Categories
Blog SEO

5 Reasons You Lose Traffic After a Website Migration & How You Can Prevent It

There comes a time in most websites’ lifetime when they will go through the dreaded website migration.

Website migrations are one of the most difficult technical processes to go through regardless of how skilled you are in digital marketing or development. You are taking a website that (hopefully) has stability, and you are making a huge change. This can cause a host of issues and impact the business objectives regardless of how thorough your planning and implementation has been.

In this post I am going to talk through five of the most common reasons that you may lose traffic to your website during your migration, and the steps you can take to try and prevent it.

Lack of respect for redirects

301 redirects are standard practice when it comes to website migrations. You find all of the pages on the current website, and you redirect them to the new location with a single hop (okay, there is a bit more to it than just that). Sounds simple right?

Well…

What happens when your development team decide to skip that part, and any of your recommendations/hard work and just put up the new website?

You get Google (other search engines are available) spitting their dummy out about the number of pages causing 404s, and your SEO having a heart attack as the 404 count rises by the 000s every day!

stod - crawl errors

Inevitably, if this issue is not turned around quickly, you start to lose visibility within the search engine. This leads to a decrease in organic traffic and the potential loss of conversion. I don’t need to tell you that this is not a good position to be in.

So how do you ensure that this does not happen?

Firstly, you need to have or build a good relationship with the development team working on the project. Go and buy them coffee, help them out, make friends. This will stand you in good stead, not only for the migration but for other technical changes you require.

Secondly, you need to ensure that you have conducted a thorough crawl of the website using all the tools available to you. I tend to use a combination of the following:

These URLs then need to be mapped correctly to the new location using a single 301 redirect. I would suggest that you use rules where possible to reduce the number of individual redirect calls being made.

Thirdly – and here is the important part – Test these redirects work on the staging environment. That way you can check to ensure they have been implemented correctly and that they’re behaving how you would expect them to. Once you are happy with these, double check them on the launch of the new website to ensure they have been moved across and continue to monitor them over the next few months.

2. Google taking time to recognise redirects

Recent experience has indicated that Google is taking longer than it used to to recognise redirects and changes made during a site migration, which is then not reflected in the index.

The chart below shows how Google is indexing the new and old versions of a website over a two month period. Although I would expect to see fluctuation over a period of time, previous migrations have seen a much quicker change, with Google quickly reflecting the new URLs within the index.

stod - indexation

There are a number of reasons why your website may have a lower indexation number compared to your previous website. But it is essential that you figure it out.

At this stage, most people will just refer to visibility tools as a measure of progress, such as the one shown below. Although it is good to see how you compare to the previous state of affairs, you need to keep an eye on your internal data.

stod - search metrics

Tip: Don’t look at the visibility graph and take it at face value, dig in to see if you have retained similar rankings. It is great to have a similar or better looking graph, but absolutely pointless if all the terms have dropped to page 2 or beyond.

So how do you help speed up indexing process?

This is one of those times where you are in Google’s hands, waiting for them to recrawl the website and reflect that in their index. I would, however, suggest that you do the following to help as much as possible:

  • Use GSC website address change tool (if applicable)
  • Upload new sitemaps to GSC – I would also upload the new XML sitemap to the old GSC account.
  • Regularly review the new XML sitemaps and pages/sections within GSC that are not being indexed. Identify the key areas and use the Fetch as Google feature to submit to Google.

3. Removal of pages

It is common during a website migration for the information architecture of the website to change. Moving to a new website/domain provides the perfect opportunity to improve the way users and search engines can get around.

It is as this stage, and before the pages have been removed, that you understand the impact those changes will have on the business objectives.

Take a look at this somewhat fictitious exchange:

Client/Stakeholder: “I am going to remove X pages during the migration as they are not converting.”

You: “By doing so you will lose X% of traffic across all channels with the likelihood of losing organic visibility, which in turn will affect conversion.”

Client/Stakeholder: “That’s fine, as they are not converting directly and therefore the traffic is not qualified.”

You: “But this will also have an impact on your assisted conversions, I would suggest that we combine these pages where possible.”

