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SEMrush Software Review: The Only SEO Software You Need?

Are you looking for a keyword research tool that can do it all? 

Well, SEMrush might be the only SEO software solution you need! I’ve used it myself for years, and SEMrush covers virtually every function that online marketers and blogger need in order to do their jobs. 

It’s practically a Swiss army knife for digital marketing!

In this SEMrush software review – part of my tool review series – I want to cover the many different functions provided by SEMrush and share how it fits into your marketing software stack. 

Most importantly, I want to explain why I’m a fan of this tool and how it can help you be a more effective marketing pro.

Get a 7 day free trial of SEMrush

SEMrush

What is SEMrush?

SEMrush is a cloud-based marketing software solution with 10 years on the market. This popular mid-level SEO suite boasts 40 tools, 8 billion keywords, 500 million domains, and 8 trillion backlinks. Yes, that’s trillion with a ‘t’! 

Now, when digital marketers are looking for a tool to help with SEO, they’re often focused on keyword research in particular. I know that keyword research is important, but the truth is, keywords are only one piece of a bigger online marketing picture. 

That’s why SEMrush is so valuable – it’s an “all-in-one marketing toolkit” that offers the data you need to make informed marketing decisions within a single dashboard.

Speaking of dashboards, all of the data you’re tracking is accessible right when you log into your SEMrush account. You can see your domains, analytics, position tracking, and even personalised SERP volatility scores on one page!

You can also customise it to your heart’s content, making it easy to check in on your projects at a glance without having to dig too deeply into the tools to see your data. 

The Sidebar

When it comes to SEMrush’s dozens of SEO tools, you can access everything in the sidebar on the left side of the page.

At the top of the sidebar in your profile, you’ll notice a dropdown menu with five different toolkits:

    • SEO
    • Advertising
    • Social Media
    • Content Marketing
  • Competitive Research

These toolkits are all drawing from the same pool of 40+ tools included in SEMrush, but each one is organised around a specific function.

Because we’re focused on SEO here, we’re going to be delving into the SEO toolkit specifically – just keep in mind that there’s a great deal of additional functionality in SEMrush that we can’t possibly cover in one SEMrush software review.

With that said, here are the five main SEO categories you’ll find in SEMrush:

    • Competitive Research
    • Keyword Research
    • Link Building
    • Rank Tracking
  • On-page and Technical SEO

I believe these are ordered this way deliberately: it makes sense to start your marketing efforts broadly at the competitive research level first, and then work your way down to the more granular and technical options as you progress in your campaigns. This organisation scheme reflects a typical top-down workflow.

Now, let’s find out more about each category and look at how to utilise SEMrush’s features to grow your business!

Competitive Research

Competitive research is the top category in SEMrush, even before we get to keyword research. There’s a simple reason for this: keyword research is tactical, while overall competitive research is strategic.

Through competitive research, you’re able to get an eagle-eye view of the competitive landscape for your industry or niche. It includes tools like domain overview, traffic analytics, and organic research. Let’s look at two of the most useful competitive research tools now.

Domain Overview

With the “Domain Overview” tool, you can enter the domain of your website or a competitor’s site and see the organic search traffic, paid search traffic, backlinks, traffic trends, and more. This is powerful data, and it’s right at your fingertips with SEMrush. 

If you’re interested in doing a deep dive into the competition, the domain overview also allows you to generate an accurate profile of their entire web presence – and even do direct comparisons to see how your site fares against other sites based on different metrics and across devices.

Traffic Analytics Tool

Along with the domain overview, SEMrush offers “Traffic Analytics,” a market research tool so comprehensive that it’s actually sold as a separate add-on in SEMrush. 

Traffic Analytics will actually give you an estimate of any website’s traffic from various sources – and while it’s not going to be as accurate as your own Google Analytics account, it can provide some insights on your domains as well.

Full access to “Traffic Analytics” costs an additional $200 USD per month, but you can still access the Overview report to see some limited information.

Why It Matters: Competitive Research helps you discover your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, test out new potential niches, scope out ideas for media buying, and more. 

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the bread and butter of any SEO tool. I know Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated in the last several years, but don’t be intimidated by buzzwords like latent semantic indexing (LSI) – people still have to type in search phrases to find what they’re looking for on the web, which means keyword research continues to be essential for success online.

There are just as many opportunities as ever, and tools like SEMrush can help you uncover them with its solid keyword tools. 

Keyword Overview

Your starting point with keyword research in SEMrush is the “Keyword Overview” tool. If we do a quick example search for the term “semrush,” we immediately see some data on both organic and paid search for this keyword. We can explore the data even further by looking at desktop versus mobile.

This tool provides a nice overview of the specific keyword you’re looking at, covering trends for the keyword, search engine results, related keywords, and even snapshots of active paid ads that are bidding on the term.

But when you want to go more in-depth, that’s when you’ll turn to the magic keyword tool.

Magic Keyword Tool

As a marketer, it’s important to be able to brainstorm keyword ideas on your own. There’s definitely an art and a science to keyword selection.

However, tools can still dramatically reduce the time it takes to get good ideas for your organic and paid search campaigns. The “Magic Keyword” tool in SEMrush automatically uncovers a list for you.

As an example, if we search for the keyword “vinyl flooring,” we get 65,422 broad match variations. That’s obviously too many to work with, but if you look at the sidebar, you’ll see that it breaks down the keyword nicely into different subcategories, such as:

    • Plank
    • Tile
    • Install
    • Luxury
    • Sheet
  • Wood

This allows you to quickly explore ideas for different long-tail keyword variations of your head term. You’ll also see search volume, trend, keyword difficulty, cost per click in U.S. dollars, competitive density, number of SERP features, and total results in the SERP.

Best of all, you can save these as lists to refer back to at any time.

Other Keyword Tools

There are a few other tools here to be aware of in this category. “Keyword Difficulty” is a great way to see the competitiveness of a keyword and the specific search features that are relevant to each keyword as well. 

“Organic Traffic Insights” is a handy tool that helps you fill in those “not provided” keywords in Google Analytics that are driving traffic to your highest-performing pages. It also lets you see total impressions and click-through rate for different terms from the SERPs.

All of these tools also allow you to export the provided data as an XLS or CSV.

Why It Matters: Keyword Research gives you the data you need to come up with an actionable organic and paid search strategy for your business. 

Link Building

When it’s time to come up with an outreach strategy to boost your traffic and domain authority, link building is still an essential tool in your toolkit. And what better way to find out what’s working than to see your competitors’ links?

This time-tested strategy for outreach is still popular because it still works: make a list of your rivals’ links and referring domains, and then conduct your own outreach to see if you can get them to link to your site as well. 

If you need to execute link building campaigns, SEMrush has you covered with a handful of great backlink tools.

Backlink Analytics

Whether you want to track the backlink profile of your own domains or start poaching authoritative backlinks from your competitors’ sites, “Backlink Analytics” is the tool to use.

First of all, it helpfully breaks down the types of backlink into different categories:

    • Text
    • Image
    • Form
  • Frame

It also displays whether the links are follow, nofollow, sponsored, or UGC (user generated content).

At a high level, you can see the categories of referring domains (by industry), the top-level domain types, the country where the links originated, and the top anchors.

If we take Salesforce.com as a domain example, you can see the CRM website’s incredibly authorative backlink profile. It currently has 24.6 million backlinks and 125K referring domains.

This example shows how robust the linking tools are in SEMrush. Imagine being able to see what every competitors’ link profile is, their referring domains, and their top indexed pages. 

SEMrush’s Link Building is one of its most indispensable functions. 

Why It Matters: Link Building gives you all the resources you need to conduct in-depth link analysis for your own domains and your competitors’, track your backlinks, and conduct successful link building campaigns.

Rank Tracking

Rank Tracking is a simple but useful category. It offers tools to help you track your position on the SERPs. The three tools available here are “Position Tracking,” “Sensor,” and “Ranks.”

The most notable tool here is the SEMrush Sensor, a unique feature that informs you about the volatility in the SERPs for different categories. This tool includes a Personal Score that lets you monitor how volatile your own keyword positions are.

You can even set up notifications to be notified about changes in rankings!

I’ll be honest – I don’t have as much experience with the Rank Tracking category in SEMrush, because I use another tool  to track rankings called Advanced Web Ranking. Still, it’s nice to have the option.

Why It Matters: Rank Tracking allows you to monitor progress on the SERPs day by day, including your top keywords, and keep an eye on SERP volatility by category.

