socialpatterns Mon, 23 Jul 2018 23:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 socialpatterns 32 32 Citation Flow vs Trust Flow (& Trust Ratio), What is it? Mon, 23 Jul 2018 23:30:00 +0000 In short, here is the main difference between Citation Flow and Trust Flow:

  • Citation Flow (CF): Looks at the overall authority of a domain or URL – the overall “link juice, link equity, authority” regardless of link quality.
  • Trust Flow (TF): Looks at the strength of the links based on the quality of the links pointing to a domain or URL. It’s a prediction of “trust” of links.

Trust Flow = Quality of Links

Citation Flow = Sheer number of links

What is Citation Flow?

In my opinion, I see Trust Flow as one of the most exciting SEO metrics because there is nothing else like it. But, before digging into what Trust Flow is all about, it’s good to understand what Citation Flow is and the strengths and weaknesses of relying on these overall “Authority Metrics” like Citation Flow.

Citation Flow is essentially a measure of the overall site’s link equity. The Citation Flow is a number on a scale of 0-100, that predicts the authority of a domain or URL by looking at the number of links pointing to it. So essentially it’s an “authority” metric that is meant to predict the overall amount of links pointing to your site.

Other Similar metrics to Citation Flow:

The following aren’t calculated in the same way as Citation Flow, as every company calculates their metrics differently. However, you could generally view the following as similar to Citation Flow:

Citation Flow Weaknesses

Citation flow weakness bugs

Citation Flow does not take into consideration the quality of links. This is a very important distinction that is often overlooked when analyzing these types of authority metrics. Trust is an extremely important factor in SEO (one of the most important, besides relevancy).

So why is it that so many SEOs seem to rely on only using DA, DR, CF (name your favorite metric)? To be honest, I am not sure. I personally would never rely on one metric and view that as gospel like I see so many in the SEO community do. There are so many metrics and measuring sticks we can use at our disposal to get a better overall picture. Usually looking at one metric is only one piece of the whole.

What about quality?

You know the old saying – it’s not about quantity, but quality. Though it is a cliche, it is certainly true in the case of obtaining backlinks. And it’s one you must be very aware of. Otherwise, you will start to look at these authority metrics as an absolute, definitive metric. But they aren’t definitive. They are all relative, paint a partial picture and can be (fairly easily) manipulated.

An example is, you can have two sites with very similar Citation Flow, yet only one of the two is getting the lion’s share of traffic. That’s because these metrics look at the sheer quantity of links, not at the quality or relevancy. Since we all know that Google is much more sophisticated than such a simple analysis, why would we judge site under the same premise?

The reality is that Google looks at so much more. Google doesn’t look at the quantity of links alone, they look at quantity through a lens of quality, trust, relevance & more.

Why Citation Flow isn’t enough

So why is Citation Flow (or any other authority metric such as DA, DR, etc) not enough by themselves?

Simple: Because they can be manipulated and they don’t tell the full story.

An example would be this: Imagine a black hat SEO was to build thousands and thousands of cheap, easy links on article directories, PBNs or other low-quality link sources. In this case, it’s likely to raise the Citation Flow, DA, etc.

But how well do you expect the site to rank and receive traffic? Not very well.

They could be a talented black hat and use a quality PBN, but still, Google would likely catch on in the future (near or distant) and the site’s traffic would plummet – but the Citation Flow wouldn’t plummet.

So you can’t really judge how good a linked profile is based on the Citation Flow alone.

That’s where the beauty of Trust Flow comes in. It takes a 2-D picture and adds a little more dimension – the dimension of Trust. This is why it’s such a unique and important metric for SEO. Since it is dealing with trust, Trust Flow is much harder to manipulate than Citation Flow, Domain Authority, Domain Rating, etc.

What is Trust Flow?

Trust flow seo sheild

It was around 2012 when Majestic SEO came out with new flow metrics called Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF).

At that time, people were still relying on PageRank, MozRank, etc. Majestic’s new tool was actually pretty revolutionary when it came out, compared to the metrics people were using at the time. And guess what? Trust Flow is just as useful today, if not more, as Google’s understanding of natural links has gotten better.

TF looks at the quality of links, rather than an emphasis on quantity like all the other metrics (CF, DA, DR).

Comparable to Trust Flow:

  • PageRank (PR used to take into account the quantity, quality and more. This is an old metric because the public version isn’t updated by Google anymore. Google still uses it internally.)

Trust Flow: A unique metric that measures the quality of links

Trust and quality of links: That’s where Trust Flow comes in and is where Majestic really separates themselves from the competition.

Like CF, Trust Flow is represented as a scale of 0-100. It is a prediction of the overall quality of those links. Said another way, Trust Flow is a prediction of how trustworthy a domain or specific webpage is, based on its links.

The way Majestic calculates trust flow is by looking at a set of trusted seed sites first. Majestic SEO actually created a database of seed sites that they manually vetted and deemed “trustworthy.” These seed sites make the Trust Flow (TF) calculation possible. Essentially, the idea is that the closer a site is linked to the seed sites, the higher the trust flow score would be.

Interestingly enough, Google may employ similar techniques for their updated PageRank, in order to gauge trust. So this is assuring to see that Google may be using a similar metric within their PageRank algo.

I believe Trust Flow to be such a valuable metric for SEOs. TF is a unique SEO metric and one that I consistently use. Overall, you can take the Citation Flow and Trust Flow metrics to gauge the quantity and quality of a link profile. TF just gives you that extra bit of data to look at.

How Trust Flow (& others) became popular


Google’s claim to fame for their search engine algorithm for Google, was PageRank. PageRank was a revolutionary idea at the time and forged Google’s path as one of the most successful companies in existence. PageRank was a new way to rank documents on the web. It worked by looking at the number of links that a document or webpage received. It was an ingenious method that made Google a far better search engine than Yahoo, Ask Jeeves or any other search engine of the day.

PageRank was much more simple back in the early days and has advanced a lot since then. Google used to show a public version of the PageRank metric. Naturally, many SEOs would rely on this metric to gauge the quality of a backlink or site.

RIP PageRank

However, after around 2014, Google stopped updating the public version of PageRank. They still used it internally, but they stopped updating the public metrics. So PageRank became a thing of the past for most seasoned SEOs, but you still see people (likely those new to SEO or black hat SEOs) talking about “high PR” sites. If someone talks in this vernacular, it would be safe to assume that their advice may be a bit outdated.

Yes, we know that Google is likely using PageRank internally, albeit a much more advanced version now. However, since they aren’t updating the public facing PR metric, there is no use for us SEOs to continue using it as a metric. It’s really old school SEO as far as I’m concerned and the only reason I talk about PageRank is when referring to their internal processes of how they rank websites – the theory behind how the search algorithm actually works. If you’ve never read about the idea of how PageRank works or reading the PageRank patents, it’s actually quite interesting.

Speaking of, that is one reason why I like SEO By the Sea by Bill Slawski. They have a lot of blogs posts explaining various SEO patents in laymen’s terms. It’s also valuable actually reading the patents yourself since you can pick up even more info on how Google’s algorithm works.

New SEO Metrics to the rescue

Since there is no PageRank (PR) anymore, SEOs have evolved and we now look at other metrics, such as:


  • Citation Flow (CF)
  • Trust Flow (TF)
  • Trust Ratio (TR)


  • Domain Authority (DA)
  • Page Authority (PA)
  • MozRank (mR)


  • Domain Rating (DR)
  • URL Rating (UR)

SEO software companies came out with their own metrics. Moz came out with domain authority (DA), page authority (PA) and MozRank. Ahrefs came out with domain rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR). And Majestic came out with Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF).

Google looks at a lot of things, but we can all agree that they are looking at the quality of links, the number of links, and the relevancy of links. These metrics just scratch the surface to what Google likely employees.

Each of these measurements of authority has their own pros and cons, but the biggest benefit of Majestic is their Trust Flow metric. TF takes a look at the prediction of trust whereas most of these other measurements of authority don’t really focus on trust or quality like TF.

How to calculate your Trust Flow

So how do you measure your Trust Flow? The most obvious choice is you can sign up for a subscription to Majestic.

Though you can sign up for a free subscription, there are many circumstances that a paid subscription is necessary. Sometimes you need to do a bulk analysis of multiple sites, such as when you are using trust flow for audits, link prospecting, and competitive analysis.

If you are just wanting to check the TF and CF of your site though, then the free options listed below will work just fine.

How to check Trust Flow and Citation flow for free

You can also check your Citation Flow and Trust Flow for free by going to Majestic, creating a free account and adding your site:

Keep in mind that you must own the domain to do this on a free account. You can also check out the Majestic browser extensions for Google Chrome or Firefox.

Majestic Free Extensions

My favorite tool to calculate trust flow

Obviously, a Majestic account gives you the best use of their tools to work with Cit. Flow/ T. Flow data. With a subscription, you can check trust flow on a list of sites, export trust flow, etc. However, there is one tool I recommend if you want a full SEO suite of tools, that also includes Trust Flow/ Citation flow metrics.

One of my favorite tools for measuring a variety of authority metric is serped. Serped is great because you type in the website and it automatically pulls in the data from moz and Majestic (among many others). You can also export the data just like with a majestic subscription. However, the only drawback to serped is you can’t do bulk URL/ Site analysis like you can in Majestic.

Also, another really cool thing that I haven’t seen in any other SEO tool: it not only pulls the Trust Flow and Citation Flow data straight from Majestic, but and it also calculates the trust ratio!

This trust ratio is such an important metric and one I use all the time. So it’s nice to see all this data in one tool.

How Trust Flow and Citation Flow Interact

Trust Flow tends to correlate with traffic

You may look at Trust Flow and see that there is a connection between Trust Flow and organic traffic. While this is often true, it is only a correlation. More often than not though, I’ll see higher Trust Flow sites (esp. higher TR) getting more traffic.

This makes sense on a few levels. Firstly, a higher Trust Flow means it should theoretically have higher quality links. Therefore Google sees it as a higher quality website. But secondly, if the site has high-quality links it also likely has higher quality content, which has the benefit of good user behavior signals.

Looking at your own TF/CF levels

Another important consideration is how Trust Flow and Citation Flow interact with each other. Ideally, you want both a good Citation Flow and a good Trust Flow, right? Yes, this is ideal. There are several situations that bring up questions I often hear:

  • What if your Citation Flow is way higher than Trust Flow?: This situation may indicate that you have a lot of links but they are not the best quality. Shoot for a trust ratio of 0.40 or higher (see below).
  • What if my Trust Flow is higher than Citation Flow?: It means you likely have a lower amount of links, but the links you do have are higher quality links.
  • What if TF and CF are about equal?: This is a good situation as well because it means that the links you have are trustworthy.
  • What if TF is just a little lower than CF?: It is normal to have a lower TF, so if it is a little bit lower or moderately lower, that is normal. You just don’t want it to be a lot lower.

The ideal situation is to have a high Citation Flow, along with a hight Trust Flow, which could indicate you have a lot of authority and more importantly, a trusted authority.

Trust Ratio – the overlooked, yet very important SEO metric

When doing link building and outreach, the Trust Ratio becomes incredibly important. The Trust Ratio is simply a ratio between Trust Flow and Citation Flow. The idea behind the TR (Trust Ratio) is if your CF is much higher than your TF, it is a higher likelihood that you are receiving those links from spammy means.

When analyzing the interaction between Trust Flow and Citation flow, it’s best to calculate the Trust Ratio (TR) and represent that ratio as a fraction, which gives us a number to work with. This gives us a number to quickly quantify the quality levels of potential link prospects.

Calculating trust Ratio

Calcuate trust ratio

There are actually two different ways to calculate the trust ratio. After all, it is a ratio, so you could create a ratio by dividing Trust Flow by Citation Flow or vice versa. However, the standard way that SEOs tend to calculate this metric is Trust Flow divided by Citation Flow.

Trust ratio calculation

  • TF:CF=TR

For example, if your Trust Flow is only 10 but your Citation Flow is 40 Then your trust ratio is – 10:40=TR (TF:CF=TR).

Trust ratio calculation (fraction)

But a ratio doesn’t give us much info. That’s why we represent this ratio as a fraction, so it gives us a concrete number that we can compare to other sites.

  • TF/CF=TR

If we represent this ratio as a fraction, we simply divide the Trust Flow by the Citation Flow and this will gives us the Trust Ratio Number. The result of this example is 0.25 (10/40=0.25):

  • 10/40=0.25

Putting the ratio into a fraction will allow us to calculate a number that is easier to work with. This TR number will give us a quick indication of link quality, relative to overall authority.

So then the question is – what is a good trust ratio? Well, there are many opinions on this, but I typically like to see a TR higher than 0.4, otherwise, it is a higher chance that the site has lower quality or spammy links.

What is a good trust ratio?

  • >0.4 (depends on who you ask, but generally anything below a .4 is usually considered less than ideal.)


As a recap:

  • CF = Overall number of links
  • TF = Trust (quality) of Links
  • TR = Gauging how trustworthy the links are, combining the CF & TF metrics

At the end of the day, we need to remember that each of these SEO “metrics” is like painting a picture with one color. When you combine them, the big picture becomes much more vivid. We will never have enough colors to paint the full picture, as Google wants to keep this info proprietary to heed off manipulation. However, it sure does help to utilize many metrics and view SEO from many angles in order to gain a solid understanding of our SEO analysis.

Bring it back to you. What is your goto SEO metric and why? Do you use Trust Flow? If not, how are you gauging quality – is it by manual inspection, another metric? Do you use various metrics when doing your SEO analysis? I would love to hear what everyone is using to answer these difficult and often subjective questions.

Bring it back to you. What is your goto SEO metric and why? Do you use Trust Flow? If not, how are you gauging quality – is it by manual inspection, another metric? Do you use various metrics when doing your SEO analysis? I would love to hear what everyone is using to answer these difficult and often subjective questions.

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Anchor Text Best Practices For Internal Links: How To implement Keywords Without Risk Thu, 12 Jul 2018 05:00:00 +0000 Adding keywords to your internal linking is still effective, but you must be careful to not go too far. You should be internally linking with keywords, but you want to be sure it is done in a natural way.

The fact of the matter is, there is still a lot of power that internal links have when you use descriptive words. This is one way Google deciphers what a page is about – all the keywords in the anchor text that you link to on your page.

But there is also another factor. And that is how often you link to your page. So keep that in mind as well.

The following are tips to help keep your on-site optimization more natural, so you don’t get dinged by Google for over optimization.

Tips to adding keywords to internal links

add keyword anchor text

1. Make the content flow naturally

This is the most important factor. If your content flows naturally and the anchor text doesn’t feel inherently spammy, you should be good to go.

My take is you shouldn’t worry too much about the over optimization, as long as you content flows and you are varying the keywords of your internal anchor text, in a natural way, that fits into the content.

2. Think about Co-Occurrence

Joost at Yoast brings up a great point about co-occurrence:

If you over-optimize anchor text you might hurt your website. And by over-optimizing, we mean keyword stuffing. Previously, you could give all anchor texts the same keyword and Google made your website rank higher for that keyword. Nowadays, Google is smart enough to understand that the content around the anchor text says more about the relevancy of a keyword than the anchor text itself. So make sure the anchor text looks natural in your copy: it’s fine to use keywords but don’t add the exact same keywords to each and every one of your anchor texts.

