It’s good to have a few trusted keyword research tools under your belt. Our teams at Content Refined are currently using two in conjunction: SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, and Ahrefs. We started using Ahrefs a while ago when SECockpit stopped returning results in certain fields and niches (i.e. we stopped getting results for cbd oil related keywords). Ahrefs has a ton of detail in their results, and I really like the way that they suggest alternatives.
So here are the basic steps for using Ahrefs to determine whether a keyword is competitive. For our purposes, we are looking for a few key metrics:
These are the tried and true metrics that Content Refined usually sticks to (unless there’s a unique site that needs something slightly different). We’ve talked about this before in an article about SECockpit. For that article the monthly search volume filter was set to ‘over 1000’. We’ve since found that over 500 is a valuable metric with more opportunities for a lot of sites.
For Ahrefs Keyword Research, follow these steps in this order:
I love finding new strategies and tricks for finding the best competitive keywords in any niche. For Content Refined we also go back once or twice a year and run some data analysis to see which tools are working the best. We did that last year around this time, and are currently in the process of running a new set of data analysis (I’ll be sure to share the findings for you guys).
Keep me updated about what tools and strategies you guys are currently using in the comments below!
I am excited to share a post like this… it has been awhile since I shared a detailed data driven tip on a new strategy that drives IMPRESSIVE results!
The team at ContentRefined has been doing some very impressive work lately performing what we are calling a Pareto^2 Content Upgrade and making the articles pop in terms of rankings and traffic.
This strategy is all about taking what is already working (your 20% of articles driving 80% of your sites traffic) and applying advanced tools/strategy at the right leverage points to make them perform even better!
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Here is the procedure ContentRefined uses to further apply this principle with content marketing and shared for you to use on your sites! As always if you want to do it yourself we show you the results and the exact steps… however, if you want to have the team at ContentRefined upgrade some of your most important articles then contact them here.
Book a call with Laura here and receive a free consultation/report to identify which of your pages are the right pages to apply the Pareto Upgrade to!
Solid and concise keyword research is arguably one of the most important and crucial process for any money site. This is why we’ve spent a lot of time and resources trying to execute the best procedure possible to ensure that we are using the best tools on the market to help with finding keywords. Although it’s not perfect, our keyword research process is getting more refined as we use and test many different tools. We have done many case studies on the different tools we use and the predictability of ranking for that keyword given a few data points, that article can be found here.
Although SECockpit is one of the slower tools, it gives a good variety of keywords and also shows the details of the top 10 sites that are ranking for that keyword which is good when you are doing a competitor analysis for that keyword to determine what it would take to beat them (more on this below). I usually don’t just use one tool when determining the keywords I want to rank for but rather take the keywords and plug it into multiple different tools (LongtailPro, SEMRush, CognitiveSEO as well as SECockpit) and see which ones hit all the preset metrics I have chosen in each tool. This usually takes a very large list of around 300 and brings its down to under 10.
To get into the nitty gritty of how SEcockpit works, and how we’ve used it to systematize our keyword research, check out step by step procedure how SEcockpit works.
Login to SEcockpit and go to the dashboard and click on the key symbol to search for your first keyword.
This is where it gets interesting. Type in a keyword of your choice that is relevant to the your site and look at your options.
I instruct my team to select the Google Adwords ideas that are closely related and to select ‘Append’, ‘Prepend’, and ‘Add Words in Between’. This increases our chances of coming across a great related keyword. We also change Min Monthly searches to 200 but if you are going after bigger priced items that don’t get as many searches then you should adjust this.
Make sure you’ve inputted your keyword and that you’ve selected your search criteria and then click on Save and Close for the search to begin! This tool can sometimes be slow, so be patient, go make a coffee and some food and come back 🙂
We like to set the competition score to less than 30 with this tool. Ideally if you can get to under 25 that would be great.
Then, as you can see here below, we have our comprehensive list of keywords that meet our metrics:
So this is where you need to do some more digging. With this view, it looks like all of these keywords are great, but you need to click on the keyword to view a full keyword analysis which will give you more information on the other sites that are ranking for it, which, will help you determine if it’s a viable keyword for your article and whether you think you can beat those other articles.
