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Goodbye, Generic SEO Audit – Say Hello to Customization & Prioritization – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

It’s too easy to fall into a rut with your SEO audits. If it doesn’t meet best practices it ought to be fixed, right? Not always. Though an SEO audit is essentially a checklist, it’s important to both customize your approach and prioritize your fixes to be efficient and effective with your time and effort. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins teaches us her methods for saying adios to generic, less effective SEO audits and howdy to a better way of improving your site.

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Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and today we’re going to be talking about the SEO audit. We’re going to be talking about how to take it from its kind of current generic state to something that’s a little bit more customized and it has prioritization baked in so hopefully we’re going to be doing these SEO audits for higher impact than we’re currently doing them.

What is an SEO audit?

So I think it’s safe to start with a definition of what an SEO audit is. Now, depending on who you ask, an SEO audit can mean a lot of different things. So if you were to boil it down to its just barest of bones, here’s what I would say an SEO audit usually is. This is what someone means when they say SEO audit. 

An SEO audit is a checklist to see if your site is compliant

So it’s a list of checks basically. You have all of these things that are SEO best practices, and you run your site through this sieve and you try to see is my site compliant or not compliant essentially.

So you have things like: Missing H1s, yes or no? Broken links, yes or no? Duplicate title tags, yes or no? So you end up with this whole big, long list of things that are wrong and not according to SEO best practices on your site. 

Purpose = improving SEO metrics

The whole purpose of this is usually to improve some kind of SEO metrics.

Maybe you’re trying to correct a traffic drop or something like that. So you have this whole laundry list of things now that you need to fix as a result of this SEO audit. So usually what you end up saying is, hey, dev team or client or whoever you’re giving this to, “You need to fix these things because they’re SEO best practice.” What’s wrong with this though?

“Fix it because it’s SEO best practice.” What’s wrong with this picture?

I think there are a couple things wrong with this. 

1. May or may not be hurting you

Number one, it means that we’re addressing things that may or may not actually be the culprit of whatever issue we’re facing. It’s just a list of things that didn’t meet a best practices list, but we don’t really know and we’re not really sure if these things are actually causing the issues that we’re seeing on our site. 

2. May or may not have an impact

So because we don’t know if these are the culprit and the things that are hurting us, they may or may not have an impact when we actually spend our time on them.

3. May be wasting time

Number three, that leads to a lot of potential wasted time. This is especially true, well, for everyone. Everyone is very busy. But this is especially true for people who work at enterprises and they have a very large website, maybe a really strapped for time and resources development team. If you give them a list of fixes and you say, “Hey, fix these things because it’s SEO best practices,”they are just going to say, “Yeah, sorry, no.I don’t have time for that, and I don’t see the value in it.I don’t really know why I’m doing this.”

So I think there’s a better way. Move over to this side. 

How to customize

Customization and prioritization I think are a lot better alternatives to doing our SEO audits. So there are three kind of main ways that I like to customize my SEO audits. 

1. Don’t look at everything

Number one, it may sound a little bit counterintuitive, but don’t look at everything. There are plenty of times when you do an SEO audit and it makes sense to do a kind of comprehensive audit, look through all kinds of things.

You’re doing links. You’re doing content. You’re doing the site architecture. You’re doing all kinds of things. Usually I do this when I’m taking over a new client and I want to get to know it and I want to get to know the website and its issues a little bit better. I think that’s a totally valid time to do that. But a lot of times we’re doing more work than we actually have to be doing when we look at the entire website and every single scenario on the website.

So maybe don’t look at everything. 

2. Start with a problem statement

Instead I think it could be a good idea to start with a goal or a problem statement. So a lot of times SEO audits kind of come in response to something. Maybe your client is saying, “Hey, our competitor keeps beating us for this. Why are they beating us?” Or, “Hey, we’ve had year-over-year decline in traffic.What’s going on? Can you do an SEO audit?”

So I think it’s a good idea to start with that as kind of a goal or a problem statement so that you can narrow and target your SEO audit to focus on the things that are actually the issue and why you’re performing the audit. 

