Michael Utley: Hey there, how are you? Are you doing the intro or me?
Chris Raines: No you are.
Michael Utley: Okay. Welcome to, I'm going to do the whole episode with T-Rex arms.
Chris Raines: [inaudible 00:00:06] Company policy.
Michael Utley: Welcome to the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast, Episode number 21. Glad you're joining us today, or tonight, wherever you are, whatever time it is.
We're going to talk about SEO tools. There's plenty of SEO tools out there. We pick what we think are the top four or five.
Chris Raines: The most popular ones that we have the most experience with and these are tools if you're doing your own SEO, you can sort of investigate these. These are a quick way to get a handle on what keyword volumes exist out there and what your competitors are ranking for and changes over time and things like that. So, Michael, this is going to be more you, 'cause you're [inaudible 00:00:52] these tools as an SEO guy. So let's get started.
Michael Utley: I'll add to our intro there on how to use, how to choose and use SEO tools. So, just kind of overall, before we get into the list of tools we're going to look at. Here's something I like. Pick two, and stick with those for a while and get familiar with what you like, what you find easy or hard, and then maybe rotate in and trial these over the course of the year, but then kind of end up with like your two go-tos.
It's good to have two tools where you get; number one, all the features and benefits of the two that serve your needs the best, but also when you have two that you're running, you get to sort of validate them against one another. When we see a big change, like the core update in December, while there was one in November, one in December with Google, it was very reassuring to us and our clients to see our impressions data, our traffic data, and then a rankings data, both in SpyFu and SEMrush sort of match and reflect a reality that was consistent across multiple data points, whether it was Google analytics, Google search console, or what we were pulling out of SpyFu and what we're pulling out of SEMrush. So, I think don't, don't sort of get it locked into one. If you're getting into this, if you're a marketing manager, if you're in any way, a professional whose job is aligned with marketing, I think that over time you're eventually going to demo all of these.
So, just go ahead and kind of think of how are you going to kind of rotate these in, I would always have one that's kind of your go-to for, whoa, what happened there's no traffic on the website today. You want to immediately be able to go and say, wow, things are fine on rankings, don't have any issues there. Let's look at the website, see, let's check our downtime, monitor let's check and see if we changed, what did we change on the website, or usability. Keeping, having a vision for kind of who you're going to get to through with all these, maybe over the course of the year, or just always having two that you're kind of using as your go-to. I think of them like two headlights on the front of the car, don't do really well with one. You need two of these if this is your job.
Chris Raines: Let's start with the first one, which has the coolest name of the ones we're talking about, SpyFu.
Michael Utley: SpyFu is my go-to and we're recording this in late January of 2021. They're currently, I'm seeing a lot of changes. I think they're making some changes. If anybody from SpyFu sees this, feel free to correct us in the comments, but I'm seeing some changes around how the depth of the keywords they're showing in their basic SEO keyword research pages, the basic report, the default used to be to kind of see the top five pages of Google. In the last 30 days, we've seen that expanded to the top hundred results or kind of roughly the top 10 pages of Google.
I think they're doing that maybe a little bit to compete with SEMrush, which has always started with the top hundred. By visual, I'm going to reference some notes as we do this, just so we're giving you the real brass tacks of this. SpyFu pros: ideal for competitor research, tons of functionality and tools, lots of keyword ideas and that definitely resonates with my experience. Cons: it can be a little overwhelming if you're new to SEO. If search engine optimization is kind of a new thing for you, and it may not be clear, which keywords are best to use when many of them perform similarly, one of the things that's been kind of weird and you have to kind of get a feel for it, with all these tools. And they're really doing amazing things. When you think about how much data they're marshaling and trying to serve up to you, but sometimes you have to be careful in SpyFu when you're sorting, you can easily sort too fast for the tool and you can, you can get some weird behaviors.
