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SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018

December 29, 2018 No Comments

It’s that time of the year again: reflecting on the year that’s past as we prepare for 2019 lurking around the corner. In this article, we have a roundup of some of our fan favorite pieces from 2018 on SEO.

From how to’s to tips to tools, these were some of our highlights from the past year. SEW spark notes, if you will.

If you missed these pieces throughout the year, they’ll be worth a read. And if you’ve already read them, never hurts to refresh!

On Monday, we’ll have a roundup of our top articles on search industry news and trends.

1. How to force Google to recrawl your website

If you have launched a new website, updated a single page on your existing domain, or altered many pages and/or the structure of your site, you will likely want Google to display your latest content in its SERPs.

While Google’s crawlers are obviously pretty good at their job — indexing countless new pages simply from natural traffic and links from around the web — it never hurts to give Googlebot a little assistance.

In this article, we look at a few ways to alert Google’s crawlers to new URLs on your site.

2. How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Because one can never have enough Google Analytics insight, right?

One of the most useful features in GA, event tracking lets you capture all kinds of information about how people behave on your site.

In this article, we go step by step through two different ways you can set up event tracking: first, by adding the code manually, and second, by using Google Tag Manager.

This is a great tutorial for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the task.

3. A quick and easy guide to meta tags in SEO

Meta tags help search engines and website visitors determine what the content of your page is about. 

They’re placed in the <head> section of a HTML document and need to be coded into your CMS. Depending on the platform you use, this can be quite less intense than it sounds.

Many “out of the box” solutions provide extremely user-friendly, labelled sections such as “meta description” calling your attention to exactly what goes where.

In this article, we take a look at why meta tags are important, along with the six main types of meta tags to focus on for SEO.

4. An SEO’s survival guide to Single Page Applications (SPAs)

For anyone who’s ever had questions about what SEOs should do with Single Page Applications (SPAs), this article is for you. Long, thorough, entertaining, and full of resources.

We start out looking at how the popularity of SPAs, Angular, and React have spiked in the last several years. Many developers eagerly embrace JavaScript for website development — and while that may have been rather inconsiderate of SEO ease (what else is new), it seems JS really is here to stay.

This article is bit of a coming to terms with that reality, accepting SPAs as part of our SEO future, and even dipping our toes in, if you will.

We look at what developers like about JS, how it was never intended for web page content delivery, common SEO problems of SPAs, and a host of other questions you might be asking.

Finally, we end with eleven recommendations for further reading — really, this could become the whole rest of your holiday break — on how Google treats SPAs, core principles of SEO for JS and for SPAs, and more information than you could want.

5. How to check your Domain Authority: 4 tools to use

Domain Authority (DA) serves as a handy heuristic in the SEO industry. It helps tell us how likely a site is to rank for specific keywords, based on the SEO authority it holds.

Many SEOs use Domain Authority to sense-check the quality of their inbound links and to understand how these are affecting their own’s site’s SEO health.

In this article, we round up some of the best ways to check out domain authority. We look at what factors go into DA, and how these tools go about calculating it.

‘Domain Authority’ was devised by Moz and they have naturally taken ownership of this name. Their suite of tools (some of which are discussed in this article) will reveal the authority of particular domains, but dozens of other free tools use Moz’s API to show these scores too.

6. 15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This is another quite popular deep dive into SEO tips. We know “improving search rankings” gets a lot of fluff, but this is not that.

Here, we look closely at what makes RankBrain tick, and 15 ways to use that to your fancy.

Sections cover tips around optimizing keywords, optimizing title tags, optimizing descriptions, and reducing bounce rates and dwell times. Fun fact: research by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with brackets performed 33 percent better than titles without.

Questions about how to add LSI keywords? How long should long-form content really be? Benefits of long-tail vs medium size keywords? How much difference in clicks will a few characters too long in a headline actually make? All of that and much more (along with lots of screenshots) here.

