There are hundreds of SEO tools out there, each with different features and pros and cons.
One of the most in-demand features right now is keyword research and ideation. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, and reward those who are regularly publishing quality, relevant content, SEOs are increasingly looking to create this content on a regular basis.
Finding the phrases that people are commonly searching for when creating this content is a constant challenge, and a new platform, SEM Tool, has been designed specifically to help with this. In this review, I’ll look at the product in more detail.
The site has a clean design and a clear user interface with a box to enter your desired head search term, as well as check boxes for various different search engines and other sites. Users can search for results on the following sites:
Users can also filter results by country. To test out the tool I entered the term blog writers.
Free vs. paid features
For free, users can search for keyword ideas based on data from the sites above. For an additional fee, they can see search volume, estimated cost per click and view their domain’s position for the terms listed in the results.
Shortly after signing up, I received an email from an account manager informing me that I had received some complimentary free credits to use some of the paid features on the site, which was a nice touch and enabled me to try out some of the paid-for features.
Accessing and using the data
Once you have performed a search, you can view the results in a series of columns, which can be toggled to view data in ascending/descending order. You can also download the results in a .xls/csv spreadsheet, which enables you to manipulate the data further.
As I started out by saying, there are hundreds of SEO tools on the market, many of which contain the features of SEM-Tool.com and more. Whether or not this product will be able to compete given its fairly limited functionality remains to be seen – the addition of a more detailed Rankings Tracker and ‘Potential Analysis’ features listed on the site as ‘coming soon’ may broaden its appeal.
This is a simple, useful tool, which will be a great help to those in need of keyword ideation for content marketing. It won’t, however, replace your chosen suite of SEO tools just yet.
We all know that we should be blogging more. At the same time, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending ages on a great post, only to see it ignored by your audience. Here are 5 really easy things that you can do to get more from your blog posts.
Everyone loves to have their ego massaged once in a while. Use Buzzsumo to find influential people in your sector and mention them in your posts.
Before writing this post, I did a search for content marketing. This showed that Joe Pulizzi, Michele Linn, Stephanie Tilton and Micheal Brenner are influencers in this area – perhaps one of them will consider that this post is relevant to their audience and will give me a Tweet.
Write a killer title
When you write your title, think about whether or not it will drive click through. Simon Edelstyn of content sharing platform Outbrain has some great tips for this, which include using questions, lists and exclamation points.
Don’t be afraid to sensationalise in order to get those clicks.
Links can be used to drive traffic to other pages, position your post as authoritative and alert your audience to similar content that they might enjoy. In your posts, link to:
Landing pages on your site to help with SEO, lead generation and conversion.
Sources you have used and you believe your audience will find useful.
When you link to your posts on social media, be sure to include an image. According to research by Buffer, posts on Twitter with images have been proven to get a much higher click through rate than those without.
Providing your blog has an RSS feed, you can set up If This Then That to update all of your social media profiles as soon as a new post goes live.
In the first Ask an SEO feature of 2015 I chatted with Jonathan Argile. I asked him about his role as Head of Search Operations at twentysix and the SEO trends we can expect to see in the year ahead.
Q) Hi Jonathan, could you start by telling us how you got into SEO?
A) My history is not the typical “agency” SEO background you would expect. I actually started working across SEO in some form or another during my university placement year which was a client side marketing role and then further developing in additional Digital Marketing roles client side before moving to agency. These roles however also included working across other digital marketing elements such as email marketing, paid search and aspects of development.
I only started working in a pure SEO role once I moved agency side back in 2012 with a role at Stickyeyes, before moving across the City Centre to start at twentysix in the summer of 2014.
Q) Tell us a bit about your agency, twentysix?
A) twentysix is a full service digital marketing agency with offices in Leeds, London, New York and Singapore. Our services within the Search area of the business include SEO, PPC, social media, affiliates and CRO making up over 40 members of Staff with a further 60 plus staff members working within the Development side of the business which includes Mobile & Website Development and our UX team.
twentysix is a fast paced, passionate agency where we have a real hunger to drive the best ROI for our clients.
A) Leeds is a fantastic hotbed of search agencies with great pool of talented individuals which is ultimately pushing the industry forward, especially in Yorkshire. twentysix itself has some really strong competition from some great rival agencies which means we are pushed regularly to be one of the best and consistently develop and enhance our proposition.
