6 Amazing Tools to Estimate Your SEO Potential

Modern marketing is all about data. Forecasts, ROIs, opportunities and revenues are solely sales metrics. Marketing become data-driven and you need tools to derive and evaluate this data. 

SEO takes pretty good chunk of the marketing budget and have to be accurately estimated. However,  the ROI for SEO is very hard to predict. There are not that many tools out there that can help you with calculating SEO potential but here are some that are very helpful.

#1. SE Ranking

SE Ranking is a modern seo software that comes with many sophisticated features including SEO Potential. The tool would be useful to those that deal with SEO budgets or calculate and predicts outcomes of the marketing campaigns. SEO freelancers and digital agencies will really appreciate this instrument. SEO potential uses a formula that estimates  ROI of your SEO investments. If you are familiar with SE Ranking platform, here is where you can find this tool:

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Using SEO Potential  you can forecast how many clicks you can receive based on your ranking in search results, what traffic volume you can reach and how many leads you can get and how much it will cost. You can export the report and present it to your executive team or the prospective clients.

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#2. Alexa

Alexa is a great tool that helps you compare different website traffic and traffic trends. The tool is interesting to use for comparing large sites within your industry. It is not great to use for small and medium sites.

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Accuracy is a major concern though, as the numbers are not always useful for forecasting traffic on their own. It is not bad at foretelling the trends for a site but the charts are hard to make any real use of. The demographic insights could also be valuable.

#3. Quantcast

Quantcast demonstrated traffic numbers that are easy to use, shows information in a good way and provides some good demographic information. In comparison with other mentioned tools, it is unable to compare sites and lacks data for small trafficked websites. Although the accuracy remains doubtful for the traffic data, the tool seems very interesting and worth further investigation.

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#4. Google Trends

Google Trends is good at getting broad information and comparing different websites. It includes regional information and gives you detailed data without direct access to your competitor’s analytics account.  The tool provides accurate data on traffic from search.

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#5. Compete

Compete has a great option to compare multiple websites and competitors. It has a user-friendly interface, and the provided data is well-presented and easy to understand. The biggest shortcoming is that the data is not accurate at all, but the trends are fool-proof. You can also look at seasonal trends between competitors and get interesting demographic information.

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#6. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is one of the most powerful tools that help you analyze your competitors and get a well-detailed site analysis in the following aspects: accuracy of prediction, number of websites covered, amount of additional information, etc.

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Similar to other tools, the accuracy is still far from perfect. Regarding small websites, SimilarWeb provides the less reliable results. It seems that the tool overestimates the size of the smaller websites.

Quick note

  1. If your website is US focused, you can use SE Ranking and Compete  as they provide data for the longer period of time.
  2. If you want to get more data about organic traffic, you can use SE Ranking and analyze your site positions in more details.
  3. Quantcast gives you interesting demographic data.
  4. Search for a brand name in Google Trends can show you the seasonality of the traffic for some period of time.

Bottom Line

All of the tools above are useful and valuable depending on your business needs. Personally, I rely most heavily on SE Ranking that helps me predict traffic and estimate website potential.

Do you know other tools to estimate SEO potential? Share your ideas in the comments below.

7 Little-Known Keyword Research Tips You Didn’t See Coming

You should work smart, not hard.

People over intellectualize things.

Keyword research can be hard and time-consuming and mind numbingly boring.

It doesn’t have to be, though.

In fact, all you need is about twenty minutes. So less than the time you waste on Twitter.

And I promise you won’t have to open Excel once.

Deal?

Let’s dive straight in.

Tip #1. Let Google tell you what people are already searching for already

We’ve all been there.

You’re typing something into the Google search bar, pleasantly minding your own business, when Google suddenly feels the need to finish your sentence.

Before you know it, Google’s bombarding you with roughly a billion possible searches via its auto-suggest feature. And this is all before you’ve even hit "Enter."

Irritating? Slightly. Helpful? Extremely.

The good news is that you can reverse engineer this irritating/helpful feature for new keyphrase research ideas.

Let’s take a closer look at how one might go about doing such a thing.

Hypothetically, you decide to create content about CRM tools. You type "best crm" into your search bar…

But before finishing that thought, Google’s already reading your mind.

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Not just your mind. But everyones.

Typing in "best CRM" brings up a sneak peek into the most common CRM-related queries people use most often.

Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP, and you’ll also see a "Searches related to" list. These include other contextually related search queries people often use before or after the one you typed in.

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Google’s "People also ask" feature works the same way.

Start searching for a big, generic keyword like "keyword research," like so:

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And then scroll down towards the bottom.

Right before the "Searches related to" list, you’ll see a few related questions that "People also ask".

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Click on one of the questions and a few more will pop up, over and over and over and over again (until you inevitably get bored).