7. 30 ways to market your online business for free

This article is a roundup of exactly what it sounds like — 30 ways to market your online business for free. It covers everything from emails to social media, from Google Analytics to Search Console, from forums to guest posting, from metadata to Schema.org.

While a few of the ways could be updated — posting to Google+, for instance, might be less helpful anymore — the list still provides some hefty inspiration to anyone needing a little boost of ideas for what to do online.

8. Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords

This was a quite recent article that has soared. As we know, for SEO these days we need content that includes related concepts, satisfies intent, and provides value. The days of exact keyword matching are far behind us.

In this article, we have four great tools to use when optimizing for related keywords — and of course, how to use them.

For instance, the first tool in the list is TextOptimizer. It takes a term you give it, looks at the Google search results page, extracts snippets, and applies semantic analysis.

With that, it ouputs a list of all the related topics, terms, and concepts that form your topic cluster. From that cluster, it recommends you choose 15-25 of the words for a higher rank.

9. How to optimize your Google My Business listing

Lest we forget: local search.

For those looking to rank higher in searches tied to a user’s location — i.e. users that might be quite near your store and itching to buy something — a Google My Business listing is an essential first step.

This article gives a how to guide for first setting up your listing, claiming and verifying your business, filling out the information, and adding photos. From there, we go over gathering reviews, posting updates, monitoring your profile, and tracking data from Insights.

Of all the many, many things to do in SEO, optimizing a Google My Business listing is very straightforward. It can have a profoundly positive effect on your SEO — a whole wealth of ranking opportunity up for grabs.

The post SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Tools to Help You Survive the GDN Mobile App Changes

August 25, 2018 No Comments

This post is a follow up to our first episode of The PPC Newsflash, the new webinar series where we will bring you expert commentary on the newest updates in the PPC industry. See the video below, or if you’re multitasking and just want to listen, check out the podcast! Once upon a time, mobile […]

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Retail startup Bulletin is giving brands new tools to manage their in-store presence

July 10, 2018 No Comments

If you visited a Bulletin store, or bought products off its website, COO Ali Kriegsman said you might “pigeonhole” the company as a “feminist apparel brand” — a place to buy T-shirts and accessories with fun, provocative political slogans.

And yes, that is part of what draws consumers. But Kriegsman and her co-founder Alana Branston have also laid out their broader vision for a more flexible, WeWork-style approach to brick-and-mortar retail, one where brands essentially rent out shelf space in Bulletin stores.

So brands that may have only sold online can experiment with physical sales, while shoppers can purchase from a curated, constantly refreshed selection of brands and products.

“We’re building this more feminine retail company, but we are also part real estate company, and now, we are also part technology company,” Kriegsman said.

Bulletin Omni

The “now” that she’s referring to is the launch of Bulletin Omni, a software platform that allows brands to apply to sell with Bulletin, manage their inventory and track their sales.

Bulletin has actually been working on something like this since I first talked to the team last year, but according to Maggie Braine, the company’s director of product and brand experience, Omni only just reached the point where the company is ready to roll it out to all of the 150 brands it works with. She said that without it, the company has mostly relied on “emails, phone calls, and a very, very large Google Doc” to manage the process.

Braine gave me a quick walk-through of Omni, showing me how a brand could, with just a few clicks, add a new product to its offerings in a given store, confirm once that product has actually arrived and then see how each product is selling in each store.

That’s “unheard of” in traditional retail, she said, where “there’s very little transparency” once goods are purchased by retailers. With Omni, Braine said the goal is to give brands the same kinds of data around physical purchases that they have access to when they promote and sell their products through online channels.

She also said the team plans to introduce ways for in-store staff to offer feedback to the brands — like whether a product isn’t selling because it’s too expensive.

Bulletin Omni

Kriegsman said that if the software does well enough, she could imagine Bulletin becoming “a retail software destination,” where other companies buy the software to manage non-Bulletin stores.

