Here is the bad news… You can no longer use the Google Keyword Planner to easily assess which keywords are the best for your search engine optimization strategy. The competition ranges are vague and you must start a PAID campaign to see more specific analytics.
Yes, this change to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner totally stinks.
Here is the good news…
You can piece together your SEO research by using various free keyword tools or invest in a Google Keyword Planner alternative that gives you all of the information needed in one location.
Alternatives for Google Keyword Planner
This list includes a mixture of free Google’s Keyword Planner alternatives and paid keyword research tools.
InstaKeywords – Probably the most inclusive FREE keyword planning tool currently available, InstaKeywords allows you to see extensive information about your keywords without registration. If you create a FREE account, you can access even more keyword results.
Soovle – Not sure where to begin looking for keywords? Just start typing into Soovle and the database will pull the top related searches, automatically recommending related terms as you type.
Ubersuggest – If you know where to start but are looking for long tailed keywords, Ubersuggest yields the most comprehensive listing of keywords for free. You can even download your list as a CSV to help create a keyword strategy.
Google Trends– If you write according to trending topics, you can find exactly what has been the most popular over the last 24 hours as well as check on the popularity of other topics and categories.
Keyword Discovery– Check the popularity of keywords or use the free trends tool to research the best month to post your topic. Upgrade for access to additional tools.
Google Search – Sometimes, we overlook the easiest solution. Using the Google search engine as a keyword tool is simple. Add your terms to the search bar and Google recommends the top searched keywords.
Once you click to search, scroll to the bottom of the search results page to find other related terms.
Pinterest Guided Search – Pinterest hosts the fastest growing search toolbar on the internet. Guided Search offers you the benefit of seeing the most popular keywords related to the terms you place in the search bar and even helps you refine your keyword choice by offering additional context words.
Bing Webmaster Tools – Understand the words people are searching to find your blog and research keywords to target with your content.
Wordtracker – Start your keyword research for free with the Wordtracker Keyword Tool. This is a very limited search that reveals the overall volume of the search. An upgrade is required for additional information.
BuzzSumo – See how engaged social media users are with your topic by viewing the top trends for your keywords. You can also view current popular topics and trends.
HitTail -The simplest tool for locating keywords you should target based on your existing blog content. Have your website analyzed automatically and receive recommended keywords that fit the topics on your blog. You can try it for FREE and export the recommendations in a CSV file (which can be opened by Excel, Numbers, or with Google Drive.) This is the most affordable of the keyword tools at $9.95 per month.
SEMRush – See the keywords people are using to find your blog content and who is linking to you with SEMRush. Also use SEMRush to research keywords for new categories and see their popularity and the competition across the internet.
WordStream – Much like Google Keyword Planner, receive high-volume low competition niche longtail keywords. Receive 30 keyword reports for free but upgrade to receive more detailed analysis.
Keywordtool-io – Without registration required, each search generates up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions but you must upgrade to see the important analytics.
Spyfu – The best keyword tool for affiliate marketing, you can see the most profitable keywords related to your search. A variety of analytical tools are available for free but an upgrade is required to see beyond the top results.
Keyword Eye– Boasting 50,000 users, Keyword Eye offers competitor analysis, keyword finder, and popular questions tool. Pricing starts at $44 per month.
MOZ – You can search for two keywords FREE each day and get complete results including domain authority and page authority of current search results leading pages. A 30-day free trial is available.
Your favorite Google Keyword Planner Alternative?
If you have a favorite tool for researching keywords, let us know! What will you use as an alternative to Google’s Keyword Planner?
If you have wondered, “What is SEO,” you have taken a step towards a stream of organically driven traffic that does not stress over constant social media changes.
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization, or creating a website that search engines recognize as an authority that delivers answers for which people are seeking online.
People are always searching the internet for information.
You are always creating content for your website.
It’s a match made in… search engines… but you need to know how to optimize your website so that search engines refer traffic to you.
But, this goes beyond search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. An unseen benefit to understanding search engine optimization is that the SEO practices you learn and implement also impact your results on YouTube and Pinterest.
Strong SEO strategies improve your rank with Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, and Pinterest.
But how does a search engine know what you have published on your blog? How does the search engine choose the results to show?
Each search engine is different but they function in similar ways.
Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) is called Rank Brain. Designed to be the best search engine, the AI constantly sends search robots/bots/spiders to crawl over 60 trillion pages on the internet, cataloging pages based on topic, quality, and hundreds of other factors.
