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Definitive – Best Keyword Research Tool to Determine Keyword Competitiveness

My last post reviewed how effective MarketMuse was at predicting a piece of contents success in Google.

This post digs deeper into MANY keyword research tools to try and show what tools can help provide us an edge!

So… What is The Best Keyword Research Tool? What tool provides a keyword competition score that gives us the best ability to predict how well an article will do in Google?

 

Analysis Summary – What Tools Competition Score Correlated With a Higher Google Rank

The list below shows the scores correlated with a higher Google Ranking.

Comment 1 – The results surprised me with both Ahrefs and SEMRush underperforming my expectations and LongTail pro overperforming my expectations. I expected SECockpit to do terrible as the competition score it provides I never find to be a reliable analysis.

Comment 2 – The accuracy of this analysis essentially means those top 3 were tied. The margin of error would be larger than the difference between the results.

Based on this analysis I recommend using one of the top 3 tools when identifying keywords to create content for (it is now what we do at ContentRefined.com)! 

This post is going to help with exactly that, giving you the ability to choose the right tool available to give you a competitive advantage in targeting keywords that you can then turn into successfully ranking articles.

There are so many different websites and companies that have or are starting to develop keyword difficulty or SEO difficulty tools. But once you input a phrase and determine the existing competition and window of opportunity what weight should the number or percentage that they provide actually hold.

Previously in “Rank in Google with Certainty” I only analyzed Ferzy, SEMRush, and SECockpit on a very basic level. For this article I expanded that research to include ahrefs, Long Tail Pro, and cognitiveSEO while also including search volume influence (based on feedback from you in my last article).

I have also analyzed competition domain authority, trust flow, headline click-through-rate, and more but look for that to be shared in another post!

 

Now for the Fun Stuff (if you are a data geek!)

Using some articles from my various money site portfolio and all of ‘Content Refined created content, I have been able to compile enough data points to provide some statistical insight into predicting the performance of ranking an article around a certain keyword.

I have broken the 6 different tools into two tiers as the results within the tiers are statistically indifferent.

So here are the results…

Worst Performing Group (Worst Ability to Predict)

  • SECockpit

SECockpit keyword difficulty tool uses a percentage system. Scoring below 30% and as close to 10% while maintaining a reasonable search volume is a typical metric we use. However, with only a moderate correlation of 17% SECockpit has the least predictive tendency of the tested tools.

 

  • Ahrefs

Ahrefs provides an absolute number score out of 100 to determine the difficulty you would encounter to rank for a searched keyword.  While it only held a statistical correlation relevance of 23%, I do like that it provides a suggested required number of backlinks to go with the score.

NOTE – I was surprised by this result, the guys at AuthorityHacker who do great work had found AHrefs tool to be the best when it came to Keyword Difficulty but we found it to not perform very well.

 

  • SEMRush

With SEMRush you get a percentage score out of 100 with being below 70-75% as a target. Still only holding a moderate 25% correlation, SEMRush is the best of the tools found in our 2nd tier.

 

Best Performing Group (Best Ability To Predict How an Article Will Rank)

  • Ferzy

Ferzy is a newer tool on the market and will provide an absolute score out of 100 with varying levels of ratings categories. At a 35% statistical correlation, it offers to be one of the strongest predictors of keyword difficulty and ability to rank of the tools tested.

 

  • cognitiveSEO

cognitiveSEO is new to me and recently came out with a new keyword difficulty and content analyzing tool. Both seem to work great and at a 37% correlation it compares and competes well with some of the more well known tools. The content analyzing tool offers a competitor to MarketMuse at a more reasonable price, but the effectiveness difference is still to be determined…(more to come on this in the future).

 

  • Long Tail Pro

Behold the Long Tail Pro, the final tool analyzed. Coming in with a statistical correlation of just under 40%, it is the most predictive tool but not by much. I was surprised by this as LongTailPro has been around for a long time and I would have thought one of the newer tools would have come out with a better predictor.

 

Question – What if we adjust for search volume?

Monthly Searches ahrefs cognitiveSEO Ferzy Long Tail Pro SECockpit SEMRush
ALL 23.07% 37.49% 35.71% 39.37% 17.31% 24.17%
< 1,000 8.5% 27.52% 28.07% 24.30% 0.57% 19.48%
> 1,000 24.59% 30.22% 30.65% 39.28% 10.43% 19.57%
> 2,500 31.48% 31.68% 35.58% 44.29% 1.27% 29.62%

 

When the varying search volumes for a keyword were separated the results varied little. The three successful tools reviewed before held their ground in being the most successful predictors.