Either way, she predicted that Omni will allow Bulletin itself to expand more quickly. The company currently has three New York City stores — one in SoHo, one in Williamsburg and a recently opened location near Union Square — with plans to open in additional cities later this year.


Startups – TechCrunch


The best alternative keyword research tools

May 1, 2018 No Comments

Keyword research is an integral part of any search engine optimization strategy – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Keyword research takes up a significant chunk of time, and this is the case for many marketers, website owners and content creators. But it is something that has been expanding outward toward small and medium business owners as well, as having a fully optimized website is a necessity in running a company with any kind of online presence.

In the past, it was a matter of putting in the leg work – often for hours a day – to find the best keyword strategy. Today it is much simpler as more tools have been developed to make the job much faster and easier than ever before. Unfortunately, many of those tools are costly and over budget for anyone but enterprise level brands.

To keep things more affordable you can use alternative tools – often several to compensate – that are low cost, or even completely free. Here are some keyword research tools that you won’t believe don’t cost a cent.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest can be used for both content research (and to help surpass any idea blocks) and keyword research tool. By entering a phrase or keyword, choosing the medium (i.e. web, images, Yahoo) and language preference, the platform will give you a list of related searches, along with search volume, CPC, and rate of competition by percentage.

For example, searching for “content marketing” gives 913 results with an overall volume of 18,100, a CPC of $ 23.25, and a competition rate of 0.58. Scrolling down gives you a breakdown of all the variants and how that changes, such as “affiliate ads” having a volume of 140, CPC of $ 4.70, and a competition rate of 0.36.

The tool requires no login and, unlike Keyword Planner (which shows a range), it shows the actual search volume and competition level.

Google Correlate

Everyone knows about Google Keyword Planner and probably uses it, as it is the most accurate keyword tool on the web if your aim is to target Google search.

However, you may not have heard about Google Correlate, which is a very helpful and effective tool that works by taking searches and correlating them with trends happening both on the web and out in the real world. It establishes patterns that you might have never realized existed, and even lets you compare based on time period – both long and short term.

Keyword.Guru

Do you want to know what is popular on all major search engines, and not just Google? Keyword.Guru is a great tool that takes live searches and lets you know the moment you start typing what suggestions it has, so you can see what people are searching for at any given time.

There aren’t any real metrics, but not everyone likes to deal with numbers. This tool is less technical than some, but more accessible if you just want to see what searches are most common without all the associated information, which can be overwhelming to even seasoned keyword researchers.

Soovle

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia, and YouTube: what do they have in common? Soovle covers all of them, which makes it easier to get a good grasp of what is going on through multiple channels.

Being able to search YouTube for video content, Wikipedia for educational articles, and Amazon for sales info is especially helpful for getting a broader glimpse of the current state of search on the web. Soovle doesn’t generate any numbers for each keyword, but lets you quickly get a general idea of what interests your audience across a range of channels.

Akin to Keyword.Guru, it does it on the same page and with live search updates.

Bulk Keyword Suggest Tool

Bulk Keyword Suggest Tool allows you to dig into auto-suggest results from Bing, Amazon and YouTube. It was created by SEOchat and uses core terms to build a wider circle of phrases for use.

It is simple to use, easy to read and very fast to search. You can run a second or third bulk suggest and compare, then export your results or only specific ones based on how you click.

Bonus: Awesome freemium tools

Serpstat

Serpstat is a growth-hacking tool, and an effective at that. It has paid versions starting at $ 19 per month, allowing you to graduate to new levels as your business grows. However, there is also a free version that works with different iterations of Google based on country.

Serpstat calculates keyword difficulty for each search query, shows “special elements” (which inform us on search intent) and social media domains ranking for each term, and offers advanced filters to dig deep into each keyword list. It is also one of the few tools that also works on Yandex.

The graphs that are generated are simple bar graphs that effectively break things down and make it easy to understand at a glance.

WordStream

WordStream has a freemium model and its full featured tool is around $ 260 per month with a discount option to pay annually. However, it also has a free, limited version that I like to use because it allows you to specify industry if you wish.

