Organic Search SEO

Faster rank checking and competitor analysis using the X-Mouse Button Control for Windows

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by sclark

Checking where your website ranks for a large number of keywords can be a time-consuming affair. Automated tools exist; however these are often inaccurate and can sometimes look suspicious to Google if too many requests are made in a short a space of time.

At Vertical Leap we’re very lucky. Apollo, our in-house SEO tool, performs highly-accurate rank checks and takes screenshots of the search result pages so we can see what else is happening. If you don’t have access to software like Apollo or if you simply don’t want to use automated rank checks, how else can you make repetitive SEO tasks easier and quicker?


Introducing X-Mouse Button Control for Windows

What is it: X-Mouse Button Control v2.5
Author: Phillip Gibbons (Highresolution Enterprises)
Price: Free (You can donate to the author if you’re feeling generous)
Where can I get it?:


How can I use it to make my SEO life easier?

I often find myself copying and pasting from my browser to my spreadsheet – and vice versa. X-Mouse helps because you can assign actions to mouse clicks, which only happen if a certain program is active. This is particularly useful for me as I have a 5-button mouse, but even on a standard 3-button mouse it can be highly effective.


Rank checking made easy

In the screenshots below you’ll see the spreadsheet into which my keywords and rankings will be recorded, as well as the browser I use for rank checking (in this case, Internet Explorer). As always you should do some basic checks before starting:

  • Clear your browser cache
  • Ensure personalisation is disabled
  • Check the place Google believes you are located in is appropriate

You may also like to perform this in inPrivate/Incognito/Private Browsing mode.

My normal process for manual rank checking without X-Mouse:

  • Click a cell in my spreadsheet, containing a keyword
  • Copy the contents of the cell
  • Paste the keyword into Google
  • Press CTRL+F to bring up the Find box
  • Type my domain name
  • If I can’t find my website on page 1, scroll down and click the link to page 2
  • Press CTRL+F to search again, etc.

Browser and Spreadsheets for Manual Rank Checking

How do we speed this up?

  • In Excel:
    • Left mouse click will remain as normal
    • Right click will become Copy
  • In my browser:
    • Left click will remain as normal
    • Middle becomes paste
    • Right click becomes CTRL+F
    • Plus, because I’ve a 5-button mouse, I’ll set my 4th or 5th buttons to scroll down

It’s worth noting that you don’t have to assign the buttons I have – I’m just using these in this tutorial as they work on a regular three-button mouse.

Setting up X-Mouse

  • Download and install X-Mouse
  • Open the programs you’ll be assigning custom mouse actions to – so for me that’s Excel and Internet Explorer
  • Double-click the system tray X-Mouse icon to open
  • In the left column, you’ll see the programs you’ve created profiles for. Initially you may not see Excel and Internet Explorer, so click the ‘Add’ button. A list of running applications will be displayed. Select Excel and hit OK
  • We’re going to set the right click mouse action to copy, but only in Excel. First ensure Excel is selected on the left hand column. In the right hand column, set ‘Right Click’ to ‘Copy’:

X-Mouse Actions

  • Click Add and select your browser from the list of applications (in my case Internet Explorer)
  • Set ‘Middle Click’ to ‘Paste’
  • The command for Find is more complicated as you can’t just select it from a list of items. Instead, set Right Click to ‘Simulated Keys’ and enter ‘{CTRL}f’ which will simulate the CTRL and F keys being pressed.

X-Mouse Simulated Keystrokes

  • In the main window you’ll notice there’s also a profile called Default – if you’d like a custom action to happen no matter which program you’re using, you can specify it here. If you only periodically need these actions to happen, you can uncheck the profile to turn it off and re-enable it at a later date as required

X Mouse Main Window

Now, when you use Excel, your right click will act as copy. You can then move to Internet Explorer, middle click to paste your keyword into the search box, then use the right click to load the Find box and search for your website. Easy!


Analysing competitors

When I conduct keyword research, my usual workflow will consist of copy and pasting each keyword from my spreadsheet into Internet Explorer, and copy and pasting the competition values back to the spreadsheet. The same principle can be applied – I use X-Mouse to speed up my copy and paste between each window by applying custom actions for copy and paste, depending upon which application is active.

I hope these tips help. If you have any other free programs you find useful in your daily SEO activities, let us know in the comments box below!


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About the author



I'm an organic-SEO kinda guy with interests in technology, video, and 3D animation. Connect to me on social using the links below!