3. Think about the click worthiness

After reading about Google’s reasonable surfer patent, I realized that all links (both internal and external links) – their strength of the link is based on the probability that someone would click on it.

So making your links stand out to visitors – the click worthiness of the link, the difference in color, etc. should all help.

4. Link to other pages naturally

I say link to whatever page you want, however, you want, as long as you are doing it naturally and in the benefit of the user. So this means sometimes I will include longer anchor text phrases (i.e larger part of a sentence) into the internal link’s anchor text. This allows me to add internal links without changing the flow of the content.

5. Vary your anchor text

When you focus on user experience and add in anchor text naturally in your content, the content still flows nicely.

However, if you try to stuff keywords, and the same keyword over and over, it may reduce the quality of your writing.

When you add in keyword rich anchor text that is natural (i.e you didn’t have to rewrite a sentence), it will naturally vary your keywords in the internal links.

You can manually change your keywords to try to target certain keywords, but just do with care and make sure that the content flows.

6. Use LSI and keyword variations

Using keyword variations, synonyms and LSI keywords has the advantage of topical modeling and helps you rank your pages for a variety of keywords.

Examples incorporating LSI Keywords/ Keyword Variations to the Anchor Text

If I want to rank one of my pages for “white hat link building guide” for example, instead of linking 30 of my internal pages with the anchor text of white hat link building guide, I would choose a variety of keywords.

Why? Because if I kept using white hat link building guide as my anchor text, it may sound unnatural. It may not always work. You may just have more general terms like white hat link building, white hat links, white hat SEO, etc.

Assuming I am not doing it on the fly, I may create a prior keyword rich anchor text strategy for a really important page.

For this example, I may choose the following anchor text throughout other pages, to link back to my main landing page about white hat link building:

Exact match and Partial Match anchor text with your internal linking:

  • White hat link building guide (exact match anchor text)
  • White hat link building tutorial
  • Guide to building white hat links
  • Link Building Guide

LSI keywords or related keywords in your internal linking

  • How to build natural links
  • white hat link building
  • white hat SEO
  • white hat backlink
  • whitehat backlinks
  • white hat backlinks
  • white hat techniques
  • white hat link building techniques
  • link building techniques
  • Longer phrases that include descriptive anchor text

Google will see all these keywords and the algo may decide my page is relevant to the main theme of “white hat link building.” If so, I would likely rank for many “white hat link building” keywords, assuming the article offers immense value and I get a lot of links to it. This example needs lots of links since SEO topics like this are very competitive.

So what if, instead of varying the keywords like my above example, you only used the exact match anchor text of “white hat link building guide” throughout all your pages?

I think this scenario is still okay, assuming the content still flows. (Update for 2019: I do not think this situation is still be okay. I believe the march update in 2018 targeted over-optimization and I believe it will harm your site if you use too many exact match internal links)

Obviously, if you take anything to the extreme and it takes away from the user experience, anything can be bad. However, if you are natural with your internal linking, you should have no worries about it causing harm to your site.

With that said, it is optimal to vary your internal linking with LSI keywords. This allows you to have content that flows more naturally without keyword stuffing your content. It also potentially allows you to show relevance for a wider variety of keywords.

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69 Keyword Research Tools – The Ultimate List of Free & Paid Tools Thu, 12 Jul 2018 02:42:27 +0000 You may already have some of your favorite free keyword research tools that you swear by. However, there is a good chance there are some really great tools that you may not have heard about.

After reading this massive list of keyword research tools, you are sure to have plenty of options to up your SEO game.

The great thing is, you can find a lot of amazing tools without spending a dime. In fact, many of my favorite SEO keyword research tools are completely free! Though the best ones are paid, as they have a whole suite of tools.

I have scoured the internet for the best free SEO keyword tools:


Google & Bing

Google Keyword Planner

Google keyword planner

Google Keyword Planner is the go-to keyword research tool for many search engine marketers – both AdWords and SEO professionals. There is a reason why – it is free, well known and it comes straight from the source. Many 3rd party keyword research tools for SEO actually use the Google keyword planner data to create their keyword datasets.

Though Keyword Planner is great and offers a lot of benefits, it only goes so far in finding good keywords for SEO. Its fallback is in finding great long tail keywords. No fear, there are many other keyword tools in this list that you can use to complement the Google Keyword Planner to maximize your keyword research and SEO.


  • The data is straight from the source (Google)
  • Pretty accurate relative search volume
  • See suggested bid amount to derive commercial intent
  • Find related keywords
  • See keywords that are relevant to a particular web page
  • Allows you to combine Keywords to find new keyword combinations
  • Export your Keywords


  • Finding related keywords is limited
  • Not as good for Long Tail Keywords
  • LOTS of people use this tool, so the keywords it spits out can be more competitive

Update: Sadly, it seems that Google is giving the SEO folk less and less information. First, they took away our keywords data in analytics, and now they are giving us ranges of search volume in the Google keyword planner. The exact keyword volume is only available to people who have an active AdWords campaign.

Google Analytics


Google Analytics is a great place to find keywords for your website. Of course, you need to already have some traffic coming in. If your site isn’t brand new and you have a flow of traffic already coming into your site, you can find many long tail keywords to target. You can find tons of keywords that you are already ranking for (say on page 2 of SEPRS), that have a lot of room for improvement.

Not Provided: In the good old days of SEO, Google used to give you a huge amount of data in regards to what keywords people used to find your website. Google does not give you this amazing data anymore. They do give you some great data still, but it is not as much as back in the day.

In your google analytics account, if you go to Acquisition > All Traffic >  Channels > Organic Search, you will see keywords that people used on Google to find your website. You can still see a lot of great keyword data from Google, but now you also see the dreaded “Not provided” metric, instead of the full data set of keywords.


Use Queries: A great way to get more information on keywords that your website is already ranking for is to look at the “Queries” in Google Analytics. This is under the Search Engine Optimization section. To access this data though, you must first connect your Google Analytics account to your search console (webmaster tools) account.

Then once set up, you will start getting some great keyword data from Google. Remember, these are keywords that your site is already ranking for somewhere, so it is a good place to see keywords that need some love. If you optimize and write more content for some of these keywords, chances are you will get even more traffic from them because your rankings and or click through rate will increase.


  • See keywords you already are showing up on SERPS for
  • See lots of long tail search queries
  • These are great keywords that you can optimize and write content for


  • Doesn’t show as many new topics or keyword opportunities
  • Google doesn’t provide as much keyword data as they used to (Not Provided Keywords)
  • Does not show competition or CPC information (which is good to see commercial intent)
    • Tip: Use keywordkeg Chrome extension to see CPC data.

Google Search Console

Search console search analytics

Search analytics – Queries: Remember how analytics used to show us more keyword data? Now we are left with that dreaded “not provided.” Well, to get some of that juicy keyword data back, you need to go to search console or integrate search console with analytics.

If you go to search console and go to Search Traffic > Search analytics > Queries you can see what keywords your pages are showing up for in search results. You can then export this data and bring it into GKP to see which keywords are valuable (traffic volume/CPC cost). This way you can focus on keywords that you are already somewhat relevant for, and that are higher quality keywords.

Content Keywords: When you use the “Content Keywords” and “Search Queries,” you can see how Google is reading your website. Does it match what you are trying to accomplish with the pages and keywords you are optimizing for?

If not, then there may be some issues with Google’s ability to crawl your website or your optimization is not on point.

The “Search Queries” is the same information from the Google Analytics example above. Using these two things in the search console does not necessarily give you any new ways to find new keywords. What it does give you, is an understanding of how Google sees your website. It’s essentially a glimpse inside the Google algorithm, empowering you to increase the relevancy of your website.

Update: Google got rid of the Content keywords feature.

Google Trends

Google trends

The popularity of keywords: Google trends is a great way to find out which keywords variants are more popular. You can type in two keywords (separated by a comma), or several if you needed to find the most popular keywords typed into Google.

History of keyword popularity: This is another great insight, that you cannot get in many other keyword research tools. Since you are going to be doing a lot of work on SEO, it is best to spend it on optimizing for keywords that are not on a downward trend in popularity.

Trends Vs Keyword Planner: One anomaly I have noticed between using Google Trends and Keyword Planner, is that sometimes the data doesn’t match. Sometimes I will type in two keywords into trends, and it will show keyword A is more popular than B. When I type the same keywords into keyword planner it shows keyword B is more popular than A (via search volume). This only happens rarely, and I would assume that they are pulling data from different sources.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

Bing keyword research tool

Though Bing has a smaller dataset than Google, it is still a good way to find keywords. You may be surprised to find a couple of gems in Bing’s keyword research tool that you would have to spend a lot of time digging for in Google Keyword Planner.

You should see similar data in Bing that you do from Google Keyword Planner, the main difference is that Bing’s data is from a much smaller dataset. Though the relative search volumes and other information should be similar.


  • Get similar keyword info from Google Keyword Planner
  • Shows Trends information next to keywords


  • Smaller data set than google
  • Not as many features as Google keyword planner

Keyword Planner Alternatives

The Google keyword planner tool is often used by SEOs, but it is meant for Adwords (CPC). It was not developed with SEO in mind. There are many other free third-party keyword tools that have some great added features that SEOs love.

The following are some keyword tools that are similar to Google Keyword Planner, yet offer some other beneficial functionality:

Term Explorer (Freemium)

Term explorer

Term explorer is a great alternative to google keyword planner. Though you only have 5 “tiny jobs” and 5 keyword analysis credits on the free account, it is still useful. If you enter a seed keyword, a tiny job will result in 1,000 keywords. You can then sort by volume, CPC, negative keywords, keywords with an exact match domain, etc.

The keyword analysis section of this tool helps in finding out how competitive your chosen keywords are. The analysis seems fairly accurate, but to really get much use out of the keyword analysis, you would need to upgrade your account to a paid plan. 5 keyword credits are not very much; you might as well do it manually with Moz’s toolbar at that point.

SEOBook Keyword Tool

Seobook kw tool

SEOBook’s free keyword research tool offers some interesting features. You can include Google trends information for your seed keyword. You can also put a checkmark on “more” to get links to Google search results, yahoo, bing, google trends, etc.

One other cool feature of Aaron Wall’s keyword tool is that it shows you CPC cost and Monthly Value. This is great information that may give you a clue as to the commercial intent for the given keywords. After all, if people are bidding on a keyword so much to raise the price, it must be making other people money.


  • Links to other great resources (for example click on the google link to show you the Google SERP for that keyword)
  • Allows you to click on related keywords, to see related keywords to that
  • Shows CPC data and monthly value (good to see the commercial intent of keywords)
  • Export your keywords to CSV


  • You have to sign up for a free account (this is a small drawback)
  • Not as many keywords generated as google keyword planner

7Search Keyword Suggestions

7search ppc keyword tool

The 7search tool is okay. It’s actually pretty bad at giving you any results based on long tail seed keywords. It does give you much more if you put in shorter, broad keywords. But this is data you can just get from Google Keyword Planner.


  • See CPC data


  • Not very much keyword data

Wordstream (Very Limited Freemium)

Wordstreams kw tool

Though this is a mainstream keyword tool, the free version of Wordstream’s tool is another “meh” keyword tool. It basically gives you less information than Google keyword planner. You would need to upgrade to a paid account to get any benefit from their keyword tool.


  • More well-known company


  • Not very much keyword data

Wordtracker (limited freemium)

Wordtracker keyword research tool

Another very well known company in the keyword research game. Their free keyword research tool is a very well designed (UI) tool. It gives you some good data, but it is limited in how much it spits out for the free version.

One great feature of this keyword tool is it gives you competition data on a (limited) set of keywords related to your seed keyword that you enter.


  • See Competition
  • See KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index)
    • Note: Don’t rely on KEI. KEI is not the whole story, you should also consider the commercial intent


  • Not very much keyword data

SERPS Keywordini

Keywordini tool

Keywordini is a pretty good free keyword tool for SEO. It’s similar to Google keyword planner in that you can retrieve quite a lot of keywords (though not as much as GKP). What separates this from Google Keyword Planner is that it also shows the keyword value. You can sort by keyword value or by search volume.


  • Pretty good amount of keyword data
  • Download results
  • See calculated keyword value (Multiplies search volume by CPC)


  • Not as much data as google keyword planner

Keyword Discovery

The “traffic” numbers may seem much smaller on this keyword tool than on other keyword tools. One thing you need to consider is that all numbers, even Google keyword planner, represent a relative comparison of traffic.

This keyword tool does not base its data only on Google, but it also gets data from a variety of different search engines. The drawbacks to this keyword tool are that you only have access to 100 keywords, and you don’t get to see any other data like CPC, or the value of the keywords.


  • It uses datasets for multiple search engines


  • You’re limited to 100 keywords
  • It doesn’t show CPC data


K meta keyword research tool

Kollin over at K-meta sent me an email about their free keyword tool. Surprisingly I missed this one in my original list! It looks like a solid tool.

Though this tool does have some keyword analysis features, the strength of this tool seems to lie in the domain analysis features. It looks like it is similar to SEMrush and Similarweb in the way it analyzes domains and what the domains rank for.

Being able to see what keywords your competitors rank for is great information to have, so this tool might be another great keyword research tool to add to your bookmarks!

All In One SEO Tools (Paid)

SEMRush (Free Trial)

Semrush keywords

One of my favorite keyword tools: SEMrush is one of my absolute favorite keyword tools. Not because it gives you a gazillion keywords, but because it shows you what keywords websites are actually ranking for in the wild. Though, yes it does give you a lot of keywords to work with.

It allows you to enter in specific web pages like a blog post, or a home page of your competitor to see what keywords they are ranking for in Google. It also tells you the position that they rank for each keyword.

Keyword competitiveness: They also have a keyword competitiveness tool that is useful when doing bulk keyword research. Semrush is one of the only keyword tools I have come across that shows bulk competitiveness of keywords on their free version. The competitiveness is very important data. Sure you can and should use Moz’s toolbar to individually look at the competitiveness, but it is nice to have a tool that does this in bulk.

I have not found another keyword tool as good as SEMRush. The only drawback is the free version is limited to the number of keywords it will show in the keyword reports. However, if you are serious about SEO, blogging, or content marketing, it is well worth the monthly cost.

Backlink analysis: Off the subject of keyword analysis, as an added benefit to SEMRush’s keyword functionality, you can also spy on your competitor’s backlink profile. It is important to do backlink analysis, and SEMrush does offer some fantastic tools for this. However, if you wanted to dig even deeper into your backlink analysis, then Majestic SEO or Ahrefs may be better options. Just know that the keyword research you can do in SEMrush is second to none.

Ahrefs (Paid)


Ahrefs is a fantastic tool for keyword research. It’s actually one of my favorite tools.

With Ahrefs, you can scrape competitors websites (on the domain level or on the page level) so you can see what keywords they rank for. With this knowledge, you can essentially reverse engineer their content.

With this information, you can map out the best keywords for your content and do topic modeling site. Ahrefs and SEMrush are pretty comparable when it comes to keyword research. Although I do like SEMRush’s keyword magic tool. But, Ahrefs does have a comparable keyword tool to the keyword magic tool. Also, recently Ahrefs added question queries to their too, which had been lacking in Ahrefs (SEMrush always had this). (Paid)


If you were looking for an all in one solution, is a great way to go. This is easily my favorite SEO tool, in terms of value. What I like about Serped is connects to other tools (like Moz, Majestic, SEMrush, etc). So instead of having to pay for all of these separate tools to get access to each companies metrics, it’s nice to just have to pay for this one tool.