That makes it a little bit easier if the key phrase you are working with it more general and could apply to unrelated fields. You can also specify based on country, which is great if you don’t want to automatically target a US audience (something that many tools do since it is the largest Google market).

Do you have a tool you feel deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comments.

 

Search Engine Watch


Use Facebook Audience Insights Tools to Swipe Your Competitor’s Customers

March 1, 2018 No Comments

Explore how to use the Facebook Audience Insights tool to develop buyer personas, spy on your competitors and more!

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Better tools for teams of all sizes

February 17, 2018 No Comments
We’ve heard feedback from businesses of all sizes that they need simpler ways to manage the analytics products they use and the team members who use them. That’s why we’re making new controls available to everyone who uses Analytics, Tag Manager, and Optimize and improving navigation for users of Surveys and Data Studio. These new features will help you more easily manage your accounts, get an overview of your business, and move between products.

Streamlined account management

With centralized account management, you can control user access and permissions across multiple products, like Analytics, Tag Manager, and Optimize.

The first step is to create an organization to represent your business. You then link this organization to all of the different accounts that belong to your business. You can also move accounts between the organizations you create.

Now you have a central location where administrators for your organization can:

  • Create rules for which types of new users should be allowed access to your organization
  • Audit existing users and decide which products and features they should have access to
  • Remove users who have left your organization or no longer need access to the tools
  • See the last time a user in your organization accessed Google Analytics data
  • Allow users to discover who are your organization’s admins and contact them for help

New home page

Setting up an organization also gives you access to a new home page that provides an overview of your business. You’ll be able to manage accounts and settings across products and get insights and quick access to the products and features you use most. For example, you might see a large increase in visitors for a specific Analytics property, and then click through to Analytics to investigate where the visitors are coming from.

Simplified navigation

Finally, you’ll get a unified user experience across products. Common navigation and product headers make it easy to switch between products and access the data you need. You can view accounts by organization, or see everything you have access to in one place. We’ve also redesigned search, making it possible to search across all of your accounts in a single place.

Get started

If your business would benefit from these features, please visit this page to get started. You can also check out the help center for more info.

These updates will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so please stay tuned if you don’t yet have access.

Note: If you’re using the enterprise versions of our products, like Analytics 360, you already have access to these features as part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite.


Google Analytics Blog


How to check your Domain Authority: 4 tools to use

February 10, 2018 No Comments

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric that serves as a handy heuristic in the SEO industry. Put simply, it provides insight into how likely a site is to rank for specific keywords, based on the SEO authority it holds. There are numerous tools that can help us arrive at these useful scores.

Below, we round up some of the most accurate and intuitive ways to see a site’s SEO equity.

In an often opaque industry, with few insights into how Google’s algorithms really work for organic search, the lure of a metric like Domain Authority is self-evident.

It provides a glimpse into the SEO “strength” of a website, in a similar fashion to the now obsolete PageRank toolbar. Google still makes use of some variation of the PR algorithm internally, but its scores are no longer visible to the public and were never particularly helpful.

If anything, they encouraged some negative attempts to “game” Google’s rankings through link acquisition.

However, many SEOs make use of Domain Authority to sense-check the quality of their inbound links and to understand how these are affecting their own’s site’s SEO health.

What is Domain Authority?

“Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.

Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating linking root domains, number of total links, MozRankMozTrust, etc. — into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.” – Moz.

Ultimately, this is a representative model of how Google decides which pages should rank for each query, and in what order they should rank.

As is the case with the term ‘relevance’, authority covers a very broad area of assessment that is open to interpretation. Domain Authority aims to cut through that ambiguity by providing a metric that can compare the SEO strength of different websites based on a consistent methodology.

Although marketers are aware that DA has intrinsic limitations as a metric, it is at least a barometer of whether our SEO efforts are gaining traction or not. As such, it serves an important purpose.

