Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SEO Assignment Support

Most, but not all, of this assignment is based on SEOLand's Periodic Chart here, and its subsequent descriptions here. You'll also incorporate class notes and the Google SEO Starter Guide.

[If ever during this assignment you can't find a tool you like, try or or .]

I.  Keyword Research and Performance (Cr)

Strongest content for keyphrase considerations: 
First, look through the assigned web site, and look for content you think might drive traffic -- follow suggestions from class. Once you've chosen a content area to focus on, make a list of potential keywords (really, key phrases) -- be strategic with short tail v. long tail choices. Choose the 3 best to analyze for the next sections.

Keyphrases considered:
Identify the top 3 keyphrases you considered that focus on the content you’ve decided to drive traffic to, briefly explaining each. The focus here is to choose words that you think people would type into a search engine when looking for related content/products.  Note that this is NOT A LINEAR PROCESS -- you will go back and forth between some of the tools in this section before you finally "land" on your top 3 choices. 

Google Trends analysis:
Use to help you determine the relative amount of traffic for each of your chosen keywords, and to check for trends -- you're looking for upward trends, not downward trends.

Take screenshots of relevant Google Trends results -- as we discussed in class. You have to conduct several searches -- do not put a screenshot of every search you conduct in your paper. Just include 1-3 relevant screenshots. And be sure that if your screenshots do not show the entire keyword phrase, that you somehow label your screenshot accordingly for your paper!

You can also try out Google Correlate to find similar keywords.

The SEMrush Keyword tool also gives you keyphrase volume data. Type your keyphrases into the search bar, and you'll automatically be taken to the Keyword Overview results page. Use the Organic Search Volume number -- that number indicates the estimated number of times per month that the keyphrase is searched.

The Moz Keyword Explorer also gives you both ideas and volume. Use this as a secondary source, or if you cannot get into AdWords to use the Keyword Planner.

And this is a great source that lists a number of different tricks for finding good keyphrases.

Keyword ranking analysis:
Use Mikes-Marketing-Tools to analyze current performance for your chosen keywords. Use your assignment sheet for formatting details. Don't forget that you're just tracking the keywords you're recommending to the site, so the site is not yet optimized for those keywords. So, if you see that a keyword isn't performing well now, that's okay. It just means that you've got something to recommend to the web site that will help them drive more traffic!  [Note: Tool not working? Try or or or  SEOCentro's Google Rank Checker   or  Find another one here.]

Potential traffic:
For current traffic data: Use to determine the current monthly traffic at each site. You may have to register for a free account -- not a free trial, but a free account.

SimilarWeb does not provide you the average, you have to calculate this yourself. Put your mouse over each month and a number appears that represents traffic for that month. Write down each number for each of the previous 6 months. Add those numbers together, then divide that total by 6 = average over the past 6 months.

If these two sites don't work for some reason, try or, Google "free web traffic sources."

For "Average Monthly Searches" data: Use this Google Keyword Planner (you need to sign up for a free account -- no credit card necessary -- before you create your account, read this page) to help you determine the amount of traffic your keyphrase may generate. This tool will also help you generate keyword ideas, so you may go back and forth between the Google Trends tool and this tool.

Ultimate keyphrase choice:
Using all of the logic you outlined in this section, explain why your final keyphrase choice is the best choice to potentially drive the most traffic to your site.

II. Content Analysis & Authority  (Cq, Vt, Ta)

Use SearchEngineLand's Content guidelines. See more tips at this Google page. And there's always Moz to provide you direction.

Generally, you are looking for the items covered in your notes. Remember that Cq is a +3, which means it's important. So, that means it's important for your paper, too.

