27 Big Updates & A Peek at the Future: Moz Pro's 2016 Retrospective

January 5, 2017
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Another year has slipped by, and while we had our ups and downs, returning to our SEO roots has given us greater focus and renewed purpose. We’ve redoubled our efforts with the goal of building the best SEO product in the industry. We know it’s a lofty goal with so many great competitors out there, but this is the target that served as our north star in 2016 and continues to get us out of bed each morning.

Our increased focus on SEO translated to a big increase in the number of new features and improvements we were able to add to Moz Pro in 2016. In fact, we shipped more significant updates in 2016 than 2014 and 2015 combined, and we already have a lot in the works for 2017.

We also collected and surfaced a huge amount of data in 2016. A few notable examples:

  • Customers created 141,000 new campaigns for their websites
  • 4.6 million tracked keywords were added to campaigns
  • 1.8 million keyword queries were run in Keyword Explorer
  • 25 million URLs were researched in Open Site Explorer

Such ever-increasing demand keeps us on our toes and we continue to invest in scaling our infrastructure to keep the data flowing smoothly.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of the noteworthy updates you may have missed in 2016 and a sneak peek at some exciting updates coming in 2017.


Keyword Explorer: Redefining keyword research

Okay, I’m sure you’ve heard us mention Keyword Explorer once or twice. More than twice? Alright, we do like to talk about it. Building Keyword Explorer was a huge effort and our biggest release of the year. Keyword Explorer was a passion project for Moz’s co-founder, Rand, and it shows in the quality of the data and thoughtful workflow. If you do keyword research for SEO or content creation, check out this tool.

1. We launched Keyword Explorer with a rich set of capabilities

Keyword Explorer launched during the first half of the year, and offered some cool benefits right out of the gate:

  • Keyword Explorer takes you all the way through the keyword research process. Save time and simplify your keyword research process, from discovering keyword ideas to getting metrics to building a list. Once you’ve built a list, filter and prioritize which keywords to target based on the numbers that matter.
  • Keyword Explorer features metrics essential to the SEO process: two you’re familiar with — Volume and Difficulty — and three that are less familiar: Opportunity, Importance, and Potential. Use these comprehensive metrics to prioritize more effectively and focus your time on the best opportunities.
  • We built a keyword volume score that goes beyond what AdWords reports with ~95% accuracy. Accurate, trustworthy keyword volume data is getting harder to obtain, but we’re here for you.
  • Keyword Explorer gathers keyword suggestions from a broad variety of sources, so you can gather a greater variety of keyword ideas from one source.
  • We invested in strong import and export capabilities, so it’s easy to incorporate Keyword Explorer into your existing keyword research process.

Rand even created a quick demo video to introduce the new capabilities:

And we didn’t stop there. We collected a whole bunch of feedback after launch and built in a ton of new features to make the tool even better:

2. Automatically group Related Keywords

Rather than wading through large volumes of similar keywords and adding each variation to a list, we’ve added auto-grouping as atop any list of keyword suggestions. This is helpful for discovering and focusing on themes, and adding a whole group of related keywords to your own research lists.

3. Check page-one rankings in Keyword Explorer research lists

See if you already rank on page one for they keywords in your lists. This is a hugely valuable data point for prioritizing which keywords to target.

4. Add keywords from your list to a campaign for rank tracking

This was at the top of the list of feature requests at launch. Now you can take the keywords in your carefully cultivated list and add them directly to a campaign for ongoing rank tracking.

5. View improved and expanded keyword volume data

Clickstream-based search behavior, plus data from other sources, combined with our modeling against AdWords’ impression counts on real campaigns, has given us higher accuracy, more coverage, and faster recognition of volume trends than ever before. It also allowed us to calculate search volume data for more countries, with significant coverage for the UK, Canada, and Australia, more moderate data for other Western languages and countries, and a small amount in regions and languages beyond those.

6. Find questions people are asking in search engines

This is great for content ideas, refining existing content, and finding featured snippets you might want to try and win.

