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25+ SEO Words To Delete, Add, Or Reconsider In The Web3 Era

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25+ SEO Words To Delete, Add, Or Reconsider In The Web3 Era

🚨 Call the SEO word police.

These days in the SEO world, sometimes it’s more complicated than ever to tell what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to SEO terminology, phrases, and words.

As brands and marketers start to embrace Web3, the next generation of the internet terms come and go.

To ensure you are on top of it, we tapped the minds of the industry’s leading SEO and digital marketing professionals to dissect the over-used, underrated, and up-and-coming SEO words.

Just like styles change with the season, SEO changes with the algorithms and the modern times.

What might have been last season’s must-have buzzword just might be this year’s red flag waiting for a Google penalty.

Are we still talking about wearing black hats and white hats? Is this still a primarily male-dominated, exclusive industry? Are press releases still a tactic or a strategy?

Some SEO words have just run their course, classifying them as overused, overvalued, and in some cases, just plain over.

Next-Gen SEO World Of Words

As we enter the Web3 era, also known as the next generation of the internet, marketers and brands must adapt accordingly.

Besides Web3, brands of all sizes need to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as a strategy, leadership, and culture checkpoint.

Including content and addressing accessibility, equality, equal pay, work from home, etc., are not just buzzwords. They are the new normal when it comes to keywords, culture, and innovation,

In Search Engine Journal’s recent interview with Rachel Heseltine, she shared her story of coming out as an SEO professional and thoughts on the impact of diversity in leadership and beyond.

“Public relations” and media coverage continue to positively impact SEO as the results unravel from the perks of links to the positive SEO bumps, thanks to brand mentions in the media.

Let’s also keep on the radar what SEO will look like in the metaverse as Google tiptoes into one of the biggest Google Trend buzzwords of 2021: the “metaverse.”

As we enter into a Web3 world, terms like decentralization, privacy, and blockchain will be trending up.

For the average person, SEO has been somewhat of a mystery of how it works, how long it takes, and who is the expert.

Using outdated terms and language can be a sure sign of incompetence, ignorance, or transformation and modernization.

When we asked leading SEO professionals which words to eliminate, the most overused SEO word is… SEO.

SEO: The Most Overused SEO Word Ever?

Here’s why you can’t be all things to all people.

SEO is not magic, and it’s not a catchall.

“The word SEO on its own isn’t bad,” said content marketing consultant and SEO expert Kelsey Jones. “But shady agencies are using vague terms to not be transparent with clients about the actual work they are doing on their website.”

“I have small business owners coming to me, asking for ‘SEO’ and assuming it will magically make them number one in search results simply because other SEO practitioners have said it’s possible within months. As professionals, it’s just not right to be taking advantage of people who have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jones added.

“I also think the term ‘content’ is slightly misleading and misunderstood because many business owners or C-suite executives don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to create a piece of content from the initial idea to research, writing, and promotion.

They think anyone can create ‘content,’ but it takes a team of professionals who know how the entire process works to make it effective.”

Considering SEO’s birth dates back to 1997, making it just over 20 years old, there’s still a ton of growing up.

We’ve gone from birth to infancy to middle school to teen years and graduated from college.

SEO was quite simple in the early years.

Gaming the system was easy.

Manipulating search results was the game.

Now that SEO is in its mid-20s, things are starting to mature and get serious.

As SEO grows up, so does the vocabulary, terminology, and best practices.

In today’s post-pandemic, complicated, and fast-moving digital marketing world, change is a way of life. It’s true. If search marketers had to pick a specialty, it would be “expert in change.”

And so the SEO goes.

What worked last year is old news and what was amazing five years ago is ancient history in Google years. Unlike fashion, dated SEO terminology doesn’t make a comeback.

Optimizing to win results on Google’s page one search results needs an attitude of “adapt or die.”

To keep up with the changes, here are 26 SEO words industry professionals would like to delete, die, and say bye-bye.

DELETE: SEO Words That Just Need To Go Bye Bye

  • Best.
  • Cloaking.
  • Content is King.
  • Content Marketing.
  • DA Score.
  • Do ‘this,’ and you will succeed.
  • E-A-T.
  • Integrated Campaigns.
  • Hacking… anything.
  • Implied links via brand mentions.
  • Keyword Density.
  • Linkbait.
  • Link Building.
  • Link Juice.
  • Matt Cutts.
  • Meta Description.
  • Outbound Marketing.
  • PageRank.
  • Ranking Factor.
  • RankBrain.
  • SEO.
  • SEO is Dead.
  • Storytelling.
  • The “Hats” Black Hat, White Hat.
  • Top.
  • Testing.
  • Toxic Links.

SEO Words To Add

  • Accessibility.
  • Artificial Intelligence.
  • Authentic.
  • Chief Digital Officer.
  • Conversations.
  • Customer anything.
  • Danny Sullivan.
  • Decentralized.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Driverless Vehicle Optimization Expert.
  • Featured Snippets.
  • Google Business Profile.
  • Holistic SEO.
  • Metaverse.
  • Mobile.
  • Privacy.
  • Transparency.
  • Web3.
  • Women SEO Experts.