Q) What is the first thing you do when you start a new SEO campaign for a client?
A) It really depends on what our client’s objectives are and what the scope of work is. This can be anything from technical analysis to data gathering and analytical reporting or even pure outreach and creative campaigns. But what we take real pride in is our complete immersion within a client and their activities; we are ultimately as an agency an extension of their company and so should be fully integrated and up to speed with everything that they are.
Q) As an agency, what are the metrics and KPIs that campaigns are measured against?
A) We focus on real world results. Rankings and search visibility are great, but there are far too many inaccuracies and uncertainties within third party metrics such as Moz’s domain authority, which means as an agency we can use these as comparison metrics but not alone.
We work to bottom line figures; we’re driven by the client’s KPIs and their business needs to drive the best ROI. Reporting, accountability and transparency are the core to our approach.
Q) What has been the most significant change in your time in SEO?
A) There have been so many changes across digital as a whole from the rise of mobile search to the launch of Panda, Penguin and Pigeon algorithm updates, but “not provided” has been a real game changer for not just agencies but clients themselves. There has been a real shift from having SEO KPIs purely based on rankings to incorporating traffic, revenue and overall organic visibility of brands and that ranking for “Golden” high volume terms are not the be all and end all of SEO campaigns. There is so much more that agencies should be focussing on such as the actual monetary return on investment for clients and showing a clear bottom line progression.
Q) What are your SEO predictions for the year ahead?
A) SEO evolves so fast that most predictions within this industry are blown out of the water with something completely new and unthought-of by the end of the year. What I really see in the year ahead includes:
• The further development and refinement of the recent Pigeon update within the UK market.
• A real focus from clients on the closer unity of SEO within the digital marketing mix. How SEO impacts and reacts with the other marketing channels.
• Further refinement from Google on the Penguin algorithm and the manipulation within a sites backlink profile.
• A significant change within mobile search from how Google interacts with un-optimised sites.
• A better understanding from Google on user experience and how this differs between markets and industries, UX is not one size fits all and certainly isn’t determined by Google but remains with the user.
• The rise of new technology – the game isn’t just desktop, mobile and tablet, welcome to smart watches and many more devices.
Q) What are your top SEO tips for sites with little/no budget?
A) As a business clearly define realistic key organic search objectives and make your agency work for you not the other way around. Be realistic in where you are and where you want to be, if you have clear objectives you won’t get led down the wrong path. Be aware that search engine optimisation is not an off the shelf product or one off buy, it is a continual process of implementation and development which should be involved and integrated with all of your marketing activities.
Q) What are your favourite SEO tools and why?
A) As far as I am concerned, SEO is all about variety, there are some fantastic tools in the market from link analysis tools such as Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs to visibility and ranking platforms such as Searchmetrics and Brightedge but never forget Google’s continually developing arsenal of testing and reporting tools within Webmaster tools and analytics. Working in SEO, we should always test and try new tools in the marketplace because we are always pushing the barriers and can never stand still.
Q)Who are your favourite SEO ‘rockstars’?
A) The SEO community is such a diverse group of professionals with varying knowledge, expertise and advice. Personally I am open to listening and reading to as many peoples and agencies opinions as possible. I have a tweetdeck specifically set up to follow blogs, agencies, SEO and digital marketers which is constantly updated when I come across interesting new information which I could test and implement across my clients.
For any person wanting to develop their knowledge of SEO the UK has some great events and conferences such as Searchlove and Brighton SEO, which really highlight the quality the UK has in SEO professionals, but I would also highly recommend following guys like Bill Slawski, Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz and of course Mr Matt Cutts.
Read up on sites like SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineWatch, SEORoundtable and read the detailed information across Moz’s Blogs and guides. But don’t forget the UK market is a very different animal to US so take some information with a pinch of salt!
Are you an SEO with a story to tell? Email help(at)copify.com to be featured.
The internet has opened up a world of opportunities for people to make a living by sharing their talent online.
One such person is my friend and fellow Lancaster graduate Julian Bradley. In the latest of our Startup Stories, he shares some fantastic insight into his business jazzherobooks.com and his life as an LA-based jazz pianist.