The search bots travel by links, following strings of text until a new link directs the bot in a new direction, and reports the information to “the index” that contains over 100 million gigabytes of information.
When someone searches for a topic, algorithms use over two hundred rules to determine the true desire of the user and lists the AI’s best guess on the SERP, search engine results page.
The facets of the algorithm are a closely guarded secret but Google emphasizes the importance of:
Hundreds of factors go into which websites rank at the top of search results but most SEO experts agree that there are some universal elements playing a tremendous part including:
Structure – How your website is built
Hosting/site speed – Faster load times are better. If your choice of host or your hosting package causes pages to load slowly, your website will be dinged.
Theme – Some themes are set up with clean coding that makes it easy for search engine bots to crawl your website. I personally recommend using the Genesis Framework.
Navigation – Drop down menus can hinder search engine crawlers, but your website should be mapped and easy to navigate, for the reader and the bots.
Usability – Keep your website clean and user-friendly. Excessive ads and image maps can impact the user experience and be difficult for search engine robots to navigate.
Mobile optimization – If your website is not viewable on mobile devices, you will fall farther down the search results and may not show up at all.
Topic – What your content is about
Authority/niche – Check the Google Search Console to understand how Google perceives your expertise and niche.
Trends – Understand the number of people searching a particular topic will vary seasonally and according to current events.
Type of content – Videos are given precedence in search engine results. Increase the impact by placing your keywords and other relevant content close to the embedded video.
Quality – The quality of your content supersedes all other factors.
Length – While some believe the optimal length of a post is between 300 and 500 words, others think longer posts of 1,500 words or more receive greater recognition.
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Keywords – Which words you target to achieve ranking
Voice-recognized results – Choose long-tailed keywords, or keyword phrases, based on how someone would naturally ask you a question. This increases the SEO value for voice-entered search inquiries.
Focused content – Your post should focus on your keyword or keyword phrase.
Uniqueness – Have a goal to optimize each page or post for one set of keywords.
Frequency of keyword use – Write naturally but avoid overusing pronouns (it, they, there, etc.) within your content. Use your keywords (or variations of your keywords) instead, but do not “keyword stuff” your content.
Placement – Where the keywords are placed within your website and posts
On page – Have keywords in text links, page URL, image names, image alt attributes, and subheadings of your post.
Meta date – Set the meta data for each post and include keywords in the description. Using a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to determine the meta description and can increase your click-through rate from search engine results.
Link building – Link out to other relevant blogs in your niche as this can help Google relate you to your chosen niche.
Nofollow – Protect your website by using the rel=nofollow attribute when linking to an affiliate or sponsor.
Promotion – How popular your content is on the internet and in social media
Backlinks – Keep backlinks from quality sources as they increase your value. Increase incoming links to your website by guest posting on other websites within your niche.
Social media – Social media marketing has been an important part of SEO since 2011 and increases in importance each year. Do not neglect promoting your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
Google+ – Use your keywords in your G+ status update. Google owns Google+ and gives SEO bonus points to content posted to Google+.
Content aggregation – Seek to be included in content round-up posts focused on a particular topic as researchers speculate search engines prefer sources where content is aggregated by topic.
Other factors – Where, what and how
History – The search engine includes a user’s browser history when calculating the search results.
Frequency – Posting regularly to your website increase the number of visits from a search engine bot and boosts your SEO ranking.
Free Printable SEO Cheat Sheet
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If you interview the most experienced bloggers, they will tell your that 80% to 90% of their blogging income comes from 1% to 10% of their posts. The most popular posts contain content that converts into a profit.
Meanwhile, you are slaving away and cranking out post after post hoping to get lucky.
How is it possible to write less but profit more? There are two paths you can take.
Path One: The Adsense way to profitability
Don’t bounce off yet. I know… many of you see the word ADSENSE and automatically freak out. I promise to make this as simple for you as possible.
How Adsense works
Google Adsense is a bidding-based advertising platform. Some companies are willing to bid more through Adsense to show up as an advertisement in search results and/or on your blog’s sidebar. When you use search engine optimization on your blog to create a blog post or page targeting these keywords, you can drive traffic to the Adsense ads on your blog.
Imagine an auction where people crowd in with their numbered paddles and wait for the auctioneer to open bidding on items of interest… except in this scenario, the crowd is full of advertisers and the auctioneer is Google.
But what are the items up for bid? They are keyword searches based on topics. For example, “easy slow cooker recipes,” “best laptop deals,” and “printable calendar” are all potential keyword searches.
