Raven SEO Tools Review

Raven SEO Logo.

Everyday it seems like a new SEO tool or toolset is launching.

I've been quite impressed with the improvements and enhancements to Raven's SEO Tools since they launched. There are so many features in Raven but I want to focus on some of the really unique ones which make Raven a must have for me.

Link Research Tools

Raven has 2 powerful, time-saving tools in their Link Research toolset. Site Finder and Backlink Explorer are 2 tools that really help me quickly assess and work through link profiles and the link landscape of a particular keyword.

Site Finder

Site Finder is keyword driven and the reports are saved under the website profile you are working on in Raven. While the tool is fast (my auto insurance quotes example took about 6 seconds!) one of the workflow features that I really like is that I can run a bunch of these and go off to do other things within Raven rather than waiting for the reports to come back.

On to Site Finder! :

To use Site Finder, just navigate to it under the Links tab, enter your keyword, and hit "Run":

Site Finder Start page

Here are the results returned for my query on auto insurance quotes:

Site Finder Results

Site Finder gives you quite a bit of data and options in an easy to use interface, here's how it breaks down:

  • Search Box - search for a specific domain or reset the results post-search
  • Display Settings - show anywhere from 25 - 1k results on the page, show links that are "hidden" (links you "hid" via the options column), or show all links with no filters
  • Display Settings Option Box - click "Display Settings' and you'll get a box where you can toggle ACRank, MozRank, Page Authority, and/or Connections off and on
  • Site Finder Settings

  • Domain- the name of a domain which is linking to at least 1 site in the top ten Google Results. Click on the domain link to get a slick drop down of the sites that domain is linking too
  • Site Finder Domain Options

  • Link Icon - click the icon to display the domain in a new
  • Connections - number of sites in the top 10 for your keyword that have a link from that domain
  • ACRank - a quick, simple data point which aims to show how important a specific page is (0-15, 15 is the highest) based on referring domains. A more in-depth definition can be found here
  • MozRank - SeoMoz's global link popularity score. It mirrors PageRank but SeoMoz says it updates it more frequently and is more precise (scaled 0-10, 10 being the highest). A more in-depth overview can be found here
  • Page Authority - a predictor of how likely a page is to rank based on a 100 point, logarithmic scale independent of the page's content. The higher the better :)
  • Backlinks - total number of links the domain has going into the top 10 Google results
  • Options Tab - if you want to hide a domain from the report (maybe not a link you want to go after, you or your team members can click "hide" and the link will be hidden from the report. If "add" is clicked then the link is added to the link queue in the Link Manager (more on this shortly)
  • Export Options - export your report to PDF or CSV (really helpful, especially when running reports on hidden links to gauge how well a link builder might be doing in terms of assessing the appropriate links to hide

So that's Site Finder. The flexibility, power, speed, and collaborative features of Site Finder make it one of my favorite tools to use.

Backlink Explorer

Researching competitor's link profiles is usually a time-consuming piece of the SEO puzzle. While it still involves time, especially on larger link profiles, Backlink Explorer delivers some pretty impressive results quickly and efficiently via a 3rd party tie-in to Majestic SEO.

Another nice thing with Raven is a consistent, clean user interface across the toolset. Here's the spot where you enter the domain you want to research:

Backlink Explorer Start Page

Just like Site Finder it will save the report in the history of whatever website profile you are saving the report in. You can explore it at anytime or delete it at anytime:

Backlink Explorer History

Continuing on with the auto insurance theme, I ran a quick report on GEICO:

Backlink Explorer Results

Backlink Explorer gives you the following data points and options:

  • Search Box - search for a particular domain or words within a domain
  • Display Settings - group domains (this is really helpful for cutting down duplicate results from domains with more than one link to the site), show/hide hidden or already linked from domains, filter by ACRank, and display up to 1,000 results on the page
  • Display Settings Box - display or hide no-follow, image, or date data fields
  • Source URL - the site the link is from
  • Link Icon - open page in a new window
  • ACRank - as discussed in Site Finder's review, more info here
  • Anchor Text - the anchor text of the link
  • No-follow - whether it's no-follow or not
  • Image - whether it's an image link or not
  • Options Box - hide the domain or add it to your link queue
  • Export - export results, filtered or non-filtered to CSV

What's really great about this tool is that you can do some pretty heavy filtering to get rid of the noisy links and quickly add the good ones to your link queue. On its face it may seem like it's not that big of a time-saver, but it really is if you are combing through a large profile or multiple link profiles.

You could really buzz through some fairly thick link profiles with the filtering options and put them right into your link queue for you to work on later or for a team member to work on. Once you start working with it you'll quickly see how efficient it is for you or for you and your staff.

Link Management

This is probably my favorite tool in the toolset. Prior to utilizing this tool, I was using lots and lots of spreadsheets to track link building campaigns which got to be pretty time consuming and tough to collaborate on.

It's built in to the Raven SEO Toolbar which allows you to quickly add a link to your link queue, right from your browser, rather than hand copying the website's data to a spreadsheet for further processing. This is a slick feature for a one person show and really sings when used in a collaborative link building environment. The last 2 spots are where your site would be listed and your account profile name:

Raven SEO Toolbar

When you are researching link partners, simply click that Add Link button and you are presented with this screen:

Raven SEO Toolbar Add a Link

The link manager in an of itself is worth the price of admission in my opinion. So here you can:

  • Set the status to queued, requested, active, inactive, ignore, or declined. Most of the time it will be "queued" if you are saving it for further handling
  • Input the date the record was created
  • Select the type of link (organic, paid, blog, exchange, and so on). You can even define custom types in Raven and it will show as an option in this application
  • Note the desired anchor text of the link (great for collaboration with link building staff members)
  • Include the URL of where you'd like the link to point to
  • Add more links if you might be getting more than one link from the page
  • Tag the link for sorting within the link manager application
  • Set it to be monitored automatically from within Raven
  • Add it as a task for you or a staff member
  • Raven pulls in the URL, domain name of the site, and PageRank of the page
  • If available you can list the contact name and email as well as the type of site it is and even leave a note attached to the record

Try doing all that in a spreadsheet and a bunch of word or text documents for notes :)

Once again, another solid way to save loads of time doing what is probably the most time consuming part of an SEO campaign, link building.

So that was just the toolbar portion of the Link Manager. Within your Raven account you have access to the same "add link" application that you do from the toolbar. Perhaps you have link opportunities that you or a staff member cultivated outside of Raven. You can use this form to plug them right in.

You can also import links into your Raven account.

Raven Link Manager Import Links

You can upload a CSV file with custom data that Raven will recognize up to 20 columns of data points. These data points relate to Raven's Link Manager application. So you're able to define all of these (Raven gives you a handy sample CSV to do this from):

  1. Status
  2. Link Type
  3. Link Text
  4. Link URL
  5. Website Name
  6. Website URL
  7. Website Type
  8. PR
  9. Contact Name
  10. Contact Email
  11. Contact ID
  12. Cost Type
  13. Cost
  14. Payment Method
  15. Payment Reference
  16. Start Date
  17. End Date
  18. Creation Date
  19. Comment
  20. Owner Name

Currently the currencies supported are USD, GBP, EUR, AUD.

When you upload you can automatically add link monitoring by clicking the link monitoring box.

You can also import up to 1,000 backlinks from Yahoo! via your domain or your competitor's domains (ones you've defined in Raven).

Raven's link monitoring service will alert you if any changes occur to a link or a page the link is on. For example, you would be notified if:

  • PageRank changes
  • Anchor text changes
  • Another link gets added to the page
  • They add no-follow to your link
  • The location of your link changes

I believe Raven now has about 21 different tools within their toolset now. This one tool, for me, is well worth the subscription cost. It really does save quite a bit of time and there's really nothing else like it on the market that I've seen (in terms of functionality, collaboration, and ease of use).


There are a growing number of applications out there where you can manage your social media accounts (mainly Twitter and Facebook, but Facebook in this example). If you want the most bang for your buck, Raven offers a state of the art Facebook application within its toolset.

Raven Facebook Entry Page

In addition to the deep reporting Raven gives you from within Facebook you can now integrate with Google Analytics from within Raven.

Facebook and Google Analytics with Raven

Here are some of the features offered within Raven's Facebook Tool:

  • Deep Google Analytics integration
  • White label reporting of Facebook metrics
  • Automatic wall post scheduling
  • Fan tracking, customizable by date range
  • Monitor posts, comments, and likes

What I really like about the Facebook tool in Raven is that you can really synch up your analytics information and truly get a handle on what's working and not working over defined periods of time.

The reason why I'm a big fan of the integration here is due to the fact that you are likely going to be using either Twitter or Facebook (or both) in your internet marketing campaign(s). So to have this data in one place and integrated, as well as using the deep metrics that the tools provide, amount to a set of game changing features with respect to Facebook campaign management.

Sometimes with all in one toolsets you see features like this get added and they are kind of watered down. This is not the case here, it's one of the stronger Facebook management tools out there. If you are going to allocate resources to search and social then you need a way to accurately track the ROI of your campaigns and that's exactly what you get with this tool.


Occasionally Social Media campaigns can be tough to quantify in terms of ROI and overall effectiveness. Much like the Facebook Monitor, Raven offers a tool for Twitter users which is a real gem.

Twitter Entry Page Raven

Raven's Twitter Tool

One feature within the Twitter tool is the ability to post a new tweet right away or schedule it for later, integrate with 3 URL shortener services (bit.ly, is.gd, j.mp, and tinyurl), and set custom Google Analytics campaign variables. Raven also gives you the ability to work with bit.ly and j.mp's APIs.

Twitter Tweet Posting Raven

Monitor Twitter Activity and Engagement

If you are allocating resources to Twitter, or being paid by a company to run their Twitter account, then you'll want the ability to see some pretty juicy stats related to your Twitter campaign. With Raven's new Twitter tool you'll be able to see the following:

  • Posts
  • Followers
  • Friends
  • Friend to Follower Ratio
  • Mentions
  • Google Analytics referral data
  • Reply and Retweet reach (a great way to see how many readers are seeing the message

Here's a screenshot of the statistical overlay:

Twitter Insight Metrics Ravenf

What's really nice about this is the date range comparisons. It's a huge time-saver to manage this data mostly in one place, you can truly get a handle on what's working and what's not working, as well as why it's not working or working. The level of detail and integration is really unique to Raven's suite of tools.