Let’s look at the Keyword “Charcoal Pills” which has 40,500 monthly searches and only 17.25% competition score. This generally looks like a pretty golden keyword and at first glance it looks like a no-brainer to go after it.
With this comprehensive keyword analysis, the top 2 things that we look at is the DA (Domain Authority) and the Top 10 websites. As you can see below, the DA is really high, which means that the competing websites are ranking very well and getting a ton of traffic according to google. You can also perform a backlink analysis as well on your site and compare it to those other sites to see if you can beat them.
If our site is not an authority site in it’s space (which in general, most are not), then it would be a bad idea to go after this keyword because our domain will not be able to compete with the authority domain in that space. For example in this case WebMD and other very well known sites in the space.
Let’s try another keyword on the list, here I’ve chosen a Keyword that was provided to us by the tool based off of the “closely related words” function of the search criteria.
Keyword: Activated Carbon Filter – which has 5400 Monthly Searches and has a competition score of 27.39.
When we click on it for the Analysis, we can see right away that this will be a more viable option to go after than the last keyword as the DA for the competing sites are lower in general (usually is you can find 3-5 sites that have a DA less than 30).
Here, I have checked a couple of the domains and I have determined that I can definitely compete with a few of these sites as their DA is low, and traffic to their site is relatively low on SEMrush. This isn’t to say that they won’t be hard to beat, but they are not out of our reach and they are a similar site as the one we have. I’m confident that with the use of SEcockpit, I’m able to find the best keyword using its rankings, but also it’s analysis on who/how others are using this keyword in their niche.
Now that we have our Keyword (Activated Carbon Filter), we want to make sure that we have a good title for the article. Now I’ll create an article title called “Best Activated Carbon Filter for Tap Water”.
Place the competitive keywords and all of the metrics that you’ve found into the spreadsheet for that site! You can download a template of the spreadsheet here.
After I have a bunch of keywords that meet the criteria set above, I like to cross verify with a few other tools before I get the article created. No tool is ever perfect but if a keyword meets the metrics that I have set for the different keyword tools then I find that it’s very likely that I will be able to rank for that keyword with hopefully not a lot of effort. If you have any other tools we haven’t talked about or haven’t tested that you would like us to try out, please let me know!
We don’t do much of the “fill out this form”, “how did we do today?”, or “rate our services online” stuff for my businesses. We usually go for more of a personal touch. When we ask for feedback, it’s more direct through emails or phone calls with clients. So, how do you gather that feedback as data to assess client needs and the future of your business?
Today I want to talk about those changing needs and determining direction.
Track your expenses and income. Hire an accountant if you’re not great with numbers and/or don’t have the time yourself. And don’t forget about that bottom line. If you’re spending too much on a service or offering, and people aren’t paying enough for it (or not enough people are interested in it), then you know something’s wrong. Maybe you can cut some of your expenses and rebuild that offering in a way that makes sense financially. Or, hey, maybe that offering is done and it’s time to move on to something else. I know I’m painting this as very black and white, but it really does help to take a step back, look at the numbers, and determine whether an offering is worth it based on the revenue (or lack of revenue) that it’s bringing in.
One of the tricky parts here is timing. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this in the comments as well. Personally, we track and review numbers across all teams weekly. If something is outside of the safe zone, we talk about it in our weekly business meeting. If that continues for a few weeks, we talk more seriously about it. If a few months go by and we’re clearly wasting our time and resources, it’s time to make a drastic change.
Obviously I can’t share our spreadsheets here, but you’ll need to create a document with your own financial goals in mind that can be updated on a weekly basis. Include sales and analytics as needed for your business.
So that’s one objective way to see whether your service/offering or product is working for your clients. But how do we see it coming before wasting that time and those resources?
I can use Content Refined as an example here. Content Refined is primarily a content marketing company that works on a monthly subscription-based content creation cycle. Madeleine, our Co-Founder and Business Manager, was finding that she was getting a lot of “custom” requests for upgrades to existing content on clients’ websites. These clients had content already on their site that they needed someone to go through, clean up, and ‘refresh’ to help it rank higher. So, that request came in enough times that Maddie thought, “Hey, we need to make this a real offering, not just a special custom thing we do when people ask for it.”