3. Segment to isolate

Number three, I think it’s a really good idea to segment your site in order to isolate the actual source of the problem. So by segment, I mean dividing your site into logical chunks based on their different purposes.

So, for example, maybe you have product pages. Maybe you have category pages. You have a blog section and user-generated content. There are all these different sections of your website. Segment those, isolate them, and look at them in isolation to see if maybe one of the sections is the culprit and actually experiencing issues, because a lot of times you find that, oh, maybe it’s the product pages that are actually causing my issues and it’s not the blog posts or anything else at all.

So that way you’re able to really waste less time and focus, take a more targeted, focused look at what’s actually going on with your website. So once you’ve kind of audited your site through that lens, through a more customized lens, it’s time to prioritize, because you still have a list of things that you need to fix. You can’t just heap them all onto whatever team you’re passing this on to and say,” Here, fix these all.”

How to prioritize

It’s a lot better to prioritize and tell them what’s more important and why. So here’s how I like to do that. I would plot this out on a matrix. So a pretty simple matrix. At the top, your goal goes there. It keeps you really focused. All of these little things, say pretend these are just the findings from our SEO audit.



On the y-axis, we have impact. On the x-axis, we have time. So essentially we’re ordering every single finding by what kind of impact it’s going to have and how much time it’s going to take to complete. So you’re going to end up with these four quadrants of tasks. 

Quick wins

So in this green quadrant here, you have your quick wins.

These are the things that you should do right now, because they’re going to have a really high impact and they’re not going to take a lot of time to do. So definitely prioritize those things. 

Schedule & tackle in sprints

In this blue quadrant here, you have things that are going to make a really high impact, but they also take a lot of time. So schedule those after the green quadrant if you can. I would also suggest breaking those larger, time-intensive tasks into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

This is a good idea no matter what you’re doing, but this is especially helpful if you’re working with a development team who probably runs in two-week sprints anyway. It’s a really good idea to segment and tackle those little bits at a time. Just get it on the schedule. 

Deprioritize

In this orange down here, we have things to maybe deprioritize. Still put them on the schedule, but they’re not as important as the rest of the tasks.

So these are things that aren’t going to make that high of an impact, some impact, but not that high, and they’re not going to take that much time to do. Put them on the schedule, but they’re not as important. 

Just don’t do it

Then in this last quadrant here, we have the just don’t do it quadrant. Hopefully, if you’re taking this really nice targeted look at your site and your audit through this lens, you won’t have too many of these, if any.

But if something is going to take you a lot of time and it’s not going to make that big of an impact, no one really has time for that. We want to try to avoid those types of tasks if at all possible. Now I will say there’s a caveat here for urgency. Sometimes we have to work on things regardless of what kind of impact they’re going to make on our site.

Maybe it’s because a client has a deadline, or it’s something in their contract and we just have to get something done because it’s a fire. We all have love/hate relationships with those fires. We don’t want to be handling them all of the time. If at all possible, let’s make sure to make those the exception and not the rule so that we actually get these priority tasks, these important things that are going to move the needle done and we’re not constantly pushing those down for fires.

One last thing, I will say impact is something that trips up a lot of people, myself included. How do you actually determine how much of an impact something is going to have before you do it? So that can be kind of tricky, and it’s not an exact science. But there are two main ways that I kind of like to do that. Number one, look for correlations on your website.

So if you’re looking at your website through the lens of these pages are performing really well, and they have these things true about them, and they’re on your list of things to fix on these other pages, you can go into that with a certain degree of certainty, knowing that, hey, if it works for these pages, there is a chance that this will make a high impact on these other pages as well.

So look at the data on your own website and see what’s already performing and what qualities are true about those pages. Number two, I would say one of the biggest things you can do is just to start small and test. Sometimes you really don’t know what kind of an impact something is going to make until you test on a small section. Then if it does have a high impact, great. Put it here and then roll it out to the rest of your site.

But if it doesn’t have a good impact or it has minimal impact, you learn something from that. But at least now you know not to prioritize it, not to spend all of your time on it and roll it out to your entire website, because that could be potentially a waste of time. So that’s how I prioritize and I customize my SEO audits. I think a lot of us struggle with: What even is an SEO audit?