On-page and Technical SEO

After you’ve come up with a solid SEO strategy and are executing it successfully, you’ll want to make sure that your technical SEO isn’t holding you back. SEMrush comes with several tools to ensure your on-page and technical SEO are optimal. 

This is key, because you want the best possible user experience for your visitors, while keeping your site accessible to search engine crawlers.

Site Audit

The best tool here is Site Audit, a counterpart to tools like Moz or Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Search Console. In SEMrush, Site Audit will audit your website and identify onsite errors quickly. 

Here are a few of the things it can help you do:

    • Add missing tags
    • Create titles, meta descriptions, and HTML tags that work for both users and search engines
    • Find and erase error pages
  • Eliminate duplicate content

Site Audit categorises the issues it uncovers into errors, warnings, and notices – these are in descending order of severity, so you can focus on the most important issues first.

Why It Matters: On-Page and Technical SEO gives you a host of tools to make sure your technical SEO is where it needs to be, including site audit, on page SEO checker, and log file analyser. This is good for an overview of any issues, but for large scale websites, I highly recommend having a proper technical audit carried out.

My Top Tips for SEMrush

So, we’ve just gone over the different functions of SEMrush. But how do you apply it to your business?

The name of the game here is competitor analysis. It’s true that this comprehensive SEO software helps you track your own keywords and links, but this can be done with a lot of different keyword tools out there. 

Personally, I think SEMrush’s greatest strength is how it lets you monitor your competition. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use SEMrush:

1) Create a List of Competitors

You may have an idea of your competition already, but SEMrush allows you to build a comprehensive list based on hard data. This also makes it easy to track your own progress in relation to a short list of your strongest rivals. 

2) Analyse Top Pages

SEMrush makes it possible to see which of your competitors’ pages are the top performing in terms of traffic and keyword ranking. This gives you market-tested ideas that you can borrow for your own site.

Like with any SEO tool, SEMrush isn’t 100 percent accurate with its numbers. However, it’s definitely one of the best in terms of accuracy, and by providing you a general figure for these things, you can always compare the relative data to get a good sense of how things stack up.

SEMrush Pricing

With SEMrush, you’ll find both free and paid options. The free version has significant restrictions, but honestly, if you just need to get some general ideas or an overview for your site, there’s still some good functionality there.

SEMrush

However, most of us will want one of the paid options, because that’s where we can do ongoing research, tracking, competitor analysis, and monitoring for our various domains and projects without running into restrictive limits. 

Here’s what you get with the four different SEMrush plans. 

Pro

The Pro plan costs $99.95/mo USD and is primarily intended for freelancers, startups, and in-house marketers that have a limited budget. You get more than 40 advanced SEO tools and the ability to competitive analysis on traffic, rankings, and social media from the biggest players in your industry.

Guru

The Guru plan costs $199.95/mo USD and includes everything in the Pro plan and adds some great additional features, including a content marketing platform, branded reports, historical data, and extended limits for the data. 

Business

The Business plan costs $399.95/mo USD and is a good fit for mature marketing agencies, e-commerce projects, and businesses with an extensive online presence. It includes everything you get in the Guru plan and adds white label reports, API access, extended limits and sharing options, and Google Data Studio integration.

Enterprise

The Enterprise plan has custom pricing and features. I don’t think most people will need this level of functionality, but it is an option for larger enterprises. This plan includes custom keyword databases, custom limits, unlimited crawling of large websites, and onsite training.

How to Pick an SEMrush Plan

So, which SEMrush plan is right for you? A majority of users find that the Guru plan offers the best bang for the buck – at $199.95 USD, it’s perfect for an agency or a small-to-medium business with an in-house marketing team. 

You can pay for any of these plans monthly or save 16% by going for a plan that’s billed annually.

Also, a quick reminder: the Traffic Analytics package is a $200 add-on for any paid plan, including Pro, Guru, and Business. I would say it’s probably overkill for solo marketers or small teams, but that kind of data is valuable if you decide you need it.

SEMrush Software Review Wrap-up

In this SEMrush software review, we’ve covered the five SEO categories offered in the SEO Toolkit. We’ve seen how these tools help you conduct detailed competitive analysis and track your own domain’s keywords, backlinks, traffic sources, and other metrics.

So, with all that said, is SEMrush the right SEO software for you? How does it compare to Ahrefs, SEOmonitor, Moz, Ubersuggest, or the humble Google Keyword Planner

Well, I’ll say this: If you own a small business with a growing web presence or you run an e-commerce store, SEMrush offers some fantastic tools to help you grow. 

It’s also really helpful to have one place to do all of this work, because the dashboard allows you to organise all of the data you’re tracking into a single page for quick reference. 

Ultimately, SEMrush is a solid tool – but the only way to know if it’s the best option for your workflow is to try it for yourself. As with many things in the marketing world, this comes down to personal preference and how you work.

So, here’s what I recommend: grab your FREE 7 day Pro trial of SEMrush right here and take it for a spin!

SEMrush

Have you used SEMrush before? How does SEMrush stack up to other SEO tools on the market? 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Categories
Blog SEO Tools

SEOmonitor Software Review: A Top SEO Tool for Ranking in Google

It’s no secret that Google searches are a gold mine for anyone who can successfully achieve those coveted top positions in Google’s results. 

But the reality is, Google processes over 40,000 search queries per second, so you won’t be able to get to the top without a good strategy. What’s more, since most internet users don’t venture beyond the first page of the SERPs, you need every SEO tool at your disposal to compete for those valuable slots.

Ultimately, your success with search engine marketing depends on the quality of the SEO software you use. SEO tools can help enhance the overall performance of a given website – from blogs to e-commerce stores – in the search engine results. 

Some of these tools can work together for even better performance, forming what we in the industry call an SEO toolkit. I’ve reviewed some SEO tools before in previous blog posts, but today, I’m going to focus on an excellent SEO tool called SEOmonitor.


 
Ready to try SEOmonitor? If you’re interested in giving SEOmonitor a go, the guys there have allowed me to offer you a special extended 30-day trial, rather than the standard 14 days. All you have to do is use this promo code: tRWlHJ 


SEO software review: SEOmonitor

SEOmonitor aims to help marketers get a better glimpse at the overall landscape of organic reach and traffic for their industry. That’s why it covers quite a lot of ground in just one tool, with several groundbreaking features: 

    • Organic Traffic
    • SEO Campaign
    • Keyword Research
    • Competition Insights
    • Content Performance
    • Issues
      • Search Reputation
    • Business Case Builder

One of the greatest things I’ve found about SEOmonitor is that it can be integrated with Adobe Sitecatalyst, Google SearchConsole, SEMrush, Majestic, and of course, Google Analytics. 

With these native integrations, SEOmonitor is able to gather all of your website’s organic data, manage the Not Provided solution, provide insights on keyword data, and competitors!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about what kind of tool SEOmonitor is.

What is SEOmonitor?

SEOmonitor is primarily a reporting tool, providing a full set of data on organic keywords – which can also be used to research keywords and topics. It gives you a full breakdown of the keywords providing traffic to a website, complete with metrics such as:

    • Search volume
    • Clickthrough rate
    • Average position
    • Number of search visits from each keyword
      • Bounce rate
    • Conversion rate

I’ll go over a lot of the best features in SEOmonitor in more detail, but first, I want to highlight a top feature in SEOmonitor: the Topic Explorer. SEOmonitor’s Topic Explorer focuses more on “topics” as opposed to individual keywords, which is a big deal in today’s search environment, because Google has been moving away from simplistic individual keyword ranking in favor of latent semantic indexing (LSI).

The Topic Explorer tool links different keywords to a topic to find semantically-related keywords, so if you input a topic as broad as “car insurance,” for example, you’ll get a huge list of keywords associated with that topic – not just keywords with “car” or “insurance” in them.

The team at SEOmonitor have also developed their own metric known as Visibility Score, which is a more intuitive way to assess keywords rather than the arbitrary “Keyword Difficulty” metrics provided by most other tools. Visibility Score blends rankings and search volumes in a way that makes it more relevant, insightful, and easier to understand than other SEO performance tracking approaches.

Pretty helpful, right?

The Origin Story of SEOmonitor

The team behind SEOmonitor were originally part of an SEO agency – they were marketers providing SEO work for clients. Then, in 2013, they were hit with the same problem that pretty much every single SEO agency and professional had to deal with: Google’s encrypted organic searches. Suddenly, there was much less information available for predicting or measuring SEO performance.