Client/Stakeholder: “I understand, but I am going ahead.”

Website launches:

stod - removal of pages

Client/Stakeholder: “We have lost lots of traffic and the board are going nuts!”

You: “Face palm! – How are the conversions?”

Client/Stakeholder: “Down! WTF!”

So how do you reduce the potential of this happening?

Do research! And do it thoroughly. If you and/or the client want to remove pages then you need to really understand the impact that it will have. Information that you want to be able to present back to the client / key stakeholders include:

  • Impact on key metrics such as conversion / traffic.
  • Potential impact on search engine visibility. Losing pages will mean the potential loss of keyword rankings.
  • Alternative solutions if relevant. Can you combine some of the pages to make them more relevant? Can the pages be improved to help improve conversion?

4. Crawlers being blocked through Robots.txt & NoIndex tags

As standard practise, you should ensure that any new website is not visible to users or search engines whilst it is going through the development stages. As you can see below, this is not always the case.

stod - blocked robots

You could conduct a number of searches in Google right now and you will find an array of websites with their development or staging website’s index. Go take a look and try the following:

  • site:[INSERT DOMAIN] inurl:staging.
  • site:[INSERT DOMAIN] inurl:dev.
  • site:[INSERT DOMAIN] inurl:uat.

How did you get on? Find many?

More importantly, how does this mean that you lose traffic? Well IF standard practice has been followed you should not see any of the above, as your development team would have added both Disallow: / to the robots.txt file and the meta NoIndex tag to every single page BEFORE a search engine could crawl it.

Some people might say that this is overkill, but for me I would want to ensure that nobody out of the confines of the business and any external partners know what is coming. I would even suggest that the website is placed behind a gated wall and is IP restricted to those trusted few.

Anyhow, I digress. The issue of traffic loss arises when you move the website from development to a live environment. It is at this stage that small details are often missed, notably the removal of the NoIndex tags and the Disallow: / command in the robots.txt.

If these tags are not removed from the website on launch, then you are going to be in a bit of trouble. Your meta descriptions will start to indicate the pages are being blocked by the Robots.txt and after a while (if not resolved), your pages will start to drop from the index.

So how do you stop this from happening?

This one is easy, at least I would hope so. On launch of the website have a check of the Robots.txt for the Disallow: / command blocking all robots. I would also recommend that you run a crawl of the website and pay special attention to the NoIndex tag.

5. Lost ALL traffic

One basic mistake that can be made is not moving across or adding in your analytics. I recently came across a website that had gone through a migration and lost ALL of their traffic.

Traffic Loss

As you can imagine they were in despair, so when I pointed out that they did not have any tracking code on the entire website they were very annoyed, but also happy that they had not lost everything.

But why does this happen? Surely you would expect tracking to be added as part of the course.

Well, in my experience that has not always been the case. Depending on the migration type, and whether you are having a new website built, you need to specifically request that the tracking is moved across.

How can I prevent this from happening?

I would suggest that you use Google Tag Manager and have this implemented on the website throughout the development process.

From here you can do things in two ways depending on how comfortable you are with GA and GTM.

The first option, and probably the simplest way, is to ensure your GA code has been implemented within Google Tag Manager but hasn’t been published. Then on launch, all you need to do is to publish the tag to get ensure you are tracking continuously.

The second option, and the one I would generally plump for, is a little more involved. I am keen that all my tracking is in place before the website is launched, and therefore I would want to test events, goals, eCommerce if applicable, etc, but I don’t want that skewing any live data. Therefore, I would do the following:

  1. Create a new GA account specifically for staging environment or use an existing view and filters.
  2. Publish the tag containing the test profile and begin testing.
  3. Once happy, and on launch. Remove test tag and implement tag with the live account details.
  4. Create annotation in GA to highlight the change in website.

But that’s just me. ?

There you have it, 5 reasons you could lose traffic during your site migration and how you can prevent it from happening. You may think that these are very basic issues, and I would agree. However, they are being made time and time again because they are small details that people forget during such a large and data intensive process.

I would love to hear about your migration, and whether you came across any of the things I mentioned in the comments below.