For all those visual learners out there, we’ll demonstrate this by clicking on the question "What is keyword research in SEO?":

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And that makes these two follow-up questions appear.

If you think about it, these extra questions are really free tips from Google on how you can address all of a user’s questions about your topic in your content.

Gee, thanks, Google!

You know what those look like to me?

Blog post headlines. Subheads at the very least. And definitely some new keywords.

(Zero number crunching required.)

Tip #2. Use "Answer The Public" for nearly endless ideas

You could call it quits after playing that solid game of 20 questions with Google.

But if you just haven’t had enough keyword research yet, drop by Answer the Public before quitting Google Chrome (or, like, Safari, if you’re into that sort of thing).

Like Google’s Auto Suggest, Answer the Public can be used to brainstorm topic ideas. Many of them would have never even occurred to you otherwise.

And it’s free.

You can get started by pulling up the site and entering a new topic, like "keyword research," into the space provided.

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A drop-down menu will ask for your country next to the keyword field.

Select your location and then click "Get Questions" quickly. (That guy with the turtleneck is creeping me out.)

Answer the Public will slowly start revealing new content ideas. (Along with another freaking guy in a turtleneck!)

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From here, you can view three types of results.

  1. Questions results will list ideas in question form such as "which is the best keyword research tool."
  2. Prepositions results will list ideas with prepositions such as "keyword research for blogging."
  3. Alphabetical results will list ideas associated with popular letters, such as "keyword research for ecommerce" as an "e" result.
Highlight the Data tab to cut out all the fancy pants graphics.

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Ahhh, that’s better. Boring table view. You just made a nerdy SEO somewhere super happy.

Now, focus in on some of those who-what-when-where-why queries to get even more specific ideas.

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Then you can look over to the "How" results for ready-made content headlines.

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With this tool, you’re no longer writing content that scratches the surface.

You’re writing an official (dare I say, Definitive) guide for your topic that addresses across-the-board issues and provides the answers that your visitors themselves didn’t even know they wanted.

Tip #3. Use the Google Keyword Planner…(in this unexpected way)

90% of "keyword research" blog posts mention the Google Keyword Planner.

That’s both bad and good.

It’s bad because that tool is useless. Seriously. It sucks. The data is crap.

It’s good because it means you can exit out of that post ASAP and save yourself the wasted time of filling your mind with more garbage. (You already have The Bachelor for that.)

BUT WAIT. Don’t go just yet.

Imma let you finish, but first, let’s use Google Keyword Planner for this one thing trick.

Today, we’re going to borrow ideas from the competition. To be returned at a later date. (Probably never.)

It sounds wrong, but it’s nothing personal.

Stealing your competition’s ideas is a smart way to figure out what’s working well for other people and how you can reverse engineer a similar angle.

So let’s get started.

Pull up the Google’s Keyword Planner and select the first option:

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This is where things get interesting.

You’re not going to fill in your product or service or provide the URL to your landing page. Instead, you’re going to provide the URL to your competitor’s landing page.

Under the Ad group ideas tab, you’ll get results that look similar to this:

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These are suggestions for your competitor that could, and should, be used by you.

Each suggested ad group will be accompanied by a few other bits of information:

  1. Keywords within the group (Helpful.)
  2. The average monthly searches for said ad group (Kinda helpful.)
  3. The competition for this ad group expressed as Low, Medium, or High (Not helpful at all.)
The rest is logic.

You want to use an idea that thousands of people are searching for every month.

The long-tail stuff works well for organic search. But it typically won’t have enough search volume or existing demand to move the needle for you on the paid front.

Tip #4. Pull up Wikipedia for these hidden gems

It was banned from being used as a source in your high school papers. Ridiculed for being unreliable and insufficient.

But you’re out of high school now.

Let’s see how Wikipedia can also help you hack keyword research.

Run along to everyone’s favorite free encyclopedia and type a broad word related to your content into their search bar.

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Now, it’s time to take a cue or two from the table of contents on that page.

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These aren’t just headers on the Wikipedia page. These are topics you could address in your content about SEO.

Thanks to Wikipedia, you now detailed SEO information, like indexing, crawling, white hat versus black hat techniques.

This can help expose you to new ideas that never would have occurred to you. (Canonicalization, anyone?!)

Best of all, you have very credible info right here to help you get started on the content that you’ll eventually use to pull in more search traffic.

Tip #5. Look at what people are already searching for on your site

This time, all you need is your own site.

Chances are, you started this site to provide resources and information to the confused people who need it most (and then turn their problems into profits).

Said confused people are likely going to search for answers within your site when they can’t find what everything they need.

The good news is that you can use your visitors’ unanswered searches to build better content on your site (then turn around and promote those pages).

How you ask?