As a hot item – or a popular keyword – is placed up for auction, the bidding begins and is pushed higher and higher until one advertiser trumps all others with a high bid. That advertiser is then seen in two potential places: search results and in space designated for Adsense ads on topical blog posts.
When you write a blog post or create a new page, Google sends robots to scan for keywords.
Keeping with the auction analogy, think of the robots as prospectors who are checking out the items before the auction begins. They report back to Google with what they find and Google creates a catalog of the entries in preparation for the auction.
When someone places those keywords into the search bar, the auction begins. When the person selects your link from the search results, the highest bidding advertisers shows in the Adsense placements available on your blog.
We will save how Google chooses who shows up first in search results for another day but this is the point… When a person clicks or views the advertisement (depending on the advertiser’s contract with Google), you receive a payout.
It boils down to how Google makes money. Content that attracts an expensive audience helps Google get paid. When you are using Adsense and writing the content people want, Google passes part of that profit on to you.
Using Adsense to monetize your blog
But should you write just to drive traffic from Google and get a payout? No.
Your content should be a natural extension of your blog’s personality. Otherwise, your tribe of readers will wonder what has happened to you and leave without a second glance. So, consider your current niche, your existing categories, and find the hot keywords related to your content.
Lucky for you… there is another way to write profitable posts.
Path Two: Affiliate-driven blog content
A different option for writing blog posts that convert into profit is to think from the outside and work inward.
Choosing your affiliate partnerships
When you consider your blog, what are your readers needing when they land on your posts? Which companies offer products that can solve their problems? And do those companies have an affiliate program?
Not sure? Just search the company name and the word “affiliate” to see what pops up.
What if there are multiple companies who can offer the same solution and you have no loyalty to either? Choose the one with the higher commission.
Ever wonder why so many blog experts recommend BlueHost over other blog hosting companies? Is it because they are the best? (Insert choice adjective here) no! It’s because they have the highest payout of any blog host.
But, how do you find the profitable keywords?
How do you know which keywords receive the highest bids? Which words should you use in your posts to target the more profitable ads?
Ideally, you want to find keywords with a high popularity and low competition. Google Adsense Keyword Planner is a free tool available for advertisers trying to create Adsense campaigns but it is also available to you.
Keyword Analysis for Newbies
If the idea of using the Keyword Planner intimidates you, other keyword analysis tools are available.
HitTail -This is probably the simplest tool I have found to locate keywords you should target based on your existing blog content.
Have your website analyzed automatically and receive recommended keywords that fit the topics on your blog. You can try it for FREE and export the recommendations in a CSV file (which can be opened by Excel, Numbers, or with Google Drive.)
If you love it, you can keep the subscription and unlock more recommendations for just $9.95 per month.
HitTail also offers a free SEO crash course available to email subscribers.
SEMRush – You can see the keywords people are using to find your blog content and who is linking to you with SEMRush. Also use SEMRush to research keywords for new categories and see their popularity and the competition across the internet.
Get started now! Place your blog URL in the search bar and see your backlinks, popular keywords, referring blogs, and much more.
And a HUGE keyword tip
There are certain keyword helpers – or long tail keywords – that I call “cart triggers.”
As people are searching with the intent to purchase, they go to the browser search bar and look for the item PLUS a cart trigger word or phrase. These long tail keyword are often high traffic and low competition making them prime targets for your posts and pages.
Some of these cart triggers include “free,” “coupon code,” “best,” and “review.”
Let’s see how this looks in real life…
Sally goes to her computer because she is thinking of purchasing a new refrigerator. She is budget conscious and searches for “best refrigerators.” If you are have an affiliate relationship with a company that sells refrigerators, this is your moment to let her know by having a post on your website called “best refrigerators.”
Perhaps Sally has narrowed her search and wants to see what others are saying about a specific refrigerator. She searches for “LG refrigerator review.” See how these qualifiers can add value?
As you add cart triggers to your niche keywords, you will see the amount of traffic drops as people are making more general searches. However, the intent to make a purchase increases with specificity and that drives up your profit.
Final tips for converting content to profit
I would fail you miserably if I did not issue some final advice for writing content that produces a profit.
Give your best content
You want your content to convert into a profit? Then give those posts your absolute BEST. Hold nothing back. Fill the page with amazing, problem-solving solutions. Concise. To the point. But undeniably… the best you can write.
Don’t play games, making readers jump page to page. No. This is not about getting page views. This is about getting PAID.
Don’t fluff up your content with adjectives trying to make it sound more interesting than it is. Buyers can see right through that. Offer balanced advice and real solutions.
