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The Only 3 Keyword Monitoring Tools You Need

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The Only 3 Keyword Monitoring Tools You Need

Keyword monitoring has two aspects. One is about tracking a page’s position in the search results, and the other is about monitoring websites and social media for the occurrence of certain keywords.

Hence, marketers use keyword monitoring tools for two purposes:

In this article, I’ll go through three tools you’ll need to get both jobs done (and even a bit more).

Featured tool: Ahrefs 

Ahrefs is a complete SEO tool. You can use it not only for keyword monitoring but also for your entire SEO strategy.

The key factor that makes Ahrefs stand out is data quality. It has one of the busiest web crawlers in the world and the most active one in the entire SEO industry (study). It also features a huge keyword database of over 22 billion keywords, including the biggest keyword database for the U.S. market (more about our data). 

Cloudflare's ranking of web crawlers featuring AhrefsBot

What this means is that whenever you check on your or your competitors’ keyword rankings, you can be sure you’re looking at best-in-class data quality. 

Note

Couldn’t I just check rankings on Google manually? Not really. 

Google is known to personalize search results for each user (even in “incognito” mode), so you wouldn’t be looking at the most objective data. Plus, Google search doesn’t offer a ranking history, and it’s not an efficient method for tracking multiple keywords.

Key use cases

Ahrefs offers three tools within the suite that help with keyword monitoring: Rank Tracker, Site Explorer, and Ahrefs Alerts. 

Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker 

Rank Tracker is the main tool to closely monitor your keywords and see your ranking progress in time. 

You just plug in a keyword or a list of keywords, choose the location and language you want to monitor, and Ahrefs will start to gather data for you. 

Adding keywords to track in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

Once the data starts rolling in, you will get weekly position updates by default. You can also get daily updates if you want to check your ranking progress more often. 

The key metrics to check in Rank Tracker are share of voice, position (web and mobile), traffic, and SERP features. You can analyze particular keywords or tag your keywords to analyze them in bulk. 

Analyzing keywords in bulk in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker
Tagging keywords allows you to analyze keywords in bulk.

For example, you can use this data to spot declining content that could use an update. 

Spotting declining content in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

And if you want to see how you stack up against your competitors in Google, there’s a special report for that offering a comparison in all the key metrics. 

Competitors report in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

Ahrefs’ Site Explorer 

Want to see the keywords a website ranks for? Open up Site Explorer and check out the Organic keywords report. You will get an insight into their ranking history too. 

Ranking history in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can also check what keywords your competitors bid for and where they send their paid traffic with the Paid keywords report. 

Paid keywords report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Ahrefs Alerts 

Ahrefs Alerts is a tool for automated email notifications. It’s perfect for keyword monitoring because it allows you to:

  • Be notified when a site ranks for new keywords.
  • Be notified of new content that contains a keyword or a search query. 
  • See new mentions of your brand and products. 

For example, you can use it to monitor the web for pages that mention your competitors but don’t mention you. You can also set additional filters, such as Domain Rating and website traffic, to save you some time on link building

Setting up a mention alert in Ahrefs Alerts

Note

Want to check unlinked mentions of your brand and products? Use another tool in the Ahrefs suite: Web Explorer

Finding unlinked mentions using Ahrefs' Web Explorer

Pricing 

Ahrefs starts at $99/month, and you can get two months free if you pay annually.

There are also two free options available: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools allows you to use Site Explorer functionality for the websites you own (among other features), and our keyword rank checker allows you to quickly check a site’s position in any country for a given keyword. 

2. Media monitoring tool 

Featured tool: Mention

Mention is the kind of tool you’d want to use to see who talks about your brand or your competitors online and what they say. It’s what social media managers and PR professionals use daily. 

This tool is designed to monitor social media, forums, and conventional webpages. On higher plans, you can even monitor a selection of TV and radio outlets. 

Sidenote.

Do keep in mind that SEO and media monitoring tools may have some overlapping features, but they are built for different marketing channels (organic search and social media, respectively).

Key use cases 

Here are some of the ways Mention can help monitor online conversations about your keywords: 

Analyze keyword mentions across multiple platforms

If you’d like to not only see but also analyze your online mentions, Mention allows you to:

  • See keyword popularity in time. 
  • Get a sentiment analysis. 
  • Get a breakdown of the sources. 
  • See countries where your keywords were mentioned. 

