Watch Ted Cruz make a very sad-looking voter turnout call

Ted Cruz

’ve reached that point of the election year when actors, random celebrities and politicians are participating in “get out and vote” campaigns, and to the degree that even U.S. Sen. Ted Cruzis doing his part.

Well…he’s doing it, but maybe not wholeheartedly.

He hit the phone banks at the Republican Party headquarters in Texas’ Tarrant County to ask conservative voters in the state to hit the voting booth in November.

I’m doing everything I can to help keep Texas red, to turn out conservatives across the state, to win elections at the local and county level all the way up.

— Ted Cruz

But more than just a message to vote, people are noticing how Cruz put himself in a pretty awkward position when his phone bank work was caught on camera. He can be seen making the call in a pretty bland way, right in front of a Donald Trump campaign sign.

Cruz’ endorsement of Trump stunned a lot of people in September after his famous non-endorsement on stage at the Republican National Convention. When he finally made the endorsement he said he was honoring his commitment to support the GOP nominee no matter who it ended up being.

But people on social media still are’t over it, and saw the videos of Cruz as pretty sad looking.Feeling bad for Cruz? Former president George W. Bush is also pulling the “get out and vote but I’m not telling you who to vote for” bit. Bush has avoided advising voters to chose Trump, but in this video with President Barack Obama and “Hamilton” cast members, he’s saying you should at least get out there.

[Source:-The Sun Diego Tribune]

Beyond Widgets: Expo Panels Delve into Additive Manufacturing’s Industrial Side

Additive manufacturing is not just for academics and tinkerers anymore. Industry is utilizing metal 3D printing, as evidenced by the manufacturers and designers present at Cimquest’s 3rd annual Advanced Manufacturing Expo & Open House.

Industrial usage of 3D printing has taken off in recent years. Looking at the numbers, 29 percent of all additive manufacturing is used for functional parts, 17.8 percent for fit and assembly, 9.9 percent for patterns for prototypes, 9 percent for patterns for metal castings, and 4.7 percent for tooling components, according to 2016 data from SAP. Comparatively, 10.3 percent of 3D printing is used for visual aids, 8.7 percent for education or research, and 8.7 percent for presentation models. These numbers are not intended to be inclusive of all 3D printing uses.

Metal was certainly king at Cimquest’s event at its Branchburg, N.J., headquarters Wednesday.

Metal powders have been used in additive manufacturing for some time now, but producing metal components with the technology is a relatively new endeavor.

It all comes down to time spent learning about the parameters of metal printing and laser power speeds, and working through challenges, said Wesley Hart, marketing director with Imperial Machine & Tool Co.

The technology has evolved as well, with lasers improving and powder development allowing for the sphericality 3D metal printing demands, said Chris Joest, Imperial’s president. Learning about optimal temperatures and humidity levels — even environments — is critical to the evolution of metal additive manufacturing, Joest said.

But it’s also important to understand additive manufacturing’s limitations.

“People think this is a silver bullet, and it’s going to fix everything, but it’s not,” said Hart. “It doesn’t make sense to use a power drill when all you need is a hammer.”

What additive manufacturing is good for is prototyping. It’s relatively inexpensive to print a prototype. But this doesn’t mean researchers and inventors are the only ones using it. It’s also being utilized by people who know how to make stuff, Hart said.

It’s also good for cooling and thermal management systems, said Ben Arnold, Northeast sales manager with SLM Solutions. Fluid control can also be optimized using additive manufacturing processes.

Parts can be consolidated using the technology. General Electric reduced the part count on its fuel nozzles from more than 20 to just three by printing the parts, Arnold said.

“There’s less assembly, less paper trail, less welding, higher performance,” Arnold said. “The cost of producing the part is more expensive, but the cost to put it on an airplane is less expensive because there are fewer parts.”

The metal additive manufacturing sector is still an open frontier waiting to be explored.

“Metal 3D printing is like the wild, wild West,” Hart said. “If you can weld it, it will print. If it can’t, it doesn’t mean we can’t. We just have to get there.”

[Source:-Product Design Development]

Google Maps v9.39 adds a handy traffic widget and hints at live data about busy places [APK Teardown + Download]

Google Maps made it into the update cycle this week, bumping the version number up to 9.39. This update appears to be a bit lighter than many from the last few months, but it’s not completely lacking improvements. There’s a new shortcut that can be used to jump directly into the traffic screen. A quick teardown also reveals a potential improvement to the busyness chart on many locations. As always, we’ve got a link below to pick up the APK.