When prospecting for new links, for example, it is helpful to check the DA of external sites before contacting the site about a potential partnership. Combined with a range of other metrics – both qualitative and quantitative – Domain Authority can therefore guide brands towards more effective SEO decisions.

‘Domain Authority’ was devised by Moz and they have naturally taken ownership of this name. Their suite of tools (some of which are discussed in this article) will reveal the authority of particular domains, but dozens of other free tools use Moz’s API to show these scores too.

However, a couple of other SEO software packages provide a slightly different view on a domain’s SEO strength.

Moz’s scores are based on the links contained within its own index, which is undoubtedly smaller than Google’s index of URLs.

Other SEO software companies, such as Majestic and Ahrefs, have their own index of URLs. These indexes will largely overlap with each other, but there are still questions to pose to your chosen provider:

  • Index size: How many URLs are contained within the software’s index?
  • Frequency of index crawling: How often is the index refreshed?
  • Live links: Are there common instances of ‘false positives’, where inactive links are reported with 200 status codes?
  • Correlation with actual rankings: Simply, does a higher domain score equate to better rankings?

The importance of these questions, and the resultant significance of their answers, will depend on a brand’s context. Nonetheless, these are points worth considering when assessing the scores your site receives.

Each of the main players in this space has subtle distinctions within its methodology, which will be important for most SEOs.

We will begin our round-up with the Moz tools (some of them free) that will show the Domain Authority for any site, before looking at a couple of alternatives that provide a valuable reference point.

Moz (MozBar, Open Site Explorer)

It should be clear that Moz is the major contender when it comes to checking a domain’s SEO authority. We included MozBar on our list of the best Google Chrome extensions for SEO and it deserves its place in this list, too.

MozBar will highlight the Domain Authority of any site a user is browsing, along with the Page Authority (PA) of that particular URL. As the name suggest, PA applies a similar methodology to DA, but localized to a particular URL rather than a domain.

DA_PA

This is also available in search results pages, making it possible to see whether a site’s Domain or Page Authority correlates with higher rankings for particular queries.

As such, these two metrics in combination are a great starting point for investigations into the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to a domain.

Marketers should be aware, however, that these scores do fluctuate.

That should be viewed as a positive, as the scores are an increasingly accurate reflection of how Google is evaluating sites. Moz employs machine learning algorithms to re-calibrate the authority scores based on link activity across its index, but also the impact that certain types of link have.

We can consider this an attempt to peg the Moz index to that of Google, and we know the latter is tweaked thousands of times a year.

Therefore, we should be careful about the causal links we infer from DA scores.

When tracking Domain Authority, always benchmark against similar sites to avoid viewing this as an absolute indication of how well you are performing. By viewing it as a relative metric instead, we can gain a healthier insight into whether our strategy is working.

This is where another Moz-owned tool, Open Site Explorer, proves its worth. Open Site Explorer uses a range of proprietary Moz metrics to highlight the areas in which specific sites under- or over-perform. the side by side comparisons it creates are an intuitive way to spot strengths and weaknesses in a site’s link profile on a broader scale.

OSE

Moz’s Domain Authority is undoubtedly useful – especially when used as an entry point into deeper investigation. MozBar and Open Site Explorer provide access to this metric for all marketers, so they should be viewed as the go-to resources for anyone seeking a check on their site’s SEO ranking potential.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs boasts an index of over 12 trillion links and data on 200 million root domains, making it an invaluable repository for SEOs wanting to understand their site’s SEO performance.

The two metrics that matter within the scope of this article are URL Rating (UR) and Domain Rating (DR).

We can consider these Ahrefs’ equivalents to Page Authority and Domain Authority, respectively, at least in terms of their purpose.

The latter is defined by Ahrefs as “a proprietary metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality).”

It appears frequently within the software interface, in examples like the one in the screenshot below:

ahrefs-domain-rating-768x243

So, why would you use the Ahrefs DR score over Moz’s DA calculation? Their definitions do seem strikingly similar, after all.

