“In order to be in compliance with the AdWords API Terms and Conditions please cease offering any product or product feature that collects scraped data or uses scraped data acquired from another source" - Quote from Google Adwords API team to Raventools
It’s ironic that when I wrote this post I had no idea that Google just striped the ability for service providers such as Raven or SEMrush to still provide AdWords API gathered data while also using some sort of external scraper to gather ranking tracking reports.
Even SEOmoz's access was revoked, and this is what they said:
So basically unless someone wants to choose an incredibly risky and un-secure business model (which there are some), we won’t have rankings to not watch. This has been a long time coming though, with the geographic & personalized results making their way into the organic SERPs. Our normal 1-10 ranking tracking we used to know and love is all but extinct. We will have to prove to client’s that the SERP’s are so unstable that the idea of “getting to the top of Google” is no longer what needs to be strived for, but instead to be part of their target persona’s internet bubbles. In this process you will be at the very top of Google to the people most apt to buy your products.
To understand what I mean about “target personas” I recommend everyone read Mike King’s slidedeck about targeting humans through defining personas. If you want the just, it is that you need to understand your target audience and define them. Know everything about your audience down to how they style their shoelaces, if they wear skinny ties or fat ties, and whether they prefer pocket squares or hoodies. Define your personas and then start your campaign to make them part of your bubble.
If you don’t know what I mean by “make them part of your bubble” I recommend you read & watch this post by Craig Bradford, “Don’t build links, build bubbles…” which outlines what a “bubble” is and explains the importance of getting in your target persona’s bubble. This post features a TED talk by Eli Pariser that illustrates how we in the web culture are subjected to the content that we personalize every day with every click. He also explains how Google influences this more than nearly any other service on the web.
We have such a deeply embedded footprint in the web that we are nearly only subjected to information that services deem relevant based upon our previous activity or our friends previous activity. We as marketers need to be part of that activity. That is the just of the “Bubbles” concept.
This is not the end to how SEOs will show their worth
There are far more important metrics to consider such as visits from search, impressions to click ratios etc. This is not to say that showing rankings was worthless, but it was headed down a slippery slope ever since the release of Google+ sadly. I'm sure someone will come out with a fully functioning data scraper service that does not need AdWords API compliance for other services but until that time, it is not so much of a worry. We know what to do to get higher rankings and more search traffic, and we know how to prove our worth. We have been stripped temporarily from using some services for our vanity metrics, that is all.
Here's the TL;DR version:
Google has updated their terms of service in their AdWords API Access to disallow any company using the AdWords API to have any service that scrapes unauthorized data from Google. Basically this means that SEOmoz, Raven (the main ones we use) and some others have had to choose between offering AdWords data and the rest of Google's services and being in Google's good graces, or to not have any access to Google AdWords data and to basically be a rouge Rank Tracking pirate-type software company.