Who Thinks What & Why

The SEO words you should delete and the SEO words to add in 2022 and beyond.


Kelsey Jones, SEO Content Leader  

Let’s review the word “content.”

The term ‘content’ is slightly misleading and misunderstood because many business owners or C-suite executives don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to create a piece of content, from the initial idea to research, writing, and promotion. They think anyone can create “content,” but it takes a team of professionals who know how the entire process works to make it effective.


Heather Lloyd-Martin, SEO Copywriting Expert and Trainer Heather Lloyd SEO

My pet peeve term that needs to go?

Keyword density.

At least once a week, I receive an email from an SEO writer complaining that their client wants an X% keyword density – and it’s messing up the content flow.

Yes, back in the day (over 20 years ago), we needed a 5.5% key phrase density to position in Alta Vista.

Today, Google has said that keyword density isn’t a ranking factor.

Randomly shoving keywords into content won’t help positions. Yet, I still see companies (and some SEO tools) pushing for a specific keyword density because they think that’s what Google wants.


Victoria Edwards, Online Marketing and Social Media ManagerVictoria Edwards

Most Overused SEO Words:

SEO Is Dead

This really annoys me, since it clearly isn’t. Who only knows how our business will change with regard to this Net Neutrality situation, but I am sure we will just find another way to give our consumers the content they’re looking for.

Outbound Marketing

This one gets me and feels a bit overused. Maybe the phrase digital marketing should take it over.

Yes, outbound is different from inbound, but we need to get on with it and try something else.

Content Is King

This is my absolute favorite overused phrase. I agree content can be king. You must factor in that if your site isn’t optimized, the content isn’t strong, and you don’t have a decent budget to promote it… then it’s not king. People just won’t see the content.


Carrie Hill, Local SEO AnalystCarrie Hill SEO

‘Must-Have’ SEO Word To Add:

Testing

I’d add the word “TESTING” in really big bold letters. I think many SEOs talk a big game around testing, but very few implement, test, tweak and learn with measured scientific testing.

What produced results and what did not? How can we better design our test? How can we improve our results?

In my opinion, the number one  rule of testing is “be prepared to be wrong.”

I think there’s a lot of ego in the SEO industry and many can’t handle being wrong about a theory or tactic they’ve been using (and heavily promoting) for YEARS.

It’s hard to eat crow – but if it makes my clients more money – I’ll add ketchup and dig in.


Lily Ray, SEO Expert by Day, DJ by Night LIL Ray SEO DJ

Hit Delete

  • Toxic Links
  • DA (Domain Authority) Score
  • E-A-T

Here’s why…

Toxic Links

SEO tools created the notion of “toxic links” and now the industry has gone overboard with assigning relevance and importance to this score.

However, the same SEO tools that measure “toxic links” are mostly just looking at spammy links, which are entirely ignored by Google.

Every website has spammy links, and Google knows this. The real “toxic” links are links that violate Google’s guidelines, which are generally difficult for SEO tools to identify.

This idea of a “toxicity score” is misleading for SEOs and website owners alike.

DA Score

Another metric created by SEO tools has been blown completely out of proportion.

While Google likely uses some version of a domain-wide evaluation of authoritativeness, we don’t have access to those metrics and DA is certainly not it.

E-A-T Score / Algorithm / Algorithm Update

E-A-T is extremely important, but using terms like “E-A-T score,” “the E-A-T algorithm,” or “the E-A-T algorithm update” greatly oversimplifies what E-A-T actually does and how it works. The term E-A-T is likely used across all of Google’s organic algorithms, but it can’t be boiled down to a simple score in the same way something like Core Web Vitals can be.

Also, no single algorithm update focused only on E-A-T, although it has played an increasingly important role in algorithm updates of recent years.


Rebecca Murtagh, Author of Million Dollar WebsitesRebecca Murtagh

Most Overused SEO Words:

“Best” And “Top”

I have probably even been guilty of using these words in the past.

However, in the era of brand democratization where customers are part of the brand story, search results favor brands when customers are the ones saying they are the best or top in what they offer.

So, let customers and audiences have their say!

SEO Words Trending In:

It is time to embrace the softer side of SEO!

Customers become emotionally attached and fiercely loyal to brands they love. So, words will vary by brand and marketplace.

To attract the most qualified visitors to a website from search engine results, brands can leverage two key elements in content and snippets in the hope they will appear in SERPs:

For example, Apple’s snippet reads: Discover the innovative world of Apple and shop…

Customers are loyal to the Apple brand because they are connected and continually anticipate the brand’s innovation.

Use of brand differentiators calls to action (CTA) like “discover” and “shop” promote action (the click!).

When SEO becomes more human, everyone wins!


Joy Hawkins, Google My Business Expert Joy Hawkins SEO

New Term To Be Added:

Google Business Profile

Since Google rebranded Google My Business recently, we should add the new name: Google Business Profile.

The frustrating thing with this rebrand is that it sounds very dumb when you abbreviate it to GBP as Google thinks you’re talking about the British pound.

It will take a lot of practice to get used to saying Google Business Profile instead of GMB.

I agree with “Link Juice” for words that should be removed. I can’t stand how this word sounds and usually opt for something like “link power” or “link equity” instead.


