You Have Been Doing Content Research Wrong… Now Do It Right!

Alright, so the title of this post might be a little clickbaity for my tastes. But I stand behind the statement: you are probably researching your articles the "wrong" way. Or, you are at least probably not going it as efficiently as you could be… which could be detrimental to both the results of your work, and your overall productivity.

The Stages Of Article Research

Unlike academic research, which we all learn in school and often get bogged down in, online content research is pretty simple. Unfortunately it is that simplicity that can often lead to mistakes, or just bare facts that don’t hold as much detail as our readers could use.

Instead of doing the usual source citation, you should break your research down into two stages. The first is the research you do before, and the second is the research you do during the article writing process.

Pre-Research

Before you write is the pre-research, as in pre-writing. This is where you are going to find your general facts that will support your post. This is also where you are going to draw your primary sources, which will be linked through the body of your content.

I always prefer to follow the 3x rule. You want to find three times as many sources as you will use, and pair them against one another. You keep finding sources in batches of three until you are able to verify each against one another.

This is a simple way to ensure you are finding non-biased, verifiable facts, and not baseless opinions. With misinformation running rampant thanks to lazy bloggers and social media, this is a very important process.

You don’t want to become one of those bloggers posting factual inaccuracies like they are gospel truth. Not only does this add to a serious problem in online content creation, but it impacts your authority. We all know how important that authority is to the growth of a brand.

Your article is going to be broken into sections and subheadings. These will steer your research in many ways giving you more ideas which angles and problems to cover. SERPstat is a great tool letting you research niche questions:

SERPstat keywords

All of these questions may become subheadings of your future article (or inspire follow-up articles). You can export them in Excel and sort them into "existing content", "currently working on" and "future articles".

Supporting Research

Next, you have the research you do while you are creating your post. These are supporting details related to the above citations you have found. It is also where you will narrow down the links you intend to embed, if you don’t choose all three supporting posts.

This part is much simpler, and it more about giving readers additional information to follow. Sometimes I just provide a small masterlist of links for more data if the reader chooses, so I can focus more the quality of the content.

6 Tools To Make Research a Breeze

First Site Guide has a neat guide on how to brainstorm, research and creat different types of content. And here are a few tools to help out:

  1. Google Drive Research Box – I use Google Drive for pretty much everything, including writing and backing up posts. I find it much more manageable than other cloud services. One of the features I love best is the research box. You highlight a keyword or phrase, and right click. It will have an option to research the highlighted section. This brings up a side box with related sources, which you can view right in your screen. Because it uses Google results you have to be just as selective as you would be from a straight search, but it is much more convenient.
  2. Freemind – This is a great tool if you are dealing with a large post that is going to have a lot of involved research. Breaking the task down into simpler, smaller parts is a tried and true tactic. Freemind is a mindmapper tool that lets you do that. You can plan out the entire post, including linking sources so everything you need ends up in one place. All using a template that lets you easily move, edit and reformat before you ever get to the writing process.
  3. Bulk Suggest Tool – You may be wondering what an SEO tool is doing here. After all, this is about researching for articles, not for marketing. I would argue that they are technically in the same vein, but that isn’t why I included it. I have used this bulk keyword suggestion app to create lists of related key phrases I may not have thought of. This helps me to broaden my research based on what people have published or searched for online. So I may end up with sources I never would have found, because I wasn’t using the right combination of keywords.
  4. Digital Research Tool (DiRT)  – This is a fantastic masterlist of tools aimed at scholars, especially those in the social science and humanities. However, I think it is a great place for bloggers to find research tools they need for any number of purposes. They are broken down into categories, which you can select on the front page. You are then taken to the tool that is best for the job at hand. It is the best collection of research redirects I have ever found, and much more efficient than trying to keep track of everything on your own.
  5. Quora – Normally I would avoid social media like the plague when it comes to research. There is just too much garbage floating around, and opinion outweighs facts and logic at almost all times. But I will make an exception for Quora. In spite the fact that it is a platform that is very easy to abuse, it is full of genuine experts with backed up information. It requires you to offer well thought out answers, and to provide a source or reason for your knowledge. I go there all the time to find great links to scholarly articles, studies, website tools, or to get first hand soundbites from major players in the industry that know about topics first hand.
  6. MyBlogU – Speaking of experts, MyBlogU is another great place to find them. I usually go here for expert quotes as part of the secondary research process (finding backup information and supporting details). It is an easy way to add further gravity to something you have already officially cited, straight from the mouths of the people who know best.

Do you have a research tool to put on the list? Let us know in the comments!

The Ultimate List of World’s Smartest Keyword Rank Tracking Tools

Most SEOs are always in search of effective tools to monitor their website rankings in search engines for target keywords. Keyword rank tracking is a usual and common SEO practice by internet marketers and bloggers to find out how their web pages are appearing on search engine results for queries they want to appear for.

Great rank checkers give you an idea how well website rankings are going on over time and how well your site optimization efforts are progressing against your competitors. Everything starts with site rankings! There are no traffic and conversions without rankings. Therefore, the higher your website rankings are, the more traffic you can get on your website.

SEO is a great market that provides a great number of tools to check your keyword rankings and handle your daily tasks. In this post we will show you the smartest rank tracking tools on the market.

#1. SE Ranking

SE Ranking is my favorite seo tool from the list we use every day and recommend to include it in every search marketer’s tool chest.

It is possible to check local and mobile rankings, get extra data on your selected keywords (search volume, AdWords suggestion bid, KEI parameter and results returned by Google), spot Top 10 competitors in order to track their results and add extra users to your account with access to all the data you want them to see.