It has several keyword research tools, including:

  • Ultimate research (general keyword research, big list of keywords)
  • What ranks where (like Aahrefs and SEMrush)
  • Keyword analyzer (great for seeing how competitive a keyword is)
  • Long Tail Keywords (find long tail keywords, drill down)


What’s nice about serped is you can search for keywords just like any other tool. However, you can keep drilling down into each keyword to get long tail keywords and topics.

If you’re looking for a solution that offers amazing value serped is a great all in one SEO tool.

SpyFu (Freemium)

Spyfu keyword research tool

If SEMrush didn’t exist, I would probably use Spyfu much more. Similar to SEMrush, Spyfu gives you quite a bit of data, both dealing with keywords and variety of other things. However, just like SEMrush, you would need to upgrade to a paid plan to see the full data set.

It is actually quite similar to SEMRush. You can type in a competitor’s website and see what keywords they are ranking for. You can also look at your competitor’s backlink profile and other important data.

Another great benefit that spyfu has is you can look at how competitive a keyword is to rank for.

SimilarWeb (very freemium)

Similar web organic keywords

Similarweb works the same way that SEMRush works. You can type in a competitor’s website to see competitive analysis data. The drawback to this tool is that the keyword section isn’t very robust, at least for the free version. To get more data you have to upgrade to the premium version. SEMrush’s free and paid version seems much more robust.

KWFinder (Very Limited Freemium)

Kwfinder tool

Keyword finder has a great UI, however, this tool is very limited in their free version. Also, it doesn’t look like their keyword competition feature is that accurate.

KeywordRevealer (Very Limited Freemium)

Keyword revealer kw difficulty

Keyword revealer is a cool little SEO keyword tool, that used to be completely free. However, now you are only allowed three searches per day. With this tool, you can enter any seed keyword, and it will give you a list of keywords with monthly searches data, CPC, estimated profit, domain availability, etc. You can then click on the little evaluate button and it will bring you to the following screen:

Like SEMRush and spyfu, the keyword competitiveness in this keyword tool seems to be more accurate compared to the keyword finder tool:

However, the drawback to this tool is that you have to individually click on each keyword whenever you want to see their competitiveness. Other tools will spit it out in bulk which is nice. If you wanted to analyze the competitiveness of each keyword, you might as well look it up manually with Moz toolbar.

Moz Keyword Explorer (very freemium)

Moz keyword explorer

If you are in the SEO world, you are surely familiar with Moz. They used to have another keyword tool, but it didn’t have a freemium version, so I wasn’t able to include it in this list of free keyword tools. Recently they created a new keyword tool, and I have to say I am very impressed.

I was so impressed that I instantly became a Pro subscriber, just for their keyword research tool. The other moz pro tools are just icing on the cake for me, as I get most of the benefit from their keyword explorer tool.

The freemium version is limited to only 2 keyword research queries a day, so it is very limited for the freemium version. However, unlike other free keyword tools, this tool is probably the best free keyword tool for estimating competition (difficulty in ranking a keyword).

They even take this a step further and include some other pretty great metrics such as:

  • Accurate search volume: Moz’s keyword volume is supposed to offer more accurate data than Google keyword planner. Where GKP gives fairly accurate relative search volume, Moz’s data is supposed to offer more accurate real-world volume. At moz, they have, what appears to be a confidence interval of 90-95% with their keyword volume data. This just means their search volume predictions should have a 90-95% accuracy rate.
  • Difficulty: Their competition metric is amazing. It’s not perfect by any means (I think manual keyword research always gives the best results). However, their difficulty metric is probably the best out there regarding accuracy. The higher the difficulty score, the harder it is to rank. Note that this is on an algorithmic scale, so it’s exponentially harder to rank for a term the higher the difficulty score.
  • Opportunity: This takes into account ads and other SERP features that tend to take clicks away from organic search results. Given the keyword entered, if there are a lot of ads and other things that take away from organic CTRs, it will give you a lower opportunity score. So the higher the opportunity score, the better because you should get a higher CTR on organic SERPS.
  • Potential: This metric takes into account all the other metrics to give you a final potential score. In the paid version, you can also enter your own “importance” score, which the final potential score takes into account.

When this tool came out, I emailed Rand Fishkin about some suggested features I thought would make it even better. They seemed very receptive to suggestions and sounded like they already had plans to implement some of my suggestions. What this communicates to me is they seem to really want to make the app better. They are likely implementing the lean startup with this tool so we’ll probably see a lot of good iterations in the future.

Overall this is a great tool, and I highly recommend it. It seemed very polished. However, to get the most benefit from this tool, you must be a moz Pro subscriber, which can be steep for some that just want simple keyword research ($100+/mo). If you are serious about keyword research, blogging, SEO, and your budget allow it – Moz Pro may be a great option.

For those on a budget, you can get by with using manual keyword analysis. You can also use Moz’s free SEO toolbar to manually gauge competition levels (sadly they took away some functionality – such as showing the full number of links).

Autocomplete (Google Suggest)

I’m sure you are aware of the google autocomplete that triggers when you start typing in search phrases:

Google autocomplete screenshot

Google only gives you so much autocomplete keywords. Many keyword tools will scrape the Google (and more) autocomplete to give you a whole list of keywords that you can use in your SEO campaigns. Here are some of the autocomplete scrapers:


Ubersuggest is one of the original popular Google suggest keyword scrapers. How this keyword tool works is, you start by entering a Seed keyword. Then it will add every letter in the alphabet (and numbers) after your seed keyword.

You could do the same thing manually by entering in your seed keyword into Google and adding each letter of the alphabet. However, it is much more efficient to use a tool like ubersuggest to find all these great keywords.

Shows Monthly volume and CPC: This keyword tool also shows you monthly search volume and CPC data which is definitely nice to have so you don’t have to manually enter them into the Google Keyword Planner tool.

Scrape beyond Google: You can also select whether you want to scrape images, shopping, YouTube, or news. Beyond that, you can put a checkmark next to all the keywords that you want to use, then export only the selected keywords. You can also export the full list of keywords if you wanted to.

Filter Keywords: You can also filter by certain keywords. For example, if I typed in keyword research and saw a large list of autosuggest keywords, I can filter it down further to narrow my results. Say I added the filter word “tools,” it would only display “keyword research tools” as a base, rather than “keyword research” as a base. It’s just a nice way to narrow your keywords.

Pro tips:

You can use an asterisk (also known as a wildcard –> *) before or after your keyword to get even more keywords. For example instead of typing in “keyword research”, you can type in:

  • * keyword research
  • What * keyword research
  • How * keyword research

Ubersuggest will fill in the gaps where the asterisk (*) is, and you can get some great long tail keywords doing this technique.


  • Scrape web, YouTube, shopping, and news
  • You can download as a CSV or text file of keywords
  • You can filter your keywords to narrow it down
  • There is a word cloud feature


  • It does not add every letter of the alphabet before your seed keyword, only after
Note: Ubersuggest was acquired by Neil Patel – now it is Many ponder whether he will start charging for this classic, well-known tool. I actually think he will keep it free since I believe this acquisition was an ingenious strategic move to acquire backlinks. If that is the case, my hat’s off to you Neil.

Ubersuggest vs and are two very popular Google autosuggest scrapers. They have been longtime favorites to online marketers and SEO professionals because the ease at which you can generate new keyword ideas for content topics. is very similar to Ubersuggest, except there are a couple of notable differences.

Ubersuggest shows search volume / CPC: One area that Ubersuggest beats keyword tool is the search volume and CPC data. Keyword tool wants you to upgrade to Keyword Tool Pro to see this data, whereas ubersuggest shows monthly volume and CPC for free. produces more keywords: However, the keyword tool beats ubersuggest by spitting out more keywords. The way they do this is adding the alphabet before, as well as after your seed keyword. Ubersuggest only does this after your seed keyword. Note that you have to type in a short seed keyword (1-2 word phrases) to benefit from the increased amount of keywords.

For example, I typed in “keyword research” into both or suggest and keyword tool, and I got similar results. However, when I typed in “marketing” to both and ubbersuggest, ended up spitting out double the keywords.


  • Generate more keywords than other competing keyword tools
  • It has a feature where you can get questions based on your keyword


  • It does not show search volume or CPC data


Soovle keyword tool

Scrape several websites: Soovle is another longtime favorite up internet marketers. However, it is a little bit different than ubersuggest and keyword tool. This keyword research tool shows you a bird’s eye view of many different websites autocomplete results. It scrapes auto-suggestions from Google, Bing, YouTube, Wikipedia,, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, etc.

Informational and Transactional keywords: This is a nice feature because you get to see the informational based queries, which are typical of Google, Bing, YouTube and Wikipedia searches. You also get the transactionally based queries, which are typical of Amazon, eBay, and

Creating a keyword list: Though this keyword tool doesn’t give you a huge list from one seed keyword, you can get a broad, quick overview of transactional and informational base keywords.

Download your list: You can also select individual keywords to add to your customize keyboard list, which you can then download. Doing it this way, you can get a pretty decent size keyboard list when you select keywords and type in different seed keywords.


  • See a bird’s-eye view of several different search engines and marketplaces
  • You can select your keywords to add to your custom list


  • It doesn’t show you a huge list like some other keyword suggestion scrapers

Free Keyword Tool (this tool was shut down)

Similar to Ubersuggest: Freekeywordtool is not as well known as some other big names on this list of keyword tools, but it is a great tool nonetheless. This works similarly to the likes of Ubersuggest. However, there are some features that make this an awesome tool.

It has some great features: At first sight, this looks like the same type of functionality as another popular keyword suggestion scraper is, however, there are some cool added features. Beyond the normal keyword suggestion scraper functionality, you can also get keywords based on questions, buyer intent, product info, and prepositions. If you play around with this keyword tool, you will be sure to find some new keywords that you haven’t thought of.

Explanations of the extra keyword search functionalities

  • Buyer intent: adds things like ‘buy’ and ‘cheap’, which means these keywords are usually people with cash in hand ready to make a purchase.
  • Product info adds things like – ‘top’, ‘best’, and ‘compare’


  • Delivers a pretty good amount of keywords (about twice as much as
  • Search multiple sources
  • Generate questions based on your seed keyword
  • Get keywords that have buyer intent
  • Get product info keywords
  • Prepositions keyword search feature
  • Shows monthly search volume and CPC data
  • Filter functionality
  • They are dedicated to keeping this tool free (whereas other tools lose functionality later down the road to encourage purchasing a “pro” version like and others)


  • Doesn’t show how competitive keywords are (though most of these free tools don’t)
  • Doesn’t show the total value of the keyword – CPC times monthly searches. (though most of these free tools don’t either)

SEO Chat Related Keywords

You might be able to find some good keywords with this tool. However, it works best with very short seed keywords. For instance, if you have a keyword phrase that is 3 words long, it might not give you very much. However, if you want to type very general seed keywords, then you should get some good ideas from this tool.


  • Good general keyword ideas for very short keyword phrases or single keywords


  • Not as good for keyword phrases with 3 or more words

Keyword Tool Dominator (Limited Freemium)

The tool is very similar to Ubersuggest, except that it is visually laid out to create your own custom keyword list. However, the big drawback to this tool is that you only have a few searches a day.


  • Similar keywords as something like ubersuggest


  • You are limited to a handful of searches every day.

SEOBook Keyword Suggestion Scraper

Free google keyword suggestion tool

Though SEOBook’s Keyword suggestion scraper tool doesn’t produce as many results as some of the other keyword tools on this list, it has the unique feature of being able to click on the keyword to see related keywords. You can keep drilling down into related keywords to find opportunities for new keywords.


  • You can click on the star under the columns of Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon, and eBay. This will take you to the specific search result with your keyword.


  • Doesn’t give CPC, or monthly volume (though SEObook does have another tool for that)
  • Not as many keywords as other tools

Keyword Shitter

Keyword shitter the bulk keyword tool

If you want to find a lot of keywords, keyword shitter is amazing. This keyword tool is like ubersuggest on steroids. It works in a similar way, but it keeps scraping on top of previously scraped results, essentially building on top of each keyword. This tool is great for automatically creating a very large list of keywords.

You can then bring this huge list of keywords into the Google Keyword Planner (or keyword keg) to see what the CPC data and monthly search volume is to pick out the winners.


  • Great for very large lists of keywords (more than most tools on this list)
  • Allows for negative and positive filters


  • No download option, only copy and paste (not a big deal though)


Keyword research tool tejji

This tool is very similar to ubersuggest and, except it separates each keyword and letter of the alphabet into squares. This is a nice visual of each letter, and it also allows you to copy only the keywords with ‘a’ for instance.


  • Similar results to ubersuggest and others


  • Not as many features as some other tools


Here are a few great tools that you can use to generate keywords based on real questions people are asking. These can be great Inspirations for creating new content for your SEO campaigns.

Answer The Public

Answerthepublic keyword tool for questions

This is a great keyword tool to generate questions. Answer the public has been getting more popular recently, and for a good reason. For one it generates questions based on who, what, where, when, why, and how. Also, it generates similar keywords that something like ubersuggest might spit out.

It does all this in a very visually appealing way, showing you a graph that you can even download and save to your computer. You can also switch between the visualization mode and the data mode, where it’s more of a list format, rather than the default mind map visualization.

Try this tool, and you will love it!

Huballin (Update: Sadly they closed up shop)

Huballin is another fantastic keyword research tool for finding question-based search queries (among other things). You will probably get similar r esults to something like answer the public, but they might differ slightly.

Another added benefit to this tool is that you can use smart tags to filter the keyword search results, to narrow down your results. You can also filter your keywords by a transactional, SEO, and location.

Overall, this keyword tool is a fantastic tool. This tool provides a lot of functionality for your keyword research. It also has some unique benefits that I haven’t seen on any other keyword tool.

Serp Stat (Freemium)

Another good keyword tool for finding question-based search queries is SERPSTAT. To get to the question-based keyword section, first, you typing your keyword, then click on “search suggestions” on the left tab, and finally, click on the “only questions” tab.

The result will be a list of only question-based keywords. You may notice that it requires you to upgrade to a paid account to see the full dataset.


Faqfox keyword tool for questions

A popular way to find new content ideas for SEO campaigns is to search and browse answer sites like,, yahoo answers, etc.

This tool makes your job much easier.

This tool is a very interesting and useful keyword tool. This keyword tool allows you to scrape popular websites based on the seed keyword you enter.

With this tool, what it basically does is scrapes all your specified websites for entries based on the keyword you enter. This makes it a very quick and efficient tool to find new content ideas based on questions from popular question and answer sites, or other’s blog posts.

Combining Keywords

There are many keyword tools that combine keywords to give you a list of keyword combinations. One of which is Google Keyword Planner:

Keyword planner mixing keywords 1

Keyword planner mixing keywords 2

In google keyword planner, under “multiply keyword lists” you can add in some seed keywords as shown below:

Then google will combine or “multiply” these keywords to get a list of new unique keywords.

It’s as simple as that! Its pretty straightforward, and you can get a decent list of keyword phrases that you may not have thought of otherwise.

