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Winning the Game of Search with Tools

Winning the game of organic search comes down to three essential activities.

1. Figuring out what to write about in order to rank well for your key terms – Keyword research
2. Figuring out what others are doing that currently rank above you – Competitive research
3. Figuring out how to build authority for your content in the eyes of search engines – Link and networking research

While there are potentially dozens of elements that go into each of the points above for the most part this is the game. This also explains why content and social are foundational aspects of SEO today.

In an effort to do all that figuring out above you must employ a toolset that makes it easy to do keyword research, optimize every bit of content, spy on competitors and network to increase links and authority for your content.

Below is a list of tools I use for these activities. I wonder if you might add or share your favorites.

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John Jantsch

SEO Tools for Small Business

List of the best SEO tools for small business marketing.

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  1. 1  BoostSuite - Website Marketing Optimization for Small Businesses

    BoostSuite - Website Marketing Optimization for Small Businesses

    BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small businesses. Unlike current web marketing optimization products that bewilder and discourage small business users, BoostSuite allows novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. BoostSuite takes only three minutes to set up, is easy to learn, and can be used by anyone.

  2. 2  SEMrush: service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain

    SEMrush: service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain

    SEMrush is created by SEO/SEM professionals for SEO/SEM professionals. We have the knowledge, expertise, and data to help you take your projects to the next level. We collect massive amounts of SERP data for more than 95 million keywords and 45 million domains, including: AdWords ad copies and positions, organic positions for domains and landing URLs, search volumes, CPC, competition, number of results, and so much more.

  3. 3  Positionly


    SEO Software that tracks search engine rankings, analyze competitors and check backlinks with simplicity by Positionly

  4. 4  InBoundio - Simple Inbound Marketing Software

    InBoundio - Simple Inbound Marketing Software

    InBoundio is a simple inbound marketing software targeted towards individuals and small businesses

  5. 5  Scribe: Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing

    Scribe: Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing

    Tina Marie Hilton My skepticism of Scribe was short lived. Not only has the traffic to my site increased when using Scribe, but the content I've created using it continued to get better traffic than when I was creating without it.

  6. 6  WordPress SEO Plugin

    WordPress SEO Plugin

    Get more visitors to your WordPress site! WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.

  7. 8  MOZ: Try out PRO: The Web's Most Popular SEO and Social Monitoring Software - Moz

    MOZ: Try out PRO: The Web's Most Popular SEO and Social Monitoring Software - Moz

    The Help Hub - Everything you need to know about Moz.

  8. 9  Raven Tools: SEO Software, Social Media, PPC & Marketing Tools by Raven

    Raven Tools: SEO Software, Social Media, PPC & Marketing Tools by Raven

    I've never seen it in a rule book, but I'm pretty sure a good community manager is never supposed to be in a bad mood. Not publicly, at least. So it surprised me when I had a bad day, shared this photo on Raven's Facebook ...

  9. 10  SpyFu: Search Marketing Research & Tracking | SpyFu SEM Tools

    SpyFu: Search Marketing Research & Tracking | SpyFu SEM Tools

    SpyFu exposes the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors. Search for any domain and see every place they've shown up on Google: every keyword they've bought on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 6 years.

  10. 12  WordTracker: Free Keyword Research Tool

    WordTracker: Free Keyword Research Tool

    SEO your site with Wordtracker's free keywords tool and training videos

  11. 13  Ubersuggest: Keyword suggestion tool - Google suggest scraper - Übersuggest

    Ubersuggest: Keyword suggestion tool - Google suggest scraper - Übersuggest

    Get thousands keywords ideas in a minute with this amazing keyword suggestion tool: Übersuggest is Google Suggest on steroids!

  12. 14  Ahrefs: Site Explorer & Backlink Checker

    Ahrefs: Site Explorer & Backlink Checker

    Site Explorer & Backlink Checker Huge index of links, data updates every 15 minutes, friendly interface and rich data analysis have made Site Explorer the world's most strong tool for checking links. The tool can show links (including new and internal), linking domains, anchors, and best pages of a domain.

  13. 15  SEO and Site Architecture Tool

    SEO and Site Architecture Tool

    SEO and Site Architecture Tool, designed for SEO's, developers and website managers.