As always, the detail is critical. If we refer back to our initial points for consideration, it becomes possible to compare Ahrefs with Moz:

  • Index size
  • Frequency of index crawling
  • Live links
  • Correlation with actual rankings

Both Moz and Ahrefs have invested significantly in improving the size, quality and freshness of their link data. Some SEOs have a preference for one over the other, and their scores do vary significantly on occasion.

Those that prefer Ahrefs typically do so for the freshness of its index and DR’s correlation with actual rankings.

The clarity of the Ahrefs methodology is also very welcome, right down to the number of links typically required to reach a specific DR score.

To put things simply, we calculate the DR of a given website the following way:

  1. Look at how many unique domains have at least 1 dofollow link to the target website;
  2. Take into account the DR values of those linking domains;
  3. Take into account how many unique domains each of those websites link to;
  4. Apply some math and coding magic to calculate “raw” DR scores;
  5. Plot these scores on a 0–100 scale (which is dynamic in nature and will “stretch” over time).
  • DR 0–20: 20 ref.domains
  • DR 20–40: 603 ref.domains
  • DR 40–60: 4,212 ref.domains
  • DR 60–80: 25,638 ref.domains
  • DR 80–100: 335,717 ref.domains

Ahrefs requires a monthly licence to access its data; for those that do sign up, it provides a very useful sanity check for the domain strength scores seen elsewhere.

Majestic

Majestic is marketed as “The planet’s largest link index database” and it remains a trusted component of any SEO toolbox for the thorough nature of its backlink data.

Offering two index options (Fresh and Historic), it also allows marketers to different views of how their domain is performing. As with Moz and Ahrefs, Majestic’s scores for site strength are calculated almost exclusively based on the quality and quantity of inbound links.

Opting for the Historic Index will see Majestic scour the billions of URLs it has crawled within the last 5 years, while the Fresh Index is updated multiple times per day.

This software takes a slightly different tack in relation to the labeling of its domain metrics, which are known as Trust Flow and Citation Flow.

majestic

These are interrelated metrics that combine to form the set of Majestic Flow Metrics. These are very insightful because of the immediate score they provide (ranging from a low of 0 to a high of 100), and also for the opportunities to dig further into the backlink data.

One favorite feature of Majestic is the ability to analyze historical backlink acquisition trends, both in terms of links gained and links lost. As such, Majestic’s domain strength metrics provide actionable insight that can be used to shape strategy immediately. For example, the loss of a lot of links on a particular date may provide an opportunity to reach out to webmasters and try to regain that equity.

Majestic also comes with a handy toolbar that overlays domain metrics on the site a user is browsing. Although an apples to apples comparison between Majestic and Moz or Majestic and Ahrefs, in relation to the efficacy of their domain authority rankings, would be difficult, this would also be to miss the point.

All of these tools are aiming to mimic the functioning of Google as accurately as they can; taken together they form a more rounded picture.

In summary

Given the ongoing significance not only of backlinks, but also the potential of unlinked mentions to boost performance, search marketers are quite rightly looking to Domain Authority to assess their SEO potential.

The core elements of a successful, customer-centric remain the same as they always were; higher scores, from whichever domain metrics one chooses to monitor, should be seen as a natural by-product of a strategy that fulfils the modern consumer’s needs.

Search Engine Watch


Facebook has a 100-person engineering team that helps advertisers build tools and infrastructure

December 30, 2017 No Comments

Facebook Solutions Engineering team Facebook says that one of its success stories in recent years involves a relatively small group of engineers. Originally it was just one engineer, Vastal Mehta, who serves as Facebook’s director of solutions engineering and now leads a team of more than 100 people that works with advertisers to build the technology and infrastructure needed to run more effective campaigns on Facebook. Read More
Social – TechCrunch


Which tools should I buy to advance my SEO strategy?

