Competitive Research and Other SEO Tools

This is the fourth and final part of a series covering search engine optimization tools. In this article we cover competitive research tools, pay per click tools, professional software and several other tools.

Competitive Research Tools

Please keep in mind that most tools are geared to the US, so there may be limited data for .ca, or other country domains.

Take the data provided by those tools with a grain of salt. Search engines don’t share their data with anyone, so these tools scrape the Internet with their own spiders and buy data sets from Internet service providers.

SEMRUSH – This is a tool from the creators of SEO Digger and SEO Quake. With this tool you can see which keywords send referrals to a specific domain, the approximate daily/monthly cost of those keywords on AdWords, the potential competitors for keywords on organic search and AdWords, the average search volume of the keyword, keyword traffic percentage in relation to the overall traffic of the website, number of results for the keyword and more.

I found their AdWords price estimates to be somewhat inaccurate. On the bright side, this tool gives a really good overview of the competitive landscape for a keyword of your choice. Search with your phrase and SEMRUSH will produce the first 10 competitors on organic search results, common keywords for those competitors and sites that bid on those keywords on AdWords (plus other keywords they bid on). Their data comes from the Google keyword tool and Google search results. Tool cost is $15 – $40 per 1,000 – 10,000 results.

Trellian Competitive Intelligence – From the creators of Keyword Discovery, this tool set consists of six different apps: Link Intelligence, Search Term Intelligence, Campaign Intelligence, Benchmarking, Keyword Rankings and Affiliate Partners. I have not tried these tools, but Trellian is known for quality products. Cost: US$249.95 ($150 once-off setup plus $99.95 per month per domain) OR $995 per year per domain.

Spyfu – Enter a domain name (your own or a competitor’s) and it will produce daily budget estimates, estimated total clicks per day, average cost per click, average clicks per day, average ad position, organic keywords for which the site ranks (this is a good statistic), paid keywords (also useful), top organic competitors and top ad competitors.

Perhaps the most valuable of all statistics is the number of organic keywords for which the site ranks. Instantly you can see how powerful the domain is and some of the keywords you should be targeting. When it comes to price estimates, take them with a grain of salt, since none of the search engines actually share this information, and tools like Spyfu have to come up with their own systems.

KeyCompete – This tool is very simple. Enter your keyword and it will produce domains that rank for that keyword. Enter a domain name and it will show all the keywords for which it ranks. Free results are limited to five, and each report is $10. Answering the question “where do you get data?” KeyCompete says: "KeyCompete is powered by proprietary technology that constantly extracts data from search engines and other sources like Alexa and Wikipedia." They deploy their scrapers and gather the results.

SEO Digger – Enter a domain name and SEO Digger will produce keywords and search positions for which the domain ranks on Google’s search results. I find it very useful since you can see the keywords for which a domain ranks in an instant. It’s sorted by default from the number one position to 20 (and lower), so you can see if the domain ranks for any of the competitive words.

Compete – We covered Compete in the previous article, but they are worth mentioning again.

Hitwise -This is by far the most expensive competitive research tool you’ll ever get your hands on. Prepare to pay something like $10,000 – $50,000 for this tool. When it comes to features, though, there’s no match. If you would like to find out, watch their video presentation or read a review here on by Terri Wells.

{mospagebreak title=Pay Per Click Tools}

Google Traffic Estimator – This tool lets you check out the approximate keyword prices on AdWords for different countries on different languages. It shows the estimated cost per click, estimated ad positions, estimated number of clicks and estimated cost per day.

 You can also enter your daily budget and the tool will estimate your average number of clicks with that budget. By default it shows data for 1 – 3 spots, but if you’re new don’t expect to hold those until you gain good CTR and quality score.

Google Website Optimizer – This tool lets you set up split tests for your advertisements. Split tests show different ads to different users.

For instance, when user #1 clicks on the ad he is directed to X landing page. When user #2 clicks on the ad, he is directed Y landing page. X and Y landing pages are different (layout, text, pictures, buttons, etc), and Google Website Optimizer keeps track of both.

Once the testing is finished, the tool reports which of the landing page had the most conversions. If X delivered a five percent conversion rate and Y only yielded two percent, then X is more effective.

There are options to do A/B split test or run up to 16 variations of the landing page at once. Future Now has a good book dedicated solely to Google Website Optimizer called Always Be Testing.

{mospagebreak title=PPC Management Tools}

Please keep in mind that PPC management tools are only useful if you’re running several campaigns on several platforms. For instance, if you use Yahoo Search Marketing, AdWords and AdCenter, you must log in to three different accounts to manage changes and track results. This takes time.

PPC management tools compile all management into one account and let you change bids, track results and edit ads from one spot.

If you’re only using AdWords, there’s no real benefit to using another platform to manage it, but if you’re running campaigns on several networks, it makes sense to centralize everything.

PPC BidMax 5 – Manage Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter campaigns from one interface. Features include account management (for all three PPC platforms), campaign management, ad group management, automated bidding, ROI tracking and more. This is useful if you’re really spending money on PPC. Try this tool before spending money, since it has competitors, some of which are listed here.

Keyword Max – Manage AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, Miva, Kanoodle and others. The tool is pretty old, and the site has not been updated for a while. For instance, one testimonial states “The most common complaint we hear is ‘I’m spending too much, and I want to quit using Overture/AdWords.'” As you know, Overture was purchased by Yahoo a few years ago. I also did not find anything on the site mentioning AdCenter. Of course, they may simply have never gotten around to updating the site, but I get the feeling that their tool is somewhat out of date.

BidHero – According to their site, they only support AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing at the moment. The product is from Clicktracks, which is an online analytics vendor.

BidRank – This is another PPC management system.

Various SEO-Related Tools

Xinu – Quickly check PR, backlinks, social bookmarks and indexed pages with this tool. It gives quick snippets of information about a website. The syndication tab does not work, even for site that clearly has RSS.

Web Archive – Find out what your competitors’ pages looked like in the past with this tool. See changes to page titles and page content. This tool is also a good time killer, as you can explore sites from 10 years ago.

RoboForm – This tool saves a lot of time with directory submissions by automatically filling out the fields for you. It’s also good for frequent online shoppers. It costs only $29.95 and is used by many link builders. If you do use this tool for directory submissions, please remember to change titles and descriptions, since Google can track duplicity.

Domain Tools – Use this to check domain registration information (from WHOIS), some basic page info (links, images, title, etc), registry date, expiry, and so forth.

Domain Age Check – Check the domain before purchasing. Old domains are trusted more than new ones (and often cost lot more).

{mospagebreak title=Professional Tools}

Here you can find a list of professional tools used by web developers, SEO professionals, designer and writers.

Dreamweaver – This software package is the industry standard for HTML and CSS design. The latest version is deeply integrated with Photoshop; you can edit images in Photoshop and instantly see changes in Dreamweaver. Though its rivals include Front Page and Expression Web, this is THE tool for your web editing.

Photoshop – The term “photoshopped” is now synonymous with image editing, as “googled” is with search.

Microsoft Office -Some consider this suite the dinosaur of office software, but it’s still the best.

Open Office – If you can’t or don’t want to dish out several hundred bucks for the Microsoft Office suite, get this free, open source software. It’s equivalent to Microsoft’s suite in terms of features, and it includes a powerful PDF converter. You can edit Word files and convert them to PDF. Suite includes counterparts to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.

Find Even More Tools

You can find even more search engine optimization tools here:

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