To solve the problem, these business-minded marketing pros created a tool and delivered it to a market full of SEO brands and agencies that needed it. SEOmonitor was officially launched in 2014 as a tool to measure and predict SEO performance. 

Today, the company supplies over 2,000 brands with its services and continues to grow. In fact, SEOmonitor even won the EU Search Awards in 2016!

SEOmonitor Features

Winning the EU Search Awards is obviously a big deal, but SEOmonitor didn’t get there by accident. 

So, what is it about SEOmonitor that has won over professionals all over the continent? Let’s take a look at the tool’s main features!

Automatic Keyword Research

In order to earn top results for your keywords, you have to start by understanding their competitiveness and relevance.

SEOmonitor helps by sifting through thousands of keywords that are relevant to you, revealing how challenging it would be to rank in the top 10 on the SERPs, and suggesting the value you can expect if you successfully rank in one of those top 10 spots! 

It’s particularly helpful to have all of this keyword data concentrated in a single tool.

Opportunity Indicator

What good does it do you to rank first in Google for the keyword “dancing shoes” if you sell gluten-free pizza doughs? You may be highly ranked, but it’s a waste of an opportunity to rank for irrelevant keywords – and if you run an ecommerce or content website, it’s a waste to rank for too many keywords that lack buyer-intent. 

Fortunately, SEOmonitor provides a feature called the Opportunity Indicator. By measuring the search volume, the difficulty, and the rank of each tracked keyword, SEOmonitor is able to prioritise the keywords that are likely to have the biggest impact on visits in the shortest amount of time. This is the kind of data that’s worth every penny, especially when you have limited bandwidth or resources to put toward content creation, because it lets you focus your attention on the activities that will make the biggest impact. 

Visibility Score

A professional SEO tool isn’t complete without the famous “Visibility Score Metric.” The Visibility Score is a core SEO performance metric, allowing you to see an accurate measurement of the overall visibility of a group of keywords in Google at a single glance. The score is expressed as a percentage, representing your impression share in the organic results: how many times a user saw your website in the results page, from the total number of searches on your keywords. 

SEOmonitor does the trick by giving you an overview of the overall performance in Google. It helps you to identify changes and anomalies in your SEO performance, compares them with non-brand traffic, and shows which keywords (or keyword groups) influenced overall visibility the most.

Business Forecast

Every agency insider today is aware that most people want you to forecast future results based on the work that you have suggested. This is a universal trend, although the accuracy of these predictions is really a whole other conversation. 

SEOmonitor, on the other hand, is able to provide solid insights on potential future results. All you have to do is understand the shown data and choose from some of your keywords groups, select the average position that you expect to achieve at the time, and then just hit the forecast button. SEOmonitor then produces a graph like the image above. 

This Business Forecast feature makes it easier to build SEO proposals based around projected results, such as the number of non-brand organic visits the client will have on a monthly basis and how many conversions this new traffic will generate. An excellent addition to this tool is that it takes into account the seasonality of the industry and the current rankings and traffic values. It’s a pretty comprehensive approach!

For the price of the tool and the features that are available, SEOmonitor really can be used for companies of all sizes, including both on the agency and client side.

Content Performance Review

The Content Performance Review provides an analysis of external content pointing to your site, giving you a fantastic overview of how your outreach campaigns are working. And yes, you’ll see all the normal metrics of any backlink analysis, such as:

    • Domain rating
    • Social media shares
    • Visits and conversions to your website
      • Link status
    • Anchor text

But the beauty of SEOmonitor is that it goes above and beyond, showing the effect on the Visibility Score for any particular landing page.

And to make sure you don’t miss anything in the daily routine, this analysis is updated every day, so that you have all the current information and are up-to-date on any significant changes, anomalies, and particularities.

Organic Traffic

I have found that SEOmonitor allows you to connect your website profile to Google Analytics and Adobe SiteCatalyst, which broadens the potential uses of this already fantastic tool to even more people. The majority of SEO software suites will only allow you link together a single analytics software, most likely Google Analytics. 

But we’re not talking about just any SEO tool, are we? 

SEOmonitor allows you to hook different analytics tools up to your website without charging extra for it. And once you have connected your analytics package to SEOmonitor, you’ll get more than just organic traffic metrics, including: 

    • Organic conversion rate
      • Organic conversions
    • Organic revenue

All this data wrapped around your campaign tracking makes for more precise, informed decisions. Integrating Google Search Console query data, you will start to get a feel for which keywords are actually generating traffic, as well as pinpointing topics for you to optimise.

Another cool thing about this, is that in your setup process you will have it added in your brand terms. The terms allow SEOmonitor to split out the brand and non-branded traffic! 

Would you like to know how? Well, a magician tends not to reveal his secrets, but here it is: With the integration of Google Search Console, some clever algorithms running in the background are able to match up your organic traffic to landing pages – plus the keywords from both your currently active campaign and Google Search Console – to bring a good indication of the split. 

It’s not always 100% accurate, but it provides you with valuable insights that would’ve remained unknown otherwise. This could be the competitive advantage you’re looking for!

Competition Insights

Want to see exactly how you compare to the competition?

On the Competition Insights page, you’ll be able to compare the Visibility Score trend of your top competitors, as well as their current Visibility Score for desktop and mobile. You’ll also see their top keywords, how many keywords you have in common and their domain score.

Below, you’ll see a list of all the keywords that your competitors rank for. Detailed metrics show you exactly how these competitors rank, what kind of changes they’ve seen, and more! You can hover over each element for even more details of what kind of content is working for the competition.

SEO Timeline: Events Correlated to Rank Fluctuations

When looking at the keywords in your SEO campaign, you can click on the little calendar icon to see a complete timeline for that particular keyword. This timeline shows you events such as landing page changes, HTTPS migrations, new backlinks, Google algorithm updates, and more. It then shows you exactly how your rank for that keyword changed as a result of those events.

This fantastic timeline tool gives you a special insight into how your actions affect your ranking. Want to pass along what you’ve discovered to your client or teammates? Just click the “Share Insight” button at the top of the event timeline. This creates a special link to a dedicated page that shows this timeline, and allows for comments and discussion at the bottom.

Flexible Pricing

In an effort to make the pricing policy a bit more fair and accessible, SEOmonitor uses a different pricing system from most tools: The price that you pay for SEOmonitor depends on the number of websites and keywords that you track. 

One website and up to 300 keywords – the cheapest option – is €49 per month. With every website that you add, while keeping the same number of keywords, the price increases 10 euros. For every 100 or 1000 keywords that you add extra, the price increase varies. 

If you’re running a larger business or agency and tracking more than 100,000 keywords, a custom price is designed exclusively for you. The cool thing is, whichever pricing plan you decide on, you will always have unlimited access to all the features, so it’s not one of those pay-to-win kinds of tools that we see in almost every corner these days. 

When paying more than €300 per month for the tool, you will also have unrestricted access to pitching resources, which comes in handy for any agency or professional looking to escalate.

Who is SEOmonitor for?

At this point, it’s fair to say that SEOmonitor offers an incredible number of features. We’ve already seen a number of them! 

But the truth is, the list above hardly even scratches the surface of this comprehensive tool.

Take a look:

So, with so many features, it’s a fair question to ask who would benefit most from using this tool. Is it for small business owners, marketing professionals, agencies, or somewhere in between? 

Well, let’s consider what a reasonably fair cost-to-benefit ratio might be.

Because of the price is customisable, it can easily scale for small or large teams, whether in-house or agencies. But if you are a freelancer and have quite a lot on your plate right now, SEOmonitor might be a way to clear up your time and start delivering even better results, which may greatly benefit your career. 

In more general terms, everyone can benefit greatly from this tool if they do a little twist and turn. To take full advantage of all the features that SEOmonitor offers, though, it’s probably best suited to agencies who handle SEO for many different clients.

That being said, any SEO content marketing experts or teams will have a blast exploring and using the technology within SEOmonitor. This tool will absolutely bring new life and excitement to your search campaigns.

Pros & Cons

I’ve been working with SEOmonitor for quite some time now, and one great way I’ve found to communicate the value of a product is with a quick list summarising its pros and cons. There are some fantastic features here in SEOmonitor, but there are also some things that could use some improvement. Let’s see what they are!

SEOmonitor Pros

Daily search engine updates

Before SEOmonitor, I had to use other ranking tools with weekly and/or bi-weekly update features. If you consider that SEO is a long term process and organic changes need some time to be tracked, it’s understandable that daily search engine updates wouldn’t be so necessary. 