Melissa Fach, SEO Consultant, Community Manager, and EditorMelissa Fach

Most Overused SEO Words:

“Do ‘this,’ and you will succeed.”

Everyone writing and giving advice need to stop saying anything like this.

There are too many variables to consider when it comes to SEO to guarantee someone that they will be successful if they copy your strategy.

As an editor, I always remove these false promises from my articles.


Virginia Nussey, Director of Marketing at MobileMonkey Virginia Nussey

Most Overused SEO Words:

Link Building

Can this concept please die? You’re either:

  • Making amazing content and promoting it with ads and PR.
  • You’re spamming.

SEO Words Trending In:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

I’ve been thinking about ways to adapt to Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Google’s RankBrain has had a significant impact on SEO.

For one thing, writers and SEOs need better tools for identifying long-tail and voice search queries.

We can use Google suggestions and “People also ask” along with FAQs from Answer the Public – but what else are we to do in response to AI’s impact on search and searcher behavior? That’s been a big focus for me and will be in the future.


Eric Enge, SEO Expert, Author, and President of Pilot Holding eric enge

Almost Overused SEO Words:

Meta Description

With all the work that Google is putting into snippet generation, it looks like the utility of meta descriptions is going to be 100% gone soon, if it isn’t already.

For now, I would still optimize your meta description, but I suspect in a year or two, we’ll get confirmation that it doesn’t matter anymore.

I have no confirmation, but I am speculating given how much work Google is putting into snippet extraction, I believe the need for meta descriptions will disappear.

SEO Words Trending In:

Featured Snippets

OK, I know people are talking about these a ton already, but I don’t think that everyone truly understands just how important this is.

The real featured snippets story will be told once more than half of all search queries are by voice, and most people take their one answer from a verbal SERP – a SERP that has only one answer, and that answer will be taken from what we call a featured snippet today.

Conversations

Too many people focus solely on old-fashioned ranking signals, like content and links. These do remain important, but it’s also essential to take a broader view of how your brand is perceived online.

Google has told us repeatedly that they try to view our sites the way users do. Well, what does that mean really?

If users want to see brand results for a given query, that’s what Google will return. If users want to see a marketplace, Google will return that in the SERPs. If users want to see review sites, Google will return that.

If you’re not a particularly good result for a given query, then they won’t return you.

How does Google figure that out? Not simply by analyzing your content, because you can have pages that speak to a given query but still not be the company that users want to interact with related to that query.

You can go get links to your page that say you are authoritative for that query, but the presence of those links doesn’t mean that users want you either.

Try this: Engage in branding and advertising campaigns, or actively engage in, or create, conversations across the web about your brand related to the query.

That’s a clear sign that consumers consider you relevant to the query.


Joe Laratro, SEO/PPC Expert and President, Tandem Online Marketing SolutionsJoe Laratro

‘Unprecedented’ needs to go.

We should delete “unprecedented” from our SEO vocabulary today. I say that as it relates to Covid, March 2020 – March 2022. Some industries thrived online during the pandemic.

Examples I hear…

  • Traffic was unprecedented. 
  • Conversion rates were unprecedented. 
  • Growth was unprecedented. 

Those numbers are just not sustainable anymore.

Today’s performance has to be gauged against the years before The Great Covid Migration (the mass of people relocating that boosted every industry around home services).

Sustaining last year’s numbers maybe this year’s success.

The challenge for marketers right now is to make sure the KPIs are realistic.

Add these words to the current SEO conversation:

Inflation and Cost of Quality 

Inflation and the cost of quality need to be added to the discussions about SEO.

The past two years have changed the landscape of search engine marketing professionals more than we have seen since the Google Penguin Update.

Work-from-home scenarios opened up the local workforces to international companies.

The value of a good search engine optimization specialist increased because of their scarcity and availability of positions. High quality has always cost more. It costs more in 2022.

Agencies need to make their service pricing reflect their increasing costs. Client-side marketers cost more, so those companies have to pass those costs on to their goods as well.

Most Overused SEO Word:

Storytelling

Storytelling was one of the big buzz terms of 2017. I think it should stay in 2017.

While there is huge value in storytelling, it is just another form of generating high-value engaging content.

SEO Words Trending In:

Holistic SEO

This is an old concept but has a broader place in today’s optimization world than maybe ever before.

Advancements in the SERPs with incredibly relevant and customized results make specific keyword targeting very difficult.

Having a broad approach to SEO that considers all facets of current best practices and technology (amazing user experience, speed, mobile-first) should be the ongoing commitment.


Marty Weintraub, Internet Marketing Expert and Founder of aimClear Marty Weintraub SEO

Most Overused SEO Words:

Linkbait, PageRank, Cloaking, Matt Cutts

These are just seriously overplayed.

Weintraub provided a Sysomos MAP word cloud for public Twitter organic tweets showing semantic usage stats. Weintraub noted this is what words ALSO appear in Tweets about SEO.

Weintraub provided a Sysomos MAP word cloud for public Twitter organic tweets shows semantic usage stats.

Conclusion

Don’t get caught using outdated words and terms.

As SEO enters its third decade, new generations are redefining the search marketing industry. Innovation, technology, and culture impact new behaviors.