Monitor Tweets Related to Your Account

In addition to viewing tweets from your public timeline you can also see all mentions associated with your account, as well as tweets posted from your account:

Raven Timeline Image Twitter

A great feature here is that if there is a thread associated with a tweet you can click on the "view thread" link and see the entire thread from within the Twitter tool.

You can also access this via Raven's slick iPhone/iPad app

Campaign Reporting

Much like the link tools are worth the full subscription for me, if you have a need for custom reporting then Raven's Campaign Reporting features are probably worth the price of admission for you.

In lockstep with their other tools, the Campaign Reporting feature set is super easy to use:

Campaign Reporting Image

You can quickly create white-labeled, customized reports for the following modules within Raven:

  • Link Building
  • Twitter
  • Rankings
  • Facebook
  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Social Media Monitoring (track mentions of your brand and/or keywords related to your service. It also allows you to manage overall sentiment and track daily buzz)
  • Google Analytics

The reporting options include the ability for you to use customized descriptions to explain different parts of the report, summary pages for different sections, and Raven will even generate a table of contents for you.

Brand Templates

Here you can quickly create a completely customized brand template for use with your reports, just click New Brand Template in the campaign home screen.

Give the template a name:

Name Brand Template

Assign it to a website, a profile or an account:

Brand Template Assignment

Pick a custom logo or text header:

Customize Header

Customize the colors and the footer text

Color and Footer Customization

Customize the appearance of your ranking results (keyword and rank alignment, numbers/+/-/arrows)

Custom Ranking Result Display

Report Templates

Report Templates allow you to configure specific aspects of each report, saving you from having to create them over and over again for each client or each report:

Similar to a Brand Template you start by clicking "New Report Template" in the Campaign Report screen. What I like about these reports is that they are fully customizable. Maybe you have clients that just hire you for keyword research, or just links, or both of those and social media (and so on). Well with the customization flexibility of these reports you can set up a custom template for just about any reporting need you may come across.

So name your report (I did Test 1) and you'll see the creation options on the left side:

Order Report Template

To give you an idea of how deep your customization and reporting options are, here is that left bar fully extended:

Custom Ranking Result Display

Every singe one of those tabs is a customizable report :) So you just click on the ones you want to add and they are added to the report template.

Customizing Reporting Fields

When you add the fields to a template, or when you are creating the report, you can expand the section and customize each one (the summary page and title are report-wide options, but they each have other options depending on the piece you are reporting on). Here's the customization options you get with the link detail module:

Expanded Reporting Options

Once you add more than one, you can collapse them and reorder them in a drag and drop fashion:

Report Order Customization

Scheduling and Auto Delivery

Maybe you want to auto-deliver reports to employees for further customization or presentation work, or maybe you want to set and forget the delivery of reports to your clients. You can send reports as attached PDF's or as trackable download links.

Scheduling Options

You can do monthly, daily, weekly, or quarterly reports and select a day between 1-28 as well as define a custom date range.

Create the Report

It's really easy to create a detailed, customized report within Raven. Name your report, select your brand and report templates, set you scheduling and delivery options, and create! It is really that simple. As mentioned in the Report Template section you can add, customize, and arrange all those reporting areas to suit your reporting needs.

Additional Features

While I focused on key areas that sold me on Raven, I also utilize their other tools. In addition to the tools mentioned above Raven's tools also include

  • Blog Manager - manage unlimited WordPress blogs (or any blog that supports XML-RPC
  • Competitor Manager - track competitors and see key metrics like PageRank, pages in Google's index, and links.
  • Contact Manager - this is where Raven stores (via this feature and via the Link Manager) contact information (mailing address, email, phone number, username, company, etc) which you can assign to different links, websites, and tasks
  • Content Manager - a place where you can manager articles, website content, and posts. You can add keyword analyzer features to check frequency, density, and relevance. You can also list where the article or post was used (quite handy for link building campaigns)
  • Design Analyzer - what I really like about this tool is the ability to look at your website in a Lynx browser
  • Event Manager - similar to GA annotations, the event manager can help you track any type of event related to your site. You can even include these in your reports, which is great for in-house record-keeping and/or client reports.
  • Firefox Toolbar - a killer link building assistant as discussed in the link section of this review. You can easily switch between your site profiles in the toolbar, use the analyzer features, and use logins for different social media personas.
  • Keyword Manager - a place to store potential and active keywords. A handy tagging system can be used to group keywords and you can add them to your rank tracker in one click.
  • Persona Manager - store multiple social network profiles and logins. In addition, you can also share these with staff members. This functionality is also available in the Toolbar.
  • Quality Analyzer - you can use this in your Raven account and from the Toolbar (which is a nice feature when scouring the web for links). It measures the site's indexed page count in Google and Yahoo, links from Yahoo, .edu links, .gov links, domain age, domain expiration, Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rank, and whether or not the site is in DMOZ. It assigns a numerical score based on this data.
  • Research Assistant - enter a domain to see data regarding the site's paid keywords, organic keywords, and competitors in both. You can one-click add a keyword or a competing URL to either the keyword/competition manager or to your SERP tracker (rank checker). Enter a keyword to see matching keywords and related keyword with data from SEM Rush, Google, and Wordtracker. View a page to see semantic data powered by OpenCalais.Com and keywords (related to the page's content) from AlchemyAPI.Com.
  • SERP Tracker - Raven's rank checker, runs once per week automatically, has historical chart and data viewing capabilities, and supports a bunch of international versions of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
  • Google Analytics Integration - tie in your Google Analytics account for easy viewing and slick reporting.
  • Social Media - in addition to Facebook and Twitter Raven also offers brand/keyword monitoring services, integration with KnowEm and Omgili.
  • Website Directory - records of all the websites used in your campaign with filtering options to sort out different site and link types.
  • iPhone and iPad apps

Give Raven a Try

Raven's integration is slick and powerful:

  • Google, SEM Rush, and Wordtracker for keyword research
  • Majestic SEO & SeoMoz for link building and research
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Twitter & Facebook integration with lots of engagement goodies

Raven currently offers a free 30 trial, no credit card required, on all their plans. The combination of SEO tools, link building tools, social media integration, and custom reporting options were strong selling points for me especially at the price points Raven offers. I think you can also see the significant time saving benefits Raven provides, especially in the reporting module.

There isn't much to lose, a free 30 day trial that doesn't require you to enter any payment information. So give Raven's SEO Tools a try.

Pricing and Free Trial Info

Excessive Worry About Competition

Excessive Worrying = Missed Opportunities

Do you worry too much about who you are competing against? Do you feel competitive research leads to many more "move on please" rather than "let's go!" types of outcomes? Believe it or not, it may be a good sign.

Competition is usually a good thing, it means something is worth fighting for. A lot of hucksters try to push ways to "Uncover hidden markets that nobody else knows about, that you can make millions from with little effort, and that is yours for just $47."

Here is the problem with lots of opportunity and 0 competition: businesses follow the money and shorten the supply chain. If an ad market is ripe it means that some of those advertisers are also going to be publishers in the same darn market, targeting the same darn keywords. So if there is big money there will be competition. It is unavoidable.

It isn't so much that specific niches are glossed over, but more to do with the fact that the bigger a site gets and the more keywords it targets the less time it has to focus on optimization at a granular level. These kinds of sites leave the door open for you to come in and attack some of their profitable keywords by creating niche sites around those topics.

Consider that our competitive research tool shows a site like ehow.com coming in with 2,948,950 organic keywords they are ranking for in the top 20 (our tool is powered by SEM Rush). Lots of opportunity there!

However, if you are interested in your public-facing status then chasing the long tail of a large site may not be the sexiest thing in the world to you. If you are more interested in profiting from your efforts versus tooting your own horn then what should matter is how you can maximize profits while keeping expenses low.

Certainly I'm not advocating that you only focus on niche keywords. If you have the resources then you can go after just about anything you want. In either scenario, long-tail plays or broad keyword plays, there should be less worry about who your competition is and more focus on what their weaknesses are, and how you can beat them.

There is an intimidation factor that is at play in just about every situation where competition exists:

  • Business
  • Sports
  • Personal Relationships

Much of that intimidation is perceived by the underdog or the new competitor. The following points are worth keeping in mind:

  • The best team is not unbeatable
  • The biggest site is not strongly optimized for all their keywords
  • The girl or guy you are quite fond of is actually approachable

Many of the competitors at the top of the heap are there for a reason, they're good. However, it doesn't mean they are invincible or beyond reproach. In fact it's quite the opposite. Some of the upper echelon sites in your market likely have become lazy or so big that can no longer reasonably go all out on all their profitable keywords. There are no shortage of tools out there that can help you find potential keywords for your sites by looking at profitable keywords of a competitor's site.

You can't win every battle you fight but if you win more than you lose then you are on the right track. Competing, in and of itself, is not going to mortally wound you if you lose :-). Look at is as a learning lesson.

  • What could you have done better?
  • Where could you have pushed harder?
  • Do you need to rethink how you view potential opportunities?

The great thing about SEO is that (providing you don't torch the site) there is no 4th quarter, final set, TKO, or bottom of the ninth. Your timing for failing is based on when you think it's a good time to pullout and move on to another site or use a new approach. The effective holding cost for a paused project is ~ $0. And who knows, maybe a future algorithmic update or another search engine will take a liking to your site. As long as you have analytics installed you are passively collecting market data - not a bad deal.

Google can be the referee that makes a horrible call which ends the game but more often than not you get to be the decider of when to push and when to pull.

So rather than worrying about your competition you are better off tracking your competition and figuring out where they are outperforming you. I like to keep a running log of ideas and processes that my competitors are implementing along with notes on where I think they are weak and how they could do what they are doing more efficiently.

Armed with that information, along with your findings with free tools like SEO For Firefox, you can start in on a thorough review of your competition and the feasibility of competing against them. Some core items you'll want to consider are:

  • Number of backlinks from unique domains (don't be *wowed* by the total link count)
  • Anchor text distribution of external links
  • Domain age, relative to when the site went live (with a few links)
  • Presence of the site in some of the better directories like Yahoo! and Business.Com
  • .Edu Links
  • .Gov Links
  • Is the exact match ranking?
  • Is it all big brands?
  • Are there lots of interior pages ranking?
  • The on-page optimization of the site/page
  • PageRank
  • and so on...

There are a number of tools available which can help you find weak spots in areas where your competition is possibly profitable and where potential opportunities exist for you. We did a review of the following spy tools :

We outlined a competitive intelligence strategy recently in addition to having quite a bit of killer tips and posts in the competitive research threads inside the forums.