In a twist, we need Google to help us keep our customers from going back to Google to look for another website.

Irony at its finest.

So let’s get started.

Go to Google Analytics and set up Site Search. On the left, you’ll see the "Behavior" tab. Click that, then "Site Search," then "Search Terms," and then you see this:

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This list view is helpful. To a point.

What would be even more helpful is if you could see what page people searched for each of these queries on.

That would help give you an idea of how to change, modify, or update each page to improve topic targeting.

You could then also expand keyword ideas and campaigns with these new-and-improved pages.

Interested? Follow these steps.

Under "Behavior" and "Site Search," then click on "Overview."

Next, you’ll want to select "Start Page" for your primary dimension. This will list the pages people are searching from.

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Now, your secondary dimension, select "Search Term." This will tell you what your customers have been searching for on those specific pages.

Here’s what that looks like:

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In this example, we can see what people are searching when on the "style" tag page of our hypothetical website.

Congrats! You’ve hacked Google Analytics. Try this with multiple start pages to amass the ultimate list of your next keyword list to test.

Tip #6. Put keywords in context with this free keyword tool (that doesn’t suck)

The first few tips should have dumped dozens of worthy ideas into your lap.

Your welcome.

But now you’ve got a new problem.

Which topic do you start with? How do you prioritize several good ideas?

Well, do I have news for you!

The WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool has undergone some updates to help you figure this out.

New features allow you to tailor your results to provide possible keyword suggestions that apply best to your target demographic.

But wait, there’s more!

The tool also provides a proprietary Opportunity Score that boils down all of the other various keyword metrics (like demand, competition, and cost) to the bare essentials: Priority.

Let’s fire this thing up to see how it works.

Access the tool and type your keyword into the designated box. Next to that, you’ll see a drop-down menu allowing you to select from a variety of industries.

When searching for "click-through rate" keywords, for example, you may be writing for business owners. That means you want to prioritize keywords that business owners are likely to include in their CTR search.

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After selecting your industry, click "Search" and browse the extensive list of suggestions.

You can also switch up the industry if you’d like to appear in the SERPs for multiple audiences.

You could search for computer & electronics-tailored CTR keywords, for example, and the results will update:

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You don’t just want the most popular keywords, after all.

You want the right ones. You want the ones that are going to appeal directly to a specific audience so that they’ll convert after hitting your page.

You can also get information on the competition level, CPC, and opportunity score of your keyword options by connecting to your AdWords account.

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So it will work hand-in-hand with your account, minimizing the time-consuming back-and-forth that often bogs you down.

Here’s an example now of how that would look when your results are sorted not by volume, but the shiny new Opportunity Score.

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Awesome, right?

However, this is only the first step.

There’s one final filtering method to help you prioritize hundreds of brand new keywords you’ve now found.

Tip #7. Segment keyword data by funnel stage

So now you’ve got a boatload of ideas. You’ve even got some keyword metrics to help sort them.

But which topic do you start with? How do you prioritize several good ideas?

You could jump straight into volume and competition and potential and opportunity and blah blah blah.

Let’s take a step back, first, though.

What kinds of visitors do you want? Who do you need?

And how should you prioritize if all else is equal?

Keyword research can be like the chicken and egg problem. You want the bottom of the funnel visitors. But you ain’t gonna rank for those (or afford those) until you get enough top of the funnel visitors visiting, reading, sharing, Pocketing, and more.

Don’t neglect your sales funnel.

How about a quick roleplay. Because those make everything a little more exciting.

In this installment of your hypothetical life, hypothetical you is running a campaign for some unnamed Hollywood Hotel. (Knowing you, it’s a swanky joint.)

So you get started with "Hollywood Hotel" in the fancy new WordStream free Keyword tool.

(Did I tell you that they just updated this keyword tool? And that it’s free?!)

Ok. You type in "Hollywood Hotel" and up pops a ton of new ideas, helpfully ranked by Opportunity Score.

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This is super helpful, don’t get me wrong.

But you’re missing one thing: Context.

Now take a look at it after this one tiny edit:

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See it now?

The stuff at the bottom are your branded terms. People type these in when they’re ready to buy.

The stuff above it is more middle of the road (of funnel) terms. These people are comparing their alternatives.

They’re not sure, exactly, where to stay just yet. They ain’t checking rates just yet.

So help them compare!

How does your joint line up against the others? Why should they choose you over them?

If you don’t tell them, TripAdvisor (or similar) will.

Conclusion

Keyword research isn’t just number crunching. It’s about understanding searcher intent.

Figuring out what specific groups of people are looking for, and then doing your best to give it to them.

Luckily, these seven tips are well worth the investment. They’re exactly what you need to tell you what your visitors want.

No tricks, gimmicks, hacks, or pivot tables required.