 

Summary

In conclusion, the results shown offer that there is a significant competitive advantage available if you are using the right tool. Ensuring that you follow a strategy of 500-1000+ monthly searches and a low recommended score from the varying scoring systems from tier 1 tools, you can start your content creation process with a stronger chance of ranking well in the end!

But remember, when looking to rank there are so many factors involved that only one step of the process can only provide so much insight and competitive advantage. 

While it is necessary to find good keywords, the rest of the process must be completed at the same level of effort and quality to maintain the opportunity to rank. So combining a keyword difficulty tool with a content analyzer tool, backlink analyzer tool, and so on, is essential to maximize opportunities.

Look forward to an upcoming post where I will wrap up this round of statistical analysis by exploring additional tools and factors that help you rank like domain authority, trust flow, and headline score. Finding out that there may be an auxiliary tool for helping rank could be a difference maker.

Hope you are enjoying these more statistically driven posts!

If you have any questions or ways we could expand on this analysis please let me know!

 

UPDATE – Based on Popular Requests Two Additional Tools Added…

Mangool’s KWFinder had not been used by me or the team until it became the most popular suggested and asked-about tool in the comments. Based on the recommendations I have gone back and completed the analysis to wrap up assessing the various keyword difficulty tools.
KWFinder’s tool assess the keyword on a scale out of 100 while providing a very user-friendly dashboard that provides additional search volume and SERP charts.

 

In my short time using KWFinder thus far I am very impressed with the value. In our statistical analysis the overall correlation was 43% with keywords that have >1000+ monthly searches having a correlation of 41%. The tool provides to have the highest correlation of any tools researched and remains true across various search volumes.
The tool instantly becomes an intriguing option for any level of operation with its variable pricing and added SERP Tracking features. More time spent using the tool will provide more insight but this tool is the absolute leader of all analyzed.

Based on recommendations here is the statistical analysis for Term Explorer keyword analyzer difficulty. Term Explorer provides a score out of 10 to its users that determine the level of competition of the keyword in terms of using the keyword to rank. From our brief analysis, it appears a score below 2.00 is a good number to reference for researching and maintaining below.

Overall the correlation was 28.16% for Term Explorer. A moderate correlation that places the tool somewhere between the 1st and 2nd tiers. It’s ranking scale makes it an attractive tool to operate and its ability to maintain projects and track given keywords regularly.

Rank in Google With Certainty? – Market Muse Review Updated Data Analysis

The “holy grail” we are chasing with our data analysis is being able to predictably rank an article in Google with certainty!

Our vision is being able to say… given a number of metrics for the keyword and article we can produce an article that ranks well in Google!

 

BEWARE!! – THIS POST HAS A LOT OF DATA!

If you don’t like data/statistics and geeking out on analysis I would recommend you skip this article!

 

I have previously talked about MarketMuse and it’s ability to suggest what keywords to focus on and which to use to add depth, all with the idea to create a better article that ranks predictably well in Google!Continue reading

Mortgage Crushing Challenge Update – Deep Dive into My Strategy

For me the mortgage crushing challenge or MCC is a great opportunity to test out some very efficient hands off strategies in an attempt to build up my site.

What is the MCC? The mortgage crushing challenge is a goal we set with our internal team and invited others to join in that results

This post is going to cover…

  • A couple successes people are having with their site!
  • My Exact 3 Part Strategy
  • Results So Far

Special Note – I am very happy to say that a few people participating in this challenge are having a LOT of success!Continue reading

6 Figure Success Story – Non Native English Website Builder Sells Content Website for 6 Figures

I am always thrilled when I get to hear about success stories! Today’s post includes someone who also allowed me to interview him about how exactly he had so much success.

Here are the highlights:

  • Mr “D” is a non-native English speaker (who initially believed this would be a limitation)
  • Started in 2014 grew his site to 5k per month and sold for ~150k in 2017 (USD)
  • Content – Content was sourced from multiple sources and then over the last 7 months leveraged ContentRefined.com content exclusively.
  • Link Building – Used PBNs initially and then turned to Guest Posting and Editorial Links after
  • Monetization – Ads/Affiliate. He had a lot of success with AdThrive.

 

Worked On His Business Not In It! Reinvested and Managed the Process!