If you ever see that, just hit, refresh, refresh the page and be patient. The tool is really good. It's trying to do its best, but there's a limit to how much you can serve in a web-based, in a web browser delivered product. SpyFu, I've found it to be really great for simplifying the overall equation of how are we doing? Are we going up? Are we going down? If I have to just pick one tool as my go-to tool on phone calls with clients, visuals if I just want to know, are we going up? Are we going down? SpyFu is my go-to and I'm a big fan.
Chris Raines: Perfect S-E-Mrush or cause some people call it SEMrush.
Michael Utley: SEMrush, and we need a [crosstalk 00:05:20]. Just fight over this. I would have to say if there was a beauty pageant or a popularity contest, this would be the winner because it's one of the most beautiful, it's one of the most known and respected tools and nobody gets fired for buying SEMrush. Nobody gets fired for buying IBM. Pros: great for finding high potential keywords, helpful for PPC campaign planning. Con: user experience can be confusing and lower service tiers are more limited than higher-priced offerings. These tools are complex. What you have to do when you're getting into this is learn the basics and what we try to encourage people to do if we're ever coaching somebody, who's a marketing manager, who's been added to the team that one of the companies who's using our services and we're sort of getting them up to speed. We use the policy of go in once a month, look at rankings, and take an hour a month and when you're in there, learn something new about the tool.
With SEMrush there's really enough complexity and real estate in terms of the different reports that are, that are available and all the different things that you can do and the ways that you can set up customized tracking to track one website against another, for sets of keywords. You can really take a lot of time over a period of a couple of years to pull new tricks out of the hat with SEMrush. So, if you're a marketing manager or an owner, and you're looking to get the most out of it, I would say, make it a discipline to take an hour a month, to look at your basics, see what's going on, maybe for 30 minutes and then for 30 minutes, learn something new and get something set up. Here's a caution I would have on SEMrush.
A lot of times, if you're working with an SEO professional, like GoEpps or Dodgeball Marketing, as a product of GoEpps, some of the automated reports that are sort of easy to get going your way out of the can with SEMrush, these tools tend to highlight and lean most heavily on things that they're able to scan for and report in automated fashion.
So, if you have a consultant or an agency that is helping you, I would recommend with SEMrush of not making the mistake of presuming that those automated reports are the most urgent and important priority. Here's an example; you may have 10 meta descriptions on your website that are not duplicate, or that are not unique to the page and the scan, the SEMrush tools that are available out of the box that you can get coming to you by email, they're going to say, we got a problem. They're ten of these guys that are not unique meta descriptions. That's because they're able to scan that and spit something out and generate some value.
An SEO consultant like us is going to look at your website and say, we got an idea, let's put the phone number on the homepage. Wow, that's a great idea, why don't we do that? Trust the consultants to understand the big picture of usability and things that can't be scanned and automated and trust that they're going to use these automated tools to support and inform that overall strategy. If you start strategizing against your agency with what you have from a third-party tool, what you're really doing is you're making this, this error of third-party verification.
We tend to find that if we get information indirectly, we trust it more, but if you're paying someone to give you, hey, what are the priorities? What should we do this month to make our website show up higher? Well, either fire them or listen to them, but be careful about these SEMrush tools because a lot of them will say that they're comprehensive and they're really not because they're trying to do things in a scalable way. So, that's my caution on SEMrush, but otherwise, it's awesome. And then next segment, I'm going to kick it off and interview you.
Next one, let's talk about Keywords Everywhere. I'll rattle off a couple of pros and cons and then we'll get your color commentary. So, Keywords Everywhere; great for getting new ideas, easy to generate high volume of potential keywords. Cons: not a tool suitable for in-depth SEO analysis, performance metrics. What's your experience? You know Keywords Everywhere better than I do.
Chris Raines: I would agree with all of those. I love Keywords Everywhere because it's great for quick and dirty analysis, not in-depth and just kind of licking your finger, stick it in there and say, hey, what's up? You might have somebody that has a project say, Hey, we want to advertise for an in-ground pool liner cleaning, pool cleaning. So, you might want to ask the question like, is this even worth that or do people want that? So, you just type the cool thing about Keywords Everywhere is it lives right beside your search results on Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube, all those sites.