However, when I work with larger websites, their contents change frequently, so I soon realised how useful a daily update feature could be in uncovering SEO issues quickly. With SEOmonitor, I am now able to diagnose important SEO problems as soon as they crop up!

Easy to group and smart-group keywords into folders

Working as a digital marketer, you know that our daily marketing tasks take a lot of time. This has a direct impact on how much you can bill and how efficient you are with your work. SEOmonitor helps with its keyword smart-grouping feature, where the system suggests keyword groups based on the keywords you are tracking. Anything that can save your expensive, precious time is worthwhile in my book!

Keyword cannibalisation warnings

Keyword cannibalisation is something to take seriously, as it can potentially damage your rankings for multiple reasons. Keyword cannibalisation happens when a website’s information architecture relies on a single keyword or phrase on multiple parts of the website. While this can occur unintentionally, having a bunch of pages that target the same keyword can cause real problems. 

SEOmonitor has a filter that shows how many times Google has changed your landing pages in the SERPs, targeting the same keywords. If too much change is found by SEOmonitor, it means that Google can’t decide which keywords relate to which page. By looking into your cannibalisation list, you’ll be able to create new pages or update the content on those pages.

Forecasting

I know I mentioned Forecasting before, as it is a really helpful feature for setting up goals in your SEO campaigns, but the tool is just so fantastic it deserves its own spot as a pro of SEOmonitor. 

When focusing on a set of keyword groups, SEOmonitor will forecast the amount of traffic and PPC costs, and predict a what-if scenario. The forecasted data is based on your Google Analytics data that the account is linked to. For this, SEOmonitor has developed an algorithm predicts the revenue you are generating from your organic traffic and the grouped keywords you are tracking. 

This feature is quite handy as a way to estimate the monetary value of your SEO efforts. In practical terms, you can share these numbers with a client or your executive team – or anyone who doesn’t understand the SEO process in detail, but always cares about the bottom line. 

As I mentioned before, forecasting isn’t always accurate, but it gives you a sizeable advantage to have some real-world numbers at your disposal. 

Opportunity indicators

Arguably one of the most interesting features in SEOmonitor is the Opportunity Indicator. This is nothing but a basic calculation of how much revenue you would earn when you nab the top result. By looking at these indicators, you can adjust your keyword strategy to capture more revenue with less effort. It’s very helpful when you can set revenue and sales goals for your SEO efforts by defining position-based KPI’s. 

Easy way to learn competitor keywords

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to take a quick peek in the competitor’s backyard to see how they handle their stuff? The good news is, SEOmonitor lets you easily investigate your competitor’s keywords and see which ones are frequently used. This step will help you find new opportunities, while thinking of strategies to outrank your competitors on the search results page. 

Yes, many other SEO tools have similar functions, but SEOmonitor shows competitor insights for specific keywords or keyword groups that you are focusing on as well. Plus, you can see which keywords are generating clicks for the landing pages of your competitors. This is a handy way to try and reverse engineer your competitor’s success!

Download desktop and mobile SERP snapshots as HTML page

Remember what I just said about saving time all the time? Well, this feature gives you an idea of how your pages are indexed in the real world. Once again, you’ll save time by not needing to switch back and forth to Google to check SERPs and meta-tags. This is as practical as it gets!

SEOmonitor Cons

Confusing user interface

SEOmonitor is a tool that provides a bunch of useful information and insights across many features. That may be why its interface is so crowded and occasionally confusing. There are a lot of icons and buttons you can click on within the tool, but they are not exactly marked or named in any way. Unless you get in the habit of hovering your mouse pointer over every element on the page, you may miss out on valuable features! 

It’s also worth mentioning that when working with a lot of keywords at once, the UI refreshes and computes the data, which slows down the browser window, slowing down the overall speed of your work. 

Forecasting

Although I included forecasting as a pro for SEOmonitor, it’s still not a perfect feature. The forecast number that SEOmonitor gives you is very broad. My bottom line here is, if you rely TOO much on the traffic or revenue number provided, you might compromise your business. Remember, these numbers aren’t set in stone, so be cautious about basing your company’s future on these kinds of forecasts.

Steep learning curve

There is good documentation with SEOmonitor, but getting used to the tool and finding the best workflow can be challenging.

It’s also somewhat expensive because of its daily search engine updates. But as mentioned before, if you have websites with lots of pages that are frequently changed, daily updates can be useful, which makes the price worth it.

SEOmonitor FAQs

How many languages does SEOmonitor cater to?

Currently, SEOmonitor supports 20 languages, including: English, French, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Brazilian, Chinese, and Romanian.

Does SEOmonitor work on WordPress.com as well?

Yes. Users will just have to disable the default SEO options in their WordPress.com accounts.

What does SEOmonitor integrate with? 

Here are just a few of SEOmonitor’s popular integrations:

Conclusion

Honestly, there is just so much to appreciate about SEOmonitor. One of the tool’s key strengths is its effortless keyword tracking across desktop and mobile. 

Adding hundreds of high-value keywords is child’s play – within minutes, you have the ability to review performance, monitor competitors, and uncover the most promising keyword opportunities available for your website.

Whether you’re monitoring 100 keywords or 5,000, it’s always easy to understand how an SEO project is going via SEOmonitor’s Visibility Score metric. The score measures the actual impact of ranking changes, taking into account the various features that each query can trigger in the search results. Combined with the app’s ability to connect keywords to conversions and revenue, it makes it easy for both you and your clients to monitor and understand your SEO efforts and results.

SEOmonitor also makes it easy to access the data you need to make recommendations, confirm insights, and pull together reports. The ability to separate branded traffic provides for a greater level of transparency. Meanwhile, the team is ALWAYS open to improvement – iterating constantly and not only listening to feedback, but implementing it. 

The interface can be challenging at times and powerful features are often hidden away. Luckily, the in-app live chat is always available if you need help. Another thing I’ve noticed is that, whenever new features are being added to the app, this can result in some functionality/usability issues. While the support team are awesome at responding right away, it does sometimes take up to a day or two for those issues to get fixed, which is something to be aware of.

Ultimately, SEOmonitor takes care of everything when it comes to creating and monitoring an SEO campaign. If you don’t have such a tool, or you have one but aren’t satisfied, give this one a try. 

If you aren’t a current customer and would be interested in testing SEOmonitor for yourself, just know they are very helpful. They also offer a migration service to assist in any migrations away from other software. But if you don’t want to put your money on it yet, then consider signing up for a free trial and request a demo with the team. 

Again, the guys at SEOmonitor have allowed me to offer you an extended 30 day trial instead of the standard 14 days. Just use the following promo code: tRWlHJ

So, are you interested in giving it a try, or are you already an SEOmonitor user? What are your impressions about the tool? Share your opinion in a comment below. I would love to hear it!

Categories
Blog Tools

Tool Review: Linkdex New Platform

Has anyone noticed that Linkdex has been looking a little bit different recently?
I’ve been using the new platform for a month or so now, so having had time to explore all the features of the new interface. It’s no secret that in the past there have been some flaws with the platform, great data but a lack of user-friendly features meant that it often felt easier to use a combination of other tools instead. But with these latest changes and relaunch of the platform earlier this year, it’s time to put new Linkdex to the test…

The Platform – What’s Changed?

Navigation

This was the most noticeable change for me to begin with. All the nav used to run across the top of the page but now there’s been a bit of a shift around so the side navigation menus have become a lot more important. When Linkdex said they were changing this, I didn’t think it would make a huge amount of difference to the functionality and would just feel like a purely cosmetic change.

But in reality, this has been a massive help. One of my previous complaints of Linkdex was how difficult it was to find certain features if you weren’t used to using the tool everyday, but this has made it much simpler.

 

16.03 - Linkdex Visibility

 

This also means they’ve made the filters clearer too so you can check the data of the page you’re on quickly, without getting lost in the old maze of filters. It’s always visible at the top of the data pages, instead of having to click to check what’s been applied to the page you’re on.

Show Me

As part of making the filtering system better, there’s now the option to apply ‘Show Me’s’ to the data.

 

16.03 - Linkdex Show Me

 

I hope the next step is to be able to save your own ‘Show Me’ options across your entire account. This would be really helpful for ensuring that everyone working on our clients is reporting on the exact same data and seeing opportunities for strategy in the same places, rather than having to issue instructions on how to mimic filters I’ve applied previously. This is a good step in the right direction in terms of the filtering functionality so I’ll be watching out for further developments.