What I was most impressed with was Mr D’s ability to test to find the best services and then combine them to create an awesome combination! Then once he had a winning combination he simply scaled content and links as much as he was able to reinvest.

  • Website Development – Using some of his own skill as well some help he was able to get his site up. If this is your bottleneck checkout BrandBuilders.io!
  • Keyword Research & Content– He tried a lot of different content strategies but as he says below “ContentRefined was the best”. Once he started using Content Refined for keyword research, content creation and publishing the site grew by 3x in 5 months!
  • Link Building – Using PBNs initially and then moving onto GuestPosts and Editorial Links was Mr D’s link building strategy
    • PBNs
    • Editorial Links
    • Guest Posts (if interested in a good source for guest posts enter your email here and I will send you details)
  • Monetization – Leveraged the experts at AdThrive to grow his earnings.

 

Interview

 Tell us about your background and how you got involved in this online business world.

I am 29 years-old and I was previously working in tech support but I wanted to start my own company. I read about websites that can make money and decided to start my own in 2014 in the home/family niche.

For a year, it was not earning anything but I did not have a lot of time to work on it because of my day job. I built some links and added some content and it finally took off in the summer of 2015. From there, I just grew it with more content and more links.

How did you first find out about this whole world of building sites that can make money?

I first found out about it on a forum where I saw that it was possible for non-native english speakers to build sites, so that encouraged me to try. So I tried and eventually it worked out.

In that year where there wasn’t a lot of success and you were working part-time, you kept persevering. What drove you to keep working through that year when you weren’t seeing the results you were hoping for?  

It takes patience, I know it cannot be done in a few months and you can’t quit!

 

Jon Comment – This I believe is the single greatest determining factor if someone will have success building a website that will make money or not. The results will not come as quickly as you would like and if you stop you are guaranteed to fail!

 

What was your growth plan for this site when you first started? Did you have an idea on how you were going to build up this site and get traffic?

Well, since it started to earn for itself the plan was to grow and improve it in several areas; content, monetization, and building links. Those three areas were the main focus for me.

  1. Regarding monetization, I tried several options, I experimented with Minion Ad, AdSense, and I finally settled with AdThrive because they are much better than any other.
  2. For content production I continually used better quality writers, Content Refined was the best.
  3. To build links, I used PBN’s, guest posts, outreach, and buying some editorial links on Huffington Post and some other magazines. All that together paid off.

What was your content production schedule at the start?

In the beginning, I chose to publish 10 articles and then I waited. I didn’t publish anymore until I built enough links from PBNs, forums, blog commenting… etc., to rank and then I developed a content plan. I researched my competition with SEMrush and Ahrefs to find as many keywords that the other websites are ranking for. I made a spreadsheet of those keywords, grouped them into articles, and then just worked through that excel spreadsheet.

 

Jon Comment – If you are interested in learning more about this strategy I have a free tutorial here on basically this exact same process.

 

At what rate did you keep publishing content and how did it change over time?

Well, it was pretty consistent in the last 9 months at 4 posts per month but before that it was 2 or 3 articles per month. I never did more than 5 per month because I was going after quality not quantity.

For ContentRefined posts these graphs show the progress of a few different keywords from the time it was published until the time the site was sold.

 

From a promotion and outreach standpoint, how did you promote the site and how did that change over time?

In the beginning I used PBNs, and then I switched to outreach to other sites to write guest posts for them. I also published a few infographics and offered it to other sites to obtain links. With that method you offer infographics to other sites and also offer to write an introduction for it and you place the link into the introduction, it worked great. I bought some editorial links on Huffington Post and Buzzfeed …etc. and I also had another method that I thought was a good idea but didn’t work as well; I offered to write a review for manufacturers if they sent a product example hoping that it would get published to their sites with my link. It did work for a few links but not for most.

 

Did you do anything with an email list, or videos, social media…etc?

No, I collected emails but did nothing with them as I did not have the time. In terms of social media, I had some limited success with pinterest. I had about 30 visitors per day but nothing special.

 

What have been some of your biggest takeaways in terms of what you have learned from what you were originally thinking you would be doing to what you ended up having so much success with?

Honestly, it takes luck to build a successful site. Choosing a niche is a very important part, for me it was a lucky guess. The home/family niche is a somewhat competitive niche, it’s not easy and later I found out that many strong sites were ranking in the first 10 results but nonetheless I kept going and eventually succeeded.