So, you can go to Keywords Everywhere and kind of download it. It's a Chrome extension to kind of see what I'm talking about, but you'll do a search and it'll show you right below the search bar, how many monthly searches that has, what the average cost per click is and I think what the difficulty with competition is for it. So, it's a really quick way to be like type it in and go, Oh, it looks like a hundred searches a month, it's probably not that big of a thing. Probably, wouldn't be worth basing a campaign.
Michael Utley: Do you find yourself using it more in that interface, or do you ever go to a web-based version of it that's more in-depth?
Chris Raines: I don't think there's a web-based version of it. Their whole model is a Chrome extension and you buy credits for it. So, it is a paid service, but the credits are something like, you get like 10,000 credits for 20 bucks or something, and a credit is every time, every time a keyword pops up. So, if you get 10 suggested keywords and 10 related keywords, that's 20 credits. So, you can imagine how many searches you have to do. Then I refill my credits every like three knots or something.
Michael Utley: So, something that's really good when you're using an extension like that, that's going to sort of follow you around is it makes it a little bit more intuitive to go to competitor sites and to observe sort of what's happening there and to sort of participate in doing a search for a competitor and seeing how that's playing out. There are competitor search research tools on these other things, but they're a little more buried and so that, that brings some-
Chris Raines: But, I like the immediacy of it. You could just do a search and then bam, you got your main search that you just did info on that and then you get two tables on the side, and then they're even doing trends now. So, you can show how that search trended over time. I just did one for Better Business Bureau and it was huge in the year 2002 and it's steadily gone down over time, which makes sense as more of review sites have popped up and people are going different places for trust signals and so forth. But, that's a thing to just add. So, it's a really good like 20,000 foot in the air glance, but like you said, not really great for in-depth analysis and a totally different interface. Good, and then our last one today for our lineup here is Raven Tools. Raven Tools is a Nashville company.
We actually know Jon Henshaw who was one of the creators of Raven Tools and I think it has evolved some over the years and, and it's kind of moved around, but pros: integrates with many other analytics platforms, easy to review and compile reports. I'll talk about that in a moment. Cons: unable to provide accurate insights for hashtags as keywords. So, we were a Raven Tools shop for years because we really liked the ability to white label and serve in reports. So, everyone's situation is different. If you're looking at developing your own kind of SEO strategy where you want to either work with different; you could be a project, a product manager within a large company where you have multiple websites that you're working on multiple industries, multiple verticals, and you essentially want to be able to serve up some reports and some intel and put your stamp on it, have it branded. So, Raven Tools for us, for years, was a really helpful tool in that way and we really benefited from that. So-
Michael Utley: Can I do an honorable mention?
Chris Raines: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael Utley: Google Keyword Planner, man. Old school.
Chris Raines: A lot of these tools actually pull some of their data or more, a lot of it from the Keyword Planner, but I like Keyword Planner for one cool reason, is that you do you'll do a search or you give it some suggestions and it gives you potential keywords and it will group them thematically for you, which is great for an ad words manager or Google Ads manager, because they kind of hit, those are preset, little ad groups for you. So, that's another, I'm always in there when I'm doing keyword research. I use [inaudible 00:14:09] tools too, but I like Google Keyword Planner too and they're, they're evolving a lot in that they're making it better.
Absolutely, and the way that we use these tools is when we're doing keyword research, we're developing ideas. But, then what we like to do is run it all through the Google Keyword Planner and get a full set of the data so that we have what Google will show us about the paid search volume and the competition level. But, a category column is really helpful because often that matches up with a services dropdown menu and it can be, we can sort of shuffle it and so we'll often take work that we do with these tools and then organize it by tab with different tabs in a workbook using those categories. So, we generally find sort of a rough picture of the universe that makes sense between the top nav of the website, the tabs that we're using, our keyword research report, and then those categories that we get from the Google Keyword Planner. Awesome. Well, this has been SEO tools, overview pros and cons, and drop your comments below. We'd love to hear from you as always and subscribe and we'll see you on the next one. Thanks, everybody.