It’s up to all marketing professionals to stay educated and aware of trends and algorithms to attract the best talent, get the best results and stay up-to-date on best practices and Google updates.

What SEO words can you add to this story?

More SEO Resources:


Featured Image: Vasina Natalia/Shutterstock

In-Post Photo #1: Marty Weintraub. Used with permission.



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Google’s Mueller Criticizes Negative SEO & Link Disavow Companies

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Google's Mueller Criticizes Negative SEO & Link Disavow Companies

John Mueller recently made strong statements against SEO companies that provide negative SEO and other agencies that provide link disavow services outside of the tool’s intended purpose, saying that they are “cashing in” on clients who don’t know better.

While many frequently say that Mueller and other Googlers are ambiguous, even on the topic of link disavows.

The fact however is that Mueller and other Googlers have consistently recommended against using the link disavow tool.

This may be the first time Mueller actually portrayed SEOs who liberally recommend link disavows in a negative light.

What Led to John Mueller’s Rebuke

The context of Mueller’s comments about negative SEO and link disavow companies started with a tweet by Ryan Jones (@RyanJones)

Ryan tweeted that he was shocked at how many SEOs regularly offer disavowing links.

He tweeted:

“I’m still shocked at how many seos regularly disavow links. Why? Unless you spammed them or have a manual action you’re probably doing more harm than good.”

The reason why Ryan is shocked is because Google has consistently recommended the tool for disavowing paid/spammy links that the sites (or their SEOs) are responsible for.

And yet, here we are, eleven years later, and SEOs are still misusing the tool for removing other kinds of tools.

Here’s the background information about that.

Link Disavow Tool

In the mid 2000’s there was a thriving open market for paid links prior to the Penguin Update in April 2012. The commerce in paid links was staggering.

I knew of one publisher with around fifty websites who received a $30,000 check every month for hosting paid links on his site.

Even though I advised my clients against it, some of them still purchased links because they saw everyone else was buying them and getting away with it.

The Penguin Update caused the link selling boom collapsed.

Thousands of websites lost rankings.

SEOs and affected websites strained under the burden of having to contact all the sites from which they purchased paid links to ask to have them removed.

So some in the SEO community asked Google for a more convenient way to disavow the links.

Months went by and after resisting the requests, Google relented and released a disavow tool.

Google cautioned from the very beginning to only use the tool for disavowing links that the site publishers (or their SEOs) are responsible for.

The first paragraph of Google’s October 2012 announcement of the link disavow tool leaves no doubt on when to use the tool:

“Today we’re introducing a tool that enables you to disavow links to your site.

If you’ve been notified of a manual spam action based on ‘unnatural links’ pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue.

If you haven’t gotten this notification, this tool generally isn’t something you need to worry about.”

The message couldn’t be clearer.

But at some point in time, link disavowing became a service applied to random and “spammy looking” links, which is not what the tool is for.

Link Disavow Takes Months To Work

There are many anecdotes about link disavows that helped sites regain rankings.

They aren’t lying, I know credible and honest people who have made this claim.

But here’s the thing, John Mueller has confirmed that the link disavow process takes months to work its way through Google’s algorithm.

Sometimes things happen that are not related, no correlation. It just looks that way.

John shared how long it takes for a link disavow to work in a Webmaster Hangout:

“With regards to this particular case, where you’re saying you submitted a disavow file and then the ranking dropped or the visibility dropped, especially a few days later, I would assume that that is not related.

So in particular with the disavow file, what happens is we take that file into account when we reprocess the links kind of pointing to your website.

And this is a process that happens incrementally over a period of time where I would expect it would have an effect over the course of… I don’t know… maybe three, four, five, six months …kind of step by step going in that direction.

So if you’re saying that you saw an effect within a couple of days and it was a really strong effect then I would assume that this effect is completely unrelated to the disavow file. …it sounds like you still haven’t figured out what might be causing this.”

John Mueller: Negative SEO and Link Disavow Companies are Making Stuff Up

Context is important to understand what was said.

So here’s the context for John Mueller’s remark.

An SEO responded to Ryan’s tweet about being shocked at how many SEOs regularly disavow links.

The person responding to Ryan tweeted that disavowing links was still important, that agencies provide negative SEO services to take down websites and that link disavow is a way to combat the negative links.

The SEO (SEOGuruJaipur) tweeted:

“Google still gives penalties for backlinks (for example, 14 Dec update, so disavowing links is still important.”

SEOGuruJaipur next began tweeting about negative SEO companies.

Negative SEO companies are those that will build spammy links to a client’s competitor in order to make the competitor’s rankings drop.

SEOGuruJaipur tweeted:

“There are so many agencies that provide services to down competitors; they create backlinks for competitors such as comments, bookmarking, directory, and article submission on low quality sites.”

SEOGuruJaipur continued discussing negative SEO link builders, saying that only high trust sites are immune to the negative SEO links.

He tweeted:

“Agencies know what kind of links hurt the website because they have been doing this for a long time.

It’s only hard to down for very trusted sites. Even some agencies provide a money back guarantee as well.

They will provide you examples as well with proper insights.”