Q) Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you become a jazz pianist?
A) My name’s Julian Bradley, I’m a music education specialist, born in England, now living in Los Angeles. I studied music at undergrad and masters level, and was lucky to have several world class music teachers. After seeing a Wynton Marsalis concert aged 17, I became obsessed with jazz piano, and went on to read every book I could find on the subject.
Q) Talk us through a typical day in your life…
A) I’m very type A, and most days I work long hours. Most of my time is focussed on lesson filming, or video editing. I have a studio setup exclusively for filming jazz piano lessons – the piano, camera, microphone and lighting are always setup, so I can film anytime. The video editing I’ll do at a coffee shop. Aside from my work, health and fitness are important to me. I play sport daily, and try to travel often, since my occupation now allows me to do so. I try to leave LA every few weeks on a 3 day road trip with my wife or friends, and keep a fresh perspective on what I’m working towards.
Q) Can you tell us how the website got started, where did the idea come from?
A) My youtube channel was started as a side project. I had no intention of making income from it. My mother-in-law had lent me a book, which talked about ‘giving back’. I realized that I’d never given anything to anyone without wanting something in return, and that I should try giving something. I’d been learning a lot from youtube on various topics, and it occurred to me that the one thing I probably could explain better than most would be jazz piano, having read so many books on the subject. I spent a Sunday afternoon filming 3 lessons at the piano. I uploaded the videos on youtube, and pretty much forgot about them. A month later, I needed to login to the email I’d used to setup the account, and was surprised to see over 50 emails from youtube notifying me of new subscribers to my channel, which seemed like a strong sign of interest, especially compared to my ‘composer showreel’ I’d posted a year prior, which had only received 100 views (mostly from me).
A few months later, I emigrated to California, where my wife is from originally. I was unable to work for the first 5 months, while waiting for my green card to be processed. I had to do something productive with that time, and decided to make more jazz lessons and see where it took me. Simultaneously, I started reading about online income, and I gradually started pushing myself to get comfortable charging money for some material.
First I became a ‘YouTube partner’ and remember the amazing feeling of earning $3 on the first day! Then I pushed myself to add a PayPal donate button (it felt awkward because I had genuinely made my videos without any financial incentive). In the first week I received 2 donations, which made me realise that some viewers probably wanted to pay for something – I just hadn’t given them anything to buy yet. So I created a $10 ebook to test the water, and announced it at the end of one of my lessons. It sold. Then I spent a month creating a $30 bigger ebook, and announced it. It sold. Then I did the same again for a $50 ebook, and it sold. Now I’m venturing into larger products, including membership to my new ear training course which I’ll be launching next month. I’m continuing to increase my comfort zone when it comes to charging for products, valuing my skills, and raising prices. After all, it’s entirely down to me to make the video making sustainable. Only by charging for some material can I continue to make future videos. No one else is going to make it happen.
Q) Can you explain your business model?
A) I make a free video lesson for a commonly searched topic, e.g. ‘tritone substitution’. I’ll aim to make the best lesson of all time on that topic. I’ll end that video with a call to action – ‘if you enjoyed this video and want even more in-depth material, click on the link below to find out about my Jazz Theory ebook…’
Q) Do you outsource any work, if so what, how and why?
A) Currently I work with a website developer who creates my subscription websites (while I make the lesson content). But my goal is to outsource all tasks that are not within my skill set – I should only be focussed on making videos, and educational products – teaching is my strength, so I’m in the process of outsourcing all other tasks such as customer service, audio mixing, and possibly some of the video editing.
Q) How have you funded the business?
A) I probably went full-time with my business a bit early. There was a stressful 12 month period – I’d released my $30 ebook, and found myself having to post a new lesson every Friday just to generate enough sales over the weekend to pay bills and high living costs in LA. I was working incredibly hard, all the time, and only breaking even. And living in LA away from my family meant there was no safety net. I couldn’t even afford a flight home during that time. My friends who had regular jobs seemed to be relaxing every evening, and I turned down a lot of invites to social events during that time.