What’s New

Unofficial Changelog:

  • New traffic widget

Traffic widget

2016-10-14 17.39.292016-10-14 17.37.442016-10-14 17.39.15

Thanks to the millions of active smartphones roaming around the planet at any given time, Google is able to create a fairly accurate image of what traffic conditions are like. A few weeks back, Google added a new notification to warn users about potential traffic issues before they get on the road, linking it to a screen with a map with the current traffic situation. If that notification wasn’t quite timely enough, the new version of Maps introduces a more consistent way to get back to that screen at any time with a handy shortcut for your homescreen.

There are two ways to add the shortcut to your homescreen. To begin with, it’s located in the regular widget/shortcut list, so there’s no need to even open the Maps app to track it down, unlike the Timeline shortcut (for no obvious reason). If you end up on the traffic screen through the notification, you can also drag the card upward to find a suggestion to add the shortcut.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android’s application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It’s possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it’s officially announced and released.The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don’t expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Live busy-ness scale

2016-10-14 20.28.13nexus2cee_Screenshot_20160924-113543

Left: current view in Maps. Right: live data from dogfood version of Google Search.

The scale showing popular times can be a handy way to figure out if you’re about to walk into a restaurant or other public location and find it packed to the brim with people. However, the scale can occasionally be misleading, especially if there are special events, recent changes, or some other factor that’s either driving people to the same place, or possible away from it. If you’re really trying to judge how full a place is before walking in the door, you really need up-to-date information… And that’s exactly what Google Maps has in store.

<string name=”BUSYNESS_LIVE”>LIVE</string>

It’s really no surprise this feature is coming, the same thing recently turned up in a dogfood version of the web interface for Google Search. There’s not much to look at for evidence – just a single string – but as the screenshot above shows, it doesn’t take much to make the confirmation. The line is named busyness_live, which shares the same busyness prefix found in the other strings used with the popular times chart. It’s safe to assume the two charts will look the same, given that the two versions are generally identical.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

[Source:-Android Police]

Facebook brings in Halloween theme

According to Facebook, these Masks will be rolled out over the next few days for those using Facebook Live iOS in the United States, UK and New Zealand.

Facebook has announced that it will be making certain changes to its application in the form of Halloween-themed masks and reactions.

Facebook Live now features Masks, which allows the user to try out a range of different masks, including limited edition Halloween-themed masks, when sharing live videos.

There are several festive marks such as skull, an evil queen, and two limited-edition ones — a pumpkin and a witch. More will be added after Halloween, but they will have other themes.

According to Facebook, these Masks will be rolled out over the next few days for those using Facebook Live iOS in the United States, UK and New Zealand. Unfortunately, Android users will only get these masks in the coming months, though Facebook promised to bring them in more countries.

Next are the Halloween Reactions which is represented by a set of limited-edition reactions which replace the usual Like (a skeletal thumb up), Love (a candy heart), Haha (a laughing witch), Wow (a ghost), Sad (Frankenstein), Angry (a scowling pumpkin).

The process of using the new reaction is same as the previous one. However, unlike Masks, the Halloween Reactions are supposed to be available on both the Android and iOS platforms, but it is unclear as to when they will available in all countries.

[Source:-Decan Chronicle]

Mayer Hawthorne Covers ‘Family Ties’ Theme, Declares It ‘Greatest Song of All Time’

When Detroit’s nerdy neo-soulman Mayer Hawthorne announced Friday at New Orleans’s Voodoo festival that he and his band were about to play “the greatest song of all time,” one might have expected something by, say, Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson. But instead, Hawthorne and company graced the Pepsi Stage audience with a feelgood, seemingly completely sincere rendition of the classic Family Ties theme, “Without Us.”

Judging by how spectators reacted, it appeared they agreed with Hawthorne’s glowing assessment of the ’80s sitcom singalong. This was understandable, of course, considering how smoothly and sweetly Hawthorne slipped into the song’s Johnny Mathis role, with his backup singer serving some Deniece Williams realness. Sha la la la, indeed.

The Grammy-nominated Hawthorne, aka Andrew Cohen, kept the retro party vibes going throughout his afternoon set, not just with his own Motown-inspired vintage grooves, but with two other unexpected cover tunes: Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and another beloved ’80s favorite, Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” (Sadly, he didn’t keep the Family Ties motif going with a cover of Billy Vera & The Beaters’ “At This Moment,” but maybe he can play that at Voodoo 2017.)