Quality Content (Cq)  /  Thin Content (Vt):
See this Search Engine Land page for a description of each Content factor.
  • Credibility: 
    • Is the content well written?
    • Is the content free of typos? (Try a typo checker!)
    • Is the content "unique," meaning, does any content appear elsewhere? [Try, or Siteliner or (currently not available) or  others for checking the "uniqueness" of your site's content.]  [Want more: Moz "How Unique Does Content Need to Be?" Whiteboard Friday]
    • Is your content "readable"? (Note: this topic was not covered in the Fall 2017 class, so you do not have to include "readability" in your Fall 2017 papers.) Use the text readability tool at (Click "URLS" in the main navigation, then enter your URL into the "URL To Score" area. Only free for one or two tests at a time, so test for the main URL. Look over all the results, but especially the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score. Compare that score to this "grade sheet" from this source.)  IF THIS TOOL DOESN'T WORK FOR YOU... Google another (use keywords "readability score" or "readability score checker" or "readability score tool") to try to find another, like this one.  If you can't find a tool that works, explain that in your paper, and use your class notes to come to a conclusion on the readability of the text.
  • Value
    • Does the site go beyond being a simple brochure with the same information that can be found on other sites? 
    • Does the site provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading the pages?
    • What does your site offer that adds value to the content? You're looking for ratings/reviews, demos, videos, sizing charts, virtual "try-on," etc. -- and basically, anything that you can call "good customer service" (warranties, free shipping, human interaction, etc.)
    • Here's a great Moz Whiteboard Friday on the topic: How to Provide Unique Value in Your Content
    • And while I'm listing good Moz videos on this subject, here's another: The 10 Types of Content that Work Best for SEO
  • Thin Content:
Trust / Authority (Ta):
  • General Trust Topics:
    • Is your site an authority on the topics you are researching?
    • Is the content written by an expert in the field? 
    • Would you expect to see the content in a related magazine?
    • Would you personally feel comfortable providing your credit card to the site?
    • What is the domain registration length? This means: How long has the domain/URL been registered, and how long into the future is it registered? You can do that at any WhoIs database, like GoDaddy's or like this one.
  • Authority:
    • For this section, you're essentially just using the Moz reports to compare your site to the competing site. Moz is a leader in "trust" analytics, so you'll be using what the professionals use. Explain what you can for both the Page Authority and Domain Authority numbers. If you want a nifty, free tool to help you assess the numbers, try SEOReviewTool's Bulk Moz Authority Checker -- it's pretty cool!
    • What is the Page Authority, according to the Moz Open Site Explorer? You can use the screenshots uploaded in Canvas for this, but it is run only for the home page, not for a specific category page. If you can, run a report for your specific category page. You can also supplement your research with SEOReviewTool's Website Authority Checker
    • What is the Domain Authority, according to the Moz Open Site Explorer? Use the screenshot upload in Canvas for this because it is domain specific. You can supplement with SEOReviewTool's Website Authority Checker

III.  Architecture

1. Architecture: Speed (As)
Use and Google Page Speed Insights, (or feedthebot speed test,  other similar speed testing tools) to determine the load speed for both sites. Be sure to note the speed of each web site so you can compare. You can use screenshots to capture the results, but don’t rely on the screenshots to do the explaining for you. And, don't paste the entire test results into your paper -- if you use a screenshot, just use key elements, like the pie chart summary.

Determine what file types slow down each site, and show screenshots of the image files that take the longest to load. Try to determine which other files slow down the site. On, the pie chart summary is quite useful (hint, hint). This article may refresh your memory about the importance of a fast site, which we covered earlier in class.

2. Architecture: URLs  (Au)
Use SearchEngineLand's explanation about URL structure (see Au section), as well as Google's SEO Starter Guide's section, "Simple URLs convey content information". You will have to look through  relevant pages of your site -- there are several to assess. Start with the category page, but also assess several product-level pages. Consider also assessing the URLs of landing pages from significant SERPs (for example, "tennis racquets".) You can also use SEOSiteCheckup's URL checker. Compare with similar pages at your competing site.

3. Architecture: Mobile  (Am)
You're trying to determine if your site (and your benchmark site) is mobile-compatible. This is not necessarily a responsive design issue. You just want to know if the site is mobile compatible. Start with Google's Mobile Friendly Test Tool. This will assess your site's mobile friendly status.

You can, then, check to see if your site is responsive. That would help you assess speed: If you've determined there are speed problems, it _could_ be because the site is responsive (if it is).

It's also good to actually look at your site (specifically the page/pages you're analyzing) to see what the content looks like -- is the site putting the same information on the mobile version as the desktop version? (Even if the site is responsive, someone still decides which content shows and how it shows.)  Are the navigation items the same? In the same order? Does the mobile version have ads? Comments?

There's also a lot of great information at this SearchEngineLand page.  

IV.  HTML: Current Keyword Location Analysis (Ht, Hd, Hh)

This is the area we'll spend time in class digging into code. You will be assessing keywords in three areas: Title tags, Description meta tag, and Images.

Use class notes to analyze your keyword strength, along with this page and Google's SEO Starter Guide.

For a one-stop "shop" for this portion of your paper, I recommend, as I showed in class. 

To simulate your title and description tags, use this SmartSearchMarketing tool.


See these screenshots for all the link data you need for your assignment.

Or -- Use -- the same source you used for your first assignment -- to determine the quantity and quality of links to each site.  (You won't have a code for free 30-day access, but you might need to establish a free account.) If you have any problems with MajesticSEO, just find another free backlink checker; there are several available. Here's a link to a Google SERP to help you along!

For some extra material you can use to assess the value of links, here's an excellent source.

VI.  Priority Recommendations
Congratulations!  You now have enough ammunition to recommend real improvements! This is exactly what SEO managers get paid big bucks to do every day! Of course, your paper requires you to make recommendations as you go. So in this final section of your paper, you should incorporate the Periodic Table's weighted values to help you prioritize your recommendations -- tell the client where to start SEO efforts for the quickest and biggest impact.