With its easy-to-use and simple interface, SE Ranking allows to check site positions in Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines. After getting ranking results, you have the option to export them to White Label reports in .pdf, .csv, .html and .xls formats.

My favorite features of SE Ranking are the ability to check unlimited number of websites and a great number of keywords at once and the convenience to check out which search queries are in the top, left top 10 and entered top 10. You can check out the software within a free 14-day trial.

#2.  Web CEO

Web CEO is a great rank checker that helps to check not only website keyword rankings, but find out the rankings of your competitors. The tool allows tracking all rankings like organic search results, vertical listings, ads as well as it tracks your website rankings on desktop and mobile devices.

I love Web CEO for the option to check YouTube rankings, as YouTube is now the second video search engine in the world that helps to promote your company. All results can be provided in PDF format with your logo and brand name that gives a touch of professionalism and elegance in eyes of your clients. The too is free to use, but with additional restrictions.

#3. Rank Watch

Rank Watch is one of the most powerful and accurate tools that carefully calculates your keyword rankings at once. It enables not only showing your current, highest and initial rankings with search volumes, but also keeps your historical rankings that are a huge benefit for SEO experts to have historical and competitive intelligence for certain search queries.

With Rank Watch, you can track site ranking as precise as possible with the specific city on which you want to track. The tools offer users a wide range of fully customizable and branded reports with your company logo and brand name and with the ability to schedule reports for delivery on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. To check out the best features, you can start a free 14-day trial.

#4. RankTrackr

Rank Trackr has one of the greatest layouts that you can ever find in a rank tracking tool. The tool uses the most advanced approaches to access ranking results for local tracking with precise accuracy in an area using a certain region, city and zip code. It gives a great ability to filter keywords that are doing the most progress for your website.

I love RankTrackr for the ability to track any form of ranking such as organic search results, local map results, and images. You can try out a 10-day free trial without obligations.

#5. Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker is a free tool that has one of the smartest interfaces of all rank tracking tools that I have ever used before. It has a simple and easy-to-use dashboard that displays all search queries how they rank on search engines and how they have changed over time.

If you need to optimize your site, the tool has a great keyword suggestion tool that helps you disclose best and profitable keywords for you. One of the greatest features is that Rank Tracker monitors site rankings on all localized versions of search engine and even on additional ones like Yandex, Ask.com, and Alexa.

Over to you

Now you have a clear idea what rank tracking tools should better get to work. The quicker you work, the quicker you get results. I can’t deny that there are other SEO tools that can help you monitor site rankings in search engines. You can just look through suggested tools and check out the best features.

If you use other rank tracking tool that works well for you, let us know in the comments below!

How To Use the New @SPYFU for Smart Competitor Analysis

The point of a competitor analysis is NOT to copy moves or strategies. Rather, it’s to FIND OUT what your rivals are good at to come up with better techniques.

There are hundreds of tools out there for competitor analysis. Some are free, most are not. One of our favorite tools is SPYFU; which we have been using since 2013 for our keyword research needs. They recently released a new version that lets digital marketers do more than keyword research.

Whether you’re new to SEO or are already an expert, use this tool for competitor research. Here’s how to perform competitor analysis on the three core elements of search engine marketing using the updated SPYFU.

Employ Clever Keyword Research

Don’t remove keywords from your campaign just yet. While modern SEO does not focus on them as much as we used to, they are still important for search queries and ranking. And when it comes to keywords, no one does it better than SPYFU. Faster, smarter, and more streamlined: you can quickly see which of your competitor’s keywords are ranking.

Go as far back as six years’ worth of data if you wish. Their new layout makes it easy to view how many terms gained in ranking, and which ones are losing. Plus, compare up to three competitors with their KOMBAT feature.

Description: spyfu.overview.jpg

There are three things you want to look for when using this tool: keyword gainers (those that are ranking), exclusive keywords (terms you rank for, but NOT your competitors), and shared keywords (terms your competitors are ranking for, but YOU don’t).

Your goal is to keep your keyword gainers on the first page of search engines, like Google. Next, work on your exclusive keywords so they rank on the first page (if they haven’t yet). Remember: these terms are unique to YOU – so leverage them properly. Then, look at the shared keywords from two of your biggest competitors. Use the EXPORT function to save this list for further study.

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Beat Them with Backlinks

What’s great about the new SPYFU is that it allows you to analyze the other factors of SEO, such as BACKLINKS. This makes it a one-stop tool for all your online marketing needs.

Now that you have a list of Shared Keywords, choose 5 – 10 phrases that you want to focus on, and then check on their backlinks. Use filters to refine your results. What type of backlinks are they? Why are your rivals ranking for them, but not you? Are they worth pursuing? How can you penetrate them?

Description: spyfu-backlinks.jpg

Your goal is to know WHERE they are putting these keywords, so that you can utilize this to your benefit. For instance: upon studying the keyword ‘seo companies los angeles’, we found that one of the backlinks points to an article from a high-ranking website. This means that our competitors are using informative posts to gain quality links using the given keyword.

Description: spyfu-backlink-sample.jpg

With this knowledge, you have two options: one is to post on the same website; second, is to gather similar sites and publish there. This gives you a chance to rank HIGHER for those shared keywords. Either way, now you know your competitor’s secret.

Less Stress – More Productivity

A smart competitor analysis eliminates the stress of creating new strategies and having to test them. Instead, know what has worked for the most successful brands, and experiment around those. Tweak existing tactics to suit YOUR business needs. There are limitless resources out there that a lot of companies are using all the time. All one has to do is to spot them.