How do I do it? Where do I even look? Is this even going to make a difference? So that’s how I kind of try to make a higher impact with my SEO audits by taking a more targeted approach. If you have a way that you do SEO audits that you think is super helpful, pop it in the comments, share it with all of us. I think it’s really good to share and get on the same page about the different ways we could perform SEO audits for higher impact.

So hopefully that was helpful for you. That’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday. Please come back again next week for another one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Prepare to say goodbye to average position in Google Ads on September 30

Update any scripts, rules and reporting and look to Google’s new position metrics.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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SearchCap: Google hack removal, Allo goes goodbye & responsive search ads

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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SearchCap: Google EU appeal, goodbye fetch as Google for apps & award list

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google EU appeal, goodbye fetch as Google for apps & award list appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Good News for Facebook Advertisers, Say Goodbye to Charges for Accidental Clicks

In a move that would surely be welcomed by advertisers, Facebook recently announced that it will no longer bill accidental clicks on ads placed by clients of its Audience Network. Of course, this also means that the incentive for publishers to drive ad traffic via an unintentional action is no longer there as well.

Since accidental clicks do not really add anything to an advertiser’s bottom line, Facebook announced on August 8, 2017, that it will stop charging for these clicks, Ad Age reported.  At the moment, the social media giant defines accidental clicks as incidents wherein a user clicks on a mobile ad that backtracked in less than two seconds.

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Goodbye Internet Explorer, Hello Microsoft Edge

Posted by Zoompf

With the release of Windows 10, the general public can now use Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s new flagship web browser. Microsoft is striking out in new directions with Edge — they’re deprecating Internet Explorer for all modern platforms.

Such a drastic change is rare in the web development world, so it makes sense to take a moment to understand what this change means. In this article, we’ll discuss Microsoft Edge and see how it removes many of the annoying issues of cross-browser development, making it easier for SEO professionals to focus their time and energy on content creation, rather than browser optimization for said content.

Where did Edge come from?

To fully understand how Microsoft Edge impacts the SEO and web landscape, it’s important to understand where it came from.

Microsoft Edge started as a project to improve the rendering engine inside of Internet Explorer. The rendering engine is pretty important, since it’s the lens through which your content has to pass. Unfortunately, much like a game of telephone, this process can distort or degrade the experience the author intended by the time it gets to the end user. Indeed, working around browser quirks or bugs which are impacting the experience of viewing your web page is an all-too-common task web developers and content creators have to deal with.

IE’s rendering engine, Trident, is nearly 20 years old. Much like a snowball rolling downhill, over time it’s grown large and unwieldy with 20 years’ worth of old technology and relentless browser bugs. Edge started as an attempt to create a new rendering engine from start, which could leave behind much of the cruft and bulk that had accumulated in Trident. Eventually, this “replace the core of a legacy web browser” project became a “create a new, modern web browser” project, and thus Microsoft Edge was born.

By completely replacing IE with Edge, it’s clear that Microsoft believes Edge represents the path forward. This means that Edge and its capabilities will directly affect SEO professionals in the years to come. With this in mind, let’s discuss how Edge is different and represents a change in strategy both for Microsoft and for web development at large.

Improving by discarding

One of the biggest differences and primary benefits of Microsoft Edge over IE could be summarized as “better standards support and bug fixes.” However, such a statement really doesn’t convey the huge benefits this brings.

Supporting new standards not only allows you to create great online experiences across all browsers, it also means that you won’t need to do anything special to make your web sites work properly in Edge. Intriguing, right? You’ll spend less time writing custom markup or working around browser quirks and more time focusing your time and efforts elsewhere. By more closely adhering to web standards, there’s a lot of cruft in your markup you’ll no longer need. A few that come to mind:

Luckily, we can see exactly what web standards Microsoft is implementing on the Edge platform status page. We can see support for new web standards like HTTP2 and asm.js are already adopted. The progress of Edge over Internet Explorer is even more obvious in this comparison page from CanIUse:

There are dozens and dozens of new APIs and browser features that have already been implemented. By adopting new standards and fixing bugs, the deprecation of IE and introduction of Edge allows web professionals to focus on what’s really important when it comes to their online marketing strategy.

