For most people the week starts on Monday, ends on Friday, and they are out of the office door every day at around 5 pm. Working in SEO is different, though.
An SEO specialist starts work early in the morning and keeps going until long after the sun has gone to bed. Or at least that’s the way it works at Pearl Lemon.
There’s a lot to do in SEO and a lot of delivery benchmarks to meet. There are tasks that have to be attended to daily. They range from almost constant site monitoring to ranking keywords and managing backlink profiles. And that’s all before you get around to things like content creation or social media. To say SEO specialists have a lot on their plate is quite an understatement!
To stay sane, we do need tools to help us get through the day (and night), and whenever we come across one that seems like it might be of help we have to at least try it out. Recently we took an SEO platform tool called Nightwatch for a test drive, and what follows is what we discovered about it.
What Is Nightwatch?
Based in the cloud, Nightwatch is a platform that can, its creators claim, gather, and report all kinds of site performance data any time you need it to. Designed to provide your site and keyword performance data exactly when you need it.
On one dashboard, they claim, you can keep track of rankings, keyword distribution, and traffic, all in real-time. It also links up with Google Search Console and Google Analytics, helps you find appropriate competitors to benchmark against, and even creates pretty reports you can send to clients. Sounds like a handy SEO tool to have. But what’s it like to use?
Nightwatch Features We Loved
After working with it for a while, we came to the conclusion that Nightwatch had three features that meant that keeping it in our SEO toolbox going forward was a good idea:
Radical Rank Tracking
Rack tracking is a must to ensure that your SEO campaigns are headed in the right direction. Constant rank tracking allows you to make adjustments on the fly so that anything that seems to be going wrong can be nipped in the bud.
Nightwatch offers a lot here. Not only will it show you your website’s rankings on Google but also, where appropriate, on Bing, Yahoo, and even YouTube. You can check out how your competitors are doing as well.
One powerful feature of the tool is how it tracks rankings for any location. These localized reports provide SEOs and their clients a bigger picture of where they stand in the local SERPs, including map results. This great local SEO reporting alone makes using Nightwatch worthwhile if you work with local businesses (which we do a lot.)
In addition to rankings, Nightwatch can help you discover what keywords are trending locally and may be worth adding to your campaign. And you can compile all this information into a single report to send to clients or split it into several to share with the right teammates.
Brilliant Backlink Monitoring
We’re not going to lie; backlink tracking is boring. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but it’s also a crucial element of a successful SEO campaign, so it has to be done. However, any time you can hand over the bulk of the work to an automated tool, it’s a wonderful thing.
The Nightwatch dashboard offers tons of information to save you time. It can tell you, at a glance, how many backlinks a site has at any given time, where they are from, how diverse the link profile is along with their current status. You can also set up alerts that will let you know when a link is lost or gained.
Clients like to know what’s going on with their SEO. And we like to be able to tell them, which is why we like the reporting that can be created with Nightwatch a lot. It creates customized reports that look good and can be carefully tailored to only report the metrics you want them to, to the people you want to see them.
The reports themselves can be as simple or as complicated as you like. We found that making use of the graphing feature was an excellent way to convey more complex data to clients. They seemed to like it too.
So, these were the features that stood out to us. But, as is the case for all good reviews, we now have to take a look at the pros and cons of this tool so that if you consider using it, you’ll have a little advanced Intel to help you make the right choice.
Nightwatch Pros and Cons
Pro: Great Rank Tracking
It would, we think, be hard for any SEO not to be impressed by Nightwatch’s rank tracking ‘powers’. It delivers information on demand, can be set to provide ’round ups’ at regular intervals and, and this is a great one for local SEO, offers real-time looks at the snack pack listings you might be trying to break into.
Google snack packs, for the unfamiliar, are the featured boxes that show local business listings relevant to a certain search query. With Nightwatch, you’re made aware of whether your site makes the cut or not. And when it does, you can create a report right away, so that you can show your client that your SEO efforts have garnered them one of the most desirable spots in local SEO SERPs today.
Pro: Excellent Interface
Ugly, clunky SEO tools are hard to use, so it was nice to see that Nightwatch’s creators had obviously put a lot of thought into their UX/UI setup.
Initial account setup is quick and easy, and getting things connected and up and running takes less than fifteen minutes. The dashboards are clear and clean looking and for those who work well into the night – as we do – you can adjust the theme to a darker one so that the screen glare is less taxing on the eyes.
Pro: Easy to Understand Client Reporting
Clients, on the whole, like reporting. But they don’t always like feeling dumb because they can’t quite grasp what’s going on amid sheets and sheets of numbers and SEO speak words. We don’t expect them to, but we also like to make our clients smile rather than frown. This means that the fact that Nightwatch can create easy to understand reports that you do not need to have been studying SEO for a decade to comprehend is a big plus.
Con: It’s a Bit Pricey
Nightwatch is great, but that greatness comes at a price that some smaller SEO outfits might find a bit hard to swallow.
The base pricing isn’t bad; $19 a month for 100 keywords for a ‘personal’ account. But if you need to go bigger, so does the price tag. Then again, if you are targeting numerous groups of keywords – it can handle up to 10,000 keywords for $699 a month – Nightwatch will probably fit your budget and may end up paying for itself.
Con: You Can Get a Free Trial, But It’s Limited
One of the best ways to get hands-on with a tool you are thinking about investing in without too much risk is a free trial. Nightwatch does offer one; however, you won’t have access to the backlink tools.
That being said, if you do local SEO, we’d suggest taking a trial version of Nightwatch for a spin because the local reporting features alone will quite possibly more than justify you making at least the small investment in a lower-level package.
The Final Pearl Lemon Verdict on Nightwatch
There are lots of SEO tools out there. Nightwatch isn’t an all-inclusive one, like some, but sometimes you just don’t need everything that a Moz-like suite has to offer. Moz can show you so many things about a site that it makes your head spin. And while a lot of it is crucial stuff that an SEO needs to know, to be honest, most clients don’t.
What most SEO clients want to see is where their site is in the SERPs. And they want to see how things are changing from day to day, week to week, month to month.
SEO clients want to see something easy that shows them that their audience will find them for the keyword and keyphrase searches that are being targeted. They want to see that the link building they are paying for is getting high-quality results, not collecting a bunch of spam. And Nightwatch offers a great way to show them all this. Which, overall, puts it in the win column in the SEO tools stakes for us.