Sweet New SEOmoz Tools

April 7, 2010

I hate writing “groupie” type posts, but this short one was earned.  SEOmoz just launched a new Keyword Difficulty tool, which, at first glance and after just a couple of tests seems to have a bit of merit.  I tested on some keywords I’m pretty familiar with and its ratings matched my general concept.

My only critique would be that its maybe its scale should be adjusted a bit… I put in “directory of handsome guys” and that was a 22%.  IMO that should be like 5% or less, there is no competition on that keyword.  I accidentally ranked a site of mine #1 for that, and after a few days I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog post ranks #2 for “directory of handsome guys”.

I guess it was a couple of months ago that the launched the Open Site Explorer tool, which I now use daily and love it.  My only critique with that is the size of the data set.  I have one client where we’ve tracked the total number of links its reporting by month with that tool and its showing drastically changing numbers – both up and down.  I believe its more reflecting of swinging changes in their data set than it is “real” changes in numbers of links to their site.

I’d say in general their data seems to be tracking the good-old-fashioned Yahoo Site Explorer and Majestic SEO, but their front-end interface and the tools’ overall usability more than makes up for that.  I’m a fan.  Good work, Rand and team.

Update: See my comment below and comment from Richard Baxter’s write up for another critique.  I’d like to see it weigh “domain authority” more and “page authority” less.

Good write up Richard.  Overall I like the tool, but I feel like its maybe favoring “page authority” a bit too much, and “domain authority” not enough.  Anyone else agree with me on that?

Take the “pivot tables” (49) vs. “pallet delivery” (64) example.  I’d argue that “pivot tables” is more competitive b/c all of the sites in the top 20 have domain authority over 80.  You need an 80+ domain just to to get a ticket to that dance.  But for “pallet delivery” only 2 of the top 20 have domain authorities over 80, and several have very low domain authority.  You can get into that dance with most any site, so long as the page itself has a little juice.  That’s much easier to do.

A colleague referred me to this page offering some SEO Whitepapers. I haven’t read any of them. I’m sure they are very good though.

But once you are involved in the SEO industry for a while, the whitepapers – much like SEO conferences – begin to all say the same thing. The truth is SEO itself is not rocket science. Its simple.

  1. Create really great, unique, valueable content about all the various aspects of your topic.
  2. Code your site with a good understanding on on-page SEO, CSS, information architecture, conversion and usability.
  3. Get a lot of other really great websites in your topical area to link to your site.

Note that I said SEO is simple, not easy. It can be damn hard.

Content – The challenge here is creating “really great content” if you are an SEO person or SEO agency. You likely know nothing about the topic. Thus, you must rely on a copywriter. That copywriter likely knows nothing about SEO. Now in a perfect world the copywriter understand the value of SEO, and you work together peacefully and harmoniously. In reality, you are too damn busy and so are they – so it doesn’t work out as nicely as you’d each like, and someone often ends up compromising. That aside, I’ve yet to find a copywriter than can provide me with the quantity and quality of copy I want, at a price I can afford. Truth is there is no shot – I have a never-ending appetite for content.

Coding – This one ain’t too rough. Brush up on HTML and CSS standards, on-page optimization fundamentals and conversion/usability topics and generally this is the one I find most firms can really rock. That’s the problem though, rocking this is simply the admission fee – it won’t differentiate you or set your site apart from the crowd with respect to search rankings. Everyone else is doing it too.

Great Links – Simple in concept. And sure, if you have a cool tech site about Steve Jobs or something you’ll be in good shape. All the techie kids at Digg love that stuff. Sphinn too – funny stuff about SEO or the internet is great link bait. As is anything fun, entertaining or controversial is easy. Try getting links for something boring. A nice boring accounting firm. Give that a shot. And no, you can’t change the firm’s entire offering or marketing strategy – nice thought in principal though, but good luck getting someone to buy into that on Day 1 of your campaign!

Admittedly I’m taking a negative tone here. That’s really not me. I’m just trying to illustrate the point though that anyone with more than a reasonable amount of experience with SEO will often agree that what to do is not their problem. How to do it within the business confines that exist is the real challenge.

How do we make a regular, ordinary accounting firm interesting enough that other sites link to them? How do we do so while still keeping with the scope of a realistic campaign (you can’t hire a guy from Enron to join the accounting firm!). How do you apply the principles of SEO that are fairly simple, and implement those items in such a way that is better than your competition, thus setting you apart? That is the real challenge.

That is SEO.

Anyone can write TITLE tags.