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.
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:
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".
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
In the highly visual business world of today, the infographic (or infographics) that you use can make the difference between your online visibility and the stagnation of your marketing efforts.
Here are just a few of the ways in which using the right infographic(s) improves your search engine optimization (SEO) endeavors.
Danny Todd (a.k.a. “Cleveland SEO Guy”) defines infographics this way, “Infographics are cleverly illustrated, colorful, easy-to-read, and often vertically-oriented images, showing charts, graphs, figures, and other useful information.
Chances are that you’ve seen a few in the last week. Though written content should be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, don’t underutilize infographics. They have their advantages.”
Quick Observations of an Effective Infographic
Let’s take a look at the infographic to the left, to get us going on the topic of infographics. It is called the “Top 5 Male Athlete Hairstyles (Infographic)” and it is an infographic by the team at Men’s Hairstyles Club.
What can we learn by looking at this infographic?
- Infographics can be made to share any message or topic. I mean, would you have thought of hairstyles for men?
- Infographics can be long and vertical. (They can also be wide and horizontal!) In other words, infographics can come in many sizes and shapes.
- Infographics tend to include text and additional images (and sometimes statistics or how-to steps, like this one does).
Benefits of Infographics (to SEO Endeavors)
So, what is the big deal with the SEO benefit(s)? Glad you asked! That is what we are presenting in the rest of this article!
And, it includes some expert tips from those “in the know.”
Benefit 1: Make the ranking process easier.Get your page listed in the “image search” of search engines. You don’t have to be limited to only the default text search.
The Google image search is just as powerful as the text search, and people will be able to find you on two lists instead of just one.
The image database is generally smaller (as compared to text search), meaning that you automatically put yourself in a better position by even using images in the first place. If the images are relevant, you have an even better chance at doing well in the search engine(s).
Let’s not forget about Bing image search. After all, there is not only “one” game in town when it comes to searching the web.
According to Janette Speyer (Partner at Web Success Team and Hot Ice Media), “If you use Google, you have the option to search for images. Once you put alt tags, keywords, and titles on your infographics, your blog will be more easily found [in the image search].
If your blog gets very little traffic, you have the advantage of [using] the images (infographics) to make up for it.” Hopefully, this moves you up to where you need to be in the ranking!
Benefit 2: Benefit by social interaction (and the resulting SEO ranking).Gain visual recognition with your potential viewer. This leads to interaction which leads to better rankings.
As a part of that interaction, give the audience (people) something to talk about, which is the name of the game for a really well-constructed infographic.
According to David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers), “SEO is highly dependent on the perceptions of online ‘publishers.’
By publishers, I mean anybody from the New York Times to my uncle, when he posts to Facebook. Every time a company is mentioned in an article or in a tweet, it helps the SEO effort. Infographics give people something to talk about, or from an SEO perspective, a reason to talk about you.”
The major search engines are constantly determining the relevance of your content by the human reaction to it. Pictures ensure that more people interact with the content.
This is simply a fact because people react and interact with media. (Remember the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”)
On the topic of social sharing and delivering the message, Danny Todd says, “For one, they stand out amidst a sea of text. Website visitors can quickly differentiate between an ordinary picture and an infographic.
Using them just often enough keeps things interesting. They also make it easy to compress and simplify what might otherwise be exceedingly complex information, reducing extraneous details and distilling the crucial facts into an easy-to-understand format.
If your infographics are relevant and informative (as all your content should be), they’re likely to be shared on social media.”
The human interaction (and reaction) pushes your content up in the search engine listings. It also gives you more organic click-throughs, a statistic that will help your ranking improve even more, in the long run.
Benefit 3: Gain the ability to use more tags.Pictures can have tags just as easily as any other content. This option helps those of you who want to raise the count of a certain keyword on your webpage without turning what could have been an excellent article into a keyword-soaked piece of worthless dribble. How? Include infographics!
By doing this (including an infographic), you may then use the tags that are inherent in the picture as another excuse to put the keyword on your page. Google and the other major search engines will recognize this as a valid use of your keyword and associate your page more readily with it. The more easily that your page connects with a keyword, the higher your search ranking goes.
Helpful Tips from the ExpertsWhen asking our Expert Panel what else they would recommend, regarding infographics (beyond just SEO), they gave us the following tips.
Keep It Simple (Content)
According to David Leonhardt, “Keep it simple. If you want people to talk about you, give them something simple that they will understand.
Don’t try to create the longest Infographic of the ‘Everything about…[such and such]’ variety. Assemble a few pieces of interesting data that are tightly related, to form a single idea.”
Keep It Easy (Production)
David Leonhardt continues, “The design does not have to be fancy, either. My most successful Infographic ever was made in a simple table format that I had whipped up on Fiverr. It will never win a beauty contest, and just might be in line to enter an ugly contest (but it looks better on Slideshare).