Reporting & Dashboards

Up until now I was really impressed with the changes that Linkdex has made, but it seems a bit like they might have forgotten the reporting section (Or hoping it’s a phase 2). There have been some tweaks but nothing too drastic to change my opinion on this section of the tool, though I do think reporting is one of the hardest things for a platform to get right.

Now, I don’t use the reporting stuff in the platform that much anyway so this isn’t really a dealbreaker for me. Instead I much prefer to download the graphs separately and build my own custom reports using other data sources too, which is still possible so that works. The best change here is how the dashboards work. They no longer double as a version of the report which is difficult to construct, instead the graphs you select display side by side every time you login which means you get a great top level view of the performance of each project instantly. This is ideal for when I’m running quick checks across multiple projects to flick between dashboards and understand which clients have seen the biggest changes over the past month.

Away from the Platform…

The platform isn’t the only thing that’s been changing at Linkdex though by the looks of it.

Grown Up Website

Those who have been in the industry for a while might remember this:
16.03 - Linkdex Website

 

A few iterations later and a shift in the brand messaging to be ‘The SEO Platform of choice for Professional Marketers’ and what you see now on a visit to the Linkdex site is a sleeker, grown-up experience.

 

16.03 - Linkdex Professional Marketer

 

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t comment on the design of a tool’s site or event factor it into the quality of the software, but for Linkdex there are special circumstances. As an agency, White.net prides itself on transparency with our clients, which means we often give access to the Linkdex projects to our clients so they can see the raw data for themselves. If you’re doing this with a client, you need the platform’s own site to be reflective of the quality of the data its collecting so it looks like a reliable source.

Industry Thought Leadership

Linkdex has always worked to promote knowledge-sharing across the industry through its SEO Insights pieces and events, but recently the efforts to promote these and attract great speakers has really increased. I spoke on one of their SEONow Webinars just a few months ago, alongside some excellent speakers and a tonne of engagement following the event. The Customer Experience Think Tank earlier this month also had some great presentations and a good mix of actionable talks and big-sky thinking that quickly made the SEONow events ones i’ll be looking to attend in future. Not to mention they’re sponsoring the bar at BrightonSEO too… This commitment to the industry is really positive to see. Doing good across SEO-world with these free events makes it seem a lot more like they care and understand what we’re all working towards as agencies using the platform.

Linkdex isn’t perfect. But what tool is? My main takeaway from all these changes though is that they’re taking things seriously now. It feels like they’ve listened to the feedback over the past few years from people like myself and finally done something about it. I’m sure we’ll see many more changes over the upcoming year and hopefully even more positive improvements. Have you tried using the new platform? I’d love to hear more about what you think about it in the comments below.

Categories
Blog Tools

6 Steps to turn BuzzStream into a Sales Asset!

Tools that have dual purposes are becoming extremely popular in businesses, especially those that are keeping an eye on costs.

As with most agencies, sales is a major part of growing your business and ensuring that the company growth continues, meaning lots of money is spent of CRM software. Most will go with with recognised software such as Salesforce, that costs thousands of pounds due to reputation, but there are other options available, especially for those:

  • needing to keep costs down,
  • not a salesperson by trade,
  • spending too much of your income on tools for delivery.

It is times like these where you need to be inventive with your toolset, and use tools for dual purposes.

In the rest of this post, I am going to talk you through using one of the best tools to generate natural coverage available to SEO and PR professionals for Business Development!

The tool that I am referring to is of course Buzzstream!

 

Before we get started, I am going to assume that you have a Buzzstream account and you know how to use it. I am also going to assume that you have connected your preferred email account to the tool to ensure emails are connected. If you have none of the above then please visit the resource section here.

Right, lets get started!

 

Create your sales project

As with any Buzzstream outreach campaign, you need to first create a project specific to your needs. To do this head, up to the top left and select the dropdown. Within here you will see the button New Project as shown below.

buzzstream-create-project

Once you have clicked the New Project button, you need to name your project. For this example, I have used Business Development. Now you need to assign the project to yourself and untick the send backlinks checkbox.

buzzstream-project

Now the project has been created, it’s time to focus on the pipeline.

 

Create your pipeline stages

Within the project you have created, head over to the settings and select customise fields. Under Custom fields for Link Partners select Add new custom field.

buzzstream-custom-fields

This will allow you to start adding your pipeline stages, however you first need to give it a name and change the filter to Dropdown.

creare-pipeline

Once you have changed the filter, you will see a new set of fields appear. This is where you need to start entering your stages.

In my example I have used the following:

  • Prospect
  • Cold call – contacted
  • Warm lead
  • Warm lead – response
  • Brief received
  • Proposal sent
  • Won
  • Lost

 

These may not be exactly what you require, so you will need to change these to suit your requirements. Once you have finished adding your pipeline stages, you need to select the project that you want the fields to be enabled in. Since you are already within the correct project, the checkbox should already be selected.

Click save, and head back to your project.

 

Import your prospects

If you have not been using a CRM to date, the details of your targets are likely to be in a little bit of a mess. Luckily, Buzzstream offers you multiple ways to upload your information. Click on the Add link partners button and select one of the three options that is suitable for you.

buzzstream-add-contacts

Now that your prospects are within your project it is time to start adding them to the relevant stage of the pipeline.

 

Updating the pipeline status

The next stage could be time consuming if you have not uploaded your contacts by XLS. However, it is a step that is necessary and it will mean you are aware of what type of contact is required for the prospect.

The quickest way of editing the pipeline stage is selecting it within the main dashboard as shown below. On selection of the prospect, you will need to select the pipeline stage from the dropdown and then hit save. You will need to complete this process with all of your prospects.

buzzstream-change-pipeline-status

 

Confirm contact details

As part of the Buzzstream tool, it automatically finds all potential contact methods for the specific website/prospect that you have entered.

It is a beneficial step to go through each prospect and review the contact details. This will mean editing email, phone and address details and accepting any social media accounts they find. This will ensure that you have as much information about your prospect as possible.

Be aware, that the details found by Buzzstream may not necessarily be the correct information. Therefore you need to cross-reference it against the prospecting details that you already have.

 

Making contact and keeping details up to date

As with any CRM system, you will need to ensure that any information taken is added to the contact. Buzzstream provides a notes feature which will allow you to add any information that you take down during meetings or phone calls with your contact.

 

buzzstream-notes

 

If you have email communication with your prospect and your email is connected to Buzzstream, all your correspondence will be imported to the contact information. This will allow you to see any previous conversations that you have had, whilst also being able to easily review previous agreements made between the two parties. If you are unable to connect your email (I do not seem to be able to), then include your Buzzbox email address into the Bcc and all your communication will be added as if it was connected.

As you progress the prospect, you will need to change the pipeline stages through to conclusion by editing them as shown above.

 

Extra tips

The more you use this method for your business development, the more inventive you can be with the features that are already available. Below are just a few extras that you may want to use.

  • Assign tasks to others: If there is more than one person working on the lead, you can assign them tasks.
  • Using tags: Although you are keeping all your data online, you may have some offline outbound activity happening. Using tags, you can add them to contacts to easily show what marketing campaign they have been part of, to provide a more personalised approach.
  • Create template responses: To speed up the outreach process, you can create templates that provide the outline of the communication that you want to send. These templates can be edited on each send to ensure that the approach is personalised.

 

And there you have it, using Buzzstream for business development!

This is a perfect example of a tool that can be used for multiple tasks, and why during your toolkit review it is essential to understand what each tool can do.

Are you using Buzzstream for sales or for a task other than link building? Do you think Buzzstream could be the answer to your CRM issues, even as a temporary solution? Are you using another tool that is not a dedicated CRM system for business development? I would love to hear from you in the comments below or other on Twitter @danielbianchini.

 

Image credit: Sean MacEntee (Flickr)

Categories
Blog SEO Tools

SEO Tools: 6 Steps to Evaluating your SEO Toolkit

We work in an industry where there are new tools launched every week. Whether they are paid or free, there is always somebody recommending the next big thing that will revolutionise the way that we work.

However, unless you have a limitless budget, how do you know you are using the right tool? Should you be using both SEMrush and AWR? Does aHrefs enhance your Kerboo subscription? Do you go for Deepcrawl or Screaming Frog, or both?