Check out Mayer Hawthorne’s other cover-song performances below, and tune in all weekend for Yahoo Music’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience live stream at yahoo.com/voodoo.

 [Source:-Yahoo]

Here’s what the new Allo chat themes are going to look like when they launch [Gallery]

We told you in our quick teardown of Google Allo 2.0 just a couple days ago that we found evidence that Google is preparing to add chat themes to its Allo messenger. Now we have actually managed to enable these themes on a rooted device and we’ve screenshotted them for you to check out before the app actually gets them…

If you have the latest version of Allo, you may have noticed that Google added a “Monochrome” theme option in the “General settings” menu. That option doesn’t make sense in the current version, because the monochrome mode isn’t really all that much different than the mostly-monochrome default theme. But that’s about to change, because you’re soon going to be able to pick from a variety of colorful themes for each of your chats.

As you can see below, these match up pretty well with the many theme names we discovered the other day. They range from “Moon” to “Sorbet” to “Clouds”. Please ignore my terribly hideous Allo selfie.

It seems that the app is going to suggest that you pick a theme every time you start a new conversation, and then you’ll be able to change it at any time from the same menu that houses other chat details like notifications and seeing a gallery of shared media.

Here’s what the theme picker and the chat settings menus look like:

The Google Allo 2.0 update is a pretty substantial one, but this is one of those features that look to be waiting for a Google server-side switch. Other than this, Allo 2.0 has app shortcuts that let you create a conversation by tapping and holding the icon from the home screen, Quick Reply for replying from an Allo notification, multi-window mode for using the app alongside another one in Android Nougat, and a new accessibility mode.

We still don’t know when chat themes will roll out in Allo, but stay tuned as we learn more.

[Source:-9 to 5 ,mac]

topseos.com Unveils SEO Brand as the Top Search Engine Optimization Firm for the Month of October 2016

topseos.com has named SEO Brand the best search engine optimization service for October 2016. SEO Brand was selected due to their remarkable performance in the proprietary evaluation process. While there are thousands of agencies competing to be the best, the rankings consist of only the 100 best companies offering a variety of search marketing solutions.

The independent research team at topseos.com performs an in-depth investigation of the competing companies to remain apprised of their latest successes within the industry. Competing companies are investigated using five criteria of evaluation in areas including on page optimization, off page optimization, needs analysis, keyword analysis, and reporting methods. The rankings consist of the best search engine optimization companies each month with the rankings being updated due to the latest information obtained from the investigation.

topseos.com is also active within various online marketing events and conferences. The independent research team often performs industry research to discover the most recent relevant news and information important to buyers and professionals. Often services provide topseos.com with an inside look to new developments.

topseos.com tests and names the best search engine optimization firms in the industry. Based on the rigorous analysis process SEO Brand was named as the best contending company. Those searching for a company with solid customer satisfaction and a rigid history of performance should consider SEO Brand.

About topseos.com

topseos.com is a well-known independent authority on internet marketing solutions. The main objective of topseos.com is to establish and publish those individuals or agencies providing the top search engine marketing solutions all over the world. A specialized team of researchers examine thousands of applicants each month who are seeking to be ranked as a top search engine marketing product or service by the independent authority.

[Source:-Market Wired]

The SEO power of portfolio entries, case studies & testimonials

The SEO Power of Portfolio Entries for small businesses

SEO and content marketing can be tough for small businesses. Creating content that answers the frequently asked questions in your industry may not be too difficult, but getting it found in search engines is not so easy if you are a small local player. Even if you could rank a piece of content nationally, would it turn into business? Could you handle the influx of leads if it did?

The digital marketing channels and tactics you use are a strategic decision — and in many cases, traditional content marketing is not the best choice for small local businesses. This is a different story for SaaS (software as a service) companies and the like, which can easily scale users and deliver their product on a national or international basis. But for the small local guys, traditional content marketing can lead to a lot of head-scratching and wasted effort.

The SEO power of portfolios

This is not to say that content marketing is completely useless for small and local businesses — rather, that there is a strategic decision to make regarding the kind of content you create and how you promote it. And often, the key to smart local content marketing efforts is simply in the work that you do for your customers.

