5 SEO Research and Content Tools that I Currently Use
I have built my content marketing system for a few years. With a lot of trial and error, I have come up with a list of 5 tools that I have in my SEO content marketing toolkit. Combine this with a solid writing habit, and you will write blog content consistently. Aside from one of the items on this list, you won’t need to pay a dime to get the use out of the tool that you need.
I feel obligated to mention that I am not affiliated with any of these products and am in no way making any money off of these products as a result. Please don’t think I’m trying to sell these products to you, I’m simply trying to share what I have found to be useful!
Trello is a productivity tool that creates a dashboard for you to add “cards” to “lists”. A list can be anything you want, such as “active projects”, “outstanding invoices”, or “Blog Post Ideas”. Cards can be placed in each of these lists. These cards are individual list items with a title. For example, I have a “blog post ideas” list. In this list, there are cards that contain blog post titles that I have come up with. On my less productive blog-writing days, I focus on writing out blog ideas instead, and this is where I dump them. Another great feature, perhaps my favorite feature, is what you can do with the cards afterward. A click on the card will cause it to open, revealing a multitude of options, including a checklist, description, comments, and labels. I take a single blog idea, write it as a card on my list, and then open the card and write related blog content ideas inside of it. I do my SEO research on the blog topic, and then add my notes to the card. That way, when I get around to writing about that topic, all of the information I have gathered is organized and together. After I write my primary blog post (what the card is named after), I move that card to another list called “Posts that need proofed”, so it is out of my ideas list. This helps me keep track of where all my posts are in the writing process.
Freshkey has changed things for me. This little Adobe Air application will take a search term you put into it, and output as many related keywords as it can. It uses the Google Hummingbird algorithm to gather related keywords, and then saves them into a spreadsheet where you can look them over. This is the first place I go to when I am in need of some blog post direction, or in-need of keyword ideas for my blog post. Freshkey is the only thing on this list that is not free, but the value it offers goes above and beyond anything on this list in my opinion. If you were to walk away using only one of the tools on this list, I would strongly recommend that it be this product. It is a fast, easy way to get a large number of keywords related to whatever keyword put in. Most of them will be unrelated to your intended audience, but sometimes you will find a real gem.
Freshkey generates keywords, but it does not do much to help you filter through them. I use the Google Keyword Tool to help me with that. I take the keyword CSV file I generated with Freshkey, copy the list of terms, and paste them in the Google Keyword Tool’s input. Google will take the search terms, and then spit out some insightful keyword competition data, including how popular the various search terms are. This tool can be a little deceptive because it only shows the competition of a term in-terms of how many other people are paying for ads for that term, but generally speaking the numbers between ad-competition and organic competition are relative. After importing the keywords, I download them as a spreadsheet. Inside the spreadsheet, I will sort and filter the data as I see fit. The Google Keyword Tool can help filter out all the noise, and only show the most valuable terms on a list. This has given me many blog post ideas, and a glimpse on how my audience searches for the content I have written.
SEO companies look for quality content to feature on their search results. Of course, quality content is well written, and well thought out. If your blog post is poorly written, you won’t get ranked (not to mention how unprofessional you’ll look!). My second set of eyes is a web-app called Hemingway. Hemmingway helps with to clean up your grammar. It will underline grammar faux pas, help remove unnecessary words, improve your sentence structure.
Hemingway is also educational, too. As I revise with it, I learn how to properly structure my sentences (and kill those pesky adverbs) before I use the web app. When I first got serious about blogging, my revision process started with Hemingway. I would cut 10–25% of the words in my articles. As I write, I get better. I now cut much less than I did before. I now use Hemingway as a “final draft” step, where I send a blog post just before I publish it.
Out of all of the WordPress plugins I’ve installed on client website, Yoast shows up the most. Yoast is an SEO checking tool that makes optimizing your blog content easy. You give Yoast focus keyword, and it will check your content to make sure that the content is optimized (but not overoptimized) for the keyword you gave it. I take the best keyword choice I found from my FreshKey / Google Keyword Tool combo, and place it into the Yoast checker. This brings focus to my keyword of choice, and empowers me to write with that keyword in-mind. Yoast manages some of the more technical aspects of my SEO, too. It helps validate my XML site map, and checks for SEO-related issues.
What tools are you using?