These are just some of the decisions we have to make on an ongoing basis. You only need to take a look at the marketer toolbox website setup by Aleyda, to see the large amount of tools available and the challenge we are faced with.

To ensure that you are not just buying every tool you come across, you need to evaluate each one and make an informed decision on whether it will benefit you or the business. In the remainder of this post I will discuss some of the key areas that I consider when evaluating my toolset.

1. Recommended or advertised?

How did you find out about the tool? Did somebody recommend it in a blog that you have read or directly? Was it mentioned at a conference or was it a through a cold call?

Although where you saw the tool shouldn’t have a major impact on your decision, I have always found those that have been recommended a lot more beneficial.

If you have been recommend a tool, I’d suggest that before enquiring about a trial, you reach out to the person and ask them why they liked it so much. Ask them privately, ideally over email or SKYPE so that they can be completely open and honest about it. Here you will find out a lot more information than you would through a cold call, or running an initial trial.

If you do decided to take a cold call from a software provider, make sure that their is a real need in the business to explore whatever tool is on offer. If you are pursuing a cold call to be polite, then you could find yourself on a number of calls wasting a lot of time. If you don’t want something, be honest both you and the salesperson would prefer the honesty.

If you proceed with the cold call, then make sure you get a trial and take it for test drive. The salesperson will always only concentrate on the positive aspects of the product, but what about those little niggles that may affect the way you work. What about those aspects that you really need, but are actually not available. Having a trial is extremely important when you think about purchasing any software, but even more so when it’s through a cold call.

Once you have decided on whether you want to proceed to a trial, you need to understand what similarities if any, it has with your other tools.

2. Overlaps

There are a huge number of tools available to us that either do exactly the same or a very similar job, use the same data source (Majestic as an example), or cover one aspect in a more campaign approach.

It’s at this stage of the evaluation you need to determine if the tool you are trialing is offering you anything different to the tools that you already have, or if it is just doing the same job. If you it is just doing the same job (example: AWR vs Authority Labs), this is OK, it means that you need to determine whether it is doing a better job than the old tool.

However, if it is just overlapping such as SEMrush and aHrefs, you need to determine if the data from the new tool is better, and if so does it overlap in such a way that you need to remove the other product?

In case of the example I provided with SEMrush and aHrefs. I made a decision to use both of these tools, even though in my opinion they overlap, they are both strong at different aspects which makes them work well together.

3. Efficiency

Will this tool make your work quicker? Will it make your work better?

If the answer is yes to both questions then the tool is likely to be a no brainer. However, if the tool is clunky, unreliable and will take a great deal of change to your work low then I’d suggest that you look elsewhere.

My number one rule for a tool is – If it doesn’t make the quality better and isn’t efficient it’s not right. This is just my rule, I’d be interested to hear if you agree with that?

4. Required or luxury

One of the biggest issues that we have when it comes to adding to our toolkit is the necessity to have everything that is available. If there is a new tool we need to have it, regardless of cost, proper trialing or if it’s actually required.

I have seen it many times when you create a list of all the tools that you want to have and it fills a couple of A4 pages of paper.

Why?

Because we need it, it’s new and better.

In most cases, this is not actually true. The reason that it is on the list at all is because somebody has just stumbled across it. They have read the latest blog post and it’s highly recommended or they have come back from an amazing conference and it was the Buzz product.

It’s at this stage of the process that you need to be really brutal with the tool. Does it make you, your team and/or business better? Does it replace another software that you already have, not just because it is new, but because it is better!? Will it give you a competitive advantage?

This is the stage that you need to ask yourself. Do we REALLY need this tool?

5. Replace or add

Many tools that are available do the same job as a lot of others, and don’t really provide any extra value.

When trialing your piece of software you need to be crystal clear on how his tool will add value to your current seo toolkit, or whether it will replace one or more tools completely. You don’t want to add or remove tools that will weaken your ability to provide the very best work to your clients or team.

Here you need to be ruthless. A new tool maybe better than one that you have a really good relationship with the owners, or you are a fan of the business that creates it. This can’t come into the thinking, they will understand and you can always provide feedback as to why you are changing. However, you need to do what is best for you and the business, that is key.

6. Costs

Although this shouldn’t be the deciding factor, cost does have a part to play in the decision making process. Regardless of whether you are an internal team, small/large agency or whether you freelance, you need to keep the cost down and tools can quickly escalate out of control if you don’t have a handle on it.

Two key things you should consider when it comes to cost include:

  • Tool cost vs total income: – Will costs be reduced as it is replacing other tools? are you happy with the amount of income you are spending on tools?
  • Tool efficiency vs manual time: – Will the cost of a monthly subscription save you enough man hours to make it viable.

There are likely to be other costs that you need to look into, especially if you are the business owner, however these are what I look at.

A final recommendation from me. Set a date each year that you evaluate your entire tool set to ensure that you are using the best tools available to you and your business.

There you have it, six things I consider when evaluating my seo tool kit. How do you evaluate your toolkit? Do you have a diverse set of tools or do you stick to a single campaign software? I would love to hear your thoughts on how you evaluate the seo tools that you are currently using in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

Image Credit – Sami Paju (Flickr)

Categories
Blog SEO Tools

17 Tools to help with Technical SEO

This post was originally published on State of Digital.

Technical SEO continues to be one of the most valuable stages in any SEO campaign. Ensuring that the technical foundations are laid provides you with the ability to become more creative with content.

In this post, I have provided 17 tools that you can use to during different areas of technical SEO.

You, Pen & Paper

Tools are great, but you are better! Tools allow you to get an understanding of any technical issues quickly but it still requires brain power to analyse what has been identified. Therefore, whilst you are running a crawl of the website using your preferred crawling tool, you should also give it a visual inspection. This part of the process is one that is often missed as we rely on tools to do all of the heavy lifting for us.

During your visual review you should be manually checking each template and the source code for the following items making notes as you go:

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags including description and directives such as the rel=canonical and robots tag.
  • Heading structure
  • How layered navigation is managed
  • Pagination management
  • www vs non-www.
  • Checking canonicalisation issues
  • Robots.txt
  • HTAccess

Once you have conducted your review you can see if they have been verified through the use of tools.

Crawler of choice

Running a crawl of the website is one of, if not the most important part of any technical SEO feature. Using tools such as those highlighted below will provide you with lots of information with regards to the current state of the website.

Once the crawl has completed, the first step is to export the data into a spreadsheet so that it can be analysed fully. It is at this point that I generally export by section such as response codes, Images, Directives, Protocol etc. This allows me to dive into any issues with a specific set of data rather than having to filter the entire crawl.

Example Crawlers:

Screaming Frog crawler

Google Search Console (GWT)

Recently named Google Search Console, this tool provides you the information that Google can see and is willing to show you. To conduct through technical SEO checks it is essential that you get access to Google Search Console, and if it is not available then make sure that you implement it.

Once you have access, it is key to identify any significant issues that have been highlighted, and from a technical point of view they are likely to be found in the following three areas:

  • Google Index

Under the Google Index section of Google Search Console, you will find a number of options including Index Status and Remove URLs. These two options provide you with with the current indexation figures, and what URLs have been removed. If you compare these stats against the number of your pages or the number of pages within your XML sitemap you can start to identify whether you are suffering from duplicate content issues.

Google Webmaster Tools Index Status report

  • Crawl

Here is where Google gives you insight into the state of current websites in terms of errors identified, how often your website is crawled, how your sitemap is performing and whether there are any errors and where you can handle your URL parameters.

  • Search Appearance

Within Search Appearance you will be able to compare the number of missing and duplicate title and metas with what you found within your crawl. You can also identify any issues with the structured data that may be available on the current website.

Page Speed Tool

As consumers are constantly switching between devices, page speed has become more important not only from a rankings perspective but also from a usability point of view.

Google currently state that if your website / page does not fully load within 1 – 2 seconds then it is below average. This is supported by users hitting the back button if the website is not visible almost instantly, this is also true for mobile devices where users expect the website to load quickly even if they are on a 3G connection.

There are many ways in which you can speed up your website including image optimisation, minifying code (JS, CSS, HTML) and enabling compression. These issues can be identified using one of the following tools:

Speed tools:

Google PageSpeed Insights

Change Log

This doesn’t happen very often for one reason or another, but it can be an important part of conducting a technical SEO. If your website has taken a hit in visibility or traffic/conversions, you may be able to track it back to a technical change.