The following are some other keyword combination tools, similar to the Google Keyword Planner. I will not expand on any of the following combining keyword tools, as they all have very similar functionality:

SEOBook Keyword List Generator






Keyword Lizard

Keyword Toaster


Combine Keywords

Keyword Pad (Windows Desktop Application)



Search Combination Tool

Keyword Multiplier

On-Page SEO Tools

Screaming Frog

Screaming frog

Screaming frog’s SEO spider is a free SEO keyword tool that allows you to crawl your website and your competitor’s websites. It is a desktop application that is available for Mac, windows, and Linux. Screaming Frog SEO spider has a light version that is completely free, but with some limitations.

This is a very popular tool amongst the SEO crowd because you can crawl your website to find and fix any technical issues that may be holding you back from achieving higher rankings. For SEO audits of your website, this tool drastically speeds up the process of evaluating your URLs. 

Besides auditing your website, you can also use it to crawl a competitors website to spy on their keywords. You can see what keywords they used in their heading tags, title tags, alt text, alt tags, anchor text, meta description, etc. There’s a ton of things you can do with this popular SEO tool.

Other competitor research you can do with screaming frog:

  • See which see which pages are deemed more important by your competitor (# of pages linking to it)
  • See what anchor text your competitor uses the most for their internal linking


Tagcrowd keyword cloud

Tag crowd is an interesting keyword tool. This tool allows you to enter a web page and it will analyze the content to give you a word cloud of keywords. It may be nice to visualize what a page is about through a keyword cloud. Each keyword on the page that shows up the most will appear larger, and the least used keywords on the page appear smaller.

Related (LSI) Keyword Tools (Very Freemium)


Though there is some debate as to whether Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing or not, LSIGraph is one of my favorite keyword research tools for generating LSI keywords. Best of all, it is completely free!

You can enter a seed keyword, and it will deliver some great LSI keywords. You can also find some great long-tail keywords that you may not find in other popular keyword tools.

Update: now they limit to 3 searches a day. Lame. It used to be a nice tool that was completely free.

Niche Laboratory

Niche Laboratory is another keyword tool that can generate related or LSI keywords. This is not as good as LSI graph, but it is worth taking a look.

Google Correlate

Google correlate

I often hear this tool recommended for finding related keywords, but the results are hit and miss. You might think that since it is a Google tool, it is the best. However, Google correlate is limited to finding usable LSI keywords.

It seems to works best if you enter in shorter keywords. However, it’s definitely worth taking a look. Just be sure to click on the ‘show more’ button, so you can expand the list that Google supplies.

Keyword List Cleaner

SEO Book Keyword List Cleaner

Clean keyword lists seo book tool

Cutting down large keyword Lists: Okay, say you’ve used multiple keyword tools to generate a list of keywords. Maybe you used Google keyword planner, keyword shitter, and SEMrush. You then combine all the keywords in an excel or google spreadsheets document.

One problem: you likely have many of the same keywords in the combined list!

When you go to narrow down your results, how do you get rid of duplicates? What about getting rid of random numbers or other characters?

The SEOBook’s keyword list cleaner is a great keyword tool to clean your keyword list. You can copy and past your big list of keywords and choose how you want to clean it (for example get rid of duplicates), and it will do its thing! You can do all of this in excel, but this tool is a quick way to “clean” your keyword lists.

What this keyword tool can do:

  • Remove duplicate keywords
  • Remove blank lines
  • Make alphanumeric
  • Etc

Keyword Density Tools

Keyword density shouldn’t really be a metric you rely on, as it’s an old-school SEO concept. However, if you still are curious and want to do some digging around to decipher other blog’s article keyword densities, here are a couple great tools for that:

SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer

SEOBook Keyword density analyzer tool

SEObook keyword density tool is cool because it really breaks down the content and keywords and shows you the count and keyword density.

Keyword Density Analysis Tool

Keyword density analysis

Another keyword density tool, this one shows you similar data as SEObooks keyword density tool.

(also SEO Quake extension)

E-commerce Keyword Tools

Merchant Words

Merchantwords amazon keywords

Commercial intent keywords: Merchant words is one of the very few keyword research tools that scrapes Amazon data. If you are in the e-commerce world, this is a great tool. You will typically get some similar results searching for keywords with a tool that uses Google data and Amazon data. However, using Amazon data will typically result in more commercial intent keywords rather than informational intent keywords.

SEO Browser Toolbars & Extensions

Though SEO toolbars aren’t usually considered keyword research tools, they are however very important when gauging how competitive a keyword is. This is arguably one of the most important aspects of keyword research and SEO in general. The easier it is to rank for a keyword, the easier it is to be successful in generating traffic – so it goes without saying that you should focus on finding low hanging fruit.

You can play around with any of the toolbars, as they all offer similar functionality. I use the Moz toolbar the most. It is up to your personal preference and browser choice that will dictate which toolbar you choose:

Keyword Keg

This is a fantastic extension for chrome and firefox; it enhances lots of other popular keyword tools. With this installed, it will automatically show keyword volume and CPC data when using the following keyword tools:

  • UberSuggest
  • Google Search Console
  • Soovle
  • Google Analytics
  • Answer The Public
  • Keyword Shitter
  • Majestic Anchors
  • Moz Open Site Explorer

Wordtracker Scout (chrome)

Wordtracker scout

Wordtracker scout is just like a tag cloud, but it is a browser extension for chrome. This will allow you to see a word cloud of keywords when you are visiting a page. It will show you a word cloud of the most used words, with the biggest words representing the most used words. It shows you a quick visual representation of what the page is about.

KGen (firefox)

Kgen firefox addon

This one is similar to word tracker scout but it shows it as a list instead of a word cloud and is only available for Firefox.

Excel Keyword Tools

Bing Ads Intelligence

Bing ads intelligence resultsa

Bing Ads Intelligence is made to make keyword research easier by introducing Bing keyword data into excel. It is an Excel plugin that pulls information from Bing. It requires the following to install:

  • PC only (sadly not available on Macs)
  • Excel 2007 and up
  • Bing Ads account

This is basically like Google keyword planner, but Bing’s version. Microsoft supplies you with a handy Excel plugin called Bing ads intelligence. It can be very useful for a variety of different tasks for both PPC and SEO campaigns.

Some things you can do with the ads intelligence plugin:

  • Easy sorting (because it is in excel after all)
  • See what keywords other people are bidding on based on a seed keyword
  • Demographics based on keyword (male, female, age)
  • Generate keyword lists by words
  • See performance based on what device, match type, and position
  • Crawl your website for keyword ideas
  • Keyword templates and tools

Keyword Categorization Tool (IMforSMB)

Imforsm keyword categorisation tool

This is a useful Excel tool for categorizing large lists of keywords. It’s more of an Excel template, but it really speeds up the keyword categorization process. It could take hours to categorize a large list of keywords manually, but with this tool it takes minutes.

SEO and Reporting Analysis (IMforSMB)

Imforsmb seo and reporting analysis

This is a cool excel tool for analyzing your SEO performance. It can be useful to report performance and keyword data to your clients if you offer SEO services. Of course, it can also be useful to use for your own websites as well.

Local SEO Keyword Tool

Bulk Keyword Generator (IMforSMB)

Local seo bulk kw generator

This tool is nice for Local SEO, as you can enter location and service(s) to generate a list of keywords. It’s easy enough to do this manually, but it could be a quick way to generate local keywords when doing it for a lot of clients.

Get real-world keyword phrases


Seed keywords keyword toolse

This is an interesting tool, but a different type of keyword research tool. It takes a pretty unique approach to keyword research; that may be helpful.

With this you tool, you can create a “search scenario” and email it to your friends. Your friends can answer it as if they were to perform the search on google. What you end up getting is a real-world example of how someone would google your product or website.

What did I miss?

Okay, it’s up to you guys to help make this list even better. I know there are keyword research tools I missed. What else is there? What are your favorite keyword research tools? Also, since I keep this list updated, I would appreciate a heads up if any of these tools are down.

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Are Traffic Estimator Tools Accurate? Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:42:00 +0000 Ever wondered how much traffic a competitor gets? Well, there are many web traffic estimator tools available. But the question is – are these tools accurate in predicting a website’s traffic?

Defining Traffic

Since there are many ways to measure website traffic (sources, page views, visits, etc), it makes sense to first define what we are referring to when we talk about “website traffic”.

Two main types of Traffic

Obviously, there are many sources of traffic. However, for our concerns, there are two main types of website traffic to look at when spying on competitors:

  • Organic Traffic: This is the most important metric for inbound marketing (SEO analysis, content marketing, etc). Organic traffic is traffic that the website receives through organic search. These are people that type in certain queries into Google or another search engine and land on a page that answers their query.
  • Paid Traffic: The other traffic source is traffic brought by CPC (Google AdWords). This is the traffic where the site owner paid for each click. It makes sense to look at this data if you also want to engage in AdWords, or if you just want to gain an insight into what their high converting “money” keywords might be.

When looking at traffic estimation tools, you’ll often you’ll see a mix of paid traffic and organic traffic from a website. Other times, you’ll see only organic traffic. It usually just depends on the niche or website (whether they doing CPC).

For my purposes on gaining insight into my competitors from an SEO standpoint, or SEO analysis of my own sites, I will primarily look at organic traffic. This is because my main focus is on SEO and content marketing.

Units of Measurement

Since we are mainly focusing on the organic traffic, now the question is – how are these website traffic estimators actually measuring the traffic?

Remember there are many units of measurements when referring to website traffic:

  • Unit of measurement: Is it page views, unique visits, or something different?
  • Time period: Is it by day, week, month or year?

When playing around with Google Analytics, you probably are baffled at the countless many ways in which you can measure and sort your website’s traffic data.

One of the most common ways to measure traffic is simply to measure the number of visitors to your website, within a given time period (like monthly visits).

Users per month

When using website traffic estimator tools, they typically show you the number of visitors on a website, in a given month. The equivalent metric in Google Analytics is Users.

When you use Google Analytics you have access to a ton of data. You can see how many people are visiting your website, from where and how they’re behaving on your website.

But when we do competitor analysis, we obviously don’t have access to their Analytics data. With traffic estimator tools we typically are limited to just seeing the number of visitors within a given month, with the exception of some tools like similar web, which shows a bit more data.

However, for the purposes of competitor analysis, the monthly visits is usually all you really need. When doing research into another website’s traffic, we don’t necessarily need to know the pageviews and all the other stuff. We simply want to see how many visitors a website has and the keywords associated with that traffic.

How accurate are traffic estimator tools?

My findings

Let’s do a quick test with Google Merchandise Store Demo Account Data to see if we can match up real traffic from Google Analytics and compare it to these traffic estimators.

This analytics data is provided by Google and it is actual real-world analytics data. Google offers this to the public as a learning tool for Google Analytics. The traffic is from Google’s Merchandise Shop and the time period is the last 30 days.

Actual Analytics Traffic: 56,295 Users

  • SEMrush: 23,700 Users
  • Ahrefs: 23,600 Users
  • Similar web: 65,177 Users
  • Alexa: 64,679 Users

I chose this because it has a decent amount of traffic site, and it is publicly accessible analytics data (so you can play around with it as well). The reason we want to test on decently higher traffic sites is that, typically, the higher the traffic on the site, the more accurate these website traffic estimators will be. However, if the site gets a lot of traffic, then the measurements seem to vary between tools. So we want a happy medium – not too small of a site, and not too large, to test the accuracy.

Screaming Frog Study

Ideally, we would want to test several sites to get a better understanding of which is the most accurate website traffic estimators. There was actually a blog post that screaming frog did, which included testing a variety of websites. Their testing of 3 tools (SimilarWeb, Ahrefs, SEMrush) found that:

  • SimilarWeb was the most accurate, overall
  • Ahrefs was the most accurate for large websites
  • SEMrush was the least accurate

In my test, Alexa actually did the best. And that’s using the free Alexa extension. The second closest was SimilarWeb, just like screaming frog found.

But does that mean these are the best tools for the job? In my opinion, no. Not necessarily.

It’s about the relative accuracy

Are most of the website traffic estimator tools accurate? The short answer is no. The long answer is: I am less concerned with accuracy as much as I am concerned with the of relative accuracy. If that doesn’t make sense, keep reading.

Let’s get one fact straight. None of these traffic estimation tools are going to be 100% accurate. The reason for this is because the only tool that will give you an exact traffic number is through server logs or an analytics tool like Google Analytics.

However, when we are doing competitor research – looking into someone else’s website, we obviously don’t have access to their analytics data. That is proprietary information that they would not want to share.

How do these “traffic estimator” tools work?


Well, they estimate traffic, using a variety of inputs.

The way most of these tools estimate traffic is by typically creating a mathematical estimation based on the following:

  • SERP Position: Where a website ranks for a particular keyword also fluctuates constantly. So this is a moving target.
  • Keyword volume: This is sourced from Google, but keep in mind the actual keyword volume is an estimation/ averaged number.
  • CTR: Many of these traffic estimator tools use clickstream CTR data, which is a prediction of click-through rate.
  • Keyword Database: This is the number of keywords within a website estimators database. The larger the database, the closer to real-world numbers the website estimators typically will get. It can also depend on which companies have a larger database of keywords.

So the lesson is, that each traffic estimator tool will have their own proprietary mathematical calculation based on their own chosen datasets (which may not be exact in its own regard). As such, we have to look at the data from each different company as a relative scale.

What I mean by that is, every tool, whether it’s a keyword volume tool like Google keyword planner, or if its Google Trends, or a website traffic estimation tool – each tool is going to have a different scale to measure that data.

The united states use inches, but most other countries use the metric system (mm & cm). This is how I view different website estimator tools – it’s just a different unit of measurement.

If we check a’s traffic on Ahrefs and then checked’s on Similar web, we will get confusing results. However, if you check on Ahrefs and on Ahrefs as well, we now start to see a relative scale. So the trick is to only use one tool when measuring traffic

This is how you should use and understand these website traffic estimator tools, keyword volume tools, etc. You can only compare inches to inches, not inches to centimeters.

In conclusion

So what’s the lesson in all this? The lesson is to choose the website traffic estimation tool you like the most. Whatever tool fits your needs – maybe you need a comprehensive SEO toolset like Ahrefs, SEMrush or Maybe you would rather try free options like the Alexa extension. The point is, choose what you’re comfortable with and only use that tool for traffic comparisons.

Just don’t fool yourself into believing that what you’re seeing is actual true website traffic. Remember – its just an estimation of traffic, calculated by different variables.

However, if you did want to get close to the true website traffic numbers, a great free option is the Alexa extension.

]]> 0 Top 11 Website Traffic Estimators (Traffic Checkers) for 2019 Tue, 10 Jul 2018 19:46:45 +0000 The list of website traffic estimators is in no particular order, except that the first 4 are my favorite competitor analysis tools. (Note that the first 4 tools are paid tools, but they are well worth it.)

Each paid tool on this list will give you much more data than the free tools can deliver. Most of them allow you to export keyword data, backlink data, traffic reports, SEO audits, and more.

The rest of the (free) tools on the list are also worth looking into if you simply wanted to get a good guess on a website’s monthly visitors.

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is not a free tool. It’s a paid tool – with a monthly subscription fee, similar to SEMrush. If you are turned off of any of these tools because they have a monthly fee, that is understandable. I always try to seek out free tools whenever possible.

But the fact is, you gotta pay to play in the SEO world. The best SEO tools are typically paid tools. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, Serped, (see #3) is my favorite SEO tool that combines data from many other paid SEO tools, but for a whopping discount compared to if you paid for each solution separately.