*Further reading: Get even more out of your keyword research

Whether you’re using Keyword Explorer or just doing keyword research in general, we’ve posted a few articles this year that can help you improve your research, especially as Google gets more sophisticated:

Try Keyword Explorer free now


Huge improvements to Rankings: SERP Features, historical timeframes, algo updates, and more!

7. Discover and track SERP features

Dr. Pete has been pushing the industry (and us internally) to think beyond 10 blue links. While organic rankings remain a core SEO focus, Google has been adding more and more SERP features to a large proportion of search queries, and as an SEO, you just can’t ignore them anymore. To help provide more visibility to the SERP features and related opportunities, we’ve integrated in-depth SERP feature analysis into the rankings section of your campaigns. Highlights include:

  • View which SERP features show up for the keywords you track, and whether you or your competitors show up in them.

  • See how different SERP features have trended for the keywords you track. You may find that a certain type of search feature is trending up and is worth attention.

  • Discover when we think you have an opportunity to show up in a SERP feature and how best to approach it.

8. Get alerted to featured snippet opportunities

Featured snippets appear above organic position #1 and can improve click-through rates for keywords you already rank in the top 10 for. Find the most lucrative opportunities for them in your Campaign Insights list.

*Further reading: Win those featured snippets

If you are interested in featured snippets, I’d recommend a couple of great posts from Dr. Pete:

And SERP Features is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost everything else you see in campaign rankings is new or overhauled.

9. See all of your historical rankings data

We started the year with a significant architectural overhaul of our rankings system. Aside from a faster and more streamlined interface, this also allowed us to support one of our biggest customer requests, and present all historical rankings data. Choose any timeframe to see and report on how your rankings have changed within that period.

10. Overlay Google algo updates on your rankings graphs

See a dramatic change in your rankings overnight? We now leverage the great data from MozCast to show any Google algorithm changes that might be affecting your search presence. Just hover over the little Google “G” to see major and minor update details.

11. Get more from your data with advanced filtering and improved sorting

Easily filter down your long list of rankings by keyword, label, location, or brandedness, and sort them accordingly to get a handle on your data.

12. See search volume data alongside your rankings

This had been a frequent request. We baked in the same powerful search volume data from Keyword Explorer alongside your rankings.

13. View detailed keyword analyses in your campaigns

Our keyword analysis page was completely rebuilt, with some great new additions:

  • Flexible timeframes, including the ability to view a keyword’s performance at any time in the history of your campaign
  • Volume and Difficulty scores, powered by Keyword Explorer’s data
  • Four beautiful graphs: Search Visibility, Highest Ranking Position, Keyword Performance, and SERP Features
  • An easy-to-read SERP report with callouts for pages on your domain, and those on your competitors’ domains
  • Faster page loads and improved performance

Intrigued? Take a trial of Moz Pro, free for 30 days


Page Optimization improved again

We made some big upgrades to this section late in 2015, but we weren’t quite done.

14. Discover topics related to your page content

This new tab shown with Page Optimization reports lets you see the topics that your SERP competition is writing about. This can help you understand what kinds of keywords signal topical relevance to Google and provide good ideas for how you can make your content more robust and relevant to searchers. I’m not going to go too deep here, but check out Jon White’s fantastic post for some great tips and examples to get the most from this feature. Rand also shares some great tips in this Whiteboard Friday, Using Related Topics and Semantically Connected Keywords in Your SEO.

15. Dive right into on-page optimization from your rankings

Quickly run page optimization reports and view page optimization scores right from your rankings.


We’ve made Insights better

Our Insights dashboard also underwent some solid improvements in 2016. We continue to surface new insights in this section as we add more capabilities across Moz Pro. Our aim is to make this a powerful section that surfaces new problems and opportunities that we discover as we collect and analyze your data every week.

16. Mark completed insights as “Done”

We heard feedback that many of you were attempting to use Insights as a to-do list, but we didn’t make that very easy. Now you can check off insights from your list once you’ve read or acted upon them. They will then be moved to your Done list, where you can track your completed work.

17. Add tasks to Trello

If you need a more robust workflow, we’ve…

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