One way to keep on-top of the technical changes is to add an annotation to your analytics package. This is a very simple process when using Google Analytics and can be shared with everyone that has access to the project. Further to adding information about technical changes, annotations can, and in my opinion should be used to keep a record of any marketing activities (PR, email, campaigns) as well as tracking any confirmed algorithm updates.

By tracking these activities it will be easier to identify what has either helped or hindered your website over a period of time.

Markup Checker

Structured data has become a larger part of the technical process over the past few years, however, there are still a large number of websites that have not implemented any markup.

Those that are early adopters to structured data are seeing the benefits of increased click through rates and conversions. Implementing the correct markup for your website doesn’t have to be that difficult, with the following tools allowing you identify, create and test your specific markup.

Markup tools:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool

XML Sitemaps

Surprisingly missing XML sitemaps are a common theme in technical SEO especially audits, yet it is one of the most basic features to implement.

At the most basic level you should implement a manual XML sitemap that has been created and uploaded to the server by yourself. If you can, and it is advised implement a feature to automate the creation of the XML sitemap and publication to the root for search engines to be able to access it.

Two following tools will allow you to create either a manual or automated sitemap, whilst the other two will allow you to validate the XML sitemap that you currently have. you can also

Sitemap Tools:

These are just some of the tools that are available to be used during the technical SEO phase. What tools do you use for technical SEO? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

[Image Credit: Flickr – OZinOH]

Categories
Blog SEO Tools

Content inspiration: One tool, 1000s of sparks!

This post was originally published on State of Digital.

Everyday content creation is becoming harder and harder, as everyone becomes online publishers. Whether you are working in publishing, electronics, white goods or fashion, everyone is publishing huge amounts of content.

Previously I have written about 6 tools that can help inspire your content, using social media, Q&A websites and keyword tools. One of tools that I mentioned was Ahrefs Content Explorer and how, similarly to BuzzSumo, it provides information on the most shared content on the web.

In this post, I am going to show you how to use Content Explorer to provide you with 1000s of URLs to help further inspire your content creation by either providing new ideas, improving content, or combining to provide a more valuable resource.

Note: I am not affiliated to Ahrefs, I am just an advocate of the tool suite that they have put together. To get the most out of this post you will need a subscription

Now that is out the way, lets get started.

Content ideas from across the web

When opening the Ahrefs Content Explorer tool, you need to start by entering a keyword topic. As a first step to finding your content inspiration, it is key to start with something as broad as possible, so that you can get a clear understanding of what content is succeeding within your market.

Once you have entered your topic, it is essential that you exclude your own content from the mix so that you do not skew any results. To do this check the exclude radio button on the left hand side under the Domain Name feature and add your own URL, in this instance I have removed our domain White.net and hit the search button.

ahrefs-state-of-digital

 

This returned over 200k results, from websites such as Forbes, Mashable, Moz and the Telegraph. It goes to show that lots of people are talking about SEO, and not just on the websites you may consider a competitor.

As a starting point, export the data so that you can start to collate a number of URLs to analyse and provide you with your inspiration. When exporting the data you will be asked whether you want a fast export of 1,000 rows or a full export. This is going to depend on your subscription level as to how many credits you have or want to use.

Once you have downloaded the data, you will need to create two extra columns. One is for the topic, and the other is the domain. This will help later in the process when filtering, to identify opportunities. Using an excel formula you can automate filling in the domain column, more information can be found here.

ahrefs-spreadsheet

Now that you have your first set of data, if possible you should run more searches, this time a little more targeted. With the example that I am using, I would then perform the following searches each time downloading and adding to my spreadsheet:

  • Keyword research
  • Technical SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Website audits

Once you have completed a number of searches, ensure that you dedupe the URLs gathered to ensure you only have unique options. This step allows you to see what is being created across the web for your search topics, but what about those that you class as competitors?

What works for your direct competitors?

The broad searches that you created previously are likely to have already provided you with lots of inspiration, but now it is time to be a bit more targeted.

Understanding what is working for your competitors is a key aspect to any search marketing campaign, so determining what is most popular is key.

This step is very similar to the first, but you are going to include your competitor domains only. Remove any search term that may be in the search bar, and instead include your competitors domain in the search box on the left hand side similar to when excluding your own domain earlier. By hitting search now, you will be presented with content that is only available on the domain that you entered.

ahrefs-example

The example above shows the most popular content on the State of Digital website ordered by the median number of shares in descending order. What you may notice is that just because you generate lots of shares, it does not automatically mean you get lots of links.

It is at this stage that you have a choice on how you want to proceed. You can either download the report as is, with every topic shown or you can use the same or similar terms you used earlier to help with the targeting. Personally I would chose to download every topic to be as thorough as possible, but each situation is different.

Once you have decided what to do, you need to download either one or multiple spreadsheets, and add them to your existing set of data. Do not forget that you need to tag each URL with a topic for later.

Now repeat this step with as many competitors are you feel necessary.

Note: Not every domain will be in the Ahrefs database, but it is growing daily.

Inspiration, recreation and combination

By conducting the above process I have managed to create a spreadsheet that has over 8,000 pieces of content with social and linking metrics, that I can use to inspire the content that I will create going forward.

spreadsheet-ahrefs

Inspiration:

By browsing through the list of URLs filtered by a specific topic, I managed to come up with a large number of content titles and ideas that will allow me to create fresh content over the coming months.

Recreation:

Looking at somebody else’s content and recreating it is not stealing, as long as you are providing value by creating a better resource.

When looking for content that could be recreated and improved, I filter the data by topic and the date. This allows me to see any content that has been created within the past 12 – 24 months. If the content was well shared and linked to, and has not been covered in depth in the last six months I add it to my list.

Within a few minutes I have a list of potential ideas including this piece that was created in 2012 over on Search Engine Journal: The Definitive Guide to Local SEO. This piece generated a large number of shares and links, but more importantly it can be updated due to the latest updates implemented by Google.

Combination:

Sometimes you come across a number of posts that are very good, but just need that bit extra added to them. This is when combining content ideas to create a more indepth and valuable resource is beneficial.

Further analysis of the data that I have gathered has led to me to identify 4 different blog posts that fit very well together, and if combined would provide a valuable resource. It could even be turned into a presentation and whitepaper, increasing the potential for shares and links.

Once you have a list of content ideas, it is time to prioritise your efforts on what you feel will be the biggest return.

Using the right tools, having the right process and a little bit of time, you can find thousands of pieces of content that will inspire you and your campaigns. It has helped me, so I hope it will help you.

Are you taking these steps or something similar to inspire your content creation? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

[Photo Credit: miscellaneaarts via Compfight cc]

Categories
Blog Tools

Linkdex: What I Would Like to See

I like Linkdex, I do, although from the number of questions I ask Collette Easton on a regular basis she might disagree.

Is Linkdex the best SEO tool? No, but that is what all the APIs are for, right? Is Linkdex the best tool that is currently available? Arguable, but I am not going to get into an argument about which is the best SEO tool. Having used or seen demos of all the current SEO tools available, I can see the pro’s and con’s of using all of them.

At SEOptimise we use Linkdex to analyse large data sets, identify gaps in the market and have begun to use the new social media aspects of the software. Combine this with all the other data we analyse from the remaining toolset available, and some internal tools it can provide lots of valuable information.

With all this great information, there are a few things that irritate me. Some things that I think are relatively basic that are being missed, for the bigger more advanced features. To me, and this is a personal opinion, ensuring that the basic features are in place, and working well is key. Others will disagree, and I would love to hear from those in the comments below, but I feel that making some small tweaks can make a real difference to the product.

Below are just a few features that I think will improve the current Linkdex product, and I do have quiet a few ideas. But let me know what you think.

Overview Dashboards

As someone that looks after multiple projects, having a single view of metrics across multiple projects quickly is hugely beneficial, and would help save a lot of time.

Having the ability to see how many tasks have been completed, and by whom. What has changed, who has done what across multiple products would allow quick analysis. This would be great for those that are managing teams of people to understand exactly what is being worked on, what has been achieved and what is still be completed.

Account Profiles

How many of you work with websites that cross multiple verticals? Sell products across multiple geographical regions? I bet quite a few of you.

If you wanted to put each region/vertical into Linkdex, you would need to setup a new account for each. That means that every new account would eat up a lot of credits, and duplicate a lot of work. This could be solved if you were able to create an account that has separate profiles associated to it, similar to Google Analytics.