John Mueller tweeted his response to the above tweets:

“That’s all made up & irrelevant.

These agencies (both those creating, and those disavowing) are just making stuff up, and cashing in from those who don’t know better.”

Then someone else joined the discussion:

Mueller tweeted a response:

“Don’t waste your time on it; do things that build up your site instead.”

Unambiguous Statement on Negative SEO and Link Disavow Services

A statement by John Mueller (or anyone) can appear to conflict with prior statements when taken out of context.

That’s why I not only placed his statements into their original context but also the history going back eleven years that is a part of that discussion.

It’s clear that John Mueller feels that those selling negative SEO services and those providing disavow services outside of the intended use are “making stuff up” and “cashing in” on clients who might not “know better.”

Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero



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Source Code Leak Shows New Ranking Factors to Consider

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Source Code Leak Shows New Ranking Factors to Consider

January 25, 2023, the day that Yandex—Russia’s search engine—was hacked. 

Its complete source code was leaked online. And, it might not be the first time we’ve seen hacking happen in this industry, but it is one of the most intriguing, groundbreaking events in years.

But Yandex isn’t Google, so why should we care? Here’s why we do: these two search engines are very similar in how they process technical elements of a website, and this leak just showed us the 1,922 ranking factors Yandex uses in its algorithm. 

Simply put, this information is something that we can use to our advantage to get more traffic from Google.

Yandex vs Google

As I said, a lot of these ranking factors are possibly quite similar to the signals that Google uses for search.

Yandex’s algorithm shows a RankBrain analog: MatrixNext. It also seems that they are using PageRank (almost the same way as Google does), and a lot of their text algorithms are the same. Interestingly, there are also a lot of ex-Googlers working in Yandex. 

So, reviewing these factors and understanding how they play into search rankings and traffic will provide some very useful insights into how search engines like Google work. No doubt, this new trove of information will greatly influence the SEO market in the months to come. 

That said, Yandex isn’t Google. The chances of Google having the exact same list of ranking factors is low — and Google may not even give that signal the same amount of weight that Yandex does. 

Still, it’s information that potentially will be useful for driving traffic, so make sure to take a look at them here (before it’s scrubbed from the internet forever).

An early analysis of ranking factors

Many of their ranking factors are as expected. These include:

  • Many link-related factors (e.g., age, relevancy, etc.).
  • Content relevance, age, and freshness.
  • Host reliability
  • End-user behavior signals.

Some sites also get preference (such as Wikipedia). FI_VISITS_FROM_WIKI even shows that sites that are referenced by Wikipedia get plus points. 

These are all things that we already know.

But something interesting: there were several factors that I and other SEOs found unusual, such as PageRank being the 17th highest weighted factor in Yandex, and the 19th highest weighted factor being query-document relevance (in other words, how close they match thematically). There’s also karma for likely spam hosts, based on Whois information.

Other interesting factors are the average domain ranking across queries, percent of organic traffic, and the number of unique visitors.

You can also use this Yandex Search Ranking Factor Explorer, created by Rob Ousbey, to search through the various ranking factors.

The possible negative ranking factors:

Here’s my thoughts on Yandex’s factors that I found interesting: 

FI_ADV: -0.2509284637 — this factor means having tons of adverts scattered around your page and buying PPC can affect rankings. 

FI_DATER_AGE: -0.2074373667 — this one evaluates content age, and whether your article is more than 10 years old, or if there’s no determinable date. Date metadata is important. 

FI_COMM_LINKS_SEO_HOSTS: -0.1809636391 — this can be a negative factor if you have too much commercial anchor text, particularly if the proportion of such links goes above 50%. Pay attention to anchor text distribution. I’ve written a guide on how to effectively use anchor texts if you need some help on this. 

FI_RANK_ARTROZ — outdated, poorly written text will bring your rankings down. Go through your site and give your content a refresh. FI_WORD_COUNT also shows that the number of words matter, so avoid having low-content pages.

FI_URL_HAS_NO_DIGITS, FI_NUM_SLASHES, FI_FULL_URL_FRACTION — urls shouldn’t have digits, too many slashes (too much hierarchy), and of course contain your targeted keyword.

FI_NUM_LINKS_FROM_MP — always interlink your main pages (such as your homepage or landing pages) to any other important content you want to rank. Otherwise, it can hurt your content.

FI_HOPS — reduce the crawl depth for any pages that matter to you. No important pages should be more than a few clicks away from your homepage. I recommend keeping it to two clicks, at most. 

FI_IS_UNREACHABLE — likewise, avoid making any important page an orphan page. If it’s unreachable from your homepage, it’s as good as dead in the eyes of the search engine.

The possible positive ranking factors:

FI_IS_COM: +0.2762504972 — .com domains get a boost in rankings.

FI_YABAR_HOST_VISITORS — the more traffic you get, the more ranking power your site has. The strategy of targeting smaller, easier keywords first to build up an audience before targeting harder keywords can help you build traffic.

FI_BEAST_HOST_MEAN_POS — the average position of the host for keywords affects your overall ranking. This factor and the previous one clearly show that being smart with your keyword and content planning matters. If you need help with that, check out these 5 ways to build a solid SEO strategy.