Back to Ahrefs – This is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market and for good reason. In fact most SEOs I know either use Ahrefs or SEMrush (or Serped). Those with bigger budgets usually pick ahrefs, and those that want to save a good deal choose Serped. Also many choose SEMrush since it is slightly less expensive compared to ahrefs. I personally really like all three.

There are pros and cons of each, but Ahrefs seems to have a bigger database of keywords and links. However, in terms of measuring traffic, looking at keywords, and other general SEO tasks, Ahrefs and SEMrush are very comparable.

You can look at the organic traffic of a website or a particular page. When I say a Web site I mean the whole website at the domain root level – meaning it will measure visitor data of all the pages combined:

But then you can also dig down further into your /paths or a specific URL:

Other Ahref Features

You can use these methods to gain insight into competitors site. You can also see whether a niche is worth entering. Ahrefs has the benefit of also including a lot of other tools such as:

  • Keyword research
  • Website Audits
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Link Building
  • Rank Tracking
  • Alerts
  • Etc

I’d say another benefit of Ahrefs is that the keyword difficulty metric seems to be a little bit more accurate than the competitors (this could be due to their larger databases, or just better calculations).

Also, their “authority” metric – DR (Domain Rating), seems to be one of the most accurate measurements of a website’s authority.

2. SEMrush

Another main contender in the SEO game is SEMrush. Its the arch nemesis of Ahrefs, and a good contender to be in the top 3 SEO tools ever made. Besides all the other SEO tools, SEMrush is great at analyzing traffic.

semrush free trialSimilarly to Ahrefs, you can get a pretty good picture of what the unique monthly visitors are for a site. You can also see the competitive data such as backlinks and keywords.

Keyword research is another big draw to SEMrush. In fact, this is probably the most popular reason why people like SEMrush:

Similar to Ahrefs, you can type in your website domain or search for a particular URL. You will be delivered organic & paid traffic data and the keywords the website ranks for:

Just like Ahrefs, you can then export this data and do some more analysis in Excel or Google Sheets. SEMrush also has some keyword difficulty metrics as well, however, I find that Ahrefs difficulty is a little bit more accurate. also has an awesome keyword difficulty score/ competitive analysis and is one of my favorite tools to use for competitor analysis.

Despite Ahrefs coming ahead on certain aspects, I still really love SEMrush; they have some great tools such as the keyword magic tool other audit tools that are nice.

I think SEMrush offers a great bang for your buck. SEMrush allows you to do pretty much the exact same thing as Ahrefs, but it is much cheaper.


One of my favorite SEO tools on this list – because there are so many different tools in one subscription, is serped. Under the “what ranks where” tool you can type in a domain and it’ll give you the traffic of each URL.

Note that it does not show traffic of the domain as a whole. This may not be as useful as some of the other tools on this list because it doesn’t show visitor data at the root domain level. So if you are only looking for visitor stats, you may be better off with another tool.

But this comprehensive app is very powerful for SEO in general. This tool is awesome because it also connected to other keyword research tools. For example, simply click on a keyword and you see a whole host of competitor metrics for that keyword. The biggest benefit of this tool is that you literally have hundreds of other SEO tools in one. In fact, serped brings in data from SEMrush, Moz, Majestic and much more.

Considering that this tool starts under at around $79 a month, its actually a very good deal for an SEO tool with so many integrations and functionalities:

For example, if you wanted to check Moz’s DA, PA along with Majestic’s CF & TF (& Trust Ratio), you can conveniently see these metrics with a click of the button:

serped example trust ratio

4. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is also a great choice. It’s fairly accurate. And you have the ability to use a free, trial limited version. All you need to do is type in the URL, hit enter and it will bring up several different traffic metrics for you to browse:

You will see the following visitor metrics in a convenient layout:

  • monthly visits
  • monthly unique visitors
  • average visit duration
  • pages per visit
  • bounce rate
  • demographics
  • and more.

You’ll also see the “marketing mix” or the channel overview:

This is nice because it tells you how many visitors the site is getting by channel:

  • Direct
  • Email
  • Referrals
  • Social
  • Organic Search
  • Paid Search
  • Display Ads

You’ll be able to see the referrals of the top referring websites (backlinks to the site). Also, another interesting aspect of similar web is the unique feature of the top referring category:

One best benefit of this tool is it is free – however only to a certain point. If you were on a budget, you can use their free version to check the visitor stats of a handful of websites. However, when your usage increases, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account.

5. Serpstat

Serpstat is another good all in one SEO tool that includes the ability to analyze other websites traffic data. You can get insight into:

  • Monthly visitors
  • Visibility
  • Organic keywords
  • Ads keywords
  • etc.

The nice thing about this tool is there is a free version you can use, that is limited. The drawbacks to this tool are the visitor data numbers seem to be overestimated by quite a bit and it doesn’t seem to work as well with subdomains – when targeting the subdomain directly.

6. Alexa

Alexa is a very popular and great tool. Alexa has been very popular for a long time. I remember SEOs were using Alexa rank way back in the early days of SEO. Though it isn’t as popular these days, Alexa does have a very useful traffic estimator.

And best of all, it is completely free when using their browser extension. Alexa doesn’t appear to have a free version on their website, but their handy browser extension is. Otherwise, to get more data, you need a paid plan.

You can also create a seven-day free trial, where you can use their traffic analysis tools. If you wanted to upgrade to their website analysis tools it is $79 per month, and with it, you would have access to the following data

  • Monthly unique visitors
  • Audience overlap
  • Site overview
  • Site comparisons
  • Sites linking in
  • Site keywords
  • Site screener
  • Top sites
  • and more.

Free Browser Extension: Alexa has a free extension for chrome and firefox that allows you to check a website’s traffic level. Begin by installing it then activate it. Then when you click the Alexa button it will bring up the traffic rank and the Alexa traffic rate

As far as visitor stats, you want to be looking at the traffic rank in the US. This is actually surprisingly pretty accurate (for a free tool), but it does overestimate it.

Keep in mind that with the Alexa tool (and other tools for that matter), it is more accurate with higher traffic websites. The bigger the site, the more accurate these tools are going to be. Likewise, the smaller websites that you test will be less accurate. This is just the nature of statistics and how Alexa works to calculate traffic.

Essentially, larger websites have a larger sample size that they can draw from, and thus tend to be more accurate.

What about Alexa rank?

There’s also Alexa Rank, which has been a popular metric back in the day for SEOs. It still is for some people. However, Alexa rank is not necessarily showing traffic data.

It’s more of a ranking of all the websites. The lower the rank, the higher the traffic the website gets. Like if you are number 1 (Google), then you get more traffic than all of the other websites.

Is the paid Alexa plan worth it?

Alexa (owned by Amazon) has had a long history as being apart of any SEO practitioners tool belt… However, I found that the paid version of the tool was lacking compared to competitors. For that $80 per month, you’d be much better off with a serped account or SEMrush.

7. Google AdWords Display Planner

Google AdWords Display Planner may not technically belong on this list because it isn’t a competitor analysis tool like the other tools on this list. However, it is worth mentioning just because it is free and offers some good insights (though Google is trying to rid of the standalone version of the tool).

Google Adwords display planner can be used to gain insight on impressions. It also has some nice demographics data as well. However, this tool will not estimate the actual visitor data.

8. Quantcast

Next up on the list is Quantcast. This is an analytics tool mainly directed at measuring and data on your own website. However, there’s also a section where you can research other websites – for free!

Simply type in the URL and hit enter. You’ll then see a traffic graph similar to this (remember these are a calculated guess on what the real numbers are):

Further, you can also view:

  • demographics
  • Audience data
  • engagement data
  • content segments
  • and more.

The biggest drawback to this free Web site traffic tool is it didn’t seem to work with subdomains. For example, I’ve typed in “” and it didn’t work. Then I typed in” and it worked.

9. Visitors Detective

Visitors detective is another popular tool that you can use to estimate unique visitors. The best part about these tools is completely free.!

After you enter a website, you will see the following information:

  • daily visitors
  • Traffic by country
  • Social network data
  • and more

One unique feature (especially for a free tool) is that you can change the date range. So if you want to look at visitor data from one day or 30 days, the choice is yours. Even though it is free, the drawback to this tool is it doesn’t allow you to check subdomains.

Also, it seems to overestimate traffic quite a bit compared to real-world data. It seemed to nearly triple the amount of actual traffic you get. So if you’re getting 2,000 daily visitors in analytics, it may show closer to 6,000 daily visitors. So, again, keep in mind that each of these tools has different metrics (their own scale) that they use and thus should be used only as a relative measurement of a site’s unique visitors.

10. Statshow

Statshow is a great free website statistics tool, which includes a visitor statistic. This tool can show you estimated numbers of traffic from a daily yearly or monthly view.

Statshow also shows you:

  • monthly page views
  • monthly visitors
  • monthly ads revenue
  • different categories and niches for the site
  • Alexa rank
  • Site age
  • And more

The benefit of this is it’s free. The drawback to it is that the traffic numbers don’t look very accurate. It looks like they overestimate the monthly visitors quite a bit.

It will also do some math for you – as it calculates the commercial value of your keywords. You get a similar metric with Ahrefs and SEMrush’s calculation of traffic value:

11. Site Worth Traffic

Another free monthly visitors tracker worthy of consideration is called site worth traffic. This tool will deliver traffic details such as:

  • daily
  • monthly
  • yearly
  • alexa traffic rank
  • alexa page views
  • traffic sources (Taking the data from similar web)
  • Alexa traffic graph

This tool seems like one of the most accurate out of all the free traffic estimator tools. However, it doesn’t look like you can enter subdomains.

Conclusion: The best tools to check website visitors

Top Free tools:

Top paid tools:

What’s your favorite traffic checker?

Maybe you like free solutions like the Alexa Extension or SiteWorthTraffic. Or maybe you opt for the all in one SEO tools like Serped, SEMrush or Ahrefs. Either way, there is sure to be something that fits your needs.

These are the best tools for the job, that I know of. Is there a good tool I missed? If so I would love to hear from you. Also, what is your favorite competitor analysis tool?

]]> 2
Are Links From Lower Domain Authority Bad? Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:58:57 +0000 There are many metrics you can measure a website’s link equity. Most SEOs used to talk about PR or PageRank, which is one of Google’s measure of links.

After Google stopped updating the public PR metrics, people turned to third-party metrics, like Domain Authority.

The Rise of Domain Authority (DA)

One such metric is Domain authority or DA. This is Moz’s metric and it has turned into a very popular link metric over the years.

You can check the DA of a website for free by using Moz’s chrome extension, or by going to

moz open site explorer

It’s not the best idea to only use DA. Yet, I see many people relying pretty heavily on this one metric. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great metric to consider. We all look at it. But, there are also many other metrics you should be looking at in conjunction with DA/PA.

What is domain authority?

what is domain authority

Domain authority is an SEO metric developed by Moz. The Domain authority, often just referred to as DA, ranges from 0-100 and it predicts how likely a website will rank in Google.

Their other main metric is PA or Page Authority. This one looks at the links of an individual page, whereas Domain Authority looks at all links on your entire website (domain wide links).

Note that DA is based on a logarithmic scale. This means that it is much harder to get from DA 60 to DA 70 than it is to get from DA 20 to DA 30. It also means that the higher the DA the harder it is going to be to compete, holding all else equal.

Also, note that domain authority should be used as a relative score. So when Moz updates things on their end, it may change the DA of all sites. So don’t look at is as a yardstick that stays constant, with a constant measure, use it as a yardstick to use against other websites.

What does domain authority include?

So how is domain authority calculated? It uses a variety of factors and it uses machine learning to come up with a Domain Authority calculation. Some of the following are included in the domain authority calculation:

  • Linking Root Domains
  • Total number of links
  • MozRank
  • MozTrust
  • Many other (40 Total)

Can links with a lower DA harm your site?

lower domain authority links

The short answer is no.

Many people will question whether you should strive to get links from domains with a lower DA. They wonder if it’s a worthwhile link and they even question whether it will hurt their site.

This is a good question, with a pretty straightforward answer: It doesn’t matter what DA the website is that is linking to you.

DA doesn’t really take into account the quality of the links – at least it doesn’t do a very good job at that (in my opinion). It only accounts for the overall level of links.

So if your site has a DA of 15 and you acquire a link from a DA 10, it may be a great link! Obviously, a DA 30 is going to (theoretically) transfer more link equity to your site than a DA 10.

I say may, because there are other factors that decide whether a link is a high or low-quality link.

DA isn’t as good at taking into account link quality

One of the biggest flaws I see with people using DA alone is that it doesn’t take into account the quality of the link. Well, it does use MozTrust as a factor, but I don’t think the DA score accurately describes the quality of links.

I like to use trust ratio for that. The trust ratio uses majestic’s trust flow and citation flow to get the trust ratio. This gives us a quick view of how “trustworthy” the links are.

Remember how I was saying you should look at several metrics? That’s why I love Serped, as it combines the metrics of many tools to give me a quick overview of a website’s authority and trust.

serped example trust ratio

Of course, you can’t rely on trust ratio or any other metric for that matter to decipher how good a link is or, said another way, how good a site’s link profile is.

You should use a variety of tools, and manual inspection. The trust ratio is great because it gives you a quick and dirty way to tell if the links are low quality, so this allows you to check the quality of many links at once.

Benefits of lower DA sites

Easier to acquire lower DA links

One benefit of getting links from lower DA sites is that they are usually easier to reach out to the site owners and acquire a link.

This is especially the case if you have a newer site or a site that is less well known.

If your site is new and has a lower DA and you are reaching out to the big dogs in your niche, they probably won’t link to you very much.

Otherwise, you will probably have much better luck networking and building relationships with other smaller sites. You can do this until you build authority and are more able to portray the trust needed for other bigger sites to want to link to you.

If your site also has a lower DA site and don’t have as much authority, you will probably earn few influencer links, compared to reaching out to fellow lower authority sites. You will probably be able to earn much more from fellow low authority sites.

Sadly that’s just the way it is. The exception is if you have really good content, that is valuable to their audience. Then, with good outreach or social media efforts, you may get a good amount of links.

In general, though, you’ll be able to score more links from similar authority stance that you have than you can get links from way bigger influencers. For instance what if you were able to acquire 5 DA 20 links in the same time it took you to acquire 1 DA 40 site.

This may not be the case and it all depends on your niche. It’s something worth considering.

Its an Investment from their growth

domain authority potential for growth

When you get a link from a site with lower domain authority, chances are they could be a newer site who is just getting started.

If they happen to start creating great content and attract good links over time, they will increase their Domain authority over time.

So what once was a meager DA 10 link could grow into a DA 30 link over time. This happens all the time, but it can take time for their site to grow.

]]> 8
Internal Links: Does The Over Optimization Penalty Exist? (Exact Match Anchor Text Penalty) Fri, 10 Nov 2017 21:20:22 +0000 I recently covered the importance of anchor text and the dangers of using keyword rich anchor text for backlinks.

So what about your internal linking strategy internal linking strategy? Should you be careful using keywords within your anchor text on your internal links? Can you go too far?

It’s an important question with some debate surrounding this issue. Myth or reality? I’ll try to answer that today.

What are internal links and Anchor text?

Internal links are links to other pages of your website. The anchor text of your internal links is the text you use to link with. It is the same idea as  backlinks, but you have complete control over the anchor text of your internal links:

anchor text example

The Benefit of internal links for SEO

Transfers link equity

Internal linking, especially on authoritative sites can have a dramatic impact on your rankings. This is because of the way Google uses PageRank.