Examples:
Linkdex Account: – www.example.com
Linkdex Profile: – www.examples.com/uk
Linkdex Profile: – www.examples.com/usa
Linkdex Profile: – www.examples.com/fr

Based on the examples given above, you could specify that you only want a crawl to happen in the main account. This would crawl the entire website, and allow you to filter down as far as you need to go. The main account would hold all the top level data, links, rankings that you would expect including analytics data.

The profiles however, would concentrate solely on the region/vertical that was added. This wouldn’t include the data that is shown at account level, so items such as Content, and other technical aspects that you would expect to cover the entire website. Instead it would allow you to add and analyse competitors and keywords that are relevant to your region/vertical, look at influencers specific to your target audience, and other metrics that you would want to have a more granular look at including Google Analytics.

Google Analytics
With the addition of multiple profiles per account, it then brings in the possibility of including multiple Google Analytics profiles. The majority of GA accounts that I work with are broken into separate profiles, targeting specific categories, verticals or geographical regions. To me this makes a lot of sense and allows you a lot of flexibility, by only giving access to those ares to people that need it. Dan Barker or Anna Lewis might disagree with me here, but I prefer it setup that way.

With the ability to include analytics to each profile, you will be able to analyse traffic, conversions and goals from that specific areas, rather than being limited to global Analytics data. Looking at analytics data at a more granular level will make the information much more actionable, and allow you to see the work that has been carried out through Linkdex, make an impact on the target area, rather than a site as a whole.

Reporting
Reporting for a separate profile, I see as more of a geographical requirement, but it could be used to report on specific categories or verticals.

I currently manage a client that sells across multiple geographical regions, all of whom require a report. Creating a report direct from Linkdex, currently doesn’t allow me to be specific on each region. If Linkdex were to introduce the suggestions above, reporting at this level would be relatively easy. Analytics, rankings, links, influencers would all be available at a regional (category/vertical) level and make them much more actionable for those receiving them.

I think reporting has a much wider issue in Linkdex, but that is the case with the majority of SEO software on the market, but I will get into that next.

Reporting

As I mentioned earlier, I think this is something that is a problem that the majority of SEO tools have. Before I talk about some of the issues that I feel the tool has with reporting, it is only right that I say some of the reporting is very good, especially around the link data, content and social. The area that I believe needs work is mainly around the Google Analytics API is limited.

Analytics
At the time of writing this post, the Linkdex suite only has three widgets related to Analytics, ‘Actual Traffic’, ‘Traffic by Search Engines’ and ‘Keyword Phrases’. Improving the number of widgets that Linkdex has around analytics will allow us to provide much greater and granular detail.

Having very basic knowledge of the Google AP means that I am unable to accurately say what can and can’t be done, but having the ability to choose the type of information that you can utilise from your analytics package would be a great asset.

Automation
Currently Linkdex doesn’t allow you to automate the running of pre-created reports on set dates. This feature is extremely useful, especially for those that have multiple accounts, as well as internal teams who need to supply their superiors with regular reports.

This is a feature that I really hope that Linkdex will include in upcoming releases, as it would be truly beneficial to my clients, and those that use the tool regularly.

Download Format
One thing that I like about some other SEO tools, is the format that download is produced. If the data is provided in an easy format it allows for easy manipulation, and the ability to create subsequent tools that help with that data manipulation. The way that the data currently is exported from Linkdex. it makes it difficult manipulate. I’m not sure how possible it is to change the format of downloads, but I think this would be huge improvement.

Report Customisation
Another very small thing, is the ability to customise the look and feel of the reports. Every agency or business for that matter has their own brand template that they need to use. Having the ability to change table, graph and text colours would be a great addition. Combine that with the ability to upload your own template document (PDF, PPT), that would then be used when reporting would make the whole process a bit smoother.

Other Suggestions

  • Integration of Other Analytic Packages – Omniture/NedStat/WebTrends, etc. This would open up the tool to so many more companies that don’t use Google Analytics.
  • Keyword Categories & Sub-categories – Tags are a great way of organising keywords, but it can be difficult to identify all the keywords quickly. If you put keywords within categories and then sub-categories they will be easier to find.

Some of the suggestions that I have made above could well be in process already, I’m not privvy to that kind of information. I also understand that there is development costs involved, and they may not bring the best ROI. Linkdex, obviously have a roadmap of what they are looking to achieve and how they are going to get there. I hope that some of these features are apart of that roadmap, but if they are not then this post might give them food for thought.

Those are just my thoughts on features that I would like to see in Linkdex, what do you think? Would my suggested improvements help you? I’d be interested to see what features you would like to add Linkdex if any, in the comments below.

Disclaimer: These are my own personal thoughts, and are not those of my employer.

Update 1st March 2013: I had a call from Collette Easton to talk through some of the updates in the pipeline for Linkdex. It seems that a few of my ideas are already being implemented. Collette also suggested that she would take some of the ideas that weren’t currently on the radar and speak to the powers above. Lets wait and see what happens.

Update 6th March 2013: Another Idea has come to mind today. Since Linkdex target both Agency and In-house teams, it will be common practice to have access to more than one account, whether to be client accounts or the agency hub. Currently you are unable to use the same email address to access all those accounts, instead you need to have a separate address per account. I know I have stolen a lot of ideas from Google in this post, but it seems easier if you could use the same email address to login to all your accounts. This would then bring all the accounts into a central place and make it much easier to work and switch between projects.

Categories
Blog Tools

3 Tools I Will be Using More in 2013

During 2012 I used a lot of different tools, some were really useful, but some I found made things more difficult. I like to use tools if they help, make things more efficient or provide value to the project that I am working on, but there are plenty of tools that I am currently using that need to be reviewed.

Below are 3 tools that I will be using a lot more of in 2013.

1. Google Drive
For those of you that haven’t heard of Google Drive, where have you been? Google Drive is the renamed Google Docs. All the functionality has been retained, plus the addition of some nice features including, the ability to add documents to your Gmail account directly from Google Drive.

I have been an avid Dropbox user for a long time now, but with the issues they have had recently, I wanted to find something more secure and reliable. I looked around for a long time, and found nothing that was suitable, so I continued with Dropbox. Since the relaunch of Google Drive, Google have introduced the ability to drag and drop files into your cloud storage, either directly into your browser or to folder located on your device.

With this simple but effective addition, Google Drive was an easy replacement for Dropbox, whilst retaining the same usability. I think Google Drive will be the biggest change to the toolset that I use in 2013.

2. Procrastinator
If you are like me, you can distracted pretty quickly! For me the main culprits are BBC Sport and Twitter. You know I love my sport, therefore I check BBC Sport regularly, looking for the latest sports news. I use Twitter to keep up to date with the fast paced industry that is online marketing, and have found it an essential tool in finding content that I might not of otherwise come across.

This can become a problem especially when you have a deadline to hit, this is where procrastinator comes in. Using the Procrastinator Google Chrome app, you can block websites from being visited during a certain period of time.

Procrastinator allows you to enter the websites that you want to block yourself from, and the times that you don’t want to visit. Once you have set your times, and you visit a blocked site, you are given a slap on the wrist and politely asked to go back to work. This tool has saved me a considerable amount of time, stopping me from visiting the sites that distract me the most. If you are not using something similar, then I highly recommend it.

With any tool/app you can always get around it, and in this case, it is by using a different browser, or checking your mobile phone. If you are looking for a way to stay focused during certain times of the day, then this browser app is great.

3. Trello
I became a big fan of Trello towards the end of 2012, mainly due to using it more often in-house. I became such a fan, I started to use it for some personal projects as a free resource for managing projects, and giving clients access, and full transparency to the project.

Trello allows you to create tasks that can be assigned to associated to chosen members. It includes filters such as comments, votes, to-do lists, labels and due dates to make managing your project as easy as possible.

What I really like about using Trello, is the ease of usability. Some questions that I have when using basecamp, is how do I use it? Since using Trello, I haven’t had that issue. For our internal process at SEOptimise and own personal project Trello is going to be an amazing asset.

For my personal projects I have been using Trello alongside Toogl to measure the amount of time that had been spent on each task. I find that Toogl compliments Trello extremely well with the use of the desktop application it makes it extremely useful. I am just hoping that the guys over at Trello or Toogl will edit the tool to allow integration.

Do you use Trello? What other tools do you use alongside Trello to make the tool even better?

So there you have it my 3 tools I will be using a lot in 2013. Do you use any of these tools? What other tools/apps do you feel are invaluable to you? What tools do you recommend that I look at in 2013? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below or on twitter @danielbianchini.