So while you shouldn't ignore the competition completely you shouldn't be consumed by it, particularly if it's just a few metrics that you find daunting. There are enough tools out there where you can try and clone most of their best strategies but at some point you will have to go beyond what they are doing.

Studying a competitor's on and off page strategies, then finding ways to exploit weaknesses and build on strengths, will produce a better ROI for your business rather than searching for "The Fountain of No Competition" promised by that really nice internet marketing fellow you got that email from :-).

And SEO is just one phase of your analysis. Does everyone have the same business model? Are there other options? Do they all have similar site structures? Are they so inspired by one another that they are missing huge market segments?

Strategizer Review, Wordtracker's New Tool

Wordtracker continues to add value beyond their position as a well-respected keyword research tool provider.

Wordtracker Logo

About Strategizer

Strategizer Logo

Wordtracker's keyword toolset has long been popular for finding additional, longer tail keywords to apply to your search or PPC campaigns. Strategizer integrates with Google Analytics to incorporate your current keywords into the Strategizer tool to help you analyze groups of related keywords to determine how viable those groups are to your campaign.

Wordtracker takes the view that you should not be focusing on a single keyword, but rather "keyword niches". In the example on their site they use donuts. Essentially it's presented as

  • The single search term in the areas the marketer sells to is 2,400 per month
  • The expected click through rate is 8% as they were ranked in position 3, totaling 192 visitors per month
  • Conversion rate was pegged at 4% so the expected sales numbers would be about 8 sales a month

In Wordtracker's opinion focusing on a single keyword might be a losing effort for this marketer because the entire donut niche produces about 450,000 searches a month (chocolate donuts, glazed donuts, chocolate glazed donuts, and so on) and it will likely take him years to rank for that single keyword. So the focus with this tool is more on the long tail side of things.

Long Tail Keywords

In theory this makes sense but in some markets you can compete with less difficulty if you own the exact match domain and can scale the marketing, content, and link building with degrees of success. There are other ways to compete as well so while there is great wisdom in paying attention to the long tail of a main keyword there are some other factors to consider as well.

The most actionable keyword research data you can get generally comes from your analytics program. So a tool which can integrate with your current analytics program and expand on your profitable (or help you find more profitable) keywords is a definite win. While there can be some concern about using Google Analytics on your site (giving Google your data and such) it's hard to argue how deep and powerful their analytics program is.

Strategizer and Google

A lot of spy tools provide "keyword value" estimates based on traffic and cost-per-click figures. While that is a good barometer of how valuable a keyword might be in the eyes of a search engine, keyword data specific to your site (which factors in real traffic numbers as well as conversions) is the best way to analyze your current site architecture for expansion or improvement.

A tool like Strategizer can be quite helpful in interpreting that data and providing additional keyword options based on the keywords found in your Google Analytics program. Furthermore, mining additional keywords which are found in niches that are already converting for you (with help from Wordtracker) is really quite a win because it's real data that is almost instantly actionable.

How Strategizer Works

You need to integrate your Google Analytics account with Strategizer for the tool to work. Once you do, you'll be given report options.

Note that Wordtracker recommends having more than 20,000 non-paid search engine visits prior to processing that data (this can be a cumulative number met over months of data). In order for their niche set up and model to function correctly you do need a decent amount of data as the model is trend-based from a higher-level overview rather than a focus on individual keywords.

Here is the options page:

Strategizer Options

The time period and the country, territory, and language settings are self-explanatory. You also have the option to choose an "Advanced Segment" which can be:

  • All Visits - defined as all non-paid search engine visits
  • Default - segments in your Google Analytics account which Google has defined
  • Custom - segments in your Google Analytics account which you have specifically defined
  • Dynamic - segments which you can define as you create your Strategizer reports (this feature is not yet available)

As the third option is not yet available and there are not a ton of custom segments set up here we'll go with "Default"/"All Visits".

A Strategizer Report

A Strategizer report groups your keyword in up to 2,000 niches. The initial report looks like this:

Strategizer Full Report

The data presented is pulled from your Google Analytics keyword report and grouped into niches by the Strategizer tool. Each keyword listed in the row is the perceived main keyword for the keyword niche and the keywords that fall under a niche classification include that main keyword as part of their phrase.

So what Strategizer does is take your exact match keywords from your Google Analytics account (the actual keyword used to produce a visitor) and convert them into broader reports (niches) for all keywords containing that exact keyword found in your analytics account.

Keyword Niche Analysis in Strategizer

Before getting into how the data is presented, understanding how niches work in Strategizer is pretty important as it is the basis of the analysis going on within the tool.

The reports will not break niches down by individual keywords so having a firm grasp of how a niche is defined will help you understand and more efficiently use the tool.

*Note, a niche's name (link building in this case) is derived from an exact match keyword on your site. So in this case someone searched for link building and clicked on SeoBook.Com in the search results.

Strategizer sees the keywords that are bringing you traffic and uses that exact keyword, link building in our example, to set up a niche. Then, Strategizer pulls in broad match keywords for that keyword which brought you a visitor per Google Analytics (link building in this case) via the AdWords Keyword tool to populate the "Niche Size (Google)" Column.

To further illustrate this point, here's a look at the niche "link building":

For the niche of "link building" you are shown the following columns in the "Analysis" tab (we'll cover the other tabs in a bit):

  • Keyword Niche - the niche defined by Strategizer via an exact match keyword in your Google Analytics program.
  • Keywords - the number of keywords with the Niche Size (Google) data point that actually brought traffic to your site. So out of 665,000 searches done on broad matched variations of the keyword link building, we received at least 1 visit from 1,932 keywords.
  • Visits - total number of visits from those 1,932 keywords.
  • Niche Size (Google) - total number of searches, broad match based on the keyword that defines the niche (link building in this case) via the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
  • % Market Share - the percentage of searchers that end up as visitors on your site, compared to the total number of searchers out there for that niche (Visits/Niche Size).
  • Bounce Rate - percentage of visits which left on the entrance page
  • Goal CR - percentage of visits that resulted in the completion of a goal
  • E-Commerce CR - percentage of visits which resulted in a e-commerce transaction
  • Per Visit Value - defined as revenue/visits

For the niche of "link building", there could be all sorts of variations within that niche as the niche size is populated by broad matched keywords from the AdWords Keyword Tool. This niche could include:

  • link building training
  • how to do link building
  • cheap link building
  • link building training program
  • link building tools
  • link building majestic seo
  • and so on...

So just to summarize:

A keyword niche is set up by an exact match keyword found in your Google Analytics report. The keywords that make up the niche are broad match keywords pulled in from the AdWords Keyword Tool

Additional Strategizer Reporting Options

Strategizer gives you 4 tabs to work with:

  • Analysis
  • Site Usage
  • Goal Conversion
  • E-commerce

The tool also offers handy, robust exporting and filtering features.

Tabbed Options

You can also select up to 5 keywords and link through to Google Insights:

Google Insights

You have the following filter options (all are "greater than or less than" except for "Keyword Niche". In "Keyword Niche" you can choose to include, exclude certain keywords or just work with the one's you've targeted by checking them off).

Filtering Options

We went over the Analysis tab earlier in the post when discussing the link building niche. The other tabs, which have a few unique metrics, are as follows:

  • Site Usage
  • Goal Conversion
  • E-commerce

Site Usage

The Site Usage tab includes a few other metrics not included in the Analysis tab and removes some data points which are not relevant to the actual usage of your site:

Site Usage Strategizer

The new data points are:

  • Pages/Visit - average number of pages viewed during a visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
  • Avg Time on Site - average time spent on your site over the visits within that keyword niche
  • % of New Visits - percentage of visits by people who have never visited the site before

Goal Conversion

Goal Conversion

The Goal Conversion tab will show you the percentage of visits within your keyword niches which resulted in goals that you defined in your Google Analytics account.


The E-commerce tab does about exactly what you think it will do, gives you data specific to any e-commerce items you are tracking within your Google Analytics account. There are a couple of new data points here as well.

Ecommerce Tab Strategizer

Strategizer will show you:

  • E-commerce CR - percentage of visitors which resulted in an e-commerce transaction
  • Transactions - total number of transactions completed
  • Average Value - the average value of a visitor (factoring in transactions and overall visits)
  • Revenue - revenue, including tax and shipping, from e-commerce transactions
  • Per Visit Value - determined by dividing revenue by visits
(Note that our Google Analytics account didn't have this enabled, but if we would have this is one of the areas where Strategizer really sings in terms of trying to show you how much money is on the table in different keyword themes).

Targeting Options

You may only want to investigate certain keywords niches at any given point so Strategizer gives you the option to target specific niches and makes it quite easy to remove targeting and re-apply it.

So if you just want to look at a specific niche topic, take "links" for example, then you filter by niche name:

Sort by links

Click on the niche you want to target (highlights in green):

Strategizer Check Target

Then click the target button and set your filter to include niches that are targeted:

Click Target

Strategizer Filter

Pick the ones you want to target (highlighted in green) then click Target/Untarget (the targeted choices change to red):

Green Link Filter

Then you have the ones you want to evaluate:

The sorting and filtering options are quite deep which is much needed given the vast amount of data you are given to work with.

Strategizer Wrap Up

As you can see there are lots of data points to play with inside of Strategizer. Since the data is pulling right from your Google Analytics account you know that the conversion data and value data are both fairly accurate.

The sorting options can help you get a good look at keyword sets which need further investigating as to why they may or may not be performing as well as other keyword sets across all the metrics in the Strategizer tool.

Due to the tremendous amount of data available it makes sense to utilize the sorting options within the Strategizer toolset to help weed out keyword niches which are really low volume sets and could distort results. With great data comes great responsibility so it would be wise to play around with the filtering options within the tool to sort through results or metrics which might not be overly important to you.

Right now you can't drill down into specific keywords but that is a function Wordtracker is considering.

Is Strategizer Right for You?

I really like what Wordtracker is doing with this tool. Many times you might be working with tools which are just "estimates" and are usually not very accurate anyway. I would say this tool is a more than solid investment for:

  • Site owners with good amounts of traffic
  • Site owners with defined goals and conversions in Google Analytics
  • PPC folks who can mass identify strong (and weak) performing keyword sets to further investigate for their campaign structure
  • Anyone who is serious about understanding their site and site architecture
  • Someone who wants a higher level overview of how their site and site structure are performing across a variety of important metrics
  • And any site owner who wants to understand as much as they can about their site, their site's engagement, and to identify areas for increased (or decreased) attention.