This is the content that really demonstrates what you do, where you do it and who you do it for, which is the information that really matters. Of course, “portfolio” is kind of a catch-all term — we are just as interested in case studies, reviews and testimonials as fair game for small business content marketing efforts, and often a single piece of content may contain one or more of these elements.

Consider:

  • portfolio entries;
  • case studies;
  • reviews; and
  • testimonials.

This kind of content has two main benefits:

1. Topical scope

Creating portfolio content provides very specific examples of your work. In the case of a painting and decorating company, it could be a certain kind of property in a very specific location: painting and decorating a Victorian house in Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield.

This can zoom into a hyper-specific activity or location or zoom out to be more general. This broad or specific approach can apply to the job and the location in which you operate, creating the opportunity for smart local content, which so, so important for local businesses.

Take the following examples of portfolio pieces (Note: I am in Birmingham, UK, so examples reflect my own location and areas): 

  1. Renovation of skirting boards in a Victorian house in Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
  2. Repair of ceilings in 1970s semi-detached house in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
  3. Complete rewiring and electrical refit of a five-bedroom, three-story Victorian house in Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
  4. New heating system, radiators and pipework in five-bedroom, three-story Victorian house in Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
  5. Rebuilding chimney on 1970s semi-detached house in Mere Green, Four Oaks, Birmingham
  6. Repointing of chimney on Edwardian property in Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
  7. Roof repairs to eliminate damp issues on terraced house in Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham

These content pieces improve the scope of search terms you can rank for by detailing very specific jobs within your overall business category and focusing on other key details.

In the examples above, we have looked at the specific jobs in various trades, micro and metro areas, and specific types of property. All of these details would likely be missed in your traditional service pages — or poorly implemented in an effort to create catch-all service and location pages that are, more often than not, not really up to scratch.

There is a good chance your pages would now rank for search terms like:

  • builder repointing chimney mere green;
  • roof repair terraced house wylde green;
  • rebuild chimney semi detached house four oaks;
  • plumber new heating system boldmere; and
  • … many more just like this.

Sure, these are going to be low-volume terms, but they are highly specific. And with localized search removing the need to enter your location, and an ever-smarter and mobile- (and voice-) driven search landscape, consumers are searching in more detail than before.

2. Credibility

Getting folks through the digital front door is great, but you must then convince them to take action — and portfolio content again comes up trumps here.

Too much SEO thinking is done in a silo without enough consideration of the real users who will land on your pages. All too often, we see small businesses creating overstretched and over-optimized location pages that have keywords crammed in to help them rank but provide a poor landing page experience.

Creating portfolio entries, case studies, testimonials, and even reviews (which hopefully you are not creating as such and are requesting) opens you up to increased search engine traffic with real local users and provides the information these customers need to make an informed decision to do business with you.

Most local businesses are offering the same exact service as their competition, and this undifferentiated marketplace creates a difficult environment for prospects to choose Company A over Company B. Smart marketers and small businesses out there will see this obstacle as an opportunity to stand out amongst their peers with carefully crafted portfolio entries that illustrate a strong reputation — thus making it clear that they are the best choice for these weary internet browsers.

Powering up your portfolios

As ever, the best way to illustrate what I am getting at here is with examples, and the following are in part drawn from my own recent struggles to identify various contractors to help with the renovation of our new (very old) house.

I am pretty handy on a PC and the internet but utterly hopeless when it comes to the practical skills required to renovate a house. As such, I have spent a considerable amount of time on the internet trying to locate a range of local tradesmen, including electricians, plumbers, central heating specialists, plasterers, painters and decorators.

All in all, it was a nightmare to manage from behind the keyboard. Indeed, the process was so difficult that in the end, three of the four contractors I ended up working with came by referral; only one was someone I found via the internet.

This tells me that there is a huge opportunity for traditional contractors to optimize their digital presence and win more work. After all, I am about as search engine and internet savvy a user as you are going to get — so if I failed at this task, what must your average consumer make of the wasteland of small business websites?

What we commonly see, particularly around the traditional trades, are business directory sites and portals aimed squarely at users trying to find a local tradesman. These all tend to provide a raft of reviews and are highly visible, yet I found it very hard to distinguish one business from another.

In fact, a search for “plumber in birmingham,” which is a trade and the metro location where I live, returns 10 results, and eight are a directory or portal of some sort. This makes some of Google’s recent comments regarding directories somewhat curious — both Gary Illyes and John Mueller of Google seemed to imply that securing directory placements was an outdated practice or “very often not the right way to build links.”