 

Jon Comment – A lot of people get hung up on choosing a niche… if you are looking for help with niche selection you can checkout some ready made “Turnkey” sites for sale at BrandBuilders.io.

 

What are some of the basic traffic numbers, revenue numbers, and the multiple for the sale price?

Well, traffic stats were about 120,000/month. Earnings were 4k at the beginning and reached 5k when I sold it.

The multiple for sale price was about 30x the monthly earnings and I sold through Empire Flippers.

 

How many hours a week did you average over the years working on the site? And what would a typical week look like for you in terms of how those hours were spent?

I worked at least 10-15 hours per week. I was mostly finding link building targets, formatting articles, sending outreach emails, reading seo blogs, and doing research during those times.

 

What sources of information did you find helpful throughout this journey?

Initially, I built the site after watching Spencer Haws. Your website AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com was useful and Niche Pursuits had a course/internship where Perrin built a site and had tutorials on it. After watching them, I built my site. I found that Matt Diggity has some interesting articles, I’m trying to implement his methods.

How have these earnings and this sale impacted your life?

I quit my day job a month ago!! Today is my first day as a full-time online entrepreneur.

I’m planning on building out other websites and investing in real estate. I have many other areas  of interest to explore and my plan is to expand and continue with SEO.

 

Jon Final Comments & 3 Takeaways!

I am very impressed with the results that Mr D was able to achieve! He grew his website to life changing income numbers for him resulting in him leaving his day job. Pretty amazing!

Here are the 3 takeaways I have from his story…

  1. Work on your business and not in it (but don’t overlook the details)
  2. Reinvest in what is working
  3. Stick with it even when it isn’t delivering you the results you want!

 

Mortgage Crushing Challenge Update

It has been too long since we announced the mortgage crushing challenge (MCC) to not have an update! But today I am happy to share how each of our sites are doing.

The short story is my site is now cresting over 1k visitors per day and on a nice growth trajectory but the earnings are not as good as I would like!

It was very clear at the time that there was A LOT of interest in how we would be building out these sites.

We have been working very hard on the sites(although not putting in as much time as we would like) and not keeping people updated as much as we would have liked! So I apologize for that!

This post is to give you a glimpse into both the mindset and stats for the site so far!

If you are building out your site I hope it is going well. If you are looking for some help to get started or keep things going have a look at these options…

Jon’s Update:

What does this challenge mean to you?

Adding another solid earning affiliate site to my portfolio and one that covers mortgage payments would be great!

As my other projects continue to take up more and more time it is important that I keep testing and tweaking my site creation process to keep validating what is working in this space

How many hours a week do you work on your site?

Initially, I put in about 10hrs to really map out my project and then since then I have been putting in about 1hr per week which usually consists of checking my stats, completing additional keyword research and coming up with new monetization strategies.

How did you come up with your niche?

My niche is pretty general as I wanted to try my hand at building a larger content site focusing heavily on content that could truly be evergreen. So the site covers a very wide range of topics.

What have you focused on over the last 4 months?

LOTS of content and leveraging expired domains. For me it has been about putting out a LOT of content targeting super low competition but valuable enough keywords.

What has been a big challenge with your site?

There have been 2 major issues…

  1. The amount of time I have been putting into the project is sub-optimal!
  2. My earnings per visitor are weak and I need to improve this!

What are you focusing on for the next few months?

More of the same to keep pushing the traffic up and then I really need to start working on getting my earnings up! But right now the focus is in trying to keep pushing the traffic up on this site so that when I do focus more on monetization I have a TON of traffic to play with.

How are you monetizing it?

AdSense and only AdSense right now. Pretty boring and its not working well!

What’s your content creation plan?

Target low competition keywords that are evergreen in nature (will be searched in 5 years time at the same amount they are now). Keep pushing out a lot of content for the site leveraging the process we use at ContentRefined.com to create content that ranks!

What is your backlinking plan?

I have only leveraged expired domains. Both PBN links (10 site done for you PBN) and 3 301 building blocks have been leveraged.

Sites Data

  • Cost to Date = ~$500/month
  • Earnings to Date = $256

Google Analytics

So overall with traffic going to over 1k visitors per day I am happy with the traffic growth and will keep pushing on what is working!

 

Kelley’s Update

What does this challenge mean to you?

