Recommended SEO Tools

I was recently asked:

What do you recommend for tools other than Google, Yahoo and WordTracker to help with keywords finding out about popularity, seasonality and costs?

I replied: I think you have listed all the tools I use for determining cost:

Google AdWords

Yahoo!/Overture

There are other smaller keyword-based advertising tools but they tend to be specialized and target specific industries.

For determing the popularity of a keyword I use:

Google AdWords

Yahoo!/Overture

Google Trends

WordTracker

WordTracker and Google are by far my favorite, Both provide estimated search volume. Occasionaly I look at the clustering search engines to see if a keyword is related to a larger or more popular node.

Seasonality data is tough to find. Net traffic is growing so fast it clouds seasonal fluctuation and few sites keep data going back far enough to calculate a meaningful seasonality factor. The only tool I know of that has this sort of longitudinal data is Google Trends. And even then only very popular and clearly seasonal keywords seem to register a seasonality, e.g., valentines and Christmas trees.

There are certainly many more SEO and keyword tools available but, I think you can base the majority of your SEO decisions on data from these sources without compromising your chances of success.

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Cross Posting and SEO

I was recently asked, “when you have multiple blogs, is posting the same article on 2 or 3 blogs ultimately going to hurt your SEO? I was just wondering if there was a good “rules” to live by you know of…”

In my mind every SEO question involves three analysis:

  1. Accessible – Does this make is easier for a search engine to find and index my content? e.g., content is publicly available in a standard format such as html, pdf or .doc. Flash is not accessible to search engines.
  2. Relevant/interesting – Does this clearly demonstrate my page is related to the targeted search(s)? Are people interested in my topic. Don’t write about Ford Escorts if your are trying to rank in searches for “bacon”. If people aren’t interested in your topic (i.e., they don’t search for it), it doesn’t matter if you rank well.
  3. PopularDoes this demonstrate that other people think I am relevant to the targeted search? This is essentially link popularity. The more links to your page the search engines find, the more popular your page. The more popular the page, the more likely it rises to the top of the search results.

These questions build on each other. Without satisfying #1 your content doesn’t make it into the search engines. Likewise #1 and #3 aren’t as effective unless #2 is satisfied.

Your question falls into the third analysis. Generally cross posting and redundant postings of blogs or other content doesn’t help your SEO effort. The search engines don’t like to index the same stuff over and over so they often ignore or discount redundant content.

Second, each link to your content boosts your popularity is the “eyes” of the search engines. Each link to your content is a vote for your content. Spreading these votes across many urls reduces your perceived popularity. It is akin to a political party putting five candidates in a presidential race. The party may get a majority of the votes but the votes are spread thin and the party loses the election.

In a very few cases, the potential benefit of reaching very different readers may outweigh the cost of cross posting.

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