December 19, 2017 No Comments

The complexity of an organic search campaign necessitates some technological assistance. There are plenty of tools on the market, but they vary in price, functionality, and effectiveness.

Once you have all the basics in place, which SEO tools should you invest in to take your strategy to the next level?

The SEO landscape is highly competitive, with every company battling for precious real estate at the top of page one. The points of differentiation between competitors fall into the following, intertwined categories: people and technology. Assuming you already have your SEO team or agency partner in place, you will need to enable them with the best technology on the market.

The Google-owned products (Keyword Planner, Search Console, Google Analytics) are essential to cover the basics, but an advanced SEO strategy usually requires some investment in third-party technology. That need has created a crowded market – one that can be difficult to navigate without guidance.

Moreover, there is overlap to contend with, as so many tools appear to do so many similar things.

In truth, every tool tends to excel in one or two areas. Many will promise to be an all-in-one solution, but the task is too gargantuan to be tackled convincingly. Instead, a combination of tools is required to cover all the bases.

Any large-scale SEO campaign will encompass the following areas:

At each juncture, we are met by a lengthy list of technology solutions that can reveal new insights, automate the drudgery, and tell us whether our strategy is working.

Marketers should prioritize these categories, as budgets are rarely limitless and many of the best SEO tools do require investment.

Previously, we have covered the best free SEO tools and the best tools for a mobile SEO strategy. In this article, we will review the best tools to invest in for each of the core areas of an advanced SEO strategy.

Research: Moz Pro

A Moz Pro licence provides access to an impressive suite of SEO tools. Customers can utilize a site crawl, a keyword tracker, and an on-page grader, among many others.

That gives Moz Pro mass appeal, but it is essential to take note of where it excels, and where it is surpassed by other solutions.

The Keyword Explorer tool is particularly valuable for research, going far beyond what Google’s Keyword Planner can offer. Moz’s keyword research tool provides a range of suggestions for keywords to target and groups these together by their degree of lexical similarity.

At a time when sophisticated SEO professionals have moved beyond keyword matching to a more nuanced targeting approach, this capability is indispensable.

research tools

Open Site Explorer (OSE) is a long-time member of the standard SEO toolbox and it retains its usefulness for competitor backlink analyses.

Proprietary Moz metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority, and Spam Score add extra depth to OSE and, while it is not comprehensive enough to suffice as the only backlink checker in an SEO’s armoury, it forms a natural complement to the likes of Ahrefs and Majestic.

The Moz toolbar also made our list of the best Chrome extensions for SEO, providing access to all the Moz Pro features as you visit websites.

Cost: Ranges from $ 99/month for the basic package to $ 599/month for the premium offering.

Honorable mentions: Similarweb.

Technical SEO: Botify

Technical SEO is a complex field, characterized (perhaps even caricatured) by never-ending spreadsheets and impenetrable code.

The gap between technical SEO experts and business leaders has therefore always been significant. Tools like Screaming Frog, which are highly valuable but difficult to decipher for the novice, have not helped to bridge this gap.

And yet, the importance of technical SEO for performance means that its messages need to be communicated to non-technical audiences.

Botify manages to dive deep enough to the data to provide meaningful analysis, but also display this in a compelling manner that gets the message across.

Botify Analytics

Core to its effectiveness is the Botify Log Analyzer, which collects and analyzes data at the server level. This provides an accurate record of Googlebot’s visits to the site and highlights any crawling issues.

The significance of this data was highlighted just last week, with Google’s John Mueller suggesting log file analysis as the ideal resource for site owners that want to see if they have been switched over to the mobile-first index:

I think you would probably recognize it in the log files. If you look now, probably something like 80% of the crawling is with the Googlebot desktop and maybe 20% is with mobile with the smartphone Googlebot.

And probably that will shift over and that most of the crawling will be done with the smartphone Googlebot and less crawling with the desktop Googlebot.

So if you like really watch out for your log files probably you can notice that fairly obviously.