This post was originally published on State of Digital.

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 SEO

Google using New Labels within Mobile Search Results!

I was researching the sad news of the passing of the artist formally known as Prince (RIP) when I came across what look to be new icons within the mobile search results. It has been quite a newsworthy day in the UK, so I conducted a few more searches and started to see these icons on more and more queries.

Google have been adding visual aids in the form of icons and labels to the mobile search results for quite a while, and whilst I have seen “mobile-friendly”, “slow to load” and multiple PPC labels. I have not come across brand logos within the top stories or the “Live” icon in mobile search (as shown below).

HRM_Queen_90th_Birthday

 

I tried several other queries related to the Queen’s birthday, Princes passing and Ched Evans conviction being quashed, and this is what I was presented with.

Prince with Brand Logos in Top Stories

This was the first time that I noticed the News Outlet brand logos within Google’s mobile search.

Prince with Live Label in Google Mobile Search

This is for the same search query but showing the term “Live” in the UK search results. Conducting more searches I noticed a similar pattern as shown in the following screenshot below.

Ched Evans with Brand Logos

 

These visual aids within the SERPs took me by surprise, as I am used to Top Stories being in a similar format to the rest of the SERP as shown below.

 

HRM Queen 90th Standard Top Stories
Being curious, I checked on a desktop computer for the same search queries to see if these brand logos or the live text was showing with the SERPs.

Prince dead desktop google search

 

queen birthday celebrations desktop

These queries returned the result pages looking as they have done for a while. This begs the question, why add these labels and brand icons to the mobile search results only? Are mobile users more susceptible to visual aids than those on a desktop?

Now, I don’t generally search for news related results, so this could have been live for a while. but I have not seen much coverage. Barry Schwartz reported back in October 2015, that Google was testing the Live icon within the SERPs, however, today has been the first time that I have seen this being used within the UK.

Have you seen any of the above before, whether it be in the UK or elsewhere?  Do you think they will add value to the user experience? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
My Story

Getting a Grip: 3 Leadership & Business Books You Should Read

My interest in business and leadership continues to grow, and with that has come an increase in reading around the topic. This has led to me reading three new books around the topic of leadership over the past three months, and as with my previous post 5 books I read on leadership and productivity, I wanted to share them with you.

Get a Grip

get-a-grip

The first book, Get a Grip was recommended to me a while ago from an industry peer, and I cannot believe it has taken me so long to read it.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this has been the most valuable book for me to date. Written as a story rather than dry business speak, Gino Wickman & Mike Paton talk you through their Entrepreneurial Operating System(R) (EOS) to help improve your business.

Throughout the book the authors tell the story of how an established business implemented EOS to develop and commit to a clear vision, establish focus, build discipline, and create a healthier and more cohesive team.

Based on reading this book, I have made some significant changes to the way I handle myself and conduct meetings during my working day. Using some of the systems that Gino & Mike discuss has led to an improved and more process driven understanding of the business.

One tip, so you do not make the same mistake I did! Do not start creating the materials in the book whilst you are still reading, the authors provide you with a handy download so you do not need to waste time.

Buy Get a Grip

How Google Works

how-google-works

I stumbled across this book after seeing Will Critchlow (Distilled.net Co-founder) talking about it on Twitter. Being a huge fan of what Google does and how they do it, meant that this book was a must read for me.

The book is put together by two of Google’s most senior members of staff, and Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg talk about the lessons that they have learnt whilst helping Google grow from a young start-up to a global monster.

Throughout How Google Works Eric and Jonathan cover everything that you need to know to be a successful manager in the digital age:

  • Corporate culture
  • Talent acquisition
  • Business strategy
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Dealing with disruption

After reading How Google Works, I have added some of the ideas presented by Eric & Jonathan into my daily routine, whilst working on implementing other items such as Google’s interview process.

Although a global business with ~40,000 employees, Google continues to adhere to the traditions that it setup during it’s start-up phase including TGIF meetings hosted by the owners. This goes to show that if you truly believe in a way of working, then it will still be applicable regardless of your business size.