Imitation begets functionality

The mobile web is an area where Microsoft has historically suffered. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android dominate the smartphone market, and their mobile browsers are both based on WebKit, an open source rendering engine. As a result, many mobile websites are written specifically to work with WebKit features. These WebKit-specific sites then look at the incoming user agent string from a visiting browser. When developers fail to account for this, the site will think the mobile IE browser is actually a desktop site, and will render as the desktop version instead of as the mobile version. Microsoft discussed this in a blog post last year, and you can see an example of the Hawaiian Air site being rendered as a desktop site on a mobile device in the screenshot below, alongside the proper mobile version:

rendering-diff

Image via Microsoft

Obviously, this creates a pretty poor user experience.

With Edge, Microsoft’s browser is actually impersonating both Apple’s Safari browser and Google’s Chrome browser in its user agent string. In other words, Edge is telling websites it’s actually a different, non-Microsoft browser in an attempt to get the correct content and to render the web page properly. Beyond just pretending to be WebKit, Microsoft wants Edge to work just like WebKit. So much so, in fact, that Microsoft has declared they consider any difference between how Edge and WebKit render a page to be a bug that they’ll fix.

While this might be the single most damning indictment of Microsoft’s ultimate position in the web browsing space, it’s an enormous benefit for web devs and content creators. Microsoft is so committed to implementing new standards and achieving feature and functionality parity with the other web browsers, it actually pretends to be those other browsers. This is a huge win: It means that Microsoft is spending ample resources to ensure that content is rendered the same across browsers. It’s one less thing for you to worry about.

More frequent updates

We know that when browsers support new web standards, developers can focus on creating content instead of fighting with browsers to render that content. But we need more than support for standards — we need that support in a timely fashion. After all, the promise of an amazing, up-to-date browser years in the future doesn’t help anyone. So the rate that browsers get these new features is pretty important.

New versions of Firefox and Chrome are released rapidly, usually on a 4–8 week time scale. While a release might contain relatively few features, this rapid release schedule means that support can be added quickly for new standards, and major bugs can be addressed before they become a widespread problem.

With IE, Microsoft only made changes to its rendering engine or added support for new standards with major releases. Thus, IE8 didn’t get any new features until IE9 beyond monthly security patches. While each major release of IE could bring an enormous amount of improvements, they could be 1 or 2 years apart. This “seldom but large” release cadence has 2 big issues.

Support for new web standards — in real time

First, consider a world where some version of IE came out that perfectly supported every known web standard. Now, let’s say the day after that version of IE was released, a new web standard was created. It would be at least year or more before IE would support that standard, whereas Chrome or Firefox could support it in a month or two.

Faster bug fixes

The impact of bugs is also magnified by this type of release schedule. If another browser had a bug or shortcoming in their rendering engine, they could just patch the bug and put out a release. With IE, developers had to deal with bugs for years. In one example, developers were forced to deal with IE not recognizing or rendering new HTML5 tags for years. In fact, they had to create a JavaScript polyfill to provide some level of support themselves with the HTML5 Shiv library.

Thankfully, with Microsoft Edge, it appears this “seldom but large” release cadence is being changed to more closely mirror the “small and often” approach of the other browsers. From the Microsoft Edge Dev FAQ:

In Windows 10, we are delivering Windows as a service, updated on a cadence driven by quality and the availability of new features. We won’t have a fixed schedule for browser feature updates. We’re committed to providing regular updates to our evergreen platform for web developers and customers alike.

By embracing a faster release cycle, we should see even faster adoption of web standards and shorter windows for problems if any browser bugs do slip through.

Edge’s impact and the future

Microsoft Edge represents a shift in how Microsoft is developing and releasing web browsers. With greater standards support, SEO and web professionals can devote less time to working around browser compatibility problems and more time on what’s important, like creating compelling content. Since Microsoft Edge impersonates other browsers, you don’t even really need to know that it exists, much less go to extra lengths to take advantage of its features. Additionally, if any problems surface or new standards are released (as they inevitably will be), the accelerated development cycle of Microsoft Edge means those items will quickly be resolved. In many ways, time is your most valuable asset — Microsoft is doing SEOs a favor by introducing a browser that saves so much of it.