Logo Part Deux

Pricing Options

Product Tour

$1 Trial

Wordstream PPC and SEO Tool Review


Another Option

Based on the negative remarks directed at Wordstream in comments on this review (about aggressive "flexible" sales techniques, long-term client contracts, etc.) & a discussion with one of our friends who manages a number of large AdWords accounts, we recommend Optimyzr, as Timmcg did below.

Modified Broad Match for the Win

Since Google added modified broad match ad targeting to AdWords, it is typically a far more efficient use of a business owner's time to manage the longtail of search with modified broad match and negative keyword targeting rather than managing thousands and thousands of low traffic terms. Using modified broad match and the desktop Google AdWords Editor makes many "optimization" features in some DIY PPC platforms obsolete. And I write this as a person who offers one of the more widely used free keyword list generators.

Finding secret uncovered keywords that no other ads are showing against? That ship has largely sailed. Really broadly matched targeting on broad match keywords guarantees most terms with significant value will have multiple bidders aggressively competing in the ad auction, with Google both carrying ads across from other related keywords and lifting floor ad prices based on the performance of related keywords.

An Example of Using Modified Broad Match

Here is an image Google shared when they first publicly unveiled modified broad match.

The beauty of modified broad match is it allows you to capture a vast array of longtail terms using just a handful of keywords. For example, if one wanted to cover longtail concepts around "keyword tools" or such one could add something like this:

  • +keyword +tool
  • +keyword +tools
  • +keyword +research
  • +keyword +programs
  • +keyword +software

The above would target thousands of different unique keyword tool related searches (like: downloadable keyword research tools, online keyword software, etc.) without requiring a person to manage thousands of independent terms. And then let's say a particular term tends to have little to no value to your business. For example, let's say people wanting "free" rarely convert to paying clients. You could then add that term as a negative match -free to block your ads from running against searches containing that term, or you could add it as a negative match to that campaign and then set up a second campaign with lower bids that doesn't block those sorts of modifiers. In such a way you could quickly capture most the cream from the longtail while blocking out the worst bits of it (or bidding significantly less for the lowest value portions), while having minimal management overhead.

So Why do People Still Pitch Huge Keyword Lists?

Some parts of search largely run without direct keyword control anymore. And those that you can easily control are far more efficient to control with tight targeting on the head and the above broad match strategy on the tail.

That leads one to ask Why were huge lists of keywords ever popular?

The Original Reason

Overture was a pioneer in paid search. Google was highly inspired by Overture when they created AdWords. In fact, Google had to give Yahoo! a bunch of their shares before the Google IPO to settle a lawsuit for violating Overture's paid search patents. Google ended up winning search by both owning distribution (while Overture relied on syndication partners) and having a more efficient ad auction. One of the reasons the Overture / Yahoo! Search Marketing ad auction was less efficient is they would put a far lower priced bid first if someone bid on a specific term and a competitor bid higher for a broad matched term.

For example, if your competitor bid $50 for web hosting and you bid 10 cents for shared asp web hosting and nobody else bid on that term, your 10 cent ad could show before the competitor's $50 ad.

This inefficiency in the Overture ad auction is part of what drove the demand for creating large lists of keywords. It is also a big part of why Yahoo! struggled to compete against Google in search. By the time this problem was fixed, Yahoo! was aleady well on their way to outsourcing their search & search ads to Microsoft.

The Current Reason People Still Promote Huge Lists of Keywords

The reason large lists of keywords which get next to no traffic remain a popular "marketing" approach (in spite of modified broad match existing) is those lists are quick to generate and they allow some people to show they are doing "lots of work" to justify management fees, even if that work is of marginal efficacy.

Below is our original un-revised Wordstream review from over a half-decade ago, back right around when modified broad match first launched, but before it was widely used.

Wordstream Review

Wordstream Logo

Wordstream is a suite of online marketing tools which cover Keyword Research and Management for PPC and SEO Campaigns. They also offer a Firefox plug-in which we'll cover in a bit. Wordstream gives you access to three free tools:

  • Free Keyword Niche Finder
  • Free Keyword Suggestion Tool
  • Free Keyword Grouper

While there are many free and paid keyword tools on the market Wordstream does offer more in the way of integration with industry leading products like Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Recently Wordstream earned the Editor's Pick award in the Google Analytics Application Gallery:

Google Marketplace Award

Wordstream's keyword data is produced via "blended" data which they acquire from multiple sources. The discuss their data sources on the FAQ section of the Free Keyword Tool. It's important to note that they do not simply pull keyword data from Google like many other "keyword research" tools do.

Both PPC and SEO campaigns can fall victim to poor organization which leads to poor site or campaign architecture which eventually leads to poor results as data becomes more and more difficult to accurately manage. Wordstream aims to aid in your keyword research, PPC campaign management, and SEO execution.

Free Tools

Free Keyword Niche Finder

Keyword Niche Finder

The Keyword Niche Finder attempts to find niches of a core keyword. In this example I chose insurance. Usually, I've had better results with this tool by using really broad keywords. The longer you get into the tail the less associations the tool can perform hence the less niches available for you to analyze. Keyword Niche FInder Insurance Results

You can choose to have the niches emailed to you (you'll get a zip file of all the niches shown on the screen, not all the available ones so be sure you've got the ones you want, and they come as separate .csv's within the .zip) and you can get started sorting through the niches shown to get an idea of what part of the insurance market you may want to pursue. Let's say I'm not interested in travel insurance. So I click the X to get rid of that and another niche pops up, "uk" insurance. Note the number of niches has gone down and I'm left with a new niche to evaluate, "UK", within the insurance market.

Keyword Niche FInder Arrows

So after sorting through the available niches I've narrowed it down to the following niches:

Keyword Niche Finder Trimmed

So I've decided to pursue the life insurance market so I click on the bucket and I'm shown 774 keywords for that niche. As you can see, there is a filtering option but that is available to paid subscribers. Relative frequency refers to their "blended data" approach meaning the term life insurance quote typically is searched more often than life insurance exam in aggregate.

If this is the only niche you want to target simply remove the other niches and request the emailed .csv (need to leave at least 2 active niches for export though). This way you'll receive the keywords you want for further processing in whatever spreadsheet application you use. This tool is somewhat limited as it is a free tool but it can be a pretty useful way to get a broad view of niches available in a specific market when first starting out.

Plus, it's a pretty slick way to bounce back and forth between different niches without having to re-query a keyword tool every time you want to look at a different market.

Free Keyword Grouper

Keyword Grouper

Wordstream's Keyword Grouper tool where you can enter up to 10,000 keywords and have Wordstream group them by category and word/modifier association.

This tool can be quite useful when you pull data from something like your web analytics or PPC programs and receive a variety of new keywords back. The Keyword Grouper tool will group using modifiers (cheap, free, buy, etc) which helps you identify new market segments or new keywords you may have been missing out on initially.

I think the idea behind the tool is solid but I also think you'd want to spend some time going through your own results to further refine your data. The following screen shot was produced after entering the following data:

  • home insurance 88
  • auto insurance 39
  • home insurance company 33
  • auto insurance quote 28
Keyword Grouping Results

The groupings are mostly sensible and they also filtered in some modifiers that I didn't originally include but ones that I know are valuable in this industry. Aligning your keywords to your site's structure is always a good idea when doing SEO and this tool can help a bit in that area. The tool (free) is not perfect but it does provide useful, actionable data.

Wordstream put out a helpful Keyword Grouping white paper as well.


Free Keyword Tool

Free Keyword Tool

Wordstream's Free Keyword Tool does exactly what you would expect it to, it gives you keyword data. Their "blended" method of aggregating data can be found here.

My Favorite Feature

When you export the keywords you are given the top 10,000 sorted from the highest relative frequency to the lowest! Car insurance returned over 45k results and I am now able, for free, to download the top 10k keywords in order of search volume. This is a killer feature for any keyword tool, much less a free one. Consider that:

  • Wordtracker goes up to 1k
  • Google AdWords is less than Wordtracker
  • Even some Competitive Research Tools do not offer the ability to export 10k results with sorting enabled!

Keyword Tool Results

So that about sums it up for their free tools. I personally like how Wordstream keeps feature bloat out of these tools. So many times you see these keyword tools come out and start making up their own custom metrics which at some point involve:

  • Total number of competing pages
  • Some form of KEI
  • Some made up metric to distract you from the fact that all they are doing is pulling data from Google and recycling it :-(

A keyword tool, which pulls data from sources other than Google, has some inherent value as we know that Google's data often has disagreements within their own tools so it's important to have one or three third party sources of data.

Paid Tools

Wordstream's toolset is broken down into 4 groups of tools:

  1. Discover Keywords
  2. Manage Keywords
  3. Create PPC Campaigns
  4. Create SEO Content

Discover Keywords

Keyword Suggestion Tool

A simple keyword tool where you enter your desired keywords and get up to 10,000 results for your search. Wordstream also provides an area where they suggest related words and synonyms which you can easily add to your keyword search by clicking the check mark adjacent to the modifier.

The keyword results section offers up your selected results with the following options pertaining to how deep your results will go:

  • 15
  • 50
  • 100
  • 200
  • 500
  • 1,000
  • 5,000
  • 10,000

Keyword Suggestion Tool DW

From here you can whittle down to the keywords you want to add to your campaign (you can add these keywords to your Wordstream database from inside the tool).

The speed and depth at which these keywords are returned at are both very impressive compared to other keyword tools.

Spy on the Competition Tool

Similar to how the Google AdWords Keyword Tool operates, you can place a URL + check all the pages on a website or just a specific page in the search bar and get keywords relevant to whatever site/page you searched on.

Wordstream Spy Tool

Where I think this tool falls short is in the categorization data that the AdWords tool returns when you place a URL in their search box. The AdWords tool basically gives you a nice head start into potential site structure options via how they break down the categories and keywords within a URL that you search on. You can use Wordstream's organization capabilities after you are done adding the keywords into your database but I think having the initial breakdown that AdWords provides is slick and something Wordstream may want to consider as they continue to develop their toolset.

Enable Continuous Keyword Discovery

In a world filled with buzzwords used simply to sell you on recycled products or feature bloat you may look at this as say "riiiiiight". However, this is actually a unique point of differentiation between Wordstream and every other keyword tool on the market.