Ultimately, there came a point when several large bills were all coinciding – several thousand dollars were due for an immigration service, rent, health insurance, and some essential car repairs. I had just 2 weeks to think of a solution, and even contemplated walking people’s dogs and mowing lawns. I knew the answer lay in my youtube audience, which was putting me in contact with far more people than I could ever meet in person – 4000 daily views and 30,000 subscribers. I decided to write a complete book on jazz theory… from scratch. I completed ‘Jazz Theory Explained’ in 2 weeks – 100 pages of writing, image creation, links to relevant videos – everything. The imminent deadline really focussed me, I couldn’t be a perfectionist, and that book has turned out to be my most popular book by far. Not only did I pay off the imminent bills, I made several thousand dollars extra profit, completely unexpected. I realized that actually, my first book had been a failure in comparison. I’d been promoting something that most people weren’t interested in. Since writing ‘Jazz Theory Explained’ book, I’ve been much more relaxed financially, and now I’m able to enjoy my work and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Q) How much competition is there in your space? How do you stand out?
A) There’s certainly plenty of music tuition online. My content is far more advanced than any other I’ve seen. For a while I thought maybe I’d do better if I covered more basic subjects, for a wider audience. So I tried some beginner lessons but found that my advanced material is far more popular – which is good because that’s the stuff I’m interested in.
Q) What does your typical customer look like? How do you keep them engaged?
A) Most of my audience are retiring men, who have worked in a non-music career for many years. Only now are they able to explore their passion for music / jazz with the time needed. That said, I also have many younger viewers, mostly piano players and guitarists.
Q) What customer recruitment channels are you using, and which are the most effective in terms of conversion?
A) Currently, my traffic comes entirely from my ‘how to’ videos. I only make a video if it’s a searched for topic, and then I gradually ask the viewer to subscribe, watch another video, join my email list, or buy a book, and so on. I will be venturing into SEO and paid advertising with the launch of my more expensive ear training course.
Q) What have been your major hurdles when starting up, how have you overcome them?
A) The biggest mountain to climb has been creating my ear training course. What I naively thought would take me one month, has now taken 12 months to complete. I’ve learnt that any creative project I start seems to turn out to be 10 times more work than I imagine, at least. So from now on, if a project seems like a lot of work to begin with, then I don’t take it on (unless I have a team). Small projects turn out to be big projects, and big projects turn out to be absolutely huge projects… so now I stick to small projects (which are actually big projects).
Q) Who has inspired you in working for yourself/starting your business?
A) I had a good friend at university, who was very clever, but lacked discipline. I could never imagine him in a regular job – he’d just never turn up on time. I was out of touch with him after graduation, but met him 3 years later. He told me he’d partnered with a friend, and developed their own SEO software, which they used to keep their website ranking #1 on google. Their website was selling an expensive product and taking commission, and they’d been traveling the world for 12 months, returning with more money than they’d left with. His story is what planted the seed in my mind of what’s possible online, and that’s when I started researching online income streams and making a living online.
Q) What would be your advice be to anybody looking to make money from sharing their talents online?
A) Make lots of quick experiments and see what sticks. Don’t make the mistakes I made – being a perfectionist in the early stages. You never know which things are going to take off, and which will fail. The best approach is to set a short time limit on each small experiment you try (a blog post, a how to video, a podcast, etc), and then see which takes off – then follow up with more of that.
Q) What are your tips for startups who need help with getting stuff done?
A) I’m always conscious of the 80/20 principle – 80% of the results are generated from 20% of activities. I’m always doing an 80/20 analysis of my life – what are the 20% of activities which generate the most growth in my business and ultimately, income? In my case, it’s video making, and product making. I could easily get distracted with social media, playing around with WordPress, or replying to every single email, but in my case, these are not income generating activities, and I should not be spending much time doing these. The other rule I bear in mind, is that ‘work expands to fill the time available’. So I try to impose time limits on myself always – this might be going to the coffee shop to work without taking my power adapter, forcing me to finish the video editing before my battery runs out.
Q) What are your long-term plans for the business?
A) There’s many ways I could go with what I’m doing, but mostly I let the audience drive what happens next. I survey my audience regularly (through surveymonkey.com). I’m always trying to find out what people struggle with the most (musically!), what keeps them up at night, and then to solve that pain. That’s what lead me to tackle ear training – it was the most requested topic in every survey, so I’ve created an ear training course. I’ll continue to survey my viewers, and create new content, products and services based on their feedback.