FI_YABAR_HOST_SEARCH_TRAFFIC — this might look bad but shows that having other traffic sources (such as social media, direct search, and PPC) is good for your site. Yandex uses this to determine if a real site is being run, not just some spammy SEO project.

This one includes a whole host of CTR-related factors. 

CTR ranking factors from Yandex

It’s clear that having searchable and interesting titles that drive users to check your content out is something that positively affects your rankings.

Google is rewarding sites that help end a user’s search journey (as we know from the latest mobile search updates and even the Helpful Content update). Do what you can to answer the query early on in your article. The factor “FI_VISITORS_RETURN_MONTH_SHARE“ also shows that it helps to encourage users to return to your site for more information on the topics they’re interested in. Email marketing is a handy tool here.

FI_GOOD_RATIO and FI_MANY_BAD — the percentage of “good” and “bad” backlinks on your site. Getting your backlinks from high-quality websites with traffic is important for your rankings. The factor FI_LINK_AGE also shows that adding a link-building strategy to your SEO as early as possible can help with your rankings.

FI_SOCIAL_URL_IS_VERIFIED — that little blue check has actual benefits now. Links from verified accounts have more weight.

Key Takeaway

Yandex and Google, being so similar to each other in theory, means that this data leak is something we must pay attention to. 

Several of these factors may already be common knowledge amongst SEOs, but having them confirmed by another search engine enforces how important they are for your strategy.

These initial findings, and understanding what it might mean for your website, can help you identify what to improve, what to scrap, and what to focus on when it comes to your SEO strategy. 

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Top 7 SEO Keyword Research Tools For Agencies

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Top 7 SEO Keyword Research Tools For Agencies

All successful SEO campaigns rely on accurate, comprehensive data. And that process starts with the right keyword research tools.

Sure, you can get away with collecting keyword data manually on your own. But while you may be saving the cost of a premium tool, manual keyword research costs you in ot

her ways:

  • Efficiency. Doing keyword research manually is time intensive. How much is an hour of your time worth?
  • Comprehensiveness. Historical and comprehensive data isn’t easy to get on your own. It’s too easy to miss out on vital information that will make your SEO strategy a success.
  • Competition. Keyword research tools allow you to understand not only what users are searching for but also what your competition focuses on. You can quickly identify gaps and find the best path to profitability and success.
  • Knowledge. Long-time SEO experts can craft their own keyword strategies with a careful analysis of the SERPs, but that requires years of practice, trial, and costly errors. Not everyone has that experience. And not everyone has made enough mistakes to avoid the pitfalls.

A good SEO keyword research tool eliminates much of the guesswork. Here are seven well-known and time-tested tools for SEO that will get you well on the way to dominating your market.

1. Google Keyword Planner

Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner, January 2023

Cost: Free.

Google Keyword Planner is a classic favorite.

It’s free, but because the information comes directly from the search engine, it’s reliable and trustworthy. It’s also flexible, allowing you to:

  • Identify new keywords.
  • Find related keywords.
  • Estimate the number of searches for each variation.
  • Estimate competition levels.

The tool is easy to access and available as a web application and via API, and it costs nothing; it just requires a Google Ads account.

You must also be aware of a few things when using this tool.

First, these are estimates based on historical data. That means if trends change, it won’t necessarily be reflected here.

Google Keyword Planner also can’t tell you much about the SERP itself, such as what features you can capitalize on and how the feature converts.

Because it’s part of Google Ads, PPC experience can help you gain more insights. You’ll find trends broadly across a demographic or granular level, like a city, region, or major city.

Google Keyword Planner also tends to combine data for similar keywords. So, if you want to know if [keyword near me] is better than [keywords near me], you’ll need a different tool.

Lastly, the tool uses broad definitions of words like “competition,” which doesn’t tell you who is ranking for the term, how much they’re investing to hold that ranking, or how likely you are to unseat them from their coveted top 10 rankings.

That being said, it’s an excellent tool if you just want to get a quick look or fresh ideas, if you’d like to use an API and create your own tools, or simply prefer to do the other tasks yourself.

2. Keyword.io

Cost: Free, $29 per month, and $49 per month.

If Google’s Keyword Planner isn’t quite enough, but you’re on a tight budget, Keyword.io may be the alternative you need. It also has different features.

Keyword.io uses autocomplete APIs to pull basic data for several sites and search engines, including Google, Amazon, eBay, Bing, Wikipedia, Alibaba, YouTube, Yandex, Fiverr, and Fotolia. This is perfect for niche clients and meeting specific needs.

It also has a Question/Intent Generator, an interactive topic explorer, and a topical overview tool.

In its user interface (UI), you’ll find an easy-to-use filter system and a chart that includes the competition, search volume, CPC, and a few other details about your chosen keywords.

It does have some limits, however.

You can run up to 20,000 keywords per seed with a limit of 100 requests per day (five per minute) or 1,000 requests per day (10 per minute) on its paid plans.

Its API access, related keywords tool, Google Ad data, and other features are also limited to paid accounts.

3. Semrush

Semrush's keyword toolScreenshot from Semrush

Cost: $119.95 to $449.95 per month.