Continous Keyword Discovery

This tool gives your Wordstream keyword database real time access into keywords that are bringing you traffic from either your Google Analytics account or, if you don't use Google Analytics, a custom Wordstream tracking code you can embed on your website.

If you make the decision to utilize Wordstream to manage your keyword database then this is a killer feature. No other keyword tool offers such a feature, that I'm aware of anyway. So if you are not overly interested in combing through your analytics reports frequently in order to find additional keywords to target, then this feature will be beneficial to you as the new keywords automatically pop up into your Wordstream database.

It's also useful for transitioning these keywords into a PPC campaign you may be managing in Wordstream either as a new keyword to bid on *or* as a negative keyword. So this tool is also handy for being a negative keyword finder as well.

Other Ways to Import Keywords

Wordstream allows you to copy and paste keywords into your account and initially tag them as either "Paid", "Organic", or "Suggested" keyword sources.

Copy and Paste Keywords

You can also download a tool which analyzes your web server logs for keywords

Server Log Keywords

You can also upload a CSV or TSV file...

Upload CSV/TSV

So those are the ways you can initially find and upload keywords with Wordstream. The second function of Wordstream's workflow is actually managing those keywords.

Manage Keywords

Wordstream puts out three options for keyword management:

  1. Organize Keywords
  2. Find Negatives
  3. Prioritize Workflow

Organize Keywords

At first glance it seems a bit overwhelming, but it's not. You have the following features/options available to you:

  • Automated keyword grouping suggestions on the left side, which you can accept, show, hide, or decline
  • Keywords in your campaign sorted by paid, organic, or suggested (based on tagging you control), new keywords found via your analytics or AdWords tie in, date filtering options, view by keywords that are grouped and ones that are not grouped.
  • The ability to add buckets of filtered keywords to a PPC campaign
  • The ability to use their new SEO Content feature to tie into your CMS and create content for a specific keyword
  • Goals and Action data, available for customization within your settings options
  • Export keywords

Organize Keywords

Keyword Group Explorer

The Keyword Group Explorer gives you keyword grouping suggestions based on your keywords. The buckets in yellow are ones which have been accepted by the user as groups and the ones in gray have not been. You can decline the grouping by clicking the gray X or accept it by clicking the check mark. You can hide these suggestions by clicking the light bulb in the bottom of the sidebar.

keyword group explorer

So I'll investigate the puppy suggestion. I click on the suggestions and I'm shown keywords specific to puppy or puppies.

puppy grouping

This groups all the keywords containing puppy or puppies into one bucket. You can rename the group by clicking "create keyword group" in the right corner. You can also hover over any individual word in the keyword group to delete it and filter out any other keywords containing that modifier.

I renamed the group "Puppy Stuff" just to illustrate the ability to customize your groups. So back to the Keyword Group Explorer, turned off other suggestions for now and ta-da, there is Puppy Stuff.

puppy group explorer


The little arrow indicates the sub-groups Wordstream automatically created with the keywords in the Puppy Stuff bucket (I named this pretty horribly as you'll see in a second). So if you click on the arrow you'll see the sub-groups Wordstream automatically created (I should have left it as Puppy!):


Puppy Sub Groups

Similar to the main groupings you can click on the check to accept, the X to decline, or the keyword to see the keywords within that group for further grouping and refinement. Hover over a group and see the following:

Puppy Hover Stats

This gives you the top keyword in that sub-group. The stats are as follows:

  • 15.2% represents how much traffic this group could produce, saying the keywords within the puppy stuff training group accounts for 15.2% of the traffic for the main group Puppy Stuff.
  • 16.5% represents the % of keywords in this group accounting for that same percentage in the parent group Puppy Stuff. So this group has 16.5% of the keywords in the entire group.

If you right click on a group you get the following options (applies to groups and sub-groups as well)

Rollover Options

Some of these items are self-explanatory but the de-duplicate option is pretty sweet. Click on that and you'll see duplicate keywords across your groups. This is handy because it really lets you refine your lists pretty quickly and efficiently. You can choose which group to remove duplicates from:

de duplicate

Another neat feature is if you click on the jack looking icon in the keyword results you can get options to search Google Trends, the Google Search Results, Bing's xRank, and Bing's search results:

Google Bing Integration

Google Bing Search Box

You can use this method to keep creating more and more sub-groups if desired but usually 1-2 levels deep is good enough. You don't want to integrate so tightly that someone has to click 17 times to get to an article that could have been easily served on a sub-page within a top-level category.

Negative Keyword Selection

This tool allows you to search for negative keywords at the group and sub-group levels. It highlights the words that might be irrelevant to your campaign and gives you the option to accept the modifier or deny the modifier via a yes/no option. So what you are saying yes/no to is the highlighted word, not the phrase itself.

negative keywords

They also have a checkbox option which keeps potential negative keywords out of this report IF they have previously resulted in conversions (via your AdWords/analytics tie-in data).

Once you add a negative keyword in there you can choose phrase, broad, or exact match as negative keyword options. You can manually add negative keywords as well.

One option I'd like to see is "add full keyword/phrase or just highlighted modifier" rather than just adding the modifier.

They also offer a feature which tries to associate a selected negative keyword with other ones that appear in this report. So for instance, I checked off Chesapeake and hit yes, then I was presented with this:

Related Negative Keywords


Prioritize Workflow

Wordstream's products play to agency type accounts and workflow is a big part of what they offer. The Prioritize Workflow tool allows you to review workflow information at the group, sub-group, and account level.


From here you can:

  • Segment groups with no sub-groups into sub-groups
  • Associate an ad group with a keyword group
  • Associate a landing page with a keyword group or groups
  • Cleanse a group (takes you to the negative keyword tool)
  • De-duplicate groups

The columns are as follows:

  • Relevance - A custom score which is derived initially from the amount of keywords within a group and how many visits they have driven. Typically the higher the relevance the more important the group to your traffic levels.
  • Visits - Total number of visits per group of keywords
  • Keywords - Total number of keywords within a group
  • Group Size - If you get the triangle it means you've exceed the group size you set (or was set by default) in the Wordstream Settings panel which is found under the Settings Tab - Wordstream Settings
  • AdWords/Landing Pages - Shows whether or not a group is associated with a landing page or an AdWords account
  • Filthiness - Shows (based on settings that can be modified in Settings - Wordstream Settings) if you've exceed limits set for negative keyword candidates as a percentage of the keyword group.

The Relevance field has some customization options:

Keyword relevancy

So you can play with this a bit and throw in goals and value of goals as variables as to show which groups are not only driving the most traffic, but are also producing the most goals. Usually you'll find custom keyword performance metrics are not so great because they don't use any relevant data. Here though, Wordstream is using 3 of the most relevant pieces of data when it comes to keywords and keyword importance

  • Actual Traffic
  • Actual Conversions
  • Value of Conversions

That was an overview of what Wordstream can do for finding and managing your keywords both on the paid search and organic search side. The third piece of Wordstream's suite of tools is the PPC Campaign Management option.

PPC Campaign Management

Wordstream's Create PPC Campaign tab takes you right into a nice, clean (dare I say Google like) interface. Here you can pretty much do everything you can do with the AdWords Editor.

You can do all of the following here:

  • Download an existing campaign
  • Create a new campaign (for uploading or exporting later)
  • Set your campaign name
  • Set your campaign budget
  • Adjust your campaign status
  • Choose Search and/or Content Network
  • Work with Content Network bids
  • Set a start and end date
  • Work with language and location targeting
  • Assign ad groups to campaigns
  • Interface with Google's Conversion Optimizer

Moving Keyword Groups to Ad Groups

It is very easy to move one of your existing Wordstream Keyword Groups into Ad Groups. All you need to do is go to Manage Keywords - Organize Keywords right click on the ad group (we'll go with Puppy Stuff) and select "Create Google AdWords Ad Group"

keyword group adwords group integration

Then you are brought to a screen where you select the campaign you want to add it to:

Create Ad Group

Then the group is added to the Create PPC Campaign interface where you can work with just about everything you are use to working with within AdWords.

Currently you can only work directly with the AdWords interface but you can export your campaigns in both Yahoo and Microsoft AdCenter format.

Landing Page Assignment

In the same way you export Keyword Groups to AdWords AdGroups you can associate landing pages by simply clicking "Associate Landing Page with Keyword Group" in the Manage My Keywords - Organize Keywords area or in the Prioritize Workflow Area.

Adding Conversion Goals

If you tie into Google Analytics this is already added automatically added (each time you add a Goal to analytics).

Conversion goals

You can manage them here and add ones manually. This is managed in the Settings - Conversion Goals tab.

So this feature is pretty sweet on the SEO side of the house because with that custom Relevancy data we discussed earlier you can get a real, honest picture of which set of keywords are performing well and perhaps where more sub-groups of that keyword need to be investigated for more content and hopefully more conversions.

The goals can be viewed right in the Organize Keywords area and keywords can be sorted by completed goals which is handy when you are refining your campaign.

So this is really another piece of their unique feature which we talked about earlier, Continuous Keyword Research. If you choose to manage your campaign within Wordstream it is really a slick set up for SEO (and PPC) and they are looking to beef up the SEO side of things in the near future which is exciting.

Create SEO Content and Wordstream Firefox Plug in

seo firefox

Wordstream's Create SEO Content feature within your account is a tie in with the Firefox Plug-in. The plug-in is really useful if you utilize blog software for web publishing and especially if you have multiple content authors.

The firefox plug-in loads in the left side of your browser and ties into your existing Wordstream database giving you the option to do keyword research as well as create blog entries right from the plug-in in either:

  • Wordpress
  • Blogger
  • Drupal
  • Typepad

If you are self-hosting the blogs/sites on WP, Drupal, or Typepad you'll have to provide your login URL and the URL for adding content. You can use your own CMS as well, but you'll need to manually log in to these CMS's/Blogs.

The image below shows you how the keywords are presented (in groups similar to the Wordstream tool), the content tie-in to the right, and the keyword options on the bottom:

  • Top Ten Keywords
  • Longer Tail Variations
  • Questions associated with your selected bucket

Seo Plug-in Overview

And when you are writing your content the tool will show you instances of the longer tail keywords in your copy as you write it!

Seo Plug In Content Creator

In the first image the second tab shows "My Keywords". This is the tie in to the existing Wordstream database (your private database) and allows you to start building out your site structure, pretty cool stuff. The "associate content" link indicates that you have not associated a page with your keyword(s).