In the end, the rise of Microsoft Edge should make it far easier to create high-quality sites with a great user experience, which is something we’re super passionate about at Rigor. If you’re interested in how you can make a fantastic web experience for your visitors, be sure to check out our free performance report.

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SearchCap: Apple Web Search, Google Search Analytics & Wave Goodbye To Emojis

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Apple Web Search, Google Search Analytics & Wave Goodbye To Emojis appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Kiss Your Ads Goodbye: How Net Neutrality May Impact Content & Advertising

Your initial instinct may be to gloss over the battle of Net Neutrality. However, proposed rules could directly impact the distribution of content, as well as the effectiveness of online advertising by businesses and brands unable to “pay to play.”
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Deprecation Notice: Goodbye old keywords API, Hello new, enhanced and more powerful keywords API

Author (displayed on the page): 

What does this mean and why have you done it?

In general terms you deprecate a service when it is superseded by a newer version, in this case the old API has been superseded by the new one. We have done this as we needed to bring our API service up to date to include the new calls and access to the new data. This gave us an opportunity to create a cutting edge lightweight service and a much improved management platform.

We will continue to provide access to the old API for existing users but we will no longer be developing it or allowing new sign-ups. The data that the old API is hooked into will no longer be updated either, so it is a completely static database.

When will I stop being able to access the old API?

If you are an existing API customer we should have already been in contact to tell you about these changes. Any new sign-ups are already being placed on the new API service, the old one will be completely shut down on the 30 Jan 2014.

So what’s new?

The new API allows you to make a many more calls and interrogate the data in a much more diverse way. Now instead of just being able to request information based on a seed term you can ask for things like top terms, keyword stats, keyword counts and more.

There are also many new parameters for slicing the data, things like segmenting by time period, so you can ask for keywords and searches that only occurred within a specific date range. If that’s not awesome enough you can also get access to some of our new metrics like linkability which you won’t even find in our tools yet.

Do I need to do anything?

In short, if you want to continue using Wordtracker data, yes. The calls and responses are significantly different and its shifted from XML to JSON. So if you don’t update your app to use them then the functionality which relies on them will stop working as of 23 Jan 2014.

We built the API ourselves and have a dev team who love to tinker, so if you have any problems with implementing the new API then do get in touch and we’ll do our best to help. This brings me nicely to the next point…

How do I get in touch?

The new API is not supported via our traditional support channels, instead when you apply to use it, which you can do here, where you will be given a space on our API management platform. You can contact us directly through this platform. Think of it as an API hotline, your question will get in front of the right people much quicker and so get dealt with more efficiently this way.

Why can’t I use the old calls to use the new API?

This is down to a few factors, when we first started working on this the plan was to try and wrap the old and new calls to minimize the impact on customers. As things turned out that simply was not possible due to the difference in the old and new services.

So how can I access this new API?

Anyone can apply to access the API for commercial use, but we do not permit access for personal or non commercial use. This is for a couple of reasons, but primarily this is down to the ability to support these users at the level required. The API simply isn’t designed for all and personal users would be much better off using our tools which run directly off the API. These offer the functionality in a well supported environment.

What’s the bottom line?

We’ve done our best to keep pricing as low as possible, we want people to use the API and integrate our data into their amazing tools and apps. As such we are offering three tiers;

Free : For testing and getting started, it’s very limited and not intended for ongoing use
Entry : For $ 20 a month you can get started with the API and make up to 1000 calls
Standard: For $ 499 you’ll get an unthrottled account with 2000 included units
Enterprise: For $ 1000 you get an unrestricted account with 10,000 units included

At any of the paid levels you can buy more units to make more calls, but the price per unit drops significantly as you move up the tiers. Please be aware the Entry level plan is designed for those just starting out on a smaller budget to get access, as they scale they would be expected to move up to a more suitable pricing plan.

You can check out our pricing plans for more detail.

What if I don’t want to move, why don’t you just leave the old API running forever?

