, slowing down and crashing your servers. As SEO, your role is to navigate your clients within the grey zones,while staying ethical in the sense that you respect the search engines and their rules. And yes, I believe running WPG with slow timers do respect search engines. @Laura: After nearly 14 years in the SEO industry, I completely share your philosophy. No source of information is a bad source of information.

Joshua Steimle

09/30/2008 11:38 pm

I'm not sure how anyone in the SEO industry could call ranking reports anything but essential. Ok, maybe if you have one client, and you're only optimizing the site for 10 keywords, then perhaps you don't need software to help you do it. But what about an SEO with 20 clients with 50 keywords each? Ranking reports are the primary metric by which clients judge the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. There is no other report my clients care about more. Educating clients as to what is really important is all well and good, but there are a lot of clients who don't want to be educated and just say "Look, I want to be #1 for such and such keyword--just get it done." So why should Google care what kind of problems us SEO types have? Do WPG users really slow down Google's servers? I doubt it. Are there enough SEO types to build a profitable business for Google selling access to a commercial API? Probably not enough to make it a priority. Would it be nice of them? Sure, but that won't do it either. In order to convince Google to release this data you've got to show them how it's going to grow their core business--AdWords. And it will. Releasing more data will support the SEO industry and lead to business models for SEO that are increasingly focused on the lower end (mom and pop) businesses. As SEO companies market themselves to these low-end client they help them to jump into online advertising in all its forms, PPC included. These small businesses represent a much larger market opportunity as a whole than the larger, more sophisticated companies already using AdWords, and by encouraging SEO firms to target the smaller companies (who will demand ranking reports and who are too numerous to take time educating) the are indirectly growing the market for selling AdWords. That is why Google should offer a commercial API, or perhaps just make it free. After all, it will come back to help them.

No Name

12/08/2008 02:35 am

Webposition Gold is not recommended by Google. The page collects the users and professionals reviews and feedback to Webposition Gold software all over the world: http://www.bradsoftware.com/share/webposition_review.htm

No Name

05/04/2009 11:02 pm

I have been using Web Position for years. I bought the new version again about 6 months ago. I had some issues with Google indexing a site and decided to review what Google says about WP Gold. Paraphrasing what Google says ... they say do not use it because it breaches the terms of service. I think that it is a good tool but do not want to face the wrath of google.

BP72

09/20/2009 06:35 pm

Come on people. This has nothing to do with anything other than old school Microsoft tactics. Google has analytics what better way to make people use the software than to ban the competition. In the real world customers want results. Customers want to measure those investments to see if they are producing results. This just forces people to use Google software to measure those results.

David Boyle

03/24/2010 08:11 am

It is interesting to read this thread, particularly as when I was an SEO newbie in 2002 I got into similar flame wars with Doug back then. I set up a web site called top-search-engine-placements.com and asked every SEO site I could find for a reciprocal link and I ran into lots of flaming from Doug about how I was a spammer etc. Well the site took off despite me ignoring Doug's very god and virtuous advice and I found my way eventually. Doug's approach does come across as angry arrogant and abrasive, deep down I think it is just passion. After all these years in the bsuiness I do have to acknowledge that he is right and I wish I'd ranted less and listened more back in the day. Enentually I became head SEO at ivgstores.com one of the top 100 retailers. I had a great life of freedom for years and I am now planning to get back into the industry. I don't share Doug's cynicism, never did. With regard to the web position debate what is clear is that Google's TOS are without teeth. They offer web sites and disapprove of automatic toold that check rank for the good reason that they degrade the performance of the site. It's also fair to say that the Internet is and should be free and imposing terms of service on how someone uses your web site is flawed when you really think about it. You'd think I was pretty stupid if I put up a web site and said that my terms of service were that only Firefox could be used to browse the site. Ok this is is Google, so they are God, so they can do it right? The terms of service are meaningless. No legal weight. I've used WPG, it prioduces pretty reports that make you seem credible to your clients and give you an air of being structured and organised. Solme people like that stuff, hell sometimmes they even used to pay me for it. It is a bit meaningless, but why not? That's what I say.

Dewaldt Huysamen

08/18/2011 05:21 am

I know this is a old post but yes in deed rank checking with software even proxies and captchas is not working any more, very problematic. I am trying to convince the rest that its best to use webmaster tools reporting for keywords and analtyics.

Arthur Levy

03/01/2012 12:49 pm

It wasn't webposition only , there were many such tools that I found to be down that time.  I think they might be suffering the same as webposition was. This was a case before but now I think this might have been resolved. 

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