You can also right click on any keyword and get direct access to the following queries:

Search Features


I stole these images from Wordstream's great piece on their plug-in as they do a great job of showing the CMS integration:

Wordstream's Firefox Plug-in

A Handy Dashboard Ties it Together

In your account you have access to a dashboard that shows the following stats in one spot:

  • Top New Search Queries (from Analytics)
  • My Search Query Database Size
  • New Negative Keyword Possibilites
  • Best Performing Search Queries
  • Search Query Conversions
  • Possible Grouping Options Based on Queries
  • Worst Performing Queries
  • Best Performing Groups


Great Wordstream resources can be found here:

About Wordstream

Wordstream User Guide

So What Do You Think?

Wordstream certainly has lots and lots of features as well as some nice features not present in any other quality keyword tool (that I'm aware of) such as:

  • Continuous research (being able to bounce from keyword set to keyword set right in the same interface and managing those keywords as well)
  • Being able to research keywords in clusters/groups with a click of the mouse, then automatically showing sub-categories
  • Their database, likely because it pulls from many sources, does a solid job with long tail keywords
  • Using your analytics and AdWords reports to automatically pull in new keywords for you to act on, to track goals on, and so forth is a fantastic feature as we discussed earlier (being able to truly see the more valuable keyword sets within your site's architecture)

Overall Wordstream has a robust PPC offering along with a strong SEO toolset offering. In discussing their future plans on the SEO side they did state that they are continuing to improve their UI (which I quite like) as well as continue to add SEO features and tools to their current offering. Their current SEO offering is on par, price wise, with many of the other non-Google tools out there, and offers just as many features as some and more features than others.

They have a 7 day free trial available and I think it's worth spending some time with their toolset to see if it fits in with your current workflow. You can manage multiple sites (profiles) so long as you own and operate the sites. You can also get an agency account with Wordstream so you can manage client accounts as well. Each type lets you add multiple users to the account to assist with whatever your workflow needs happen to be.

Check Out Wordstream

Wordstream Pricing Options

Advanced Web Ranking Review

Advanced Web Ranking (further referenced as AWR) is a fairly robust website rank checking product which is recommended by lots and lots of people in our forums. There are many rank checking tools on the market, some worthy of mention and many not (although some of that is just do to feature overlap). AWR is one of the more full featured ones out there.


Overview of Advanced Web Ranking

AWR is a software based tool which can be purchased on its own or as a package with Advanced Link Manager (a powerful link tool worthy of it's own review in the near future). AWR has 4 product levels which you can choose from (the bundle prices are nice with Advanced Link Manager but we will focus on just the AWR prices here):

  • Standard
  • Professional
  • Enterprise
  • Server

Picking a Version

A good comparison can be found here.

Quite a few folks find the Standard version to be just fine. However, if you are into local search or if you want AWR to create printable reports for you, then you may want to drop the extra $100 to get the Pro Version which includes printable reports, reports by email, the ability to custom brand your reports, and a nice local search feature which we'll cover in a minute.

If you need more advanced features such as:

  • Managing multiple users
  • A more intuitive project manager
  • Triggers which will automatically alert you when certain things change, can be helpful if you run this remotely or if you run auto updates and only want to be notified if certain parameters change.
  • Advanced Web Ranking Triggers Option
  • Ability to assign different proxy servers on a per project basis

They also offer a built in keyword suggestion tool with the standard and pro versions which hits up Google Suggest and Word Tracker:

Keyword Suggestion Screenshot

The one up in the Enterprise version is the built in Keyword Research Tool which gives you the Google AdWords KW Tool, Wordtracker if you have an API for them but I normally do keyword research outside of this tool so I don't pay much attention to this feature.

The enterprise version also offers a Google Preview tool where you can preview results in other Google search engines across the globe and in select regions/cities, which is helpful if you have clients all over the map.

Setting Up a Project in AWR

When you first start using AWR it can be pretty daunting, lots and lots of features. I find that focusing on what I bought the product for, a kick ass rank checking tool, helps me avoid some of the feature bloat I think it has (keyword tools and such). Although the way the segment the products removes most of the bloat in my opinion.

You start a project by selecting your search engines like so:

Advanced Web Ranking Search Engines

They have over 1,000 search engine options including Google Data Centers (and corresponding IP addresses) that you can plug into the tool as well as many country specific ones

Then you select your keywords, and you can color code them for easier charting and tracking.

Adding keywords to AWR

The next step is to add the websites you want to track, for this example I'll just throw one in but you can add more here or you can add some from the competing websites you find right in the Top Sites report provided by AWR:

Adding sites to AWR

The next two tabs we'll skip but they are pretty self-explanatory.

So now you've got your keywords, the search engines you want to track, and the website you want to track so you're ready to rock.

Using AWR

The first screen you'll see is as follows, I ran an update when I set up the project so it's already been run through but that is usually the first step.

AWR initial project screen

There are a slew of reports within AWR:

  • Current Rank
  • Keyword Rank
  • Search Engine Rank
  • Top Sites
  • Overview
  • Visibility
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Competition

It's important to note that when you add keywords to AWR it will automatically check sub-pages of your site for any keyword you enter and they associate www and non-www as default.

I originally started the example project with Coca-Cola products (mainly Vanilla Coke of course) but there wasn't much data there so I went with a different example.

I went with Geico.Com and the keywords car insurance, auto insurance, car insurance quotes, and motorcycle insurance quotes.

Current Rank Report

The Current Rank report will show you current rankings of your keywords within the search engines that you chose within the project set up screen. You can select the keyword, the search engine, and the site to get your current position, previous position, change since last update, the page you are on, and the best ranking you've achieved with those parameters.

Current Rank Report

You can choose "Expanded View" to see the rankings for all keywords within that specific engine if you want a broader view of things:

Extended Data View

The chart feature shown here is from their example as I don't have historical data on this project but you can see where there are added competing sites in the lower left corner and they correspond with the chart's colored lines showing the ranking trends of those sites, and your's, for the highlighted keyword. This is extremely useful when looking at trends as well as trying to keep an eye on competitor strategies, what's working and what's not working, etc.

Current Rank Chart

Some other options in the Current Rank report, in terms of viewing keyword reports, are the ability to only show keywords which are in the top 10/20/30/40/or 50, only show keywords that are ranking at all, check by multiple dates in addition to variables like keywords in the top "xyz" spots or ones that moved up or ones that moved down, and a few other tweaks as well all over multiple update dates.

Keyword Rank Report

The Keyword Rank report is kind of similar to the Extended Data view in the Current rank report where it groups keywords by search engine and website by selecting the website and engine from the left column (Google in this case, omitted in the interest of redundancy). Also note how you see the sub-page listed for one keyword and the main domain for the same keyword as Geico has two listings for that keyword in Google.

Keyword Rank Report

Shows similar data like position, previous position, change, page found on, and best rank.

If you have lots of keywords you can categorize them with the Category Data option (helpful for larger sites and grouping keywords which are aligned to specific pages or sections of your site) which is something not available in the Current Rank report.

It has a charting feature as well. It groups it by keyword and uses little icons to denote the different sites (if you are tracking multiple sites) so each colored line represents a keyword and you can click on a specific keyword to highlight the line (as the others are lighter to avoid a messy interface).

Search Engine Rank

The Search Engine Rank report groups the selected keyword with the search engines to quickly show you how you rank across the search engines for that particular keyword.

Search Engine Rank Report

Again, another nice visual graph option which is kind of a staple of AWR (lots and lots of visual data points). The site is tied to a search engine via a line graph with the icons used in the Keyword Rank Report to denote different sites. These charts really become powerful if you are able to track things like your link building efforts or other marketing efforts and tie them into how each engine responds to those types of practices.

Search Engine Report Chart

Similar to other reports, the multiple dates feature can help you compare trends across a variety of timelines defined by you within the program.

Top Sites

The top sites report shows the top (10 in this case) sites that are ranking for the highlighted keyword in the highlighted search engine. The cool thing here is you can add sites from the top sites report right to the websites you are tracking. Adding those competing sites will help you keep an eye on the competition and hopefully spot some trends that you can capitalize on sooner rather than later.

Top Sites report

This is also a cool report to find sites that are consistently ranking for core and longer-tail keywords across your SERP's. Most of the core keywords might be similar but identifying competitors that are winning the core keyword AND long tail keyword battle could give you a nice headstart into figuring out what they are doing, how they are doing, and so on so you can go ahead and improve on those strategies and start to move past them in key areas.

Overview Report

The Overview tab kind of puts a lot of stuff into one spot for you, which is nice for reporting and such. Below is a screenshot of the basic overview with the options panel open.

Overview Report

So here you have three options in the upper left corner, Search Engines/Keywords/Websites. Whichever one you choose the remaining two are used as data points for that selection. Examples are as follows:

  • Websites - Keywords grouped by Search Engine
  • Websites - Search Engines grouped by Keywords
  • Search Engines - Keywords grouped by Website
  • Search Engines - Websites grouped by keywords
  • Keywords - Search engines grouped by websites
  • Keywords - Websites grouped by search engines

A good example of this in practice can be found here. If you are looking for a higher level of how things are going, quickly, then this is probably the report you want to be looking at. It will show you movement in each area for each data point (what's going up, what's going down, etc) which you can then investigate further in the specific reports we discussed before.

Visibility Report

The visibility offers the same input/output relationship as the Overview report (choose websites, keywords, or search engines as input and the other 2 will be the data points you can play with). A screenshot is probably helpful here.

Visibility Report

Here you can see all sorts of juicy information about the sites you are following, the keywords you and they are targeting, and the coverage for all the sites in the search engines you care to follow. We've charted you to death here, suffice to say there is a chart for this as well (another great reporting feature). They have some custom stuff at the bottom like Visibility Score, Visibility Percent, Site Rank, Average Site Rank. These formulas are explained by them here. I personally find that quickly browsing the results gives me the same idea of coverage and site strength as these custom metrics do but we all know some people love custom, special metrics.

Keyword Analysis Report

This is a report that I personally don't use as I do not feel keyword density is something worth looking at as a ranking metric, other than to plug in a competitor's site to see what keywords appear most often on the page. This report shows a ton of words and phrases for each site/page, the density of the word or phrase, and total occurrences of that word or phrase. It shows some other basic info like total words on the page, whether the page employes global no-follow links, size of the page, meta information, and page rank. Also, it shows the page title, link text, and image alt tags.

