So you want to optimize your site for search? Good call. This is one of the best investments you can make when trying to grow your online business. Users are far more likely to click on the top organic search results than they are to click on a promoted link.
When you get started with SEO, you will soon see that there are a lot of tools to help you maximize your efforts. From reporting and content strategy to link building, partnerships and technical audits, these tools will help you improve your search rankings, check your ROI and continue to grow your market share.
But which tools to use? I'm glad you asked. Over the next few weeks I'm going to share my favorite tools for every aspect of SEO management. And today I'd like to start by talking about the best tools for content strategy.
- Ahrefs: Content Explorer (starts at USD $99/month)
- Answer The Public (Free; Pro at USD $99/month)
- Keywords Everywhere (Free)
- Story Chief (Free; Premium starts at USD $10/month)
Bow down to content
The phrase “Content is King” is a familiar one in the marketing world. I agree, but I’ve found that people often forget about distribution. You can invest all your time and money in creating the best content, but if no one sees it, what’s the point? The way to get eyes on your content is to hone your distribution strategy. And that’s where using the right SEO tools comes in.
In fact, I recommend that my clients start using these tools at the planning stage – before they even start writing or creating. This strategy will help you be aware of what's going on in the market. These tools will help you to look at what your competitors are doing and identify the gaps in product and service. Knowing this information up front will help you plan content that will best showcase your company and what sets your product or service apart. Only then can you fill in those gaps you found in your research to get more of the market share.
Here are my favorite SEO tools for mastering content strategy:
Ahrefs: Content Explorer
(Price ranges from $99 to $999 USD per month. You can get a seven-day trial for $7.)
This is an excellent tool for editorial teams. Ahrefs Content Explorer helps with the research I mentioned above to start planning content. It lets you see existing content and get valuable insights about what's happening in your market, and what's mission. You can also see social share stats for insights on which platforms are most popular with your target audience. You can also see estimates of how much traffic your site is getting as a result of specific pieces of content.
Answer The Public and Keywords Everywhere
(Both are free; Answer The Public has a Pro version for $99 per month.)
I’m lumping these in together because Answer The Public is the most powerful when used with Keywords Everywhere. Answer The Public allows you to do topic and market demand research. For example, if you are selling artichokes you can do a search on their site and they will tell you the phrases and questions that people search for most in relation to the word artichokes. Then, you can look through the list for content ideas that would satisfy those searches. Then your content team can start planning an editorial calendar with titles like "How to Boil Artichokes," "Why Artichokes Give You Gas," and "Are Artichokes Keto?"
This is what we call keyword expansion. This tool is best used with Keywords Everywhere because it automatically gives you the search volume, which improves the usability of those keywords. I like Answer The Public because it’s not just generic keywords, it's a very good place to start as a seed.
With Keywords Everywhere, you can bulk check the search volume of keywords. Every keyword has a search volume, a number that represents how many people are searching for those keywords in a month. That lets us see what the demand is like. Some words have 5,000 people searching, some have 10,000 people. You need to know what keywords to use, but also know the numbers. Do you want to reach the 10,000 people, or would you be better off focusing on the smaller group with higher rates of accuracy? These tools can help you set a strategy, and optimize it.
(Free, premium versions start at $10 per month.)
Story Chief is great. I recommend it for my clients, and I use it to manage my own content, including this blog post you are reading! You can publish a blog post and automatically share it to all social channels and multiple platforms. (The time you used to spend copying and pasting? You can reinvest that elsewhere.) Story Chief also has workflow built in so you can easily work with writers to submit, edit and approve stories.
How and When to Use
As I said, start using these tools when you are planning your content. They will help you to identify the ideas that people are talking about and searching about.
They can also help you identify what's timely, so you can capitalize on of-the-moment topics. You want your content to publish at just the right time – you don’t want to go too far ahead or be behind. If you are writing about something timely, when you publish will improve your chances of getting ranked higher. If you are too late, other sites who got there first will have already ranked. Once a site is in the top three, it's easy to maintain that standing. But if you miss the window and other sites get ranked above you. Well, it's very hard to improve your ranking after that happens. These work much better at the stage they are thinking about writing a content outline, make sure the angle you take is what the market expects from you.
You can also use these tools to anticipate a trend. When you do a search volume check, you can keep an eye on certain keyword topics that are relevant to your business. Initially you might get zero, but if it’s a topic of some sort of particular interest you should keep doing those checks every month. That way when there's a spike in interest, you know you need to start writing the content and get it published as soon as possible. You can also use this strategy to see which topics are getting less and less interest.
Use these tools to empower your team
Often, when I work with editorial teams they will come to me asking for keywords and ideas. But if your company is using these tools, your content creators can gather that information themselves. All of the tools I will discuss in this series will really empower you, your employees and your SEO team to drive results and really help your search strategy get to the next level.
Next in the series, I’ll cover my favorite tools for reporting. Stay tuned!
Would you like to connect with me to discuss SEO for your company? Send me a message!