Are you looking to start a profitable blog or website? Though that is one of the most tried-and-true methods for making money online, and it requires very little upfront investment, there is definitely a learning curve. The biggest hurdle you will face is attracting visitors to your site.
These days, most people are bombarded with tons of information, and the competition for attention is fierce. Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to draw in free, organic traffic from targeted visitors. Basically, if you can figure out what keywords people are searching for on Google and other search engines, you can cater your content to match what people actually want. Creating content that people don’t actively want to read can be fun as a personal project, but if you’re running a business, it’s a disappointing waste of time to put up an article and only hear crickets chirping.
This is why keyword research is important. Before you even write a post, always check to make sure people actually want to hear what you have to say. The research doesn’t stop there, though—you also have to make sure that a zillion other websites haven’t already covered the subject matter. Unless you have something to genuinely contribute that hasn’t been covered to death before, then you will be lost in the crowd.
Keyword Research is a Shot in the Dark
To simply summarize what I covered above, doing proper keyword research for your website involves:
1) Finding out what people are searching for AND
2) Making sure that what you have to say about it is unique and relevant.
Your first question is probably: “Where do I even start?” Indeed, doing keyword research manually is like a shot in the dark. With primitive keyword tools, you would have to kind of guess what people are interested in and then check the volume of searches on that keyword.
For instance, if your website is about how to teach cats to use the toilet, you might think that the keyword phrase “cats using the toilet” might work, but then when you check it on a research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, you might see that people don’t search with those terms much. Or you may find that it’s popular, but there are tons of web pages that are already competing for this phrase when you run a Google search for it. You might have to repeat this over and over a few times until you find a winner—or a keyword that kind of works, at least.
It can take forever. It’s a much better idea to save yourself loads of time and use an advanced keyword research tool that gives you tons of information.
In case you didn’t know, the basic definition of a keyword research tool is a web application that at the very least shows you the search volume of specific keywords. For example, you type in “nutritious pellets for my pet monkey” and it will tell you that X amount of people searched for this keyword last month. Usually, though, keyword tools will offer at least a bit more information, like suggestions for similar keywords or data about the advertising competition for a given keyword.
If you want to really speed things up and make your life easier, though, you need something more than just these basic offerings. In fact, you need something more than just a tool. If possible, having an entire community that can help you, along with training products, and a superior tool that gives you tons of information will go a long way towards helping you succeed in building a profitable website.
One of the most trusted package deals in the industry when it comes to SEO is Moz. Moz is more than just a keyword research tool (though it does that, too), it will help you with link-building, page optimization, and more. Most of the time, you would have to run around finding tools from separate sources for these kinds of services, but you get everything you need all at once with Moz. It’s not even that expensive, and in fact a lot of their tools are free.
Let’s take a closer look at the stuff they have to offer:
The Free Tools
Though there is a pro version, you can sign up and start using the free tools right away without paying a cent. If you want more searches and better features, you can always sign up, but I think starting free is preferable when you’re in your beginning stages.
1) Keyword Explorer
A keyword tool is the most important thing, in my opinion. It is a staple of SEO, and Moz’s tool is one of the most powerful out there. You can go there right now and try a few search terms even without signing up. Moz will tell you:
* Monthly search volume.
* Ranking difficulty. (Their estimation of how hard it will be for you to get on the front page of Google for that search term.)
* An analysis of whether the keyword is a good opportunity.
* 5 keyword suggestions for similar searches, along with their respective search volumes.
* Analysis of the top 3 sites that are currently showing up on the search results page.
If you sign up or upgrade to pro, you’ll have access to even more information along these lines.
2) Open Site Explorer
This tool gives you some extremely valuable and juicy information about your competitors. It tells you what other sites link to them. With this information, you can analyze whether it’s worth it to compete with them on certain keywords, and you also know where you can possibly go to get links for yourself.
This is a toolbar that you can install for free on Chrome. It gives you all kinds of interesting information about websites that you visit. It will show you important page elements, keywords that your competitor is using, as well as an analysis of the links on the page. It’s a really popular tool and already has nearly half a million downloads.
4) Moz Local
Moz has some tools especially for local businesses, too. This includes a business listing checker and search engine optimization tools made especially for local enterprises. If you run a website as your business, this is less likely to apply to you, though.