The key to its success is that the idea is simple and captivating, and people have been sharing it ever since.”
Gain Exposure for Your Brand
According to Danny Todd, “Content marketing with infographics has grown rapidly in recent times, with little sign that readers are growing tired of them. The ability to condense a lot of information into a simple graphic makes them easy to follow, but the infographics can still impart well-researched knowledge.
For the content creator, an infographic can spread across the web, providing branding and SEO benefits that can last long into the future. Businesses that ignored the trend will be wondering whether they should get started with infographics now. Read more…”
Janette Speyer offers this tip: “I also share my images on authority websites like Instagram, Pinterest, and more. This gives me more opportunities to be found. The ultimate goal is for people to see my blog, right? Any way you can post or syndicate those images will increase your chances of being seen.”
Well, you’ve arrived at the right place. Here is a short listing of their biographies and social media links, for your convenience. This was made easier through the use of the wonderful online tool, MyBlogU. Thanks, MyBlogU!
David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)
Infographics have never been central to my SEO efforts. But I have created (well, supervised the creation of) at least a dozen Infographics in my day.
These have covered fields as diverse as tech, housing, and fertility. Done properly, Infographics can be an effective form of content marketing.
Danny Todd (a.k.a. the Cleveland SEO Guy)
I am known as the Cleveland SEO Guy. I started in the SEO business in the 1990s when it was a far less complicated industry. Over the years, I’ve formed relationships with some of the leading SEO experts in the business.
In doing so, I’ve learned SEO secrets that very few in the SEO services business actually know. This is why I consistently rank sites in the top 10 results on Google for competitive terms, while some of my competitors struggle to achieve top 100 listings.
Janette Speyer (Graphic Artist)
I started my career as a graphic artist. In early 2000, I merged my business into the digital space. At that time graphics were not searchable, so we avoided them like the plague. As more social media platforms made their way into the world, images became not only a must but a necessity.
I took to adding infographics to my blogs for those that wanted just a quick visual of what I was writing about at the time. I developed many graphics and used social media to bring more traffic to my website. The images boosted my traffic by a good thirty percent (30%).
ConclusionIn short, use infographics whenever you can in your presentations online. You gain credibility with your audience and with the major search engines! Your content is more easily found, and you will improve your overall online marketing ROI (return-on-investment) simply by formatting your research in this way.
How to make your blog successful? Of course, quality content and the blogger who runs this blog. But we should include our own set of tools and services that help you stand out. I am, as a blogger, always searching for valuable tools that can make my job much easier.
I decided to ask 15 famous bloggers about their favorite tools and I am interested to share their lists of tools with you here.
Here is the answer:
- Moz Pro tools
- For ranking – Rank Watch
- For back link analysis – Ahrefs
Dave Schneider is a co-founder of blogger outreach software NinjaOutreach and manages his own blog called as Selfmadebusinessman about a successful online business. You can find him at Twitter @ SelfMadeBM.
Here is the answer:
Sue Anne Dunlevie
Sue Anne Dunlevie is a website owner of Successful Blogging and a blogger who helps beginning bloggers make money online and get a success online with their blog. You can connect with her at Twitter @ SueAnneDunlevie.
Here is the answer:
I’m a huge follower of Backlinko.com and have taken Brian’s "SEO That Works" course and wrote up my own case study here on how I increase my traffic by 300%.
I also build quality links with fellow bloggers through blogger outreach. And I make sure to do on-page SEO tactics like this infographic explains.
Here is the response:
When it comes to SEO helpers, I mean SEO tools, I am very selective in this regard because we cannot trust each and every tool that we find on internet.
Here are 3 SEO Helpers of Atish:
- Long Tail Pro (LTP): I don’t see any other tool for keyword research when I have LTP. It is more than amazing to do extensive keyword research and beating the competition. I use LTP every day.
- Ahrefs: When it comes to link analysis of a site, I cannot find any tool better than Ahrefs. I use it to analyze my own blog’s links, and even I use it for analyzing the competitors’ sites as well.
- SE Ranking: I have been using SE Ranking for more than 6 months now, and I am very much impressed with its reporting. I mainly use it to keep a track of the keywords ranking of my blogs. I have just set the keywords and search engines, and I get updates in my email in the form of a PDF file with detailed report.
Razvan Gavrilas is the Founder & Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO & BrandMentions, tools to help you monitor, research and improve your digital marketing. Razvan has over 15 years of internet marketing experience and has improved the digital marketing strategy for both small businesses and large enterprises. You can find him at Twitter @ razvan_gavrilas.
Here is the response:
" One of our strategies at cognitiveSEO is to publish amazing content on our blog and on others.