Do link to other amazing content on the subject. Do give readers a way to subscribe to your blog. Do remember to insert your affiliate links.
Then, promote the heck out of your post.
Abide within the rules
When you signed up with Adsense as an affiliate and each time you commit to a new affiliate agreement, you are agreeing to the terms of the partnership as outlined by that company. Did you read those contracts? If not, do it now.
You want to make sure you understand the rules and keep within the limitations. For instance, Google has limits on the number of Adsense placements you can have on each page of your blog. They also state that you cannot have a drop down menu (or any drop down feature) over an advertisement.
Do not risk getting bounced from the Adsense program by violating those rules. You will NEVER (okay… maybe not NEVER but it will be REALLY hard to) be added back.
Place ads in hot click locations
If you are thinking about the Adsense path, you want to maximize your efforts by putting your ads in strategic locations. Using a heat map can help you find those spots on your blog. Typically, the best locations are:
below or within your blog header
top of the left side bar
under your post title (That’s mobile-responsive area too!)
within the text of your post (That’s mobile-responsive area too!)
Not sure where to find a heat map? You have one available for free in your Google Analytics account. Just choose Behavior > In Page Analytics. Then, select to “show color.”
As you are creating your new blog posts and pages, the temptation will be to load the page down with your affiliate links… but don’t.
Remember how your mother taught you that less is often more? In your blog post, you need to have a clear call to action that motivates the reader to the ONE THING you really want them to do. Often, if you give a reader too many options… too many links… too many ads in the sidebar… they will choose to do NOTHING.
Have a very clear call to action and let everything within your post, around your post, guide the reader toward your goal.
While researching and preparing your content for these profitable posts and pages will take significantly more time, the revenue will make the effort very satisfying.
While you could use a nofollow plugin, they can sometimes be buggy and cause other problems in your blog. Understanding how to build an HTML link can help you make each link nofollow by editing the HTML code in your post.
** Each time someone figures out what works best for SEO, the algorithm seems to change. The best way to attract search engines to your blog is create amazing content and use words to describe your topic accurately.**
Dofollow links. Nofollow links. What does it all mean?
Blogging can be so confusing when you don’t understand the jargon. In this video, I explain what dofollow link and nofollow link are as well as which you should use in certain situations to make your links benefit your SEO.
As you watch the Educreations video embedded, remember that the internet is a web. There is a reason why we start every website url with WWW, short for world wide WEB. So, if the internet is a big web, the search bots are link spiders crawling the web and they report back to Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc with what they discover.
Adding nofollow coding communicates the links where you do not want to pass along SEO link juice.
So, you are working hard to improve the SEO on your blog, but how do you know if it is working?
What NOT to do
You cannot search for your keywords and expect to get accurate results. Why? Because the Google algorithm is synced to show you results from the places you spend the most time online and the results that are closest to your geographical location.
So, how can you check your search engine optimization strategy?
1) You can open an incognito search window.
Inside Google Chrome, click the settings icon (three stacked bars at the top right of your browser, just below the X to close the window). Then, choose to open a new incognito window.
Searches from this window will mask any of your preferences although your geographic information may still taint the results slightly.
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to tell the search engine spiders what your post is about?
Now, I am not talking about blabbing on and on with the same series of words or various combinations of keywords just to try to rank higher. I AM talking about natural places where your keywords should appear.
Check out this video to learn some special places you should be adding keywords.
**SEO changes all the time. I recommend that you stay up to date on best practices as the algorithm changes.**
This is PART TWO of our series, SEO 1.0.
If you think of your blog as a home, there are certain spots where you keep your valuable information. Your blog address (URL), site title, and tagline are prime spots for SEO.
Have you neglected the tagline of your blog? For WordPress users, is your blog still “just another WordPress site” or have you completed the information in the “general” section?
If you are a Genesis framework user, your blog theme is ready for some heavy duty SEO boosting. Just make sure you are completing the homepage settings under Genesis > SEO Settings. If your blog title doesn’t contain keywords (cough… Meet Penny???), you want to have a rich META description and select to wrap your site description in the <H1> tag.
Now, this is something for EVERYONE regardless of your hosting or theme situation. Watch this video to learn the other MOST important spots on your blog for SEO.
Then, watch this video to know the most important places within a blog post for SEO.
Your homework: 1. Complete the most important information on your blog. 2. Stop using “cute” titles for blog posts. 3. Divide your content appropriately with subtitles in the H2 heading format.