My husband and I have been renting for the last few years and we want to eventually buy a house. What I hope to get out of this challenge is not only to learn more about building income websites but I also want to be able to financially help us to get a home that we can buy. I hope that by the end of the year, I will be able to build my site up enough to be able to pay for my rent and eventually my monthly mortgage when we get a house.

How many hours a week do you work on your site?

Every week varies depending on the workload I have, however, I try to get in at least 2 hours a week on my site. Sometimes I would spend 3-4 evenings working on getting the content templates create for my for my writers, but usually I am around the 2-3 hour per week mark.

How did you come up with your niche?

I have always wanted to do the type of site I am creating. I had a few options in mind that were very specific but I choose a niche that will take quite a bit of ‘elbow’ work to make an impact in.

What have you focused on over the last 4 months?

Over the last 4 months my biggest focus has been on getting a good solid base of content created for the site.

What has been a big challenge with your site?

A big challenge I am currently having with my site is getting visitors to it. I have quite a few good keywords that I am ranking in the high 10-20’s that I have been trying to get onto page 1. I have started to get some link building in place so I hope I am able to see some movement from that.

What are you focusing on for the next few months?

Over the next few months I want to be able to continue to push out some quality content, while executing quality backlinks to those articles. I also want to improve the layout of my articles in order to make it more user-friendly.

How are you monetizing it?

Currently I am monetizing the site via Amazon. But due to the new advertising fee structure I may look to some other affiliate options on CJ or Shareasale.

What’s your content creation plan?

My current content creation plan has been to get a massive pillar article created and then get smaller supporting articles that can interlink the the pillar article. I also intend to do a lot more keyword research in order to find lower competition keywords in my niche regardless of search volume just so I can get more visitors to my site.

What is your backlinking plan?

I have done a variety of backlinking strategies over the last few months to try and get the site moving. I first started off with looking at some of my competitors sites to see where they were getting some of their links from to see which ones I could replicate. I did see that some backlinks were coming just from blog posting so I did the same thing. That seemed to help get the ball rolling. After that I did some research and decided to give the scholarship route a try. I sent out about 300 emails and got backlinks from 3 different schools. Not to great on the conversion but it was better than nothing. Currently I am using our Use My PBN service to help point some links to some of my articles that just need an extra little push.

During the next few months I am going to continue with the blog commenting (around 5-10 per week), possible get a few editorial links created, continue to use the Use My PBN service and I might outreach out to a few more schools with the scholarship route again.

Sites Data

Analytics

SerpFox

Maddie’s Update

What does this challenge mean to you?

  • This challenge has really been about learning for me. When I started working with Kelley and Jon I had no idea what an “income website” was. I’m using this as a way to learn more about the “bigger picture” of the business so that in the end I can relate to my customers on a really real level. Some extra income is always nice too.

How many hours a week do you work on your site?

  • I generally put around 2 hours a week in depending on how busy my week is. I do like to try and publish my own content as much as possible as thrive is always updating and I like to be up to date on it.

How did you come up with your niche?

  • I came up with my Niche as it was something that I personally just really like. I wouldn’t say it’s a passion of mine but it definitely comes from personal interest

What have you focused on over the last 4 months?

  • I’ve really just focused on getting quite a bit of content on my site at this point. I wanted to go after the obvious ones at first and I’m still working on that.

What has been a big challenge with your site?

  • I know this is a really lame excuse- but time! Time has been such a struggle as I feel guilty using my time to grow something that isn’t of any use to the business. Content Refined was just launched in November and I’ve been working really hard on it. If I’m going to be on the computer working on something, it’s hard for it not to be Content Refined related!

What you are focusing on for the next few months?

  • The next few months I want to focus on a better and more strategic content plan. I also want to start organizing my site a bit better as I have a lot of content and want to create some backlinking strategies with existing content etc..

How are you monetizing it?

  • Well, I applied for google adsense a few weeks after I started ranking for Keywords and I got rejected, so now I’m going to apply for Amazon after I complete a full audit on my site. I have quite a few review articles on there now that are starting to rank so hopefully that will be a better strategy.

What’s your content creation plan?

  • Initially I went after a bunch of the low hanging fruit for my initial round of content. Now that I can see what’s a hit and what’s not, I will create a custom content plan with about 4 different silos and build from there.

What is your backlinking plan?

  • Currently I don’t have a backlinking plan. Once my site gets a bit bigger, I intend to buy a 5 site PBN package from lightning rank and get some consistent backlinking done.

Sites Data


Analytics

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