To do this correctly, it’s important to understand what type of content works in our niche at a specific moment in time. One technique I use to generate ideas is to track the fresh content that appears on the web. Let’s take the example of "content marketing". I track this topic on a weekly basis.
I focus on the most shared posts. Using this method I can understand what the market is looking for at a specific moment in time. This method helps me to generate new & relevant content ideas.
One I identified the successful content I try to create better & remarkable content on the identified subtopic. For tracking fresh topic mentions I use Brand Mentions. ( it’s great for tracking our brands mentions also ). After I publish the new post I track it’s efficiency over time. I use sharedcount.com for tracking the shares of all my posts (most useful on guest posting where you do not have access to traffic data). This can be automated using Google Sheets and their API in order to extract the counts every-time you look into the sheet. It’s also important to do A/B testing to increase visitor satisfaction and decrease bounce rates. For this I use Marketizator.
For Twitter outreach I use ContentMarketer.io. It’s helpful when I have to outreach to more than 10 people because the manual process is time consuming.
The last but not the least: I massively use cognitiveSEO ( eating my own dog food ) to track the evolution of the link profile, the rankings and the content on our site. I stay up to date with critical SEO issues that might appear for our sites with the email alerts that the system generates."
Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, copywriter, content marketer and business blogger of Kikolani. She helps creating high-quality blog content, ebooks and web copy for your business. You can connect with her at Twitter @ kikolani.
Here is the answer:
I’m loving Impactana lately! It’s the fastest way to find the most popular content for outreach purposes in terms of social popularity, link authority, and traffic. It also helps when I’m looking for great places for my ghostwriting clients to guest posts as I can assure them they are truly authoritative sites all around.
Here is the answer:
My favourite tool is the Search Analytics part of Google Search Console, as it already helped me discover keyword opportunities that I would never have thought of myself. Sorting the tool on Impressions often brings up very interesting keywords that you already rank for without actual clicks yet. Some simple improvements on the page or metadescription can already significantly increase CTR then.
Another great tool I like is Onpage.org. I often perform technical SEO audits for clients and Onpage really helps me to find the most serious issues around this. Of course I also still use Screaming Frog SEO Spider for this, like almost anyone in the SEO field.
As an overall SEO tool I like SEMRush, as it helps me find information about keywords, but also quick domain overviews, while they also offer Technical SEO Audits and Rank tracking.
For dedicated rank tracking I also recommend SEranking, as it tracks rankings very accurately in multiple search engines on a daily basis. Especially the option to re-check on request is very nice for projects that I am focussing on.
Here is the answer:
- SEMrush – This tool manages a lot of different tasks, but it’s competitor research functionality is excellent. It tells you exactly which keywords your competitors are ranking for.
- BuzzStream – If you want to manage outreach campaigns, this tool will do it. It’s perfect for teams or individuals. Strangely, I find it works equally well as a CRM and it fits my workflow better than any other regular CRM tool.
- Ahrefs – Backlinks are still a big part of SEO. With Ahrefs you can do a lot more than finding which backlinks are pointing to a website/specific page. There’s now a big cross over between SEMrush, but I still prefer Ahrefs for checking backlinks & SEMrush for site auditing & keyword research.
Here is the answer:
- SEMRush – for organic ranking history
- SpyFu – for Paid Ad intel
- Majestic – for link Intel
- Linkdex – for client reporting
- Screaming Frog – for site crawl intel
- URL Profiler – for various site intel
- BuzzSumo – for social share and influencer intel
Here is the answer:
Day to Day
- Liquid Planner – this is where we keep all clients work organised across the entire company. It goes that little but further than basecamp or asana, it helps us track time and keep clients on budget and staff at the right levels of work.
- Trello – we use this for more specific campaign management, that might be a content calendar or tracking technical changes to a site.
- Buzzstream – organising contacts for outreach is a mammoth task and Buzzstream is the bees knees for this.
- Advanced Web Ranking – despite what you may have heard rank tracking is still super important and AWR has it nailed. In the last year that have added loads of features that make it essential including research functionality similar to SEMrush.
More recent additions:
- Botify – this is like Screaming Frog on speed in the cloud. Incredible software for identifying and isolating technical issues. You can crawl on set dates and compare crawls. You can set up segments for each of your sites so that you can identify problems in certain areas. Brilliant.
- Sistrix – the original visibility tool and one that we have only recently added to our toolbox. Quickly becoming essential for finding canonicalisation issues, ranking issues, market visibility, competitor research and pitching.
Here is the answer:
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console: ideally these should be linked together and this helps in identifying the "low hanging fruit" keywords which you already rank in the first two pages but not in the top three positions.
