In the age of the social web, doing the legwork up front before launching any online initiative is more critical than ever. I’m talking market research. As much as that phrase causes some to bristle, it must be done. Done right, understanding what’s needed to win in a market helps you be realistic as to the commitment required. One component of market research is keyword research. If your site goals are clear, and you know what type of visitor you want to a site, you can dive into keyword research with guns blazing. In this post you’ll learn the problem with keyword research, one tool that is time consuming and painful to use, and how SE Cockpit is different than other tools reviewed here.
The Problem with Keyword Research
The phrase ‘keyword research’ is enough to freak some people out. Why? Intimidation. Visions of mountains of data, words, and modifiers flying across their computer screen can be draining for some, leading to analysis paralysis. It doesn’t have to be that way.
On the flipside, what happens is the oversimplification of keyword research. The “I’ll take my best shot at it” approach which is driven by two factors.
Search Volume and Competition Analysis
One of the competition metrics often spoken of, is backlink data. The common free source of that data has been unreliable and is going away. I’m talking about Yahoo Site Explorer. The API was shut down in March, and indications are the public site explorer is going away in 2012. Bing might replace it, but at this point, nobody knows for sure.
While you probably will hit a few winners using these two factors alone, investing a little more time to dig deeper could yield more, even double the number of profitable keywords you find. Afterall, it’s not just about competitive keywords, it’s about “converting keywords” (think sales).
Video Discussion About Keyword Research with SE Cockpit
- Search volume is important, but what is the context of your keyword? More specifically, the match type? Broad match, “phrase match”, or [exact match]?
- As Google PageRank is not updated that often, and traffic estimating tools Google offers are often unreliable, what third party services like SEOmoz (mozRank and traffic estimation tools) can we use during keyword research to get more reliable numbers?
- In wanting to build a solid organic SEO strategy, what do you look for in paid traffic sources like AdWords to validate converting keywords?
Investing up front in proper keyword research is critical when considering a longer-term view. In 6-12 months an SEO that ranks well for the proper keywords makes a difference to your bottom-line. On the flip side, your competitors who skip on the upfront work with keyword research may get a few winners, but often miss out on the other profitable keywords altogether…that you can clean up with.
Some resources for keyword research:
The challenge again with these tools is something I hadn’t considered until recently. It provides an incomplete view of keyword search data…relying solely on data from Google…about data on Google, in the hopes of landing high in the Google SERPs. Not just that the data is often off (particularly ‘visitor data’). See the problem? There is a need for 3rd party validation (Hint: other sources of keyword data).
What is SE Cockpit?
SE Cockpit is a cloud-based keyword research service which provides a comprehensive view of keyword data from several sources. Designed to help users identify not only traffic keywords, but converting keywords.
Who SE Cockpit is For?
As I see it, several types of people can make the most of SE Cockpit.
Active affiliate marketers: Those who are active in building affiliate revenue. Launching search campaigns with some regularity in order to build out passive income streams.
SEO Consultants: You are building a business of clients who hire you to make their sites rank better in the search engines. Learn more about SE Cockpit here.
Websites That Sell Products: Common with affiliate marketers, but also those managing an ecommerce site. Strive to optimize keywords to be as specific as possible. Product names, product reviews, with modifiers like cheap, best price, buy, coupon, etc.
AdSense Sites: Think traffic, but also think value. Higher value per click will give you the greatest revenue possible. Keywords that have high traffic, low competition, and high CPC.
Beginner Affiliate Marketers: I wasn’t going to include this group, but the project and task management features got me thinking how this would be helpful for those just starting out. The last straw was the included bonus training for customers of SE Cockpit.
The Bonus training contains start to finish research of domain names using SE Cockpit, buying a domain name, hosting the domain, installing WordPress and more. You still need to put together content and linking strategies, but if you are an action taker, can afford the subscription, and want to have assurance you are optimizing for the right keywords, SE Cockpit is worth a look. Get more info on SE Cockpit.
How is SE Cockpit Different than Other Keyword Research Tools
SE Cockpit seems well positioned to help Internet marketers…
- Find Niches: Marketers can identify niches on converting keywords, that have high search volume, for which the competition is low, or easily beaten by SEO factors.
- Plan Projects: Once a user decides to target a keyword or set of keywords, they can plan and track their implementation status. The service also allows you to specify if you are using a 3rd party service to build out your SEO network.
- Complete Tasks: Once the project is set, it populates task list automatically, allowing users to track their progress for a given project. Learn more here.
A couple notes on project management in SE Cockpit. This is valuable part of the service in my mind. However, as the service gains momentum in the market, my hunch is users will want them to build out the project management functionality of SE Cockpit more thoroughly to suit their needs.
I’d anticipate project management features like, additional logins from remote staff, and/or email integration with task management so remote workers can get new assignments, reply indicating it was completed, etc. Think SE Cockpit is for you? Go here.
What I Like About SE Cockpit
SE Cockpit includes a comprehensive view of keyword data in one place, including:
- AdWords data (understanding value per click)
- SEOmoz keyword and other rank data
- Calculates realistic unique visitor traffic estimates (from SEOmoz) based on page 1 SERP rank.
It is a cloud application, nothing to install, runs in the browser. I was a user of Market Samurai and found it was slow in getting results when compared to SE Cockpit. In fact, because Market Samurai relies on my local connection to get the data, it takes about 1 minute to get important metrics of the top 10 results in Google for a given search term. With that in mind, for 120 keywords it would take roughly 2 hours to get the competition data (assuming Google doesn’t block my IP for excessive searches). No thank you!
SE Cockpit has an expense and income tracking journal. Great idea. Try SE Cockpit for yourself.
What I’d Like to See in SE Cockpit
Social factors. The web has become less about data and more about people. The search engines have started to factor social data as indicators, or votes, for search results pages. It would be nice to see this sort of thing as a part of SE Cockpit.
In the spirit of keeping keyword projects centralized in one place, SE Cockpit needs to factor in social competition and conversation dominators on the social web as a keyword research factor. This information would help users modify their strategy and more tightly incorporate social strategy as a result of SE Cockpit data.
Pricing model. SE Cockpit is setup to pull data from several sources. Some of those sources are paid services (SEOmoz), and therefore they pay for each query of those services. This is, in part, the logic behind having the service as a subscription. I also like that cloud services like this one are more or less ‘on the hook’ to keep the service fresh by responding with community driven features and functions in the application.
However, my concern is that they will alienate potential customers who loathe monthly fees for software. Therefore they might consider offering a “lifetime” license, or a “annual license” that would reduce the cost per month for users. Learn more here.
Final Word on SE Cockpit
Overall, I like what Shane Melaugh and his team over at SwissMadeMarketing have put together. It provides more data with fair traffic estimates than any other keyword research tool I’ve reviewed to date. It doesn’t solely rely on Google for search data, it is a cloud app, helping marketers run a business by tracking income and expenses for keyword projects.
While experienced affiliate marketers and SEO consultants will appreciate SE Cockpit most, it can also be used by beginners who have ambition and can afford the SE Cockpit subscription fees. See if SE Cockpit is for you.
Useful? Please Facebook Like, Google +1, Tweet, or otherwise share this post. Of course, comments are welcome below.
Photo Credit: the Italian voice