In its digital marketing suite, Semrush offers a collection of six keyword tools and four competitive analysis tools with a database of more than 21 billion keywords.

You can get a full overview of the keywords you’re watching, including paid and organic search volume, intent, competition, CPC, historical data, SERP analysis, and more.

You’ll get related keywords and questions, as well as a ton of guidance, ideas, and suggestions from the Semrush Magic, Position Tracking, and Organic Traffic Insights tools.

The Keyword Planner, however, is where much of the magic happens.

The organic competitor tab makes it easy to spot content and keyword gaps. Expand them and develop clusters that will help you grab traffic and conversions.

You can also see long-tail keyword data and other data to see what Page 1 holds regarding competition, difficulty, and opportunities at a broad or hyperlocal level.

The full suite of tools is a huge benefit. Teams can collaborate, share insights, and plan.

The seamless integration allows you to integrate your data, meaning teams can easily collaborate, share insights, and strategize.

And when you’re done, it can track everything you need for a successful digital marketing strategy.

Some of the tools they offer include:

  • On-page SEO tools.
  • Competitive analysis suite.
  • Log file analysis.
  • Site auditing.
  • Content marketing tools.
  • Marketing analysis.
  • Paid advertising tools.
  • Local SEO tools.
  • Rank tracking.
  • Social media management.
  • Link-building tools.
  • Amazon marketing tools.
  • Website monetization tools.

Semrush’s best features when it comes to keyword research are its historical information and PPC metrics.

You can deep dive into campaigns and keywords to unlock the secrets of the SERPs and provide agency or in-house teams with priceless information they don’t usually access.

4. Moz Keyword Explorer

Keyword Research Tool From MozScreenshot from Moz, January 2023

Cost: Free for 10 queries per month. $99-$599 per month.

With a database of more than 500 million keywords, Moz Keyword Explorer may be a great option if you’re looking to build a strategy rather than get a quick view of the data for a few keywords.

Moz has long been a leader in the SEO space.

Constantly updating and improving its Keyword Explorer Tool and its other core services, Moz keeps up with the trends and is well known for providing SEO professionals with the latest tools. And it has done so for more than a decade.

Like the Google Keyword Tool, Moz’s keyword planning tool provides information on the difficulty and monthly search volume for terms. It also lets you drill down geographically.

When you start, you’ll find the Keyword Overview, which provides monthly search volumes, ranking difficulty, organic click-through opportunities, and an estimated priority level.

You can also:

  • Find new relevant keywords you should be targeting but aren’t.
  • Learn how your site performs for keywords.
  • Find areas where you can improve your SEO (including quick wins and larger investments).
  • Prioritize keywords for efficient strategy creation.
  • Top SERP analysis and features.
  • Competitor analysis.
  • Organic click-through rates.

Unlike the Google Keyword Tool, however, Moz supplies you with data beyond the basics. Think of it like keyword research and SERP analysis.

Moz does tend to have fewer keyword suggestions. And like Google’s Keyword Planner, it provides range estimates for search data rather than a specific number.

However, the database is updated frequently, so you can feel confident that you’re keeping up with the constant change in consumer search habits and rankings.

Plus, it’s easy to use, so teams can quickly take care of marketing tasks like finding opportunities, tracking performance, identifying problem areas, and gathering page-level details.

Moz also offers several other tools to help you get your site on track and ahead of the competition, but we really like it for its keyword research and flexibility.

5. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Cost: $99-$999 per month.

If I had to describe Ahrefs in one word, it would be power.

Enter a word into the search box, and you’re presented with multiple panels that can tell you everything you want to know about that keyword.

Total search volume, clicks, difficulty, the SERP features, and even a volume-difficulty distribution. And while it may look like a lot, all the information is well-organized and clearly presented.

Ahrefs provides terms in a parent-child topic format, providing the terms with context, so you can easily learn more about the terms, such as intent, while identifying overlap and keeping it all easy to find and understand.

These topics appear when you search for a related term, including the term’s ranking on the SERP, SERP result type, first-page ranking difficulty scores, and a snapshot of the user-delivered SERP. You can stay broad or narrow it all down by city or language.

Ahrefs can get a bit expensive. Agencies may find it difficult to scale if they prefer several user or client accounts, but it’s still one of the best and most reliable keyword research tools on the market.

What I really like about Ahrefs is that it’s thorough. It has one of the largest databases of all the tools available (19.2 billion keywords, 10 search engines, and 242 countries at the time of writing), and it’s regularly updated.

It makes international SEO strategies a breeze and includes data for everything from Google and Bing to YouTube and Amazon.

Plus, they clearly explain their metrics and database. And that level of transparency means trust.

Other tools in the suite include:

  • Site Explorer.
  • Site auditing.
  • Rank tracking.
  • Content Explorer.

6. SERanking

SERanking's Keyword Research ToolScreenshot from SERanking, November 2022.

Cost: $23.52-$239 per month, depending on the ranking check and payment frequency.

SERanking shines as a keyword research tool within an all-around SEO toolkit. SERanking helps you keep costs down while offering features that allow agencies to meet clients’ unique needs.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you log in is its intuitive user interface. But this tool isn’t just another pretty online tool.