Keyword Analysis Report

It can be kind of useful when comparing two sites and their on-page text occurrences and you can view changes over time as well. It has a basic original content filter as well but I much prefer SeoBook's Duplicate Content Checker for that type of stuff.

The Competition Report

This report shows total competing pages in the various engines for your keywords. Not incredibly useful for me, I just want to know how strong the top ranking sites are, the amount of competition is irrelevant if most of it is suboptimal. Conversely, I don't care if the total number of pages are really low if the ranking sites are really strong :-) .

Competition Report

Additional Reporting Options

As we mentioned earlier, AWR has fantastic reporting options in their Professional plan and most of the reports mentioned above (Current Rank, Keyword Rank, Overview Report, Top Sites, and Search Engine Rank) can be printed out for your own use and more importantly for your use with client work. All reports are can be customized and can be branded as well.

They have a great user guide and the section on printable reports can be found here.

Local Search Engines

In addition to the Google Preview Tool (Enterprise Edition) which lets you define engines by location AWR allows you to check Google Maps and Yahoo Local for Rankings, which is a terrific feature if you are involved with local stuff. It comes preset with many of the larger cities in the US and capitals of foreign countries.

Here is where you add it (you can customize by long/lat but I just chose Pittsburgh here).

Local Pittsburgh

Then you go back to project settings and add it to your engines

Local Add to Engine

Update the project, then check out the top sites report where you can right click on a listing and view it in the search results and view the local 10 pack right there, cool stuff!....

Local Results

Local Map

Additional Links

AWR comes with a downloadable and HTML version of their detailed user guide here.

Pricing options here, and feature overview here.

Final Thoughts

AWR is a top notch rank checking product used by many of the members here at SeoBook and is even better when combined with Advanced Link Manager (which we'll cover in another post). It is one of the most feature-rich products on the market and does not attempt to upsell you at every corner either. For a full-featured product, it's at the top of my list.

The support is solid as well. They actively monitor their forums, have 2 phone numbers to call, and have a live chat feature for your convenience.

At the end of 12 months you'll have to purchase a maintenance plan which is really inexpensive when you consider what you get with the software.

It can be slow at times (due to human emulation settings and the overall feature set) if you are running large query sets and find your updates taking awhile some tips are to get a second machine to run the checks or rent a dedicated box somewhere for cheap dollars, remote in and run it like a remote desktop (a great tip shared by a member here).

Hope this will give you some insight into how useful AWR can be. They have many, many sorting settings as well (which are common to most reports) so you really can get a lot out of this tool if you understand most of the capabilities from the start. Their user guide can be a bit overwhelming so hopefully this will give you kind of a basic look on what it's core strengths are.

Clicky Web Analytics Interview

The field of web analytics is filled with free options, self hosted options, open-source products, expensive options, and affordable paid solutions. If you are looking for an affordable, feature-rich, and easy to use web analytics package you may want to check out Clicky.

Clicky is real time as well, which is a feature even some of the more popular services do not have. You can find a comparison between Clicky and their competitors right on their home page. Currently you can go back 6 months in the interface so you'll want to make copies of your data every few months or so.

Recently we interviewed Sean and Noah over at GetClicky.Com. Clicky is pretty popular with the members here and it's a great alternative to Google Analytics.

Sean and Noah were kind enough to answer some questions about their business model, future plans, and the rich feature set within their product.

1. Is selling the company in your future plans? If so, how would data be protected in such a case. As an example Tracking202 sold out to Bloosky and that concerned many affiliates. Do you plan on selling a version of the software which can be hosted locally on the users own server to get around worries associated with you possibly selling the service someday?

Selling the company is never out of the question; however, it would be inane and arrogant to plan solely for such an exit. We enjoy building Clicky and interacting with the Clicky community, and new owners usually have new agendas. Therefore, we prefer to keep Clicky rather than sell it. But if we did sell it, we would only do so under the condition that nothing changes for existing users. We do not have any plans to offer a self hosted option.

2. Do your sell the data at all? How secure is the data? Some of our members pointed out that Clicky doesn't have an about us page and Roxr's site is thin on the "who you are" details. In dealing with certain search engines, a few folks in the SEO field like to carry around a tinfoil hat or 3. Could you tell us a bit more about your company, infrastructure, etc?

Under no circumstances do we sell our customers' data. Data is stored locally and only accessed by its respective owners. Our privacy policy states this and we abide wholly to this unsigned "contract". We have never had any unauthorized access to customer data. We provide SSL login and encourage customers to use this feature.

Your members are correct; we don't mention the "people" behind Clicky. However, once a user registers for Clicky, he will shortly discover we are at his disposal. We usually respond to emails in the same day; we collaborate with our users through our forums and blog; phone support is offered to our white label clients; and Sean and I are always a tweet away.

  • Sean - @schammy
  • Noah - @roxr
  • Clicky - @getclicky

We build, buy, and host our servers. We chose this route from the beginning because it was cheaper in the long run and gave us more control. The processing of hundreds of millions of clicks daily and billions of database queries is inherently too costly to lease out. Many people ask us why we don't move to the cloud. Cloud computing hosts are new to the market and unproven in our opinion. We have a system that works and is cost-effective.

And if there's any doubt about the quality or "trustworthiness" of our service or our company, just search Google for "getclicky" - you will find thousands of positive reviews and other things about us, and almost nothing negative. I think I've only ever seen 2, or maybe 3, "negative" articles about our service, and all of them were over something pretty silly - but people love to rant when they're mad.

3. Will (or can) Clicky get into intricate analytics tracking to the degree of being able to be relied on for multi-channel attribution analysis? Being able to track vanity url's, special coupons, offer codes, etc. Essentially being able to track multiple offline and online campaigns?

We have full compatibility with Google Analytics campaign tags, which makes it all the more easier for existing GA users to move to our platform. These campaign tags (as you probably know) allow you to easily track and segment visitors arriving at your site from any of your online campaigns. For offline campaigns, we also have a "manual" campaign feature, so you can enter in a landing page URL, e.g. mysite.com/tv1, and we'll automatically flag all users who land on that page and report the campaign data together with your "dynamic" (GA) campaigns. We also have a custom data tracking feature so you can attach any data you want to any visitor session (e.g. if they used an offer code when submitting payment). And you can filter/segment your visitors based on this custom data too.

4. Do you see yourselves becoming an acquisition target for Google? What is to stop all the data currently collected by Clicky from ending up in the hands of Google (as an acquisition target maybe)?

It's certainly a possibility that Google may buy us, but we don't really expect it to happen. We believe strongly in privacy so we would try to ensure the data is treated as private and not used to "improve" search results, as they do with Google Analytics. Of course, the trade off there with GA is they let you use it for free, in exchange for that. (They don't tell you that up front, but it's common knowledge they use GA data for all types of optimization stuff, particularly search related). If Google wanted to use the same model with Clicky, well, it would really depend on the specifics. We would be against it on principle but it would really depend on the specifics. And if Google insisted on it, then we'd insist on letting our users know about that kind of change so they could cancel their account if they wanted to.

5. Sort of a piggyback to question 3 but with Clicky's customization abilities how far can one push the limit on segmentation, custom variables, and so on? Seems like lots of possibilities there but to the non-techie folks it can be a daunting task. Do you plan to offer paid support, paid campaign set up, or maybe a "Clicky Authorized Provider" program to help people set up intricate analytics accounts?

There are really no limits on segmentation, other than at this time you can only do it for a maximum date range of one month at a time. But other than that, you can segment your visitors down on a theoretically unlimited amount of data.

Segmentation is actually one of our strong points, because you don't have to fill our crazy forms or anything to find the data you want. In almost every report, the items in the report are clickable (e.g. viewing your top countries, you could click the US and then you would immediately be seeing only visitors from the US, including a summary of their activity at the top). And once this filtering is invoked, it's very simple to add additional variables via the blue drop down menu at the top, e.g. referring domain = google.com, then you would see all of your US visitors who arrived via Google.

We help users for free through email, our forums, and Twitter. We don't have paid support but then again we don't tell someone we won't help them, no matter what the problem is. We give higher priority to complex problems or questions to our paying users, but we still answer all support requests, no matter if the user is paying or not. Adding paid support may be something we do in the future if there's demand for it. We would have to expand our headcount first though. Currently it's still just the two of us running this operation.

Thanks for the time guys!

Well there you have it. Clicky has some pretty deep segmentation and tracking options which are both vital to the success of web analytics set up. We hope you learned a bit more about the company and the product via this Q&A. Clicky has a great support forum as well, for any questions you have as you start to get familiar with their product.

Managing Business Opportunity Overload

Do Something...Now!

In a land of opportunity there is typically lots of distraction, oddly enough those distractions are usually other opportunities. How many times have you:

  • Stared at a domain you wanted to buy, but didn't pull the trigger
  • Stared at a domain you bought, but left it parked for another year
  • Negotiated down to what you wanted to pay for a site or domain, yet didn't move forward due to (fill in the blank)
Sign of Indecision

Typical reasons surrounding procrastination tend to be "not enough time" or "this will never work". Well, how many of your "can't miss" ideas missed and how many of your "probably will miss" ideas actually hit?

Win More, Lose Less

In my experience as long as you win more than you lose you're doing ok. This sounds a bit easier than it is though. In many professions, take sports for an example, success (worth millions in contracts) can be had for "succeeding" less than 50% of the time. A couple of examples:

  • Hitters in baseball strive to get a .300 average, which is failing 7 times out of 10
  • Basketball players are considered great shooters if they are successful making 45%-48% of their shots

Imagine if you succeeded at those clips? If so, you better hope ones that you hit on were big money makers and the ones you lost on required minimal investment amounts. If you take a similar approach to finding and operating in new markets most of the initial costs are fairly similar. Basic costs like:

  • Design
  • Content
  • Site Promotion
  • PPC Testing

tend to be somewhat similar on your average new site, perhaps if you are purchasing a domain or site it can skew the numbers a bit but overall these things tend to average out. So at the very least if you are succeeding 6 out of 10 times and you don't get carried away on a new site launch you should be doing pretty well. They more you do the better your ratio gets, the better your long term profits are, and you should expect to raise that ratio a bit as you start to gain more and more experience in researching + launching new ventures.

Dueling Fears

Most of us have a fear of failure and some of us have a fear of success. A fear that if we become successful it might alienate some of our closest friends and family members, it might turn us into workaholics working day and night to sustain that success and lifestyle, and so on. Fear of failure is something I think even the most successful entrepreneur's face from time to time.