Of course, if you want to pay, then you’ll have unlimited access to the free tools as well as the ability to use advanced tools. These advanced tools take you in a more customized direction.
Moz Pro Campaigns
Moz Pro will help you make personalized SEO campaigns for your site and will track statistics for you. You can track your rankings for each of your keywords, which gives you convenient and automatic feedback as to whether your SEO efforts are bringing results. This is extremely important since you don’t want to waste your time using tactics that simply don’t work. You can also keep track of your competitors in the same way.
You can analyze your rankings in many different contexts, as well. Moz will track your mobile rankings, your local rankings, and more. It will give you ranking stats for over 200 countries and for all of the major search engines, not just Google.
Advanced Keyword Research
Keyword suggestions are important for any keyword research tool because they save you from guessing. You can just look at hundreds of suggestions and their respective volumes and decide from there which ones will be the most lucrative to target. It will also show you which pages rank for those terms and give a detailed analysis of why your competitors rank for certain keywords. This information is gold when you’re trying to reach the first page of Google.
Advanced Link Analysis
As mentioned before, you can see who links to your competitors by using the free version of Moz’s Open Site Explorer, but their pro version offers a lot more. For one, you can spy on a multitude of competitor websites, instead of being limited to just a few. In addition, you will have access to the full list of backlinks for a given website.
It will also offer site contact information in case you want to get in touch with those who provided your competitors with backlinks. One solid backlink-building tactic is to find broken links that were meant to point to one of your competitors, contacting the site owner who posted the broken link, and offering a page from your site instead. Moz helps you identify these opportunities a lot more quickly than if you did this manually.
You can also analyze your own site and see who has been linking to you. It will give you an idea of what kinds of sites to target in your link-building strategy, and you may also discover some micro-niches that you appeal to that you may not have even realized.
Finally, Moz offers spam analysis on the backlinks. You may not realize this when you’re just starting out, but “negative SEO” is definitely a thing. If you have low quality, spammy websites linking to you, this can actually hurt your rankings. It can make it look like you were trying to “game the system” with spammy links, and Google can punish you for it. However, if you analyze your site with
Open Site Explorer, you will be aware of these links and can then take steps towards “disavowing” them with Google. This can definitely help your rankings.
Moz will crawl your site and check for SEO inefficiencies. On-page SEO is the foundation of building a high traffic site, and you really need to have this down or you will be shooting yourself in the foot. Having good code on your site that loads quickly, having links that aren’t broken, and avoiding duplicate content all makes for good on-site SEO, and Moz’s site crawl function can find these issues.
It’s important to have an “audit” like this before the real search engine spiders begin to crawl your page and find problems. Bad on-page SEO can destroy your rankings.
Page Optimization Score for Keywords
Flowing naturally from basic on-page optimization is the need to optimize your page for specific keywords. Are you using your keywords effectively? Did you use a keyword phrase too many times and Google thinks you’re “keyword stuffing”? Did you use it too few times and risk being deemed irrelevant in the rankings?
There is a happy medium, but sometimes it’s hard to find the balance. With Moz’s tool, you can automatically analyze your page for a given keyword and figure out what you need to do to fix any inefficiencies. Again, you can do all of this manually to an extent, but Moz saves you hours and hours of time.
One of the main draws of the pro version is simply all of the reports and analytics that you get. Information is power when it comes to building a winning site. You need to know which keywords are best to target, whether you’re effectively targeting them, and whether your site has the right links pointing to it to back all of your efforts up.
Without this kind of feedback, you will just be in the dark and you’ll have to do a lot of guessing. In business, guessing is a bad idea! If you have the opportunity to know instead of guess, absolutely take that opportunity. In this case, especially, it really is a small price to pay for everything you get.
When you’re first starting out, you’re probably low on capital funds, so I totally understand being stingy about certain things. However, I highly recommend not being stingy about your tools. Tools that save you time and effort (and even give you information that you can’t access manually) are more than worth it. The whole point is to raise your income to a self-sustaining level. Moz can definitely help you do that.
Besides, you can always try it before you buy it. Even the free tools are extremely valuable. If you’re working on building a site, go to Moz right now and give the free tools a try. If you’ve never used an SEO research site of this quality, I can practically guarantee that you will learn something new about your niche.