How Brand Monitoring Can Support Your Search Optimization Strategy

SEO isn’t just about optimizing your own content to be easily found by people performing search queries directly in search engines or social media platforms. More sweat is involved to ensure your brand is facing its audience correctly and competently.

As many know, social media plays a significant role in how consumers perceive brands and even in how easily they can find them. Because of this it is more important than ever to include brand monitoring as part of a comprehensive SEO plan. Here is how to do it.

Where to Start

To effectively implement brand monitoring you will need a tool. Relying on Google Alerts is a good start but there are far more effective apps available which provide detailed information and analysis.

Connecting with Influencers

People care about what other people say. Especially if the ones saying it are public figures. Or influencers for that matter. Now, it’s important to understand there are three types of influencers:

  • Local Influencers – their opinion impacts the local industry.
  • Industry-Specific Influencers – these are people that have high authority over specific topics, skills, and industries.
  • General Influencers – people who are public figures, have often hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers on social media.

Five years later, and this post from Copyblogger still outlines the best way to connect with influencers. A few ideas, besides social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram, include:

  • Signing up for their program, product, service – putting some money in before asking for "free" stuff.
  • Joining their on-site events or meetups: hey, if you have an opportunity to connect 1-on-1, do it!
  • Asking the right relevant questions: One smart question can open many doors for you. Prove that you are smart, and that you know what you want from other people in terms of information.

Using Brand Monitoring Tools: Introducing Brand24

Brand24 is one of the newest faces on the brand monitoring tools scene, and has gained a lot of popularity among brands. The tool provides real-time insight into what is being said about your brand and your competition.

Membership plans start at $49 and can go up to as much as $399, plus customer plan for larger brands. However, a $49 plan is sufficient enough for an early-stage startup to monitor their brand successfully. Bonus: this is a pay-as-you-go type of service, which offers the user more flexibility and doesn’t force him into a 12-months contract or an automated payment scheme. The tool is fully automated, offers Slack integration, and has a mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.

The analytics section provides unique factoring such as advanced search queries, interactivity analytics, estimated social reach, and so on. A demo is available for testing if you need more time to think about it.

If you’ve read my recent article on customer journey mapping examples, then you should understand why knowing how people find you matters in the evolution of your services/products.

How Brand24 Works

Signing up for a free Brand24 account can be done with an email or using their Facebook integration.

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Once you sign up, you will be asked to type in your target keywords or phrases. You can also specify what language you want results to be targeting.

Add keywords

The menu is located on the left of the dashboard and offers intuitive controls.

Controls

The overview portion of the dashboard is equally intuitive. It allows users to sort information by days, weeks, or months and to view by the most popular mentions or the most popular authors.

Overview

The bottom of the dashboard is especially valuable for identifiying the influencers who dominate the converstaion for your project’s keywords. Users can view the most influential profiles or sites and view associated statistical information.

Dashboard

The free version of Brand24 is robust. Those who want additional features can also choose to upgrade the service to one of the paid subscriptions.

 

Now What?

Once you are monitoring brand mentions there are two powerful ways to use this knowledge to support your SEO efforts.

Request Mentions beyond Citations

Just because someone has cited a brand somewhere doesn’t mean they have linked to the website. Inbound links from authoritative websites are a valuable portion for your marketing efforts.

If a person is already citing a brand by name, they are more likely to be willing to include a proper mention with a link to their website, social media, or email address. You can use services such as HARO, or simply go the old fashion "blogger outreach" way.

Control the Narrative

If people are talking about your brand on social media, you need to be part of the conversation. Brand monitoring makes it possible to take action and instantly reshape the narrative if the brand is being mentioned in a negative light.

Alternatively, if the brand being complained about is a competitor why not swoop in and save the day? Monitoring your brand is a powerful tool but monitoring the competition can offer even wider perspective into what potential customers are happy with and what need has yet to be fulfilled.

Market Research

Brand monitoring can maximize marketing efforts by providing direct consumer insight from those consumers who are already invested in your service or product. This allows you to learn exactly what they want so you can provide it and gain greater brand loyalty.

It will make it easier to identify the platforms on which they are most active so marketing efforts can be directed toward the right locations. If you know more people are mentioning your brand on Snapchat suddenly, it makes sense to invest the resources into developing a presence there. This is true for the reverse as well. You can avoid those platforms that have limited brand engagement to maximize marketing resources.

Important Takeaway

Any tool will work to a certain degree, whether you choose to pay $500+ a month or settle for $49. But people make the difference – and Brand24 excels in helping you reach those whose opinion counts. Other than that, you should make sure to have behind every brand monitoring tool, a sharp, detail-oriented employee or contractor who knows what they’re doing. The human factor should also be part of your marketing efforts, not just from a customer perspective, but also from an "in-house" operational point of view.