Aside from the cost of keeping that service going in terms of both infrastructure and maintenance we need to think about quality. The old API just can’t support our new data and we don’t want people to carry on serving our old data as we won’t be updating it.

You can find out more about the new API here

Or if you’re the technical sort, please visit our documentation pages.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at api@wordtracker.com. Please do not use the other standard support channels for API queries as you will find the dedicated api team better equipped to handle your questions.

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Goodbye Google, Hello SEMRush

Author (displayed on the page): 

Recently, Google withdrew our access to their AdWords API – which means we can’t present Google keywords directly in our tool the way we have done for the past three years or so. Here’s what they had to say about it:


“Unfortunately, because your use case does not directly involve the AdWords Program … we must revoke your AdWords API token. If you are still interested in accessing the AdWords API we encourage you to reapply with a use case that incorporates the AdWords Program.”

Which basically means that unless an organization is presenting a tool which uses the data directly for managing PPC keyword research and/or account management, Google aren’t going to allow API access to that organization. And because Wordtracker’s tools are more designed for organic SEO, we fall foul of this decision.

Goodbye Google

In order to keep providing the tools and features our customers want, we have had to make a difficult decision: whether or not to stop complying with the requirements for the Google API.

In order to meet them we would have to alter our toolset in a way that would mean withdrawing components and functions that we’ve developed in response to demand from you, our customers.

So we’ve taken the decision to move on from using Google’s AdWords API.

The Adwords API is the only way of reliably providing Google keyword research data – without it we’re not able show Google data in the way that it’s presented by Google themselves (and in the way that Google like to have it shown).

However, if we were to meet the minimum requirements for the Google AdWords API, our toolset would have to be more focused towards Pay Per Click advertising, rather than focusing on our core strength which is Organic SEO.

These tools include (but aren’t limited to) your Ranking Reports and some of the competitive data that we present to help you strategize your SEO campaigns.

 Hello, SEMRush data

We have a fantastic solution in our friends at SEMRush. In anticipation of the withdrawal of our Google AdWords API access, we’ve previously done some work on SEMRush data and the possibilities available for incorporating it into our own toolset, and this is the perfect time to implement it.

You’ll see it in the tool now, in the Google tab:

It’s SEMRush’s search engine data, which thousands of marketers use and trust – and now it’s available to you, too.

So who is SEMRush, anyway?

SEMRush is a popular competitive analysis tool from the people who built the SEOQuake toolbar. If you haven’t heard of them, they handle over 95 million keywords from ten different territories: here’s what they say about it:

“The data begins with SEMrush. We don’t aggregate data from other services but rather we go straight to the source and track each individual keyword as a separate entity in our database, taking the actual values and metrics from Google and Bing for each database. Finally, these statistics are presented directly through our interface [Note: we'll be using our own interface to show this data via SEMRush's API]. We then refresh this data on a regular schedule to ensure that you’re not only seeing the most accurate data, but the most current as well.”

Why use SEMRush data? Isn’t Google data more accurate?

Like the data in Google AdWords, SEMRush data does lean towards the PPC, but that’s never stopped us from presenting it with an Organic SEO slant with organic competition metrics: which means that the mashup between SEMRush and Wordtracker will look very similar to the interface we had with Google.

But there are a couple of significant advantages to having the SEMRush data. They have way more data points than Google will present – which means that over time we’ll be able to consider including:

1) More competitive data, such as who ranks for each keyword at the time of the data being collected (the database is updated monthly, with more popular keywords being updated more regularly than this).

2) Historical data on each keyword (which is a popular request from Wordtracker users).

And from now on we will be including:

3) More data for your research: SEMRush don’t limit the number of keywords that can be returned for a query. While Google’s maximum is 800 keywords, we’ll now be able to show you up to 1,000 keywords for each search, as long as those keywords exist in the SEMRush database. While some of the keywords presented may differ in certain niches from the Google data, these are keywords from Google that SEMRush offer: and they’ve made it very straightforward for us to present.

Will I notice the difference?

If you’re used to the Google data then you may well see some differences, but search volumes correlate well. (It’s worth mentioning that, like the Google data we’ve been presenting up until now in our system, these are Exact Match volumes):

We’d love to hear how you get on with the new data.

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