Get How Google Works

The Marketing Agency Blueprint

the-marketing-agency-blueprint

The Marketing Agency Blueprint has been a book I have wanted to read for a long time. With great reviews from established business owners including Dharmesh Shah and Rand Fishkin, I hoped I wasn’t going to be let down, and I was not.

Challenging what many seem to be the norm, the marketing agency blueprint, and Paul Roetzer provides a practical and candid guide that presents 10 rules for building a hybrid agency. Those rules include:

  • Eliminate billable hours
  • Transform into a hybrid
  • Think talent and team
  • Build scalable infrastructure
  • Devise an inbound marketing gameplan
  • Control the sales funnel
  • Commit to clients
  • Deliver results
  • Embrace failure
  • Pursue purpose

Upon reading the marketing agency blueprint, I have gone on to encourage change in the way that my employer operates. Looking at the way certain items are implemented or valued, with the aim to constantly improve the way things are done.

Although not as easy to read as the previous two, I would strongly recommend that you read this if you are an existing owner of an agency, or looking to start something yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Check out the Marketing Agency Blueprint

I would love to hear your thoughts about these books, and any others that you would suggest reading in the comments below. I am now off to start the next one Work Rules!

Flick credit – Matt Clements

Categories
Blog Presentations

3 Tactics to Futureproof SEO in 2016 & beyond

This evening I had the pleasure of presenting on a Linkdex SEONow webinar alongside Chris Hart and Danny Goodwin.

The topic of the session was SEO insights for 2016, following on from the blog post that I contributed to back in late December.

Below are the slides that I presented to a great audience, followed by some good discussion with Chris and Danny. I have also included the video of the webinar at the top of the page.


On upload to Slideshare it seems as if some of the slides have become blurred. If you would like them, get in touch direct.

FULL WRITE UP TO COME SOON

Audience Questions:

Q: Personal assistants – is it just relevant for B2C or also for B2B?

Dan: I think this very much depends on your audience. However, unless there is considerable cost associated to your implementation why wouldn’t you do it? As more people use personal assistants (it’s growing) and search using mobile, the smarter this applications will become and start to automate what you see. As I mentioned in the presentation, I never actually set the app to being in any of the content shown, but it was based on my search preferences across all my devices. This does require you to be signed into Google, or other but when are you not?

Q: Is Google clever enough to know my site is responsive via a fluid layout (i.e., I don’t have a dedicated mobile site)? Is that OK?

Dan: Yes. There are three ways that Google has indicated that they see mobile websites, and I would suggest that this fits within the responsive category although I am speculating based on the question. The three formats that Google have provided are shown below:

  • Responsive design <— Google recommended
  • Dynamic Serving
  • Separate URL (m.)

To help determine whether Google classes your website as mobile-friendly, you can check the following tools:

Q: What about keywords, what are the changes around keyword usage and optimization? How to look at keyword organic traffic in the semantic search era? How to optimize for semantic search?

Dan: You should be optimizing around topics and not just individual keywords. Similar to how in AdWords you would build a list of keywords for a particular ad group. This set of keywords then allow you to create content around a topic that provides your user with more detailed information. These topics should then be used as part of your content strategy, which will identify which content should be used at each stage of the buying cycle

Q: Backlinks – which are the best practices about link building and using anchor text in 2016?

Dan: You want to increase the number of backinks your website gets? Build great content or digital assets that are worth linking to.

(For a more detailed discussion about links, listen to the webinar.)

Q: You mentioned schemas for search engines. Can you explain a little further?

Dan: Search engines read content on the pages, but it doesn’t necessarily give any context as what it is. The Hummingbird update and schema has helped search engines to get more clarity to what is being displayed. Schemas for search engines can be used in multiple different ways HTML5 & JSON-LD just two that I mentioned, and are snippets of code that surround specific parts of your website content.

A very simple example would be pricing. You’d wrap the price of your product in schema, which will be picked up by search engines and likely displayed within the search engine result pages.

There are many resources on schema, but the two that I always point to are:

If you’re looking for information or testing tools on implementation, then I would recommend the following:

Q: Does Google use as ranking signal – when visitors keep coming back to your website?