You aren't covering these topic in your paper, but if you're interested, here are some sources:

Engaging (Te):  (For relevant engagement data, use and/or For your analysis, answer these questions:
  • Does the site's content engage? Which areas?
  • What are the engagement data points for your site and competing site: bounce rate, time on site, page views, comments, reviews, shares
Your analysis will also take into consideration some quality content items from the previous section to determine how to make your site's content more engaging.

 Social  Sharing (Ss):            [This is page-level social analysis.]
  • For shares, analyze social gestures on the web site itself, such as shares, likes, pins, tweets, etc.  You're looking for tools the site provides to users to get them to share content -- specific, product-level content. Look around several different areas of the site; capture relevant screenshots. What can the site do to improve social sharing on the site itself?

   a. Social Reputation (Sr):           [This is brand-based social analysis.]
  • Start by looking for how often your site/brand is mentioned in social media. You should use, and any other social media analyzer you can find.
  • Then analyze your site's presence in social media. You're checking for the degree to which the site is using social sites, and especially the amount of action and engagement that's happening on those sites. (For a guide of which social sites to include, use this check list. )
  • Be sure to comment on the degree to which your site incorporates its social brand into its web pages -- don't confuse this with the next section. 
  • Is the content "Fresh"? Is it updated regularly? Are the topics "hot"? (Google Trends can help with this.)

Friday, April 7, 2017

How to sign up for AdWords

To access AdWords and the Keyword Planning Tool, follow these instructions! If you do not, you may end up in a perpetual loop where AdWords will not let you proceed without inputting credit card information!

Set up a free account: look for the "Start Now" button, click it, and then follow all of the instructions.

Important:  Be sure you click the "Skip the guided setup" link, or else you'll be in a perpetual limbo where Google will continuously ask for your credit card information before it lets you access the AdWords tool you need to determine CPCs for your keyphrases!

Next, ask the planner to help you generate ideas (click the "Search for new keywords..." area):

Next, input some keywords you're considering, input your site's URL, make sure you're just searching for data from the United States, and then hit "Get Ideas."  You can, if you want, choose a specific category that relates to the product/content that your optimization efforts are centered around.

Next, check traffic estimates:

You're trying to drive traffic to your web site, so you're looking for keyphrases that will drive traffic. If the "average monthly searches" number shows a dash, that means there's not enough traffic for Google to estimate. That's a problem -- that keyphrase will not generate traffic. If the keyphrase might generate 100k-1M, that means 100,000 to 1 million searches a month in the U.S. -- that's a lot of searches. That's both good and bad. You're trying to drive traffic, so you need keyphrases that generate searches. But those that are high in volume are also very competitive. You need a balance of related keyprhases that will generate traffic that won't be too competitive to rank.

Remember that even if you are good enough to get the site to the No. 1 organic ranking spot, you'll still just get a 30% click-through rate -- so, the average monthly searches do not equal the amount of traffic you might generate. You'll at very best get 30% of that range. Explain that in your paper.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

HTML Tools

Use this tool to see how the title and description tags might look in Google's SERPs.

Analyze how well images are coded with this tool from

Lists of SEO Tools only hosts a few SEO tools that are most useful for class projects. However, there are a number of additional tools that are helpful for those building web sites.'s complete list of tools's complete list of SEO and web tools's list of 21 best free tools.

Microsoft's free SEO audit tool.

Content Quality

Here are some sources to help with assessing content quality:

Remove'em's anchor text over-optimization tool. checks a site for plagiarism.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Keyword Ranking Tools

To check the ranking of specific keywords within search engines, try these web-based tools:

1) Mike's Marketing Tools Search Engine Ranking tool -- this is the best ranking tool, but it's not perfect -- it is good enough for our class project and to give sites a general idea of how they rank.

[Note: Sometimes Mike adds a layer of access on his site. If this happens to you you'll see an "ad" in the center of the page that you have to click to get access to the tool -- this opens an annoying window that takes you to some SEO software. If you're having trouble figuring this out, it may be because you're using Chrome and the "keyword" box is missing. This is because you can't turn JavaScript on in Chrome, so you'll have to use another browser.]

2) keyword ranking tool. Use "Organic Research" menu, and "Positions" submenu. (You only get a few free searches with this site.)

3) SEOcentro keyword raking tool.

4) -- Rank checker

5) -- Rank checker (You have to download the SEOBook's free version to Firefox; but this link lists most free and paid keyword ranking tools.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keyword Density Tools

Check these sites for keyword density tools: article, analyzer density analyzer
ArticleUnderground: density analyzer (and more!)