Mequoda reveals the best SEO software publishers can use to extend the life of all their articles — more effortlessly.
Search engine optimization isn’t a “like to have” feature of web marketing—if you’re a publisher, it’s a no brainer. The best form of search engine optimization is through copious amounts of content, not tweaking title and meta tags on a homepage. Every new article you publish is a new opportunity to drive hundreds or thousands of new visitors to your site every month.
The reason why I point this out, is because referring to the best SEO software could imply several different types of tools depending on your business. Restaurants and brick and mortar stores rely heavily on local SEO tools like Google Places, and optimizing their Yelp profiles. They rely very little on content management systems, SEO plugins, or keyword tracking tools.
For publishers with content, your goal is what we call ACEM—to attract new visitors, capture their email addresses, engage them through your email newsletters, and finally, monetize all that work you’ve put in.
The very first step, attract, relies on a suite of SEO tools that our team, editors, and analysts alike, use to create and measure articles that get found for longer than the days we actively promote them.
There’s an article on our site that consistently gets anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 unique visitors every single month, and continued to drive that much traffic, for several years. To keep it updated and useful, we implement a blockbuster republishing strategy where we update, republish, and re-promote it every six months, but that’s the extent of it.
Would you like more posts like this that are so effortless? Here’s a list what we consider the best SEO software publishers can use to bring in the most website traffic more effortlessly. (If you want it to be even more effortless, let Mequoda be your general contractor and manage it all for you — sign up to chat.)
The Best SEO Software for Niche Publishers
Where else to start but the world’s most popular search engine, right? We use Google’s Keyword Planner to determine what search phrases people are looking for. You must create and sign into a free Google account to use this tool. The Google Keyword Planner was designed specifically to run AdWords campaigns, so it has many more functions that we don’t need for simple keyword research. However, what it will give organic SEOs is an approximate number of times someone searches for a keyword phrase.
So for example, if you’re publishing an article on how to plant hydrangeas, you can type in “how to plant hydrangeas” and Google will tell you that 1,000 people per month are searching for that exact term. It will also tell you that 900 extra people, for a total of 1,900 people are searching for “planting hydrangeas.” It will also tell you that only 70 people per month are searching for “plant hydrangeas.” So when you’re comparing titles, you can pick one that accurately reflects the article, but drives the most traffic.
- [How to Plant Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (1,000 searches per month)
- A Guide to [Planting Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (1,900 searches per month)
- Why You Should [Plant Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (70 searches per month)
There are also other great paid SEO software tools out there that will give you similar data, like Wordtracker.
Of course, finding the right keywords is only the first half of the process. If there are 1,000 people searching for a keyword, but there are 2 million other pages targeting the keyword, chances are that your article may get lost in the mix. It’s for that reason that a second step is necessary.
Head to Google.com and type in your keyword, in quotes, and hit search. The number of “results” you will see below the search box is how many other competing pages there are. We Google in quotes because it tells us our most accurate competition, not just any page out there with any combination of the keyword term we’re searching for. Google likes to list direct matches, although it takes many other factors into consideration.
- [How to Plant Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (20,900 competing pages)
- A Guide to [Planting Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (18,900 competing pages)
- Why You Should [Plant Hydrangeas] in the Early Summer (31,600 competing pages)
This is a great example, because out of the three headlines, “planting hydrangeas” not only has the most search volume, it also has the lowest number of competing pages. This means the term is not only easy to rank on (anything under 100k is pretty smooth sailing for publishers), but it’s also worth your time because it will send significant targeted traffic every month.
Pairing these two basic tools will help you make the most out of every article you write. And after you’ve picked your headline, just be sure to sprinkle the keyword in where it makes sense (and check out our SEO scorecard.)
Moving into paid SEO software, we’ve been big fans of Moz since they were SEO Moz, and for years before that. These guys are a go-to resource for knowledge about current SEO trends. For any business who wants to regularly audit their websites themselves, they offer Moz Pro, a suite of tools that will give you a fully detailed report of all the 404 errors, broken links and a report card of SEO issues (DeepCrawl is another SEO software tool for this). You can track keywords as well, but for publishers like ours who are tracking thousands of keywords, the pricing plans are around $600 per month (this is one of many services Mequoda provides for all our Gold Members through our own tools.) I highly recommend watching Founder Rand Fishkin’s weekly Whiteboard Friday where he gets into everything going on with SEO, in a really informative and engaging way.