  14. 16  IT Valley Pakistan

    IT Valley Pakistan

    Investing in the IT sector of Pakistan is the most wise decision anyone can take, surprised, don't be, in the last few years IT is the only sector that has boomed in the country, where it takes billions of Rs to startup a company or a factory, a software house can be started as low as 1 million Rs and the outcome of that company is 100 times more than the investment.

  15. 17  SEO


    Tools For Optimization

  16. 18  SEO Rank Monitor

    SEO Rank Monitor

    SEO Rank Monitor tracks and analyzes all our users’ search engine rankings, and store them altogether in a user-friendly dashboard where they can check their SEO results.

How to Stay Focused On Producing Your Highest Payoff Content

Today’s post is a direct answer to a question I receive frequently.

Writing optimized content

photo credit: madamepsychosis

First, the question – “I get that I need to produce lots of content but what should I write about?”

And now, the simple answer – “Write about things that your customers and prospects want to know more about.”

It really is that simple. Of course, the challenging part is understanding and staying focused on the most important, otherwise known as highest payoff, topics.

Today it’s not enough to simply write brilliant stuff. Yes, that’s certainly one aspect, but you’ve also got to write brilliant stuff that addresses what your prospects want to know in ways that search engines and searchers alike find relevant.

A little bit of research can go a long way when trying to develop a content strategy based on winning search results for phrases and topics related to what you do.

For this I’ll turn to a primary SEO routine.

Keyword research is a fundamental practice in the search engine optimization and marketing world. It’s how you determine what your pages need to say, it’s how you determine what your competition for important search terms is doing to stay at the top of the rankings and it’s how you determine what search terms and countless variations you want to bid on in your pay-per-click campaigns.

It’s also a great way to develop a body of primary topics for your editorial content calendar.

Below is a routine I’ve used over and over again to help sort out the precise body of topics that will produce the highest payoff in terms of search engine results. (If you want to read my thoughts on how I use these phrases once I discover them check out – The 7 Most Important SEO Factors for Bloggers)

List of 30 – 5 groups

The first thing I do is brainstorm a list of key search terms based on my own analytics, my sent email box and questions that clients routinely ask. I try to produce a list of suspects that reach thirty or so.

Then I try to group them into five or so major themes.

Google Keyword Tool

Next I take this list to a free tool like the Google Keyword Tool or a paid service such as WordTracker.

I run the words or phrases into these tools and quickly start working on revising my brainstorming list based on actual search volume, competition and a host of related phrases that these tools feed me.

Volume and competition prune

I revise my list, sometimes greatly, based on an initial analysis of the amount of search volume and how competitive a search term is and land on a group of phrases somewhere between perfect world and extremely long tail.

The more specific a search phrase is the more valuable it may be in terms of conversion. In other words, someone searching “small business marketing” could be looking for a lot of things, but someone searching “small business marketing growth strategy” might likely be looking for that killer course you’re selling – less volume, more relevance.

Conduct searches

Now I take my revised list that is probably no more than ten phrases, to the Google. I plug each phrase in and note the page one results. (These days it might make sense to do this logged in and out of your Google account as the results can vary greatly.)

I analyze the top results to make sure this is a place I want to land and create a list of what I now call my “competition” for these phrases. I then employ a few competitive research tools, such as the free Open Site Explorer or SEO Toolbar from SEOBook or the paid Raven Tools to learn a great deal about why these sites or pages are ranking well for these terms.

Website content feature

google keyword tools

Using the website feature you can easily learn what search terms Google thinks a page or site is optimized for.

One last step I like to use is to return to Google Keyword tool and use the website content feature that allows you to run a keyword analysis not on a search phrase but on an actual URL.

I do this with many of the competitive sites to learn why Google thinks what they do about this page and drum up more related search term candidates.

From all of this research I can generally come up with a meaty list of topics that I know I need to blog about in a very optimized way. My only task now to is find ways to say some of the same things over and over again in highly interesting ways. I also employ a tool like Scribe in my writing to help keep me laser focused on the content strategy.

This isn’t the only way to do keyword research and I’m sure many of the SEO folks have great strategies and routines for accomplishing what I’ve described here, but this is a way that works for me and helps me naturally balance the need for content with the need for optimization.