Another albatross around the neck of technical SEO has been that its improvements are hard to tie to performance. Aside from serious issues that are causing URLs to be left out of Google’s index altogether, for example, many technical recommendations can end up gathering dust while the more glamorous changes are put into effect.

Botify Keywords is a handy feature in this sense, as it pulls in Search Console rankings data that can be tied back to any technical changes made on the site. This brings an extra element of accountability to technical SEO, all of which is tracked in the user’s dashboard automatically.

Cost: Varies, depending on site.

Honorable mention: Deepcrawl.

Keyword tracking: BrightEdge

Modern-day keyword tracking is something of a thankless task. With the twin advances of personalization and localization, there is really no such thing as a ‘true’ ranking position for each keyword. Google’s rankings differ based on so many factors that they can no longer be considered a static resource, but we can’t simply ignore rankings.

As a result, SEOs will typically use a combination of tools, including Google’s Search Console, to get a handle on how well their site is performing.

BrightEdge is the choice of many large corporations for SEO performance tracking, due to its user-friendly interface, customizable reports, and analytics integrations. It also provides the ability to track rankings down to a specific metropolitan area, which proves invaluable for brands with a presence across a range of territories.

Though the platform has evolved to encompass these new products, at its core BrightEdge is still a reliable rank tracker that provides at-a-glance performance insights for stakeholders from the SEO specialist to the CMO.

Cost: Dependent on number of keywords, domains, and territories required.

Honorable mentions: STAT Search Analytics, SearchMetrics, SEMrush.

Backlink analysis: Ahrefs

When assessing a backlink analysis tool, there are some essential fields to consider.

Firstly, the size of the technology’s index of URLs should be assessed to discern how accurate its findings will be.

None will exactly match the scope of Google’s index, which of course is significantly larger than any SEO tool could muster. However, it is important to bear in mind that each tool crawls and creates its own index, so the results you see in your dashboard on each may be different.

Next, check to see how frequently the index is updated. Given the importance of links for SEO rankings, most practitioners will want to see the quantity and quality of backlinks directed to their site on at least a weekly basis.

Ahrefs’ index contains 3 trillion URLs and is updated daily, which gives it the edge over its competitors.

It provides a comprehensive overview of historical backlink performance and helps SEOs to pinpoint any issues that may be hampering performance. Ahrefs is also a great resource for competitor analysis and can be used to find new websites to target through outreach activities.

All in all, Ahrefs provides the best package for advanced backlink analysis.

In-depth link analysis

Cost: From $ 99/month to $ 999/month.

Honorable mention: Majestic SEO.

Content marketing: Buzzsumo

Backlinks are a vital factor in how Google crawls the web and ranks websites, but social shares and mentions are the next stage of evolution for a content marketing strategy.

Essentially, a site with content that attracts a lot of relevant, authoritative links and large quantities of social media interactions may be looked upon favorably when it comes to ranking websites for a specific query.

That is easier said than done, of course.

Buzzsumo has become an important tool for SEOs precisely because it aids us in this difficult task. Marketers can enter a domain name or just a keyword to see which pieces of content are performing best in terms of backlinks and social media shares.

The intuitive interface allows for a lot of customization, so it is possible to hone in on particular social networks, dates, or topics.

This makes it a helpful resource for influencer research too, as it also identifies the individuals that have helped certain content assets to ‘go viral’.

Buzzsumo can’t write the content for you, but it does a great job of at least telling you what to write about. It also provides almost instantaneous feedback on how your content is performing, making it an infinitely valuable tool for an advanced SEO strategy.

BuzzSumo screen shot

Cost: $ 79/month to $ 499+/month.

Search Engine Watch


Smart Ways to Get More Marketing Budget and Better Tools

December 11, 2017 No Comments

In this new live webinar, Kristin Vick from Hanapin Marketing and Jeff Sauer from Jeffalytics discuss how marketers can ensure they have the budget they need to be effective with online advertising and get the right tools to make that argument.

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