Dan: On an ongoing basis? Then I would say no. However, if a sudden surge of people were searching for a specific website using a certain query then I’d expect and have seen a short term increase in rankings for that website.

I have seen some experiments that Rand over at Moz has conducted where he has sent a lot of social traffic to a certain search phrase and then select a specific website. This has then seen an increase in position for that term, although on a very temporary basis.

Q: About AMP pages, we have LTE as standard offer so we have fast connection in here Vienna, anyway connections are getting faster and faster so why do we need AMP? As I understand AMP will look like page from ’90s.

Dan: Google will continue to provide resources to improve websites as part of their mission to improve the web. This doesn’t however mean that it is something that you need to implement if you think that your website speed is good enough.

Michael King has written a very good post on improving site speed by using one piece of code

Q: Do you have any optimization tips for industries that are very competitive, but quite conservative and regulated when it comes to their content?

Dan: If you do decide to go down building a content platform for your brand, understand that it takes time to gain traction. Put everything that you have into and you keep going so that it is a success. It’s easy to get down about the traction you are gaining, but just keep going!

This Econsultancy post provides some information on ideas for the finance industry.

Q: One of my clients has a blog post that’s gotten more traffic than others, and I want to reuse it. Is it accurate that Google doesn’t like content that looks like a copy/repeat of something else? So if I make a few changes to update it, does that mean I should delete the previous (original) post so it doesn’t look like a copy?

Dan: Many different ways that this can be handled. I’d suggest that you check out the webinar for more in-depth responses but in short:

  • Republishing isn’t an issue if it’s valid and useful.
  • If you copy it to another URL then you’d want to implement canonical tags.
  • When creating content think about whether it can be used again, will it be evergreen. Then you can really think about the URLs that you are using.
  • Check the webinar. 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the presentation in the comments below or as usual over on twitter @danielbianchini.

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
My Story

Co-working Spaces – Limiting Digital Companies or the New Age?

Co-working spaces have become extremely popular over the last few years with a number of companies such as We Work, Interchange & At Work Hubs offering space around the country. The biggest uptake in the co-working spaces seem to be within the tech field with start-ups, freelance operations and small agencies all taking advantage of this opportunity.

 

But does it have its limitations? Will businesses looking to buy your services look at you in a different light to those who have their own offices, regardless of whether they are rented or owned?

 

As a curious outsider, who does not work in a co-working space, but within a business that does use the offering, I was intrigued and asked the following question:

 

 

Firstly, I want to stress this is not me saying co-working spaces are bad. I actually prefer working in them! I am purely wondering if it has a negative impact on yours or your companies business.

 

So what was the response like on twitter?

 

Well, it started some very interesting conversation with those working agency or consultant side.

 

 

Danny Denhard started the conversation by stating that you have “to start somewhere, it’s the output that matters”, which is exactly right. It should not matter where you are working as long as you are providing the very best work.

 

However, Stephen Kenwright made a very good point about procurement being the potential stumbling block, and not necessarily the digital marketing team. Being in an open office with other companies, you would need to ensure that sensitive data is very secure, especially when you are away from your desk and conversations about clients who are under NDAs should be held in closed meeting rooms.

 

 

Part of the answer to the vague question that I asked will be down to the potential client and the industry that they operate in. If you are working with clients within the financial services, they may find it difficult to work with a company that operates from a co-working space, due to nature of the data being shared and the need for security. However, there will be companies, and I mean a lot of companies, that do not really care where you are based, as long as you are providing the very best for them and producing results.

 

Danny continues by making another good point, that even if you are in shared offices such as Regus, We Work, Soho House or even Google Campus, you are all technically sharing internet regardless of your connection method.

 

So, does it affect the potential growth of a digital agency?

 

Not according to Pete Campbell, who has built his agency Kaizen Search from 1 – 6 people whilst operating within a co-working space.

 

 

Pete goes on to say that all you need is a “meeting room, secure/separate WiFi and codenames for NDA clients”. Although the codenames for clients under NDA could become quite tiresome it does seem to get around some of the issues with client confidentiality whilst working in a co-working space.