Of course, we all know the old basketball saying: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take".

Fear of failing and succeeding is something one has to overcome on their own but it terms of trying to overcome procrastination it is usually advisable to set less rigid and more reasonable deadlines for yourself and your work as outlined in this post over at harvard.edu http://www.iq.harvard.edu/blog/sss/archives/2006/10/procrastination.shtml (which references a study co-authored by Dan Ariely, who wrote the must read "Predictably Irrational").

Fear of Failure Chalkboard

Psychology Today has a research piece on the fear of failure here .

The Cost of No Action

It's kind of difficult to lay out pretty graphs and charts showing what the "cost of procrastination" really is. We can assign some arbitrary number to whatever benchmark profit exists per site in an imaginary portfolio. However, I think it's best if you play with your own numbers a bit and figure you what the cost of doing nothing is to you.

Factor in the hours you might be doing things like checking your email every 5 minutes, cluttering up Facebook with Farmville posts and annoying your friends with suggestions, wondering if this latest SEO tool suite will be the answer to your prayers, and last but not least wondering if your idea will work. There are more variables of course, but I just outlined some of things that might be commonplace.

Dealing with Competitors

The bottom line is that the web gets more and more competitive everyday and if you are just sitting on the sidelines waiting and waiting and waiting then your competition is going to sprint by you on their way to the end zone, over and over again.

Even if you don't have any fears of failure or success, or maybe you are extremely self-confident in your abilities, you should consider getting a bit more into the game if you want to make any significant headway in your efforts for world domination. You want to try and avoid doing a bunch of things "average". Try and nail down an effective process which you can replicate somewhat, site to site.

It's Up to You

Project management is an essential skill you'll need if you want to run multiple sites, create multiple products, or if you are running a web business with any scale. I like to work in different markets so I can a sense of what others are doing to be successful, more consumer data to evaluate, the ability to establish connections with people I otherwise would have never been able to establish a business relationship with, and so on. Keeping track of the different things I'm doing can be a chore. Enter.....the cloud.

With so many moving parts to a site these days (SEO, PPC, social media, monetization, domain buying, market research) you'll find yourself with quite a list of to-do's and contacts piling up all over the place. One thing that has helped me tremendously is being able to put most of my business in the cloud with services like:

Being pretty much 100% mobile really has its advantages. I like a change of scenery every once and awhile so having all my stuff readily accessible at a moment's notice is fantastic.

So take advantage of the opportunities out there, don't over-extend yourself, and establish flexible (yet reasonable) due dates and goals for you and your business. In the end, I think you'll thank yourself for it.

A Review of Spy Tools

There are quite a few spy tools on the market currently, some more heavily promoted than others. They come in a variety of flavors such as SEO spy tools, PPC spy tools, and some which do both.

Spy versus Spy Logo

Spy tools can be useful in an SEO and/or a PPC campaign. However, many of these tools essentially try to extrapolate scraped results which can lead to some fairly inaccurate results. Also, these tools occasionally come up with in-house metrics (of which they really don't give you much useful info about how they arrived at the data the present from these "proprietary" metrics") to help try and differentiate their offerings from their competition.

Spy Tool Reviews

There is a much more in-depth review, with examples, up in our members forum. Here, we will do overviews of some of the more popular tools on the market. Specifically, we will be taking a look at:

Value of Spy Tools

The idea that you are missing out on something is a core marketing tactic so even if you are comfortable with one tool chances are you've been tempted to go with another. Keep in mind, from a cost standpoint, the ROI you would take by just finding a few decent keywords to target will likely far outweigh any cost associated with these tools. Your business probably won't collapse if you pick an A minus tool versus an A plus tool and none of these tools are able to make concrete decisions for you. What these tools provide are additional data points for you to consider in your own research.

We hope you'll find these reviews useful. There are perhaps a few other services we missed given how many of these tools as there are and our primary focus on SEO. If these reviews are well received we could also review everything from Quantcast & Alexa right on through to AdGooroo, but we need to know if you would be interested in those types of reviews. If there are any other cool products or services you would like us to review just let us know.

A few disclaimers: some of these services have given us free review accounts, whereas we have paid for some of the others. And some of these tools offer affiliate programs, but all reviews were done without those 2 factors influencing the editorial. Most these reviews do not have affiliate links in them (I think SEM Rush is the only one which does have an affiliate link right now), and Aaron reviewed SEM Rush before they even had a public affiliate program.

Already an SEO Book subscriber?

If you can't make $1,000's from reading those threads then you certainly are not a professional grade SEO. ;)

Compete.com Review

Compete takes pricing to a different level but has some unique features as well. They have a few different pricing levels but to get all the features you need to dial it up at $499 per month. Although, some of their lower price points may provide good value depending on what you might use them for.

Compete Site Profiles

Here is how compete gets their data.

Here is a screen shot of their site profile overlay

Compete Site Profile

It's kind of like a semi-analytics program view of things which includes:

  • Unique Visitors
  • Page Views
  • Average Stay
  • Demographic Info
  • Link through's to Referral and Search Analytics (discussed further down)

Data is available in 7 day, 30 day, 3 month, 6 month, 1 year, and 2 year increments.

The audience profile tab is similar to quantcast and is only available to the verified site owner (unless the site has made it's info public) and the sub-domain tab shows sub-domains associated with the main domain.

Enterprise users, where there is no standard pricing listed...also get access to category profiles and behavioral categories as shown below:

Compete Category Profiles

You also get the option to compare up to 5 sites at once in their site profile section

Compare 5 Sites

Those are the options in the profiles section. These statistics are far beyond what most traditional spy tools offer and can be very useful when comparing large sites as small sites do not fare very well with these types of data sets (this is not specific to compete, it's pretty much industry wide).

Analytics Tools

Compete's second tool set is the Analytics Tools set. Here you can search through Search Analytics (keywords) and Referral Analytics (sites referring traffic to the domain) as well as a variety of Ranked Lists.

Referral Analytics

This is pretty sweet as you can see what search engines the site's SEO campaign is doing well in, as well as possible advertising opportunities for your site.

It also will show you Destination sites (where users go after landing on the site you are reviewing.)

Compete referral analytics

In addition to messing around with some of the filters you can take a peek at historical data (trends, seasonal, etc) as noted here.

Ranked Lists

Compete offers ranked lists which you can filter in a few easy steps

Ranked Lists

Compete lets you look at ranked lists via 3 steps (one from each)

  • Step 1 - unique visitors, visits, page views, time spent, monthly attention
  • Step 2 - site ranking, ranking + unique visitors, ranking + all metrics
  • Step 3 - top 200, 1,000, 15,000, 100,000, 500,000 domains

Search Analytics

Compete's Search Analytics show keywords referring traffic to a site (or two) with some pretty neat metrics:

  • Highly Engaging Keywords - Keywords that make up 40% of the total time index and have a referral share greater than 0.01%
  • High Traffic Keywords - Keywords that make up the top 40% of the search referral share
  • Paid Keywords
  • Natural Keywords
  • Engaging Long Tail Keywords - Keywords making up the bottom 60% of search referral share, with a total time index of > .10
  • Enthusiast Keywords - Keywords that make up the top 40% of Average Time Index and a Search Referral Share greater than 0.01
  • Long Tail Keywords
  • Total Time Index - scale of 100 with 100 being the term where the searcher came from...that made up the highest total time spent on the site for ALL visits.
  • Average Time Index - scale of 100 with 100 being the term which resulted in the most average time per visit spent on the site.

You can also compare 2 sites like so:

compete compare search analytics

In Closing

The high price point of Compete might scare some users away, but consider that their data is not just relying on scraped Google/Yahoo/Bing results then extrapolated by some internal metrics. Compete is probably more useful to those who "compete" in really competitive markets with some sites as competition, although it can be useful to folks who may be involved in less competitive SERPS with smaller sites as competitors because they can use this data to investigate larger sites in their market, which may not be competitors but could yield helpful industry data.

ISpionage Review

iSpionage is a newer player in the spy tool market. They are much more PPC oriented than organic SEO oriented. They offer 3 tool sets:

  • Keyword and Domain Research
  • Keyword Monitor
  • PPC Campaign Builder

Keyword and Domain Research

They index the top ten results in Google, Yahoo, and Bing (although I only saw G and Y).

ispionage overview

They give you breakdowns of common spy tool elements such as:

  • Competitors and Overlapping Keywords
  • Ad Copy
  • Keyword Specific Ads
  • CPC
  • Average Search Volume
  • Average Rank
  • And so on..

The one really neat thing they offer is overlapping keywords between Yahoo and Google for a particular domain. I'm not aware of another spy tool that does that.

Their database does not seem to be very deep but they are newer so that's to be expected.

The do show overlapping keywords, total keyword count, and a monthly budget under their competition tab.

ispionage competitors

Here is another spot where they compare Google and Yahoo, this time for overlapping keywords between sites.

ispionage overlap

Keyword Monitor

This lets you search by domain name or keyword to get ideas for keywords to add into your campaign. You can also add your own manually after the keyword research option. Keyword Monitor will show you the following for your campaign + competition:

keyword monitor ispionage

The impression share is not something I've noticed in most other tools and the other 4 metrics can be useful in determining which competitor might be a bit savior in the PPC game. Other metrics they will show you on the keyword level include whether or not the keyword has direct ranking affiliates, the average CPC/search volume, and total advertiser counts in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

The tool also shows you related keywords you may wish to add to your campaign or just place on your watch list.

PPC Campaign Builder

The campaign builder allows you to search for keywords via a keyword or domain name input. The steps are as follows:

Keyword Clean Up

This is where you can weed out keywords that contain certain words, are duplicates, or have special characters. You can also choose to remove extra spaces if needed.

ispionage ppc builder

Keyword Grouping

Here you can set up ad groups and campaigns right from within iSpionage. It also gives you the option to create one ad group per keyword if you want to get that granular

creating ad groups

Campaign Builder

Here you can input bid prices for Broad/Phrase/Exact match bids, set up your ads, and input the url. Then you can export for use in Google, Yahoo, or Bing PPC campaigns.

iSpionage Coupons

They offer a coupon code for 25% off for all products. The promotional code is: EOYSALE10

This promo discount voucher will expire on 12/25/2010.

In Closing

iSpionage has some promise and seems to be much more into the PPC market than the SEO market. If that's the case then they are taking on some pretty big players as many of the spy tools offer both PPC and SEO data sets. They have some unique features and it will be interesting to see how they develop their product going forward.