Open Site Explorer is a free tool built by Moz that will help you analyze any web page. It will tell you the “authority” of any page which has more or less replaced PageRank, but also gives you a moderate amount of insight into who’s linking to you, so you can decipher any high-quality backlinks that you want to explore.
Majestic offers Site Explorer, a similar SEO search engine. It assigns an SEO-respected “Majestic Trustflow” score, with some of the same domain analytics as Moz’s Open Site Explorer, but also featuring backlink tools like Ahrefs, further down in this list.
Advanced Web Ranking is a tool that helps you track the keywords you’re targeting and how well you’re ranking on those keywords. On a month to month basis you can eventually see where you’re rising and falling, and when a post stops ranking, you can re-promote it to try and get it re-ranked. We use Advanced Web Ranking as part of our Google Visibility Report we provide to clients, which provides an organized look at your entire keyword universe, cluster visibility, and overall visibility. The data in this report can be used to help prioritize and track the effectiveness of your search engine marketing campaigns and daily posts. It also provides the taxonomy for your subject, based on your navigation scheme at the category and tag levels. One benchmark GVR will be created annually, and then there will be detailed monthly updates and monthly position updates.
Advanced Web Ranking is especially good for high-volume tracking, and a one-time cost, but is downloaded software to your computer, not web-based like the others you’ll find on this list.
A lot like Advanced Web Ranking, SEM Rush tracks organic search visibility based on the keywords you tell it to track. Everyday, their program scans and records the search engine ranking positions (SERP) for the keywords we designate. One unique feature that SEM Rush has is its ability to track which landing pages (or articles) join or drop from search ranking. To have an up to date list of pages that dropped from search is an important tool for content marketers. We can dive in to see if there are page, SEO, or formatting errors that my have caused it to drop. Dropped articles are also great opportunities to reactivate them via social media or update the post with more relevant content.
As opposed to Advanced Web Ranking, SEMRush has a great clean interface that’s very user-friendly and can be highly automated, but because it’s web-based system and not a one-time purchase like Advanced Web Ranking, you’ll pay a subscription fee based on the number of keywords you want to track. AuthorityLabs is another option in this arena which helps you track historical data around your ranking.
Spyfu is great for competitive research, giving you insights into what other publishers in your niche are paying for when it comes to keywords, and which ones they rank on organically. It helps you discover keywords that your competition uses while sharing information on what advertisers experienced after using the keyword phrases. It will tell you if a competitor is spending money on ads, versus how much of their traffic they get organically, which keywords send them the most traffic, and tells you how many keywords are in their keyword universe (ones they rank on). It’s a great tool for comparing yourself to competition and seeing how much attention they pay to organic SEO vs paid search ads.
SEMRush includes all the features of Spyfu, but if you’re simply looking to find out competitive data about other niche publishers and their SEO/SEM efforts, SpyFu does a great job.
Google Trends supplies information on search trends associated with keyword phrases. Using it could help editors decide which SEO keyword phrases should be targeted over others, although the data is very news-centric. So for example, Cecil the Lion was a huge Google trend in 2015, but it won’t likely be a topic many people will be searching for in 2016.
Ahrefs is used when you want to find out everything there is to know about your backlinks, or the backlinks of your competitors. And you can dig into all of those backlinks to find out which ones are sending the most traffic, or most authoritative. This link breakdown can help you determine who you might also partner up with for guest post opportunities, or who else is a leader in your niche that would be worth collaborating with. Ahrefs isn’t just a backlink tool, although that’s what it’s most known for.
Less tactical and perhaps more entry level than the other tools, they’ve started bundling in other features from the best SEO software tools we’ve mentioned so far, like keyword tracking, position tracking, page error-checking, and also brand monitoring for mentions of your keywords or brand name used across the web.
Although I started this list off with some free tools from Google, you won’t find any good SEO tools that are free beyond that. I’ve included this list of paid tools that I recommend, and the benefits of each one. You don’t need to go out and buy every single one, because many of them do the same things.
If you’re a Mequoda Gold Member, you can bat your eyelashes and flip your hair because all of this is done for you. But if you’re a niche publisher getting into SEO, these tools are a good start.
And if this all seems a little overwhelming, lets chat about how you can increase your revenues by 2x or 3x in the next five years, all beginning with SEO.