We figured out our pricing needs and built the system around ‘content upgrades’. Now it’s front and centre on the home page of Content Refined’s site.
Word of warning: you do have to take all requests with a grain of salt. There’s a fine line between being flexible and bending over backwards. Custom requests only work if the numbers work. So you have to be careful at how far you bend your standards to meet client needs.
Which brings me to my next point.
It’s extremely difficult to expand out to new service offerings when you’re still working on mastering the original one. Until you’ve got a great system worked out for your business and you’re handling everything on your plate really well, don’t try to start something new. Pretty reasonable, right?
To be a master in your field, you’ve gotta stay on top of the trends and news in your industry, and really do your research. Especially in the digital world, things are moving so quickly that it’s hard to stay relevant. Check out what’s going on in conferences, and get in the networks with the top players in your field. This way you can figure out what you should be offering before your clients are even looking for it.
To continue with our example of Content Refined, we constantly look at trends in the content marketing world. With anything SEO related, you really have to look at the data and figure out which tools and methods are the most effective. Last year around this time we did all kinds of data analysis on all the content that we had created for clients. Then we had a statistician go through everything to confirm our findings. Right now we’re in the process of going through everything again to renew those findings and update any strategies as necessary based on the results. By continuing to evaluate our business with the actual data, we’re able to stay focused in our field while maintaining great results for our clients.
Assessing client needs is super important to keeping your business relevant and growing. It can take your business in new directions that you may have never foreseen. Have you had experience with something like that? Leave me your stories in the comments!
Over the last 8 years my team has been finding domains, buying domains and building PBN sites for both my own portfolio as well as clients. One of the most important parts in the whole process is finding quality domains that can give your PBN some power, and in turn give your money site some power.
Most people believe that just going based on metrics such as Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) are really the only things that matter when deming whether or not the domain is good. However most people forget that these expired domains were once used for something else and so checking the backlinks of the domain to ensure there isn’t anything spammy going on is very important and is often overlooked. You don’t want to put your money site at risk by getting links from a domain that has spammy links pointing to it because Google could penalize you for that.
Below, is a step by step guide on how you spot check the backlinks of the domains to ensure they were not once abused. For looking at the backlink profile, we always like to use Majestic as it is one of the more reliable tools that we have used.
For this example, we are going to use the domain ablasor.com
As we can see in Majestic, it has a bit of TF and CF (although you want to try and get to as much of a 1:2 ratio as possible. If you can get a 1:1 that’s even better.
But there are two other places that need to be checked. The anchor text profile and the backlinks.
For the anchor text profile, you can see that their are not only spammy words being used but also foreign anchor text. This is a clear sign that this domain has been abused.
However, sometimes the Anchor Text appears to be normal and we would have to also check the backlinks to ensure there isn’t any foreign or spammy links.
As you scroll through the list of backlinks, first check to see if there are any unusual or foreign texts.
If there isn’t anything that stands out, click on a few links and open them up to see if there is anything suspicious that pops up. When we open up a few we get some pages that look like the below. This is a clear sign of spam.
In this example we are going to look at the domain platinumassetdiscovery.com
That domain has good TF and CF and has a pretty close ration of 1:1 which is a good start.
When looking at the anchor text profile of the domain, we can see that the anchor text words are relevant to what the domains topical trust flow is which is Society/law. There is also no spammy or foreign words.
When we go and look at the backlink profile we can see that they all look good and no foregin words are present.
When we open them up they go to sites that are relevant and not foreign content.
After you have looked at the domain in Majestic.com, you then want to check it in archive.org and check a few different dates to see what the domain once was. Ensure that the domain wasn’t used in an inappropriate way or that it had foreign content on it.
I find that a lot of people miss a few of these steps which can be vital when looking at potential domains to link to your site. If you have any questions at all or need some further clarification on how to follow these steps please let me know!