I don’t really like to talk about PageRank anymore because Google stopped updating the public PageRank metrics in 2014 I believe. So when people talk about High PR Sites I usually just roll my eyes.

You shouldn’t be judging a site based on its PageRank. Instead, you should be using a variety of other metrics like PA, DA, DR, UR, TF, CF, etc.

However, Pagerank is still used internally by Google. Of course, it is much more advanced now than the PR we were used to back in the day.

And if you have a high authoritative site (maybe it’s high DA or High DR), then Google will still be measuring that internally through their PageRank metrics along with many others.

This gives authoritative site owners a chance to use internal linking to pass more of that PageRank (link equity) to other internal pages. Don’t get too caught up on a number of links or anything like that. Just link in a natural way, and link to landing pages you want to rank more than other pages. Or link from your highest PA pages to your landing pages.

For example, say you wanted to rank a deeper page that wasn’t doing as well in the search engines as you wanted. Maybe you decide to start using internal linking from many of your other pages, which happen to have a lot of backlinks pointing to them.

After using an internal linking strategy that is helpful to users, and helps transfer some of that link equity to certain landing pages, you may see a jump in rankings for those pages.

It can actually have a pretty powerful effect if done correctly, and with user experience in mind.

Increases relevancy

Keyword rich anchor text – both exact match and partial match, can play an important role in your internal linking strategy.

But why? One word. Relevancy

Google looks at the content on your page to decipher what your content is about. They look at all the keywords and associated keywords. Google’s ability to know what your content is about, has gotten pretty advanced over the years.

Google will also look at all the keywords in all the anchor text pointing to your page. This includes both onsite and offsite links (backlinks). It does this to get further clues to what a webpage is about.

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

large scale hypertextual web search engine

Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page created a paper called The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. In it, they explain the importance of anchor text:

2.2 Anchor Text

The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine. Most search engines associate the text of a link with the page that the link is on. In addition, we associate it with the page the link points to. This has several advantages. First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves. Second, anchors may exist for documents which cannot be indexed by a text-based search engine, such as images, programs, and databases. This makes it possible to return web pages which have not actually been crawled. Note that pages that have not been crawled can cause problems, since they are never checked for validity before being returned to the user. In this case, the search engine can even return a page that never actually existed, but had hyperlinks pointing to it. However, it is possible to sort the results, so that this particular problem rarely happens.

This idea of propagating anchor text to the page it refers to was implemented in the World Wide Web Worm [McBryan 94] especially because it helps search non-text information, and expands the search coverage with fewer downloaded documents. We use anchor propagation mostly because anchor text can help provide better quality results. Using anchor text efficiently is technically difficult because of the large amounts of data which must be processed. In our current crawl of 24 million pages, we had over 259 million anchors which we indexed.

I believe Google still adds a lot of weight to keywords in your internal anchor text. I believe the same is true with your backlink anchor text profile. However, when using keyword rich anchor text with your backlinks, you need to use keywords modestly and with caution. The same is actually true for internal links, but you have to be much more careful with backlinks.

Google takes many things into account. Why not make it easier for them to decide what your content is about? Give them a piece to the puzzle with your internal links.

Should you use keywords in your internal links (keyword rich anchor text)?

Short answer: Absolutely! Just don’t keyword stuff. Also, make sure you vary your anchor text so it is natural and appeals to the reader.

I don’t see a lot of great answers to this issue, and I see a lot of contradictory advice. So I decided to cover this to see give my take on it:

Over-optimization, as it applies to your on-page SEO is optimizing your site so much, to the point where it is causing a bad user experience.

That’s it. I don’t think it goes much further than that. I am not talking about all aspects of over-optimization, I am talking about the keyword rich anchor text aspect.

If you are keyword stuffing where it sounds unnatural. That is over-optimization. On the same token, if you are keyword stuffing the anchor text of your internal links – to the point of reducing the flow in your writing, that is also over optimization.

This is all pretty common sense. Some SEOs tend to get over-focused on the optimizing part. We need to step back every once in a while and realize that SEO is about offering real value and communicating that value to Google’s search algorithms through our optimizations.

[clickToTweet tweet=”SEO is about offering real value and communicating that value to Google’s search algorithms through our optimizations” quote=”SEO about offering real value and communicating that value to Google’s search algorithms through our optimizations”]

In fact, it is completely natural to include keywords in your anchor text. It helps describe what the page is about to the user and search engine bots. You will not get penalized for keyword rich internal links if you do within reason.

You should use descriptive, keyword rich anchor text since it increases the user experience. SEO is more about the user experience these days. The AI, the UX, and even your design, all play a big role in SEO. They offer a lot of indirect benefits to SEO (i.e user behavior).

Offering value and good UX is the first priority. If your optimizations get in the way of that, your content just reads and feels spammy. So over-optimization, in my opinion, is just a word used to describe bad content and bad UX.

When keyword rich anchor text becomes spammy

Keyword Stuffing

In general, if done in a natural way, I say go ahead and use as many keywords as you want in your internal linking, as long as you vary the keywords.

There is a caveat to this and it’s an important distinction. If you are adding in anchor text in a way that keyword stuffs your content with your chosen keywords, it is probably not the best idea.

Meaning, if you add anchor text in an article that contains your keywords, and it just doesn’t sound right (you are forcing the keyword in your content), Google and your users will view your website as a little spammy.

When the anchor text doesn’t flow with the content, you may be over-optimizing. It really comes down to focusing on the user and the flow of the content, rather than a search algorithm or a certain keyword distribution.


(Using a WordPress Plugin or Bot)

If you have a WordPress plugin, for instance, that goes through your site and links to a landing page every time it finds an instance of a word – that may definitely be seen as spammy.

Even though I absolutely love automation in marketing, this is the kind of thing that can get you into trouble. You shouldn’t automate everything, and this is especially the case when it comes to SEO.

Boilerplate or sitewide links

If you have keyword rich anchor text in any of the following areas of your site, it can be risky. Though in some cases it may seem to do nothing, or even help, in my opinion, it is still risky, especially on lower authoritative sites.

Sitewide keyword anchor text over optimization:

  • Footer
  • Sidebars
  • Nav
  • Other boilerplate sections

In my mind, reading Google’s reasonable surfer patent tells me that links in the footer would not be considered part of the main content, and would thus carry less weight. However, it is a sitewide link, so that is pointing to certain pages of your website on every page.

If you are adding keyword rich anchor text in your footer for external links, it may be seen as pretty spammy (unless you nofollow). However, internal links can have the same effect, especially if you do it a lot.

Excessive Exact Match Keywords

Even if you don’t use any sort of plugin or bot to create anchor text automatically, you can still overdo it when adding keywords to anchor text manually.

If you have a lot of internal linking where the exact match keyword is used excessively, is that going to trigger an over optimization penalty? I honestly don’t think it will. If it fits in the content and flows nicely, I don’t think so.

Maybe if every single anchor text pointing to a specific page, and it was just overly aggressive to the point of being spammy – maybe then it would have a negative effect.

But I don’t really think an over optimization penalty works this way. I think it only kicks in when your content turns spammy. If your content offers a great user experience, I don’t think it will harm you.

What Other SEO Influencer say: Should you use keywords in your internal links or not?

over optimizing internal links

Over-optimization has been an SEO buzzword for a while. The concept of over optimization can cover many aspects of on-site and off-site optimizations.

Naturally, I see people asking – Is internal linking with keywords spammy? Can you use too many keywords? Is that spammy?

That’s a great question, especially considering that your internal linking strategy and the information architecture is such a foundation to good on-site optimization and user experience.

Because of this over optimization craze, there is some debate about whether keyword rich anchor text is good or bad.

School of thought: Keywords in your internal links is bad (over-optimization)

Neil Patel

There is some debate about whether you should use any keywords in your anchor text. For example, Neil Patel says that keyword rich anchor text is bad.

7 Signs That You Might Be Over-Optimizing Your Site

1. Keyword-rich anchors for internal links.

Internal linking is good. Internal linking by using keyword-rich anchor text is bad.

If I had to pick the single biggest oversight in over-optimization, this would be it.

I completely disagree with this.

I know, I know. Neil Patel is a well-known SEO expert, right? Well, I think his biggest strength is content marketing & personal branding. In fact, he is world class when it comes to that, you gotta give it to him for that. Also, I always say SEOs are like economists – we all have our own opinion. And we also change our minds and adapt to new situations.

But we can’t fault him. I don’t agree with what he says, but I have a lot of respect for him. There’s a lesson in here though: the “gurus” don’t always get it right. You have to think for yourself and question the status quo. 

So let’s just give Neil the benefit of the doubt. It’s an older article (or maybe it’s a ghostwriter). I don’t know. But he does redeem himself here on his personal blog:

The days of keyword stuffing anchor texts are long gone. But, there is value in having that anchor text. Anchor text that flows well with the overall content, versus over-optimized anchor text, is best.

I agree with that.

Of course, you should make your content flow naturally, for the sake of user experience. If you are stuffing your keywords in your internal links, and it doesn’t flow very well when reading, that is over optimization.

Or rather, it’s just bad writing. So if you are doing that, stop!

But if it naturally flows, don’t be afraid to use keywords in your internal links. You can’t really over-optimize your internal links, as long as it gives a good user experience. This assumes you naturally add the anchor text within the flow of your content – which would naturally vary your anchor text keywords & phrasing. If you do this then it is hard to over-optimize. Otherwise, if you are using the same keywords over and over in your internal linking, it actually is quite easy to over optimize. So just be careful.


Note: just because a writer wrote something, it may not represent SEMrush’s views.

Even SEMrush has an article saying keyword rich anchors are bad for internal links:

4. Keyword-rich anchors for internal links

Internal linking is good; however, internal linking by using keyword-rich anchor text is bad. Anchors that use the exact URL of the destination or anchors that use keywords are a red flag in Google’s eyes. The occasional anchor that matches the URL exactly may contribute to positive SEO, but if you start doing this too much, you’re setting yourself up for penalization.

Hmm “Internal linking is good; however, internal linking by using keyword-rich anchor text is bad.” That sounds a bit familiar (see Neil’s quote). Sounds like somebody stole from someone 🙂

But hey, we all love SEMrush, we can’t fault them. That could have just been that particular writer. All the major SEO tool companies tend to pump out great content on their blogs (ahrefs, semrush, majestic, moz etc), so I definitely recommend following SEMrush, along with the others. They have some great articles.

School of thought: Keywords in internal links are okay (even good) when used within reason


Joost at Yoast has a middle-of-the-road approach, that I like:

If you over-optimize anchor text you might hurt your website. And by over-optimizing, we mean keyword stuffing. Previously, you could give all anchor texts the same keyword and Google made your website rank higher for that keyword. Nowadays, Google is smart enough to understand that the content around the anchor text says more about the relevancy of a keyword than the anchor text itself. So make sure the anchor text looks natural in your copy: it’s fine to use keywords but don’t add the exact same keywords to each and every one of your anchor texts.

Search Engine Land

I think search engine land nailed it with this bit of advice:

While you want to use the terms that will indicate to the engines what the subject of the target page is, you don’t want to overdo it…The goal is to use your anchor text when appropriate. Use verbiage that includes your keywords when possible and will also be descriptive to your human visitors.

Search Engine Journal

Search engine journal notes that as long as you don’t keyword stuff you should be good:

Here’s the part where we talk about anchor text! When you attach an internal link to a valuable string of anchor text, you improve the value of said link and make it easier for your readers to navigate through your site and find other content they deem valuable. While it’s true that keyword-stuffed anchor text won’t do you any good, anchor text itself is still useful, and it can help both Google’s bots and your readers make sense of your pages.

Moz (Rand Fishkin)

There is a good Whiteboard Friday that covers internal linking:

In the comments section, someone asked to clarify on the internal linking issue and Rand Fishkin had a good reply:

Basically, if you have internal links that are heavily anchor-text focused, there’s lots of them, they’re often sitewide, and they live in nav elements or in the footer, and add little to no value for users (they’re just trying to pump up your rankings in Google), then Google might take action against your site. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this, and when the manipulative internal link blocks are removed, rankings suddenly go back up. It seems Google has a pretty smart and pretty immediate filter for this type of thing.


Matt Cutts

In this Matt Cutts video about keyword rich anchor text, someone asked:

Do internal website links with exact match keyword anchor text hurt a website? These links help our users navigate our website properly. Are too many internal links with the same anchor text likely to result in a ranking downgrade because of Penguin?

Matt Cutts responds:

My answer is, typically not.

He says typically not because he meant it will not harm your site if you have a real site. If you have a normal site and you aren’t being overly aggressive with the internal linking using keyword rich anchor text, and it offers a good user experience, you are good to go.

Note: this video is from 2013 – a year after Matt Cutts declared that they were working on something to address the over optimization. So this tells me something. Everyone who lumped in the “internal linking anchor text” into this over optimization craze may be wrong. Matt himself is saying that it’s okay, even after he talked about Google’s new over-optimization penalty.

Okay, so I’m showing a video of Matt Cutts… from 2013. Many people would dismiss it because it is 4 years old at this point in writing (2017).

The thing about white hat SEO is that it doesn’t change as much as you think, and definitely not as much as black hat. The foundations are pretty stable.

So a lot of Matt Cutts early videos from are still very applicable to this day. Sure, you may want to take what he says with a grain of salt since he was a Google employee.

But you can still learn a lot based on what he suggests, especially if you are new to SEO and want to follow the white hat approach. Even experienced SEOs may be able to get some value out of his videos. I highly recommend checking them out.

Note: If you want more current advice straight from the horse’s mouth, follow Gary Illyes on Twitter. He always gives fantastic advice.

John Mueller

John Mueller answers a similar question in a 2015 video:


How important is the anchor text for internal links? Should that be keyword rich? Is it a ranking signal?

John Mueller’s response:

We do use internal links to better understand the context of content of your sites. So if we see a link that’s saying like red cars pointing to a page about red cars, that helps us to better understand that.

But it’s not something that you need to keyword stuff in any way because what generally happens when people start focusing too much on the internal linking is that they have a collection of internal links that all say like 4-5 words in them, and then suddenly when we look at that pages we see this big collection of links on the page, and that’s also text on the page, so it’s looking like keyword stuffed text.

So I try to just link naturally within your website. And make sure that you kind of have that organic structure that gives us just a little bit of context, but not that you’re keyword stuffing every anchor text.

Real World Evidence That Show Keyword Rich Anchor Text May Still Be a Good Thing

Real world internal anchor text example: Wikipedia

So does Wikipedia over optimize their internal link’s anchor text?

No way!

They do a great job with their internal linking, which is beneficial both for bots and human beings.

wikipedia internal anchor text example

wikipedia internal anchor text example result

Do you know how many keywords Wikipedia ranks for? A LOT.

Of course Wikipedia is a very popular site with millions of backlinks, but still. Their internal linking thought their whole site using keyword rich anchor text, I would say is helping, not hindering their success.

They don’t do anything special with their internal linking, besides doing it a lot, doing it naturally and including relevant keywords (many of them are exact match)

Note: large sites often don’t get the same treatment from Google. They are often allowed to do things riskier than smaller sites, because of their authority and trust. So this could be a weak argument on my part due to this reason.