- Screaming SEO Spider: great for doing a technical SEO audit. Although I find the Inlinks and Levels particularly useful as you get an idea of how link juice is flowing around a website.
- Yoast SEO WordPress plugin: if you use WordPress it just makes your SEO life easier and it has many feature updates enhancing it further.
- Semrush: I’ve been a long time fan and have written an in-depth Semrush review before. I love the competitor keyword research it offers and if you can afford the Guru package, the historical keyword ranking data can be a god send for diagnosing SEO penalties for client work.
- Positionly: a keyword ranking tool. It’s not the cheapest or most expensive but it has a good level of features while maintaining an Apple like level of simplicity.
- Google Keyword Planner: if I could only have one tool for keyword research, it would have to be this tool. You have to think creatively to get the most out of it and not just rely on keyword ideas from a few seed keywords.
Content and Social
- Buzzsumo: with so many backlink analysis tools it surprising one wasn’t created for content and social shares earlier. This tool is great for researching successful content marketing campaigns and identifying key influencers in your industry.
- Buffer: a simple but effective free way of sharing content with your social followers.
- IFTTT: it’s great for social media and content marketers because it can post, save and do lots of clever things with content on all of the major social platforms.
- Open Site Explorer: more aimed at beginners and intermediate level SEOs but I often find myself using it for light backlink analysis research because it’s so easy and quick to use. I also find its Page Authority and Domain Authority generally pretty accurate and useful.
- Majestic SEO: if I need to go more in-depth for backlink analysis, this is my go to tool.
- Ahrefs: much more than just a backlink analysis tool these days but close on Majestic’s heels as one. I don’t believe there will ever be an all in one SEO tool that is great at everything, but Ahrefs is trying to to prove me wrong and is having some pretty good success in doing so. Definitely one to keep an eye on if you’re not already.
Here is the answer:
My favorite tool for managing campaigns is BuzzStream. At least for me, the hardest part of the campaign is keeping track of everything once we’re in the thick of it. Keeping straight who’s responded, who hasn’t, who said ‘no,’ who we need to follow up with, etc.
So our content team uses it as a CRM/contact manager for all marketing outreach – from linkbuilding to planning webinars. Since it’s built for marketers, it has features specifically for tracking SEO and content, which is really nice, and a Chrome plugin makes it really convenient.
Here is the answer:
Three must have tools that I use for nearly all campaigns and websites are:
- LongTailPro – Great for quick reports on keywords I might not already be targeting, while also keeping an eye on the competition.
- SEMRush – A wide range of tools underneath one platform. Great for picking out keyword movement, keeping an eye on the competition and also for running SEO site audits.
- MonitorBacklinks – Another advanced tool for keeping your competition under the microscope and seeing where they are creating new backlinks. Also good for your own link management as well.
Chris Evans is a trained SEO and marketer who blogs for a living. He runs his marketing website Passiveresidualincomeideas.
Here is the answer:
My two main tools that I use on daily basis are Jaaxy and Scrapebox, they cover all my SEO and research needs. On occasion I use Google Trends to see what ideas are proving to be popular in my chosen niche – always full of good ideas if you are hitting writer’s block.
I don’t opt to use any of the ‘online’ autoresponders as they tend to be a little bit too fussy these days with links etc. Instead I have been using Atomic Mail Sender run off my own SMTP server over the last year and I can’t find any complaint with it!
For social media campaigns I always use Buffer – for such a small monthly fee you can’t really go wrong and once again, they have never let me down.
And finally WordPress – all my sites are built on this website builder. The choice of themes and plugins are second to none in my book.
That’s it really! That’s all I need to run my online businesses successfully. I do also use the more typical services like Google Analytics and Adsense but I didn’t think it was worth mentioning them ( everyone uses them! )
Here is the answer:
- Ahrefs.com – I use their site explorer quite often to analyze backlinks profile of any website.
- Moz Tools – All the tools by Moz are fantastic and I do use Open Site Explorer, Moz Analytics, Fresh Web Explorer and Followerwonk on a regular basis. They all help in easing my analysis and data research process for different types of work I do.
- AdvancedWebRanking.com – This is my go-to resource to track rankings of all the campaigns I look after. Very user friendly and I’m in love with their interface.
- BrandWatch.com – This helps me staying updated with all of my personal mentions on the web and the mentions about my companies as well.
These are my top four tools but at E2M we use multiple tools to execute our clients’ campaigns smoothly. I wrote a post about it which can be found here.
There you have it! This is quite a huge post with the best helpers used by SEO experts. I want to thank everyone who helped to create this list of awesome SEO tools.
Let’s quickly review the best SEO tools according to the recommendations of our professionals.
Now your turn. Do you find any SEO tools helpful? Could you recommend anything better? Please, feel free to share your point of view below.