It all starts with defining what you’re after, and this tool lets you be as specific as possible. Apart from the standard boolean operators, you can even specify the proximity of words or phrases. 

For example, I can set a keyword alert that reports conversations in the U.S. about Ahrefs’ data where the words “ahrefs” and “data” are within six words of each other. 

Setting up an alert in Mention

What I especially like about Mention is the custom reports feature. You can mix and match whatever insights Mention offers and collate them into a single report. 

For instance, here you can see a comparison of “Apple Vision Pro” and “Meta Quest Pro” in the sentiment and sources dimensions on one report.

Custom report in Mention

It’s also worth mentioning the sources where Mention can look for your keywords. Here’s a complete list:

Sources on Mention
TikTok, YouTube, Radio, TV, and more are available on higher plans.

See influencers interacting with your keywords 

Mention has a special feature for influencer analysis.

You can use it to create a report of notable influencers talking about your brand. Or you can find people interested in what you do and make a list of potential partners. 

Influencer report in Mention
Example influencer report showing only positive mentions of influencers with a score of >20.

Respond to mentions of your brand and products

Social media teams will love this feature. When you spot an interesting mention, you can assign it to another person, and they can respond right inside the app. 

"Assign" feature in Mention

Pricing 

Mention starts at $49/month. You can get two months free if you pay annually. 

Featured tool: Glimpse (the Chrome extension)

Glimpse is designed to make your life easier if you need to:

  • Quickly react to keyword trend changes.
  • Base your decisions on possible future trends. 
  • Monitor your niche for trending keywords. 

If you’ve ever used Google Trends, Glimpse will feel familiar. It’s a tool that works on top of Google Trends, enhancing it with additional data and features such as channel breakdown or trend forecast. 

Note

Could you just use the free Google Trends instead? Sure, although I think you’d be missing out on a lot. But don’t just take my word for it. Get Glimpse, then try to switch it off for a while and see if you can live without it.

Glimpse's on/off button in Google Trends

Key use cases

Here’s how a trend tracking tool can bring keyword monitoring to a higher level: 

Discover and track trending keywords in your niche 

Glimpse offers another level of keyword monitoring: niche monitoring. 

Head on to the “Discover” tab, find your niche, and the tool will uncover relevant keywords that have been gaining momentum. A nice touch to this report is the branded keyword indicator—a helpful suggestion for SEO. 

"Discover" tab in Glimpse

Discover is a helpful feature for those of you working in e-commerce and content creators who like to cover “hot” topics. And although it can’t substitute market research, it can be a good starting point for new product ideas. 

Once you find a topic that interests you, you can set an alert for it, and Glimpse will notify you of any trend changes. 

Trend tracking in Glimpse

Gauge a keyword’s popularity in various channels 

If you need to analyze a given keyword’s popularity, Glimpse allows you to:

  • See “into the future” with the trend forecasting feature. 
  • See keyword popularity across social media channels. 
  • See back as far as 2004 (for some keywords) if you want to study the long-term trend.

For example, a marketing agency could use this feature to suggest the most suitable social media channels for promoting a specific product or service.

Keyword popularity—social media channels breakdown

Glimpse + Ahrefs 

Trending keywords found in Glimpse can be a great start for keyword research carried out in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer (part of the Ahrefs toolkit). 

For example, Glimpse hinted that “wide toe shoes” is a trending keyword. Plugging that keyword into Keywords Explorer tells us there’s another keyword that essentially means the same thing but has a higher search demand in Google: “wide toe box shoes.”

Keyword overview in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This means you can target this keyword instead and get more traffic. 

And so, starting our keyword research from “wide toe box shoes,” we can get insight into:

  • Keyword Difficulty.
  • Dominating search intent.
  • Secondary keywords we can include in the content. 
  • Other related keywords we can create separate content for (a few examples below). 
  • Other content ideas from sites that rank for “wide toe box shoes.”

And more. 

Example keywords related to the topic
A quick selection of related keywords Ahrefs found for “wide toe box shoes.”

Pricing 

Glimpse (the Google Trends extension) starts at $49/month, and you can get two months free if you pay annually. 

You can also get a small piece of its functionality for free within five searches per month. 

Final thoughts 

For SEO and social media keyword monitoring, two tools will get you fully covered: Ahrefs and Mention. 

But if you want to study the trends to get an additional edge, get Glimpse too. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter or Mastodon.



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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

Featured Image: rafapress/Shutterstock

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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