Real world internal anchor text example: Dr. Axe

Dr. Axe is killing it right now in the natural health field, which is highly competitive. His articles are filled with exact match anchor text. According to some people, Dr. Axe doesn’t have the best SEO because he is over-optimizating…

Hardly, just take a look at his growth over just two years:

dr axe organic traffic

dr axe referring domains 1

dr axe referring domains 2

His content is amazing, their SEO is on point, and they receive a healthy growth of links over time, so they are doing quite well in a competitive field.

Especially considering the time period that they achieved all that success. It took about 2 years to go from 1,500 backlinks to 20,000. That is quite a big jump in a short period of time. Needless, I have a lot of respect for their marketing team.

With that amount of growth in (natural) backlinks, they know what they are doing. That includes their on-page SEO and keyword rich internal linking.

For example, they have many pages that use candida related keywords, many of them are exact match keywords

dr axe candida anchor text example

They happen to be ranking #1 for Candida. Which, ranking for a head term like candida, is very tough:

dr axe candida anchor text example result

So why is he doing so good? Is it his internal linking?

Of course not. But with SEO, all parts equal the whole. The micro enables the macro.

If I were to give one reason they are doing so well, it’d be great content marketing and building his brand. Great content marketing is really the new SEO since it takes care of two 80/20 activities in SEO: great content and great outreach, which results in links and good user behavior signals on site.

With that said, I think their internal linking and on page SEO strategy is helping their rankings by adding relevancy signals to those pages.

March 2018 Update

Just a quick update. I believe you now have to be more careful with over optimizing on-site factors and that includes keyword rich internal linking. There was an update in March that didn’t get hardly any press, but one that I think was a major update.

So just keep in mind that this article is still relevant, but now you should be focusing even more on alternating your internal anchor text, as it is riskier if it doesn’t look “natural” (i.e too many of the same exact match keywords in your anchor text).

Quick Tips:

  • Don’t overdo it
  • Mix up with LSI keywords
  • Make your text linking longer (include keywords but not the exact match)
  • Careful of sitewide boilerplate linking with exact match keyword (footer, sidebar, and possibly even nav)
  • Use screaming frog to see percentages of the exact match keywords and variations of internal linking

Note: SEO is all about pivoting, and I constantly pivot my views and strategies as Google evolves or when I learn something new. I’ll be the first to admit I probably say things that are plain wrong, or I’ll have outdated articles that I haven’t gotten a chance to update. But, I’ll adjust my views. This article still holds true and has been updated slightly for 2018.

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Reverse SEO – What Is It And How Do You Do It? Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:20:08 +0000 What is Reverse SEO?

What exactly is reverse SEO? Not to be confused with negative SEO, reverse SEO is used for search engine reputation management (online reputation management).

Reverse search engine optimization is used to suppress or push down a web page in the search engine results. With reverse SEO, you are essentially burying search results that could be harmful to your brand or reputation.

When your brand’s reputation is at stake

They say that any press is good press. This is one of those classic business myths. Sure this may be true in some cases, but in the majority of cases, it can do some real damage to your brand’s image and sales.

You never know when something is going to happen that can affect your brand’s reputation. You may have an irate employee, a faulty product, or your company may make a mistake.

You may get some other websites talking about your company, other forums, and the press. Then, negative content about your company may start ranking on page one, when people search for your brand.

How reverse SEO works

Let’s say there is some negative press about your company ranking on page one when people search your brand. What do you do?

Well, you can boost other pages with SEO to effectively push that result down to page 2, where not many people will see it. Most people only look at results on page 1 unless they are doing more extensive research.

So, Reverse SEO is used to “push down” certain search results on the first page of Google, where they will be seen.

Real world example of Reverse SEO

United Airlines has had some bad press recently, and as a result, you may see some bad press when searching their branded terms.

For example, the following results (as of Oct. 2017) are showing when you type in united airlines into Google:

reverse seo example united airlines

reverse seo bad pressYou see that results #5, #6, and #7 are all articles that are potentially harmful to United Airlines brand image if people were to read these.

This company is probably not too happy about having negative press saturate the bottom half of the first page for their brand name.

That’s where reverse SEO comes in. You can work on boosting up other more positive results to suppress the negative results. In SEO, I view it as “the cream rises to the top” (assuming you don’t get spam penalties, then you get penalized). With reverse SEO, you are telling Google which pages are the cream that should be rising to the top.

You should always be prepared to do some reverse SEO if the need arises.

What they should do in this case

So to do some reverse SEO, they would want to do some white hat SEO to the more flattering search results, in an attempt to crowd out the negative press articles.

real world reverse seo example

So if the results on the bottom of page 1 are articles that harm the brand’s image, you would want to do some reverse SEO. You are basically doing regular SEO on the results on the top page of 2, to enhance their rankings.

If you are able to rank a page 2 result higher, it will naturally push down one of those negative results. Remember, the cream rises to the top. When you push up a lower result, it displaces a higher result and the bad press article moves down.

Reverse SEO when the negative press goes viral.

If something happened to your company that harms your brand, and it went viral (ie. Many large websites picked it up), you may have a hard time doing reverse SEO.

The reason is that there will not only be a ton of sites talking about this negative aspect, but there will also be a lot of authority sites that are talking about the bad press.

These authority sites are naturally harder to push down through ranking other more positive articles because of their established authority makes it harder to outrank.

At that point, it may be a lost cause and may be better to just focus on other aspects of reputation management to rebuild your brand’s image.

Are you doing negative SEO on the pages you don’t want to be ranked?

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO is where you intentionally do some spammy, or black hat SEO on a particular result in an attempt to sabotage it. You focus on the black hat tactics that Google has already caught onto and accounted for in their ago (i.e build thousands of article directory links).

The idea is that you are making it look like another site is engaging in black hat SEO, hoping they get a penalty, and thus get pushed down in the search results.

Negative SEO doesn’t work (apparently)

Normally, with reverse SEO, you wouldn’t use negative SEO. I suppose you could. However, I do NOT recommend negative SEO. You should never do negative SEO in the first place – it is immoral and is a waste of time anyways. Google is smart enough to know that it is negative SEO.

In fact, Gary Illyes has claimed that there has been no single case that negative SEO has ever worked. Post penguin 4.0, Google isn’t too concerned with Negative SEO, and I don’t think you should worry about it either:
gary illyes twitter negative seoSo does Negative SEO work? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think it does, but I have never engaged in any tactics like this.

With that said, I’ve seen some definite cases of reverse SEO. One example was when I was looking at another site’s link profile. I could see that they had some anchor text attacks, (which were pretty funny). People were basically building links with spammy anchor text.

The result?

It appeared to do absolutely nothing. At the time I saw this spammed to death anchor text profile, this particular website was ranking #1 still in a very competitive niche.

So naturally, Google must have known that this was negative SEO. They do hire some of the smartest people in the world after all. They are capable of building software algorithms that can account for negative SEO.

Whether negative SEO works or not, the point is, doing white hat SEO and adding value is the best way to do reverse SEO.

How to do Reverse SEO to help with your reputation management

how to do reverse seo

One of the best ways to have power and control over your reputation management is by owning the top 10 search results. Well, you don’t actually own it, but because you influence all the first page rankings, you essentially own those search results.

Reverse SEO Challenges

However, this requires ranking not just one site with SEO, it requires you rank 5-10 sites or more, depending on how many results you want to reverse.

Reverse SEO is very resource intensive and takes a lot of work. This is in large part because you don’t control the websites that you want to rank higher. You are trying to do SEO on sites you don’t own, which offers more of a challenge.

You can’t do on-page SEO.

With reverse SEO, you can’t do on-page SEO. You have to do SEO with purely off page tactics. This means link building.

And in 2017 link building is not easy. Or at the very least, it can be resource intensive.

Since off-page SEO is getting harder and harder to do, it will likely take a lot of work to do reverse SEO. This of course depends on the competitive landscape of the current ranking articles.

Steps to do Reverse SEO

Sites You Don’t Own: Promote articles to suppress the bad ones

  1. Set Goals: Target the negative press articles that you want to suppress (reverse SEO)
  2. Competitive Analysis: Do a competitive analysis on the articles that have the bad press against the articles that you want to displace these with (i.e find out how difficult it will be to outrank these vs the other more flattering or neutral articles)
  3. Build Links: Start by scraping the backlinks of the current ranking (negative press) sites. Then start doing some other form of white hat link building like guest posting or outreach.
  4. Rinse and Repeat: Repeat until you see results.

Sites You Do Own: On page and off page tactics to suppress the bad ones

  1. Set Goals: Again, target the negative press articles that you want to suppress using reverse SEO.
  2. Optimize Current Properties: If you already own certain websites, start by optimizing these if they are not ranking for your branded terms.
  3. Build New Web Properties: You can build out articles that target your brand keywords on Web 2.0 properties or other blogging platforms such as Medium. Really, anything with a high overall authority (you can look at Domain Authority) will help in your efforts to do reverse SEO.
  4. Competitive Analysis: Do a competitive analysis on the articles that have the bad press against the websites you do own.
  5. Build Links: Start by scraping the backlinks of the current ranking (negative press) sites. Then start doing some other form of white hat link building like guest posting or outreach.
  6. Internal linking: Since you do own the site, one thing you can do is use keyword rich internal linking.
  7. Rinse and Repeat: Repeat until you see results.
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Anchor Text Best Practices for Backlinks (Using Branded, Exact Match, Generic, Etc) Thu, 26 Oct 2017 06:54:42 +0000 When talking about anchor text, we are concerned about two areas of SEO – Anchor Text for Internal linking and Anchor Text for Backlinks. Both can get you into trouble if you over optimize. But, using anchor text wisely can give your SEO campaigns much-needed power in relevancy.

That’s the key word here – to use your anchor text wisely.

How important is anchor text for Backlinks?

Anchor text is very important when it comes to your backlinks. It can add relevancy to your pages by using keywords and keyword phrases and variations.

In fact, early on, Google had a pretty heavy reliance on anchor text, as shown in Google’s 2008 paper called “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

2.2 Anchor Text

The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine. Most search engines associate the text of a link with the page that the link is on. In addition, we associate it with the page the link points to. This has several advantages. First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves. Second, anchors may exist for documents which cannot be indexed by a text-based search engine, such as images, programs, and databases. This makes it possible to return web pages which have not actually been crawled. Note that pages that have not been crawled can cause problems, since they are never checked for validity before being returned to the user. In this case, the search engine can even return a page that never actually existed, but had hyperlinks pointing to it. However, it is possible to sort the results, so that this particular problem rarely happens.

This idea of propagating anchor text to the page it refers to was implemented in the World Wide Web Worm [McBryan 94] especially because it helps search non-text information, and expands the search coverage with fewer downloaded documents. We use anchor propagation mostly because anchor text can help provide better quality results. Using anchor text efficiently is technically difficult because of the large amounts of data which must be processed. In our current crawl of 24 million pages, we had over 259 million anchors which we indexed.

But anchor text for backlinks in 2017 and beyond is more important in the sense of sculpting your anchor text distribution to appear more natural.

This is what I was talking about using your anchor text wisely. You can definitely throw some keywords in there, but you mostly want to keep it looking natural. You don’t want any red flags to appear to Google to tell them “Hey I’m building links over here, and by the way, I am manually adding these links”

If you have a completely natural link profile such as links earned from outreach and editorial links (i.e. links you don’t control), then you don’t need to worry about anchor text at all. Google will be able to tell that the anchor text and your link profile is completely natural.

However, if you are actively building links alongside the naturally earned links, you want to make sure all your anchor text distribution looks natural.

What is a backlink profile?

When analyzing a backlink profile, you would typically consider many aspects to gauge the overall health of your link profile. Here are a few of the things an SEO may look at analyzing their link profile:

  • Total number of backlinks
  • Total Number of unique, or referring domains
  • Total number of backlinks
  • Link Quality (manual checks, trust flow, trust ratio, etc)
  • Anchor text and variation – (i.e keyword rich, branded, etc.)
  • Link velocity and fresh/incoming links
  • And more

serped backlink profileOne of my favorite SEO tools, Serped has a great backlink profile tool, among other tools.

In 2017 and beyond, it is getting more and more important to have a natural looking link profile. With Google’s Penguin now running in real time, it is even more important to keep an eye on your backlinks. Having a natural link profile requires many things to fall into place and your anchor text distribution plays a major role in that equation.

There are many SEO tools out there that can give you a breakdown of your anchor text from your backlinks. The following example is from majestic (another great tool):

majestic backlink profile anchor text

How keyword rich anchor text increases relevancy (but be careful)

So why is anchor text important for backlinks? One word. Relevancy.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce store that sells 3D printers. Let’s say you specialize in portable 3D printers and you become an authority in your niche on portable 3D printers. Over time, you get a lot of backlinks from people with the anchor text: Portable 3D Printers.

Google sees many other trustworthy websites in the same niche that are linking to your site with the anchor text of “portable 3D printers.” Naturally, Google is going to think that either you are really relevant for that keyword, or it will decide it looks unnatural. If it was truly natural, you don’t need to worry about it, since Google should be able to tell the difference.

The history of backlinks and anchor text

The Google Bomb

Many SEO had experienced a lot of success using this popular tactic. It was so powerful that there were even viral “Google bombs.” A Google bomb is where a lot of webmasters link out to a webpage with a particular anchor text, in hopes that it would rank for that keyword.

For example, in 2006 there were many funny Google bombs taking place. One famous Google bomb was targeted towards George W Bush for the term “miserable failure.” What happened was, tons of sites linked to George W. Bush’s biography page with the anchor text: “miserable failure.”

Sure enough, his page ranked #1 on Google. Pretty great right?

anchor text google bomb George W Bush

There are many more examples, but the George bush google bomb is probably the most famous. Google soon put a stop to the Google bombs in 2007 by adjusting their algorithm to prevent this phenomenon.

Google over optimization penalty

It was the pre-2012 era in SEO that a keyword heavy optimized anchor text distribution worked amazingly. And by the way, pre-2012 in the SEO world is like back in the agricultural revolution in our human history (10,000 years ago). A lot of paradigm shifts happen in 5+ years in the SEO world.

Before 2012 an anchor text profile that had a lot of exact match keywords was preferable (i.e, if you are trying to rank for “iPhone cases” and the exact match anchor for that keyword, is “iPhone cases”).

However, in 2012 Google Launches the “Penguin Update” Targeting Webspam In Search Results. This changed the way good SEO was done forever.

Naturally, lots of articles came out warning of the “Google over optimization penalty.” People were starting to see their site’s rankings being affected by having too many keywords in their backlink profile.

What happens in SEO, is if there is some technique that is powerful enough to manipulate the search engine rankings, word will spread. Then the “technique” will probably become a widespread practice in the SEO world. In which case, Google needs to address in their algorithm – a never-ending cat and mouse game.

This was the case with the keyword rich anchor text profiles.

What happens though, is Google catches on and tries to prevent the manipulation of the rankings by SEOs. They added an “over optimization” aspect into their search algorithm to prevent people from abusing this powerful force in achieving rankings for particular keywords.

How keyword rich anchor text can potentially look unnatural

This over optimization penalty makes sense though, right?

Think about it. Most people are going to link to your website with your exact URL, your brand name and a wide variation of phrases, which may or may not include your keywords. So on a natural backlink profile, the exact match anchor text may comprise a very small percentage of your overall anchor text distribution.