 

Alec Bertram also contributed to the conversation, stating that he also runs his business from a co-working space and that his clients love it. He goes on to say that he tells his clients stories about those brands that he works alongside within the co-working space.

 

 

In summary, the general consensus from those who were involved in the discussion is that it should not matter where you work from, as long as you produce results. There is an obvious need to ensure that all your data is secure and any confidential conversations are held in private, but this would be the case if you had your own office.

 

For me, there are still a few questions that would need answering before I decided on making the move, and these are just a couple:

  • What impact on cost will it have?
  • How flexible, is flexible?
  • Will it affect team morale in a negative/positive way?
  • What impact if any will it have on potential new work?

 

With that said, I would love to hear your thoughts on the use of co-working spaces for companies and what effect it is having for you. I would also love to hear from those working in-house, and whether the place of work has any bearing on your choice for a digital partner?

 

As always, leave a comment below or tweet me @danielbianchini to keep the debate going!

Image credit: WeWork Labs NYC

Categories
Blog General

5 Must Read Books for Leadership & Productivity

With more of my focus being placed on management of teams, I placed a lot of emphassis on improving my leadership skills throughout 2015. During this time I read a lot of different books that provided different approaches and techniques to help.

During my research into the books that I should be reading, I found very little in terms of reviews or recommendations from any of my peers within the digital marketing space. So, now we come to the end of the year, I thought I’d share with you the five books I found most useful for leadership & productivity.

The Hard Things About Hard Things

the-hard-things-about-hard-things

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Getting Things Done

getting-things-done

Since it was first published in David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business titles of its era, and the book on personal organisation. ‘GTD’ has become shorthand for an entire way of approaching the professional and personal tasks everyone faces in life, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organisational tools, seminars, and offshoots.

For this revised and updated edition, David Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with new tools and technologies, and adding material that will make the book evergreen for the coming decades. Also new is a glossary of GTD terms; The GTD Path of Mastership – a description of what Allen has learned and is now teaching regarding the lifelong craft of integrating these practices, to the end-game of the capability of dealing with anything in life, by getting control and focus; and a section on the cognitive science research that validates GTD principles.

The new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by the hundreds of thousands of existing fans but will be embraced by an entire new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity

Leardership Plain and Simple

leadership-plain-simple

Leadership isn’t complicated – keep it simple and make it count. This new edition of Steve Radcliffe’s uniquely powerful, successful and practical framework will show you how to develop faster as a more confident and capable leader.

This compact, instantly-applicable guide to developing leadership skills contains practical insights, straightforward actions and plain guidelines to accelerate your growth as a leader.

The framework is derived from expert coach Steve Radcliffe’s work with real leaders in real leadership situations.

Leadership:Plain and Simple: Plain and Simple (2nd Edition) (Financial Times Series)

Only the Paranoid Survive

only-the-paranoid-survive

The President and CEO of Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, reveals how to identify and exploit the key moments of change in any industry that generates either drastic failure or incredible success. Under Andrew Grove’s leadership, Intel has become the world’s largest computer chipmaker, the 5th most admired company in America, and the 7th most profitable company among the Fortune 500. Few CEOs can claim this level of success. Grove attributes much of it to the philosophy and strategy he has learned the hard way as he steered Intel through a series of potential major disasters. There are moments in any business when massive change occurs, when all the rules of business shift fast, furiously and forever. Grove calls such moments strategic inflection points (SIPs), and he has lived through several. They can be set off by almost anything – by mega competition, an arcane change in regulations, or by a seemingly modest change in technology. They are not always easy to spot – but you can’t hide from them.

Only The Paranoid Survive

High Output Management

high-output-management

The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. In High Output Management, Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO (and employee number three) of Intel, shares his perspective on how to build and run a company. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, this legendary management book is a Silicon Valley staple, equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

High-Output Management

As mentioned, there are very few recommendations of books within our industry, so if you have any that you’d like to share then please let me know in the comments below.

The type of books I am looking for include:

  • Leadership / Management
  • Productivity
  • Process & Delivery

Image Credit – Moyan Brenn (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)