Its database is robust.

SERanking’s U.S. database includes 887 million keywords, 327 million U.S. domains, and 3 trillion indexed backlinks. And this doesn’t include its expansive European and Asian databases.

The overview page provides a solid look at the data, which includes search volume, the CPC, and a difficulty score.

SERanking also provides lists of related and low-volume keywords if you need inspiration or suggestions, as well as long-tail keyword suggestions with information about SERP features, competition levels, search volume, and other details you need to know to identify new opportunities.

Of course, identifying keywords is only the start of the mystery. How do you turn keywords into conversions? SERanking provides keyword tools that help you answer this question.

You can find out who the competition is in the organic results and see who is buying search ads, as well as details like estimated traffic levels and copies of the ads they’re using.

This allows you to see what’s working, gain insights into the users searching for those terms, and generate new ideas to try.

SERanking offers agency features, such as white labeling, report builders, lead generator, and other features you’ll find helpful.

However, one of the features agencies might find most helpful in keyword research is SERanking’s bulk keyword analysis, which lets you run thousands of keywords and download full reports for all the terms that matter.

Other tools in the SERanking Suite include:

  • Keyword Rank Tracker.
  • Keyword Grouper.
  • Keyword Suggestions and Search Volume Checker.
  • Index Status checker.
  • Backlink Checker.
  • Backlink monitoring.
  • Competitive research tool.
  • Website auditing tool.
  • On-page SEO Checker.
  • Page Changes Monitor.
  • Social media analytics.
  • Traffic analysis.

SERanking is more affordable than some of the other tools out there, but it does come at a cost.

It isn’t as robust as some of its competitors and doesn’t get as granular in the same way, but it still provides the features and data you need to create a successful SEO strategy.

And with its flexible pricing, this tool is well worth considering.

7. BrightEdge Data Cube

Cost: Custom pricing model.

If you’re looking for an AI-powered digital marketing tool suite that includes a quality research tool, BrightEdge may be the right option for you.

Unlike other tools that focus on supplying you with data and ways to analyze that data, BrightEdge looks to do much of the time-consuming analysis for you.

Among its search, content, social, local, and mobile solutions, you’ll find Data Cube – an AI-backed content and keyword tool that uses natural language processing to find related topics and keywords.

You’ll also encounter DataMind, an AI that helps you find search trends, changes in consumer behaviors, and important competitor movements you need to know about.

The two together make it quick and easy to perform keyword research, build out topics, create content strategies, and strengthen your SEO plans.

Once you enter a topic or broad keyword, the tool will provide you with relevant keywords, the search volume, competition levels, keyword value, it’s universal listing, and the number of words in the phrase.

Filter the results by a custom set of criteria to narrow the list down and get the necessary information.

Once you have a list, select the ones you want to keep and download them or use them with BrightEdge’s other tools to create full strategies and gain more insights.

This could include competitor analysis, analyzing SERP features, intent, or other tasks.

For agencies that provide local SEO, BrightEdge also offers HyperLocal, which helps you find and track keywords and keyword performance at the local level.

When you’re done, give the Opportunity Forecasting and tracking tools a try to monitor your progress and provide clients with the information they care about.

Perhaps the nicest feature for agencies is its Storybuilder – a reporting tool that allows you to create rich client reports that provide clients with targeted overviews and the data they’re most interested in.

If this sounds like the right tool for you, the company gives demos, but there are a few things you should consider.

First, it only updates once per month. And while the company keeps its pricing close to the chest, this digital marketing tool suite is a significant investment. It may not be the best choice if keyword research is the only thing you need.

Secondly, while the tools are highly sophisticated and refined, there is a learning curve to get started.

You’ll also discover that there are limits on features like keyword tracking, and it can be time-consuming to set up, with some adjustments requiring technical support.

Lastly, BrightEdge’s keyword research tool doesn’t let you get too far into the weeds and doesn’t include PPC traffic.

That aside, agencies and larger brands will find that it scales easily, has a beautifully designed UI, and makes you look great to clients.

The Best Agency SEO Keyword Research Tools

This list only contains seven of the many tools available today to help you get your keyword research done to an expert degree.

But no matter how many of the tools we share with you or which ones, it’s important to understand that none are flawless.

Each tool has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, so selecting a platform is very much dependent on the types of clients that you typically work with and personal preference.

In reality, you’ll likely find that you prefer to work between a few tools to accomplish everything you’d like.

Google Keyword Planner and Keyword.io are top choices when you want a quick look at the data, or you’d like to export the data to work on elsewhere. You may even want to use this data with the other tools mentioned in this chapter.

Ahrefs, Moz, Semrush, and BrightEdge are far more robust and are better suited to agency SEO tasks.

While not free (although they offer free plans or a trial period except BrightEdge), they allow you to really dig into the search space, ultimately resulting in higher traffic, more conversions, and stronger SEO strategies. These benefits require more time and often come with a learning curve.

By far, the most important keyword research tool you have access to is you.

Keyword research is more than simply choosing the keywords with the biggest search volume or the phrase with the lowest Cost Per Click (CPC).

It’s your expertise, experience, knowledge, and insights that transform data into digital marketing you can be proud of.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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