Where many SEOs go wrong is they are stuck in 2008. I am still surprised to see many people over optimize their backlink profile to death. And death is a correct description for this. It can absolutely kill your SEO efforts if you go crazy with it.

They tend to overdo it and they get greedy with their keyword rich anchors. They have a site with 100 links and half of those links are “carpet cleaning [city]” or whatever they are trying to rank for. This looks totally unnatural to a trained SEO, so why wouldn’t it look unnatural to Google’s algorithm?

Keywords should be like your salt intake. You just sprinkle some on your food, don’t pour half the bottle. It’s not going to taste very good for the Google algorithm or your long-term business strategy.

Anchor text optimization for your Backlink Profile

natural anchor text ratio

A cool tool called SEOJet, lets you easily manage your anchor text ratios. (I don’t recommend this tool any longer. Great concept, but my experience with support was they did not answer most of my emails.)

When crafting proper anchor text ratios, it is important to get a good grasp on all the different types of anchor text. The following is a summary of different types of anchor text:

Types of Anchor Text

Keyword Anchors

  • Exact match anchor text
  • Partial Match anchor text
  • Broad Match anchor text
  • LSI anchor text
  • Long anchor text
  • Page title anchor text


  • Branded anchor text
  • Brand + Keyword anchor text
  • Naked branded (URLs)


  • Other (different than your target keywords)
  • Generic anchor text (non-descriptive)
  • Naked anchor text (URLs)
  • Image anchor text
  • Empty alt text with linking image
  • Co-Occurrence (i.e surrounding text)
  • Foreign language anchor text (usually not good)

You’ll notice that there are many types of anchor text. There will be certain distributions of a combination of these that appear natural to the google search engine.

If you are to go outside of these bounds, your site may appear to be involved in manipulative link practices and Google will adjust rankings accordingly.

This is where anchor text becomes very important for your overall backlink strategy. You need to keep it natural.

Don’t overuse keywords in your anchor text (backlink profile)

When you add too many exact match keywords and keyword stuffed anchor text, it can actually harm you.

In economics, there is a phenomenon known as diminishing returns. This concept applies to the usage of keywords in your anchor text. There is diminishing returns when using keywords.

diminishing returns of keyword backlink profile

At first, adding keywords may begin to help your SEO performance. But as soon as you pass a certain threshold, it stops adding as much benefit. Then you push past another threshold and it will likely trigger something in the algorithm that views your site as having unnatural links.

Focus on a natural link profile first

Rather than focusing on optimizing for keywords, you should be focusing firstly on creating a natural link profile. Ideally, it will be truly natural, but at the very least you should make it appear natural. This would include making sure your link profile has plenty of branded anchor text, plus naked links, variations of anchor text, etc.

You can essentially pick a top performing site in your niche or a competitors site and reverse engineer their link profile. Chances are, they will have a natural looking anchor text distribution that you can copy. If not, pick another random site that has a very natural anchor text profile, and mimic theirs.

Then focus on sprinkling some keywords in your backlink anchor text distribution

You still want to optimize your backlink profile and this includes honing in on your keyword distribution. Just don’t go crazy with it.

Remember, the key is to maintain a natural looking profile. This would mean you are keeping exact match keyword anchor text to a minimum, and also throwing in variations of keywords, etc.

If you are building links, and you build them in a way that creates a natural link profile, you should steer clear of any potential issues with Google.

Google’s new real-time penguin, baked into the main algorithm essentially allows the cream to rise to the top, rather than penalizing sites. Whereas before, you would get penalized.

And guess what, if your anchor text in your link profile looks unnatural, other sites can rise to the top, leaving you in the dust.

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Writing Better Page Titles for SEO Sun, 05 Feb 2017 01:30:00 +0000 Focusing on creating an amazing title tag can be a very easy way to enhance your SEO. It’s such a small and simple task, yet it can offer some significant benefits to your SEO and marketing efforts.

Beyond producing great content, creating the best title tag for your web pages can have some long-lasting benefits for SEO, Social Media, and brand awareness.

What is a Title Tag (Page Title)?

An title tag, also known as a page title or SEO title, acts as a headline for search engine results pages (SERPS):

web page title in serps

Page titles should be clear and on-topic so users know that what they click on will return a relevant page.

Title tags are not just for the SERPS either. They are also important for social media and user experience.

Other names for Title Tag:

  • page title
  • seo title
  • meta title
  • web page title (website title)
  • site title
  • html title tag
  • title element

How to write title tags for search engine optimization

There are two things you should consider when writing a title tag for search engine optimization:

  1. Relevancy: Using a keyword or two in our title tag may help signal to the search engines that your content is relevant to the users search query.
  2. Clickthrough Rate: Over time, Google may take into consideration of click through rates and adjust search results accordingly.

1. Relevancy

In a Google help article it recommends to make sure your page title is relevant and accurate to match the subject matter of your page’s content:

make sure it’s relevant and accurate.

So this begs the question, what makes your page title relevant?

Should you use your keywords and related keywords in your title tag?

Are Keywords still important for title tags?

Many SEOs assume you should always use keywords in the title tag. This may not be the case though, even though it may seem like common sense. It may not be so cut and dried.

Back in the old days of SEO, adding the keyword to your page title was common sense because it helped a lot. It was also common to have meta keywords (though meta keywords have been outdated for a long time).

Today SEO is much different. There is some debate between whether you should use  keywords in your page title or if you should just focus on increasing click-through rates.

Keywords in title tags may not matter (as much)

John Mueller from Google said that that title tags are not a critical ranking signal:

John Mueller said the title tag on the page is not as critical for ranking than the content on the page. In short, he explained that Google can rank a page with a missing title tag, but missing content makes it much harder for Google to rank.

Google has gotten incredibly good at understanding what the content is about, so it doesn’t rely as heavily on the page title as it used to.

There was also a SearchMetrics which concluded that in the top 20 queries, the prevalence of keywords in title tags are declining:

SearchMetrics study cited above found that just 53% of the top 20 queries have keywords in their title tag, and less than 40% of landing pages have keywords in their H1. This number is dropping year-over-year, which “clearly demonstrates that Google evaluates content according to its relevance—and not by the inclusion of individual keywords.”

(Opinion) keywords in the title tags are less important with higher competition

I believe that having your keyword in the title tag still offers benefits in most cases. I think keywords in the title tags are more important for lower competitive keywords than it is for higher competitive keywords.

I say this because when it comes down to higher competitive terms, Google relies much more on backlinks and content for rankings than it does on the title tag.

Even so, I tend to put keywords in the title tags if it makes sense from a user and CTR standpoint. The good news is, it often does.

Tip: you can also a tool to generate a title from keywords. It might be a good way to get different variations of your title, so you can quickly see which one you like the best.

In General, try to use keywords in the title tag

In general, I would say yes. I think it is still a good idea to add your keywords in the web page title.

In my experience, having the keyword in the title tags can help with rankings. I’ve also found that having LSI keywords (synonyms of your keyword) can help as well.

However, the importance of Keywords in the title tag is declining as Google continues to get more and more sophisticated.

2. Clickthrough Rate

You want to also focus on creating a catchy title tag, one that would catch people’s eyes, and most importantly, clicks.

Click through rates in the SERPS is basically the number of impressions divided by clicks. For example, if you had 500 impressions to your page and 25 people clicked your web page, you have a CTR of 5%.

To truly maximize your SEO efforts, I recommend actively measuring and testing different page titles, with the aim of achieving a higher CTR.

You can measure the click-through rate with Google search console. If you go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics you can export your data and measure it over time, after making changes to your page title.

SEO Title for better CTR

I believe that Google may give you a boost in rankings if you have a higher click through rate compared to your competition.

Just look at what Google says about CTR dealing with AdWords:

A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant

Though Google doesn’t make any statements about how CTR affects organic results, I believe they have the same views towards paid results as they do organic results.

Also, in an Analytics Google help article it recommends to:

Compare Impressions and CTR to identify potential areas for improvement. There are several steps you can take to make your content appear more compelling so that users click your site in search results pages. Your page title appears in the results, so make sure it’s relevant and accurate. Google can display the text in your pages’ meta descriptions in search results, so review your meta descriptions.

Google is giving us hints here to actively “identify potential areas for improvement” for our CTR. They also hint to us to make our Page title “relevant and accurate.”

So if you find one of your pages has a low CTR, you may want to experiment with different page titles.

It makes sense that Google is recommending this. If you are getting more clicks than a competitor in the SERPS, it signals that your content is more relevant or valuable.

After improving clickthrough rate, your goal is to maximize user interaction (low bounce rate, low pogo-sticking, etc. actually ).

Focus on User Behavior

  1. Increase Click-through: Use great page titles to gain more click-throughs than your competitors.
  2. Increase User Interaction: Write amazing content, so users stay on your page longer, click through to other relevant articles, leave comments, etc.

The easiest way is to have the best content possible and to include useful and relevant internal links. You can also throw in some useful complementary external links to other articles that may support your content.

You can also throw in some useful complementary external links to other articles that may support your content.

Both of these can be signals that your content is more useful compared to your competitors. This is similar to how backlinks are a signal that your content is more relevant. If you do both – you should dominate the SERPS!

If you do both – you will dominate the SERPS!

It is very important to produce fantastic content, enticing page titles and to test different page titles to measure which one has the highest CTR!

Page title best practices

SEO title tags best practices

  1. Include Keyword: Possibly increase Relevancy.
  2. Use Keyword At the Beginning of page title: Might increase CTR.
  3. Click-worthy title: Increases CTR.
  4. Use Business Name: Using business name can Increase Brand Awareness.
  5. Optimize Length: Ensure optimal length to increase CTR.

These tips are all optional. You may choose to use one best practice, but not another. For example, it isn’t imperative that you use your keyword if it doesn’t make sense from a CTR perspective.

1. Include Keywords if it makes sense

I still like to include keywords in the title tag since it can benefit you through a CTR perspective and a relevancy point of view. Unless it doesn’t make sense (if it sounds awkward or boring), then by all means use a keyword or two in your page title. It won’t hurt you, unless there is a better opportunity for a higher click worthy title that doesn’t use the keyword.

I like to add relevant keywords and even LSI keywords to my page titles. Keywords in your title tag may help search engines understand what your content is about. However, the keyword in the page title does not matter as much as it used to.

However, the keyword in the title tag does not matter as much as it used to. A sophisticated search engine like Google does not have to rely on the page title or heading tags as much as it used to.because it has much more sophisticated means of interpreting your content. This is particularly the case for very competitive terms that rely more heavily on things like backlinks.

Google’s algorithms have much more sophisticated means of interpreting your content. This is particularly the case for very competitive terms that rely more heavily on things like backlinks.

However, since it will not hurt you to use keywords, related keywords, synonyms (AKA LSI keywords), etc., why not use them if you can?

2. Use Main Keyword at the beginning

It is recommended to use your keyword first, before any other related keywords or content. For example:

Example: Main Keyword – Brand name

So if your main keyword was “dog training techniques” you may want to include that keyword close to the beginning of your web page title. So for example:

Example: Top 10 Dog Training Techniques for new dog owners – MyBrandName

It may act as a signal to both users and search engines what your web page is about. In many cases, it might increase CTR in SERPS, since it catches the reader’s eye right away.

3. Make it Clickworthy

As search engines have gotten more advanced over the years, it makes sense that they might take user behavior to influence how they organize and rank various web pages in the SERPS.

One of those factors is called click through rate (CTR), which is a percentage of people who saw your listing in search results and clicked on it to go to your website.

Many believe that a higher click through rate in the SERPS might increase your rankings, as a higher CTR is a signal that your web page is more relevant for that particular term.

4. Add Business Name

If you have the room for it, you should include your brand name or website name, as this increases your brand awareness.

If you continually put out a log of great content, people will start to recognize your site. Brand awareness also has a positive effect on click-through rates and as well, since people like the familiar.

If they recognized your brand and liked your content, they may be more likely to click on your results for other keywords.

5. Optimize title tag Length

It is a common misconception that there is a character count limit for Title Tags. In reality, there is a pixel width limit in the Google search results pages, not a specific character count limit shown on Title Tags.

Therefore, there is no specific optimal range since Google shows different lengths of page titles based on screen size (pixels).

  • Old Google Title Tag Length: 512 Pixels, which translated to 50-60 characters
  • New Google Title Tag Length:: 600 pixels, which translates to around 71-74 characters (up to 78 on mobile)

Google introduced a new page title (Pixel) length in May, 2016

Last year Google increased the width of search results, which extended the length of page titles and descriptions. It is now showing up to 74 characters for desktop and up to 78 characters for mobile.

Recommended Title Tag Length (2017 and beyond):

  • Desktop: 70-71 characters
  • Mobile: 78 characters
  • Overall: Around 70 or less

Before the change, Google showed around 50–60 characters. Therefore, it was commonly recommended to have your page title be around 55 characters. After this recent change though I would suggest around 70 characters.

Tip: There is a pixel width checker tool that you can use to see how your title will look in search engines like Google.

Long vs. short title tag length

  • Long page title: The idea behind longer titles is that you can add more descriptive and captivating text. You don’t want to leave out some great keywords or descriptive text with a short title.
  • Short page title: Some people think a shorter page title results in a higher CTR in SERPS.

In general, I don’t believe short titles increase CTR. Especially since Google increased the number of characters that the page title shows in SERPS.

I think it’s best to focus on creating an enticing title but make sure your page title isn’t so long that Google cuts it off.

Title tag Examples

awesome page titles

There are various ways you can include your keyword, secondary keywords, LSI keywords, business name, etc. into your web page title.

It is entirely up to the SEO to determine how he will format the page title for improved search engine performance and clickthrough rate.

Keyword rich page title for SEO examples:

  • Main Keyword & LSI keyword – Business Name
  • Main Keyword, LSI keyword
  • Main Keyword, secondary keyword – Business Name
  • Main Keyword | Business name
  • Etc.

High CTR page titles for SEO and Social examples:

  • How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google – Danny Sullivan
  • How To Quit Your Job, Move To Paradise And Get Paid To Change The World – Jon Morrow
  • 16 Unethical Life Hacks You Won’T Learn In School – Daily Pastime
  • 5 Ways Stores Use Science To Trick You Into Buying Crap – Paul K. Pickett
  • Why Successful People Are Douchebags – Neil Patel

You may choose to use keywords in your page title, maybe paired with an LSI keyword or secondary keyword as well.

Or you may choose to possibly not even use your keyword and instead aim for a highly click-worthy enticing page title. A click worthy title may result in the highest click-through rate possible, giving you an indirect boost in rankings.

Creating the absolute Best title tags possible

Combine everything

Example: Keyword + LSI keyword + Click-worthy title – Brand

Often, you will see a mixture of click-worthy titles that also have a keywords & LSI keywords as well. This helps search engines and users understand what the content is about and it encourages users to click through to your site.

Real world page title examples – “Dog training techniques:”

page titles examples broken down

As you can see, there is a mix of several different techniques for crafting an excellent web page title. Many websites used the main keyword, LSI keywords, Clickworthy titles and included a brand name.

Focus on the user

If you use all my recommendations in your web page title, you will be well ahead of the game. When in doubt, think about the users first.

If it doesn’t make sense to put the keyword in the title tag, don’t force it. It’s more important to focus on the user rather than sounding spammy with keyword stuffing your page titles.

Focusing on the user first may be one of the most important steps to creating the best page title for your web page.

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