But certainly in the UK, directories — and in particular, vertical directories — are still hugely visible in many local business categories. The following image shows that five of top six listings for “plasterer in birmingham” are directory listings, but I really want to see an actual website for these companies to aid in decision-making.

many results are still directories

When it comes down to it, what I wanted to see was that the various contractors had tackled similar jobs (experience) and had done a good job (credibility). What was out there did not fill me with confidence and enable me to do that.

Structuring your portfolio entries

The specifics here will vary for each business, but I would be looking at the following kind of loose structure as a starting point.

  1. The problem. What was the issue? Where was the pain?
  2. The solution. How did you help? What measures were taken?
  3. Testimonials and reviews. Can you get the actual client to add some feedback to this page?

This does not have to be a huge piece of content — you can simply outline the problem (damp in first floor bedroom) and detail the solution (repoint and cap chimney) along with all the other important details (type of property, location and so on). In most cases, you will want to add images, so it always makes sense to take photos of the job as you progress. You can then largely tell the story via the photos you take and keep the actual text concise and to the point.

Of course, you will need to get permission from the customer, but if you do a great job and gently stroke their ego and tell them just how happy you are with the project, then this will generally help you secure permission — and of course, this can lead to asking for that client testimonial.

TL;DR

SEO does not exist in a silo, and the lines between smart SEO, content marketing and demonstrating your credibility are forever blurred. Often, the same content can tackle these three important goals for small and local businesses.

More often than not, the best content marketing options for small and local businesses is the creation of portfolio content that widens the search terms you will be found for and demonstrates your credibility in completing jobs for your local customers.

When executed well, your portfolio content will widen the search terms you can be found for and attract more local search engine users while simultaneously demonstrating your credibility for an SEO and marketing win-win.

[Source:-Search Engine Land]

SEO Checklist: 16 Monthly Tasks to Manage Performance

Search engine optimization is not a one-time project. If you’re not managing SEO performance and improvements continually, your site won’t remain competitive in natural search — you’ll lose rankings, clicks, and sales to your competitors.

These 16 monthly tasks (plus one bonus task) will keep you focused on the basics of managing SEO performance. If SEO were your career, you would be doing some of these weekly or daily.

Monitor Site Health

1. Crawl your site. I always start with the crawl because nothing else gives you an immediately up-to-date picture of what’s on your site. It might look like nothing has changed, but many items that are not visible can impact SEO. Look for broken, different, new, and missing URLs or URL types. I use Screaming Frog SEO Spider for this.

2. Check metadata. The crawl will also give you a complete report on the state of your metadata, such as title tags, meta descriptions, headings, canonical tags, robots tags, and more, depending on which crawler you use.

3. Check status errors to fix or redirect. Look for any page that isn’t resulting in a “200 OK” status and make sure that the URL is supposed to be redirecting or 404ing as indicated. In particular, if a page is returning a 404 error, look for opportunities to redirect that page to a new location. Use both your crawl and the Crawl Errors report at Google Search Console.

4. Check XML sitemap and robots file. Have a quick look at the files that enable search engine access and indexation on your site, to be certain that all of the areas you want to be accessed are, and the areas you don’t want bots to crawl into are closed. Also, look at the Sitemaps report at Google Search Console.

5. Comb through the back link report. Get a report of the sites linking to your site —from Google Search Console, Majestic, Moz, or another source — and look through it to identify low quality sites. It’s natural to have a couple, but a mass of them could mean a past SEO effort gone bad or a negative SEO campaign from another source. Look for large bodies of links that would should be removed or disavowed to improve your site’s authority.

Analyze Performance

6. Measure channel performance. Based on your goals and key performance indicators, measure the performance of the natural search channel. For more, read about KPIs and performance measurement in “Essential SEO Data, to Manage Performance.”

7. Take a deep dive into high-change pages. At least once a month, have a look at the pages with the largest positive and negative traffic changes. Look for commonalities that you can use to identify optimizations across an entire template or section.

8. Analyze past optimization performance. Any search engine optimizations made previously should be monitored to be sure that they had a positive impact. Adjust optimizations as needed.

9. Monitor top referring sites. Look for new sites sending you visits. Can you or your press relations team work with personnel at referring sites over the long term to improve authority?

10. Analyze cross-channel performance. Manage the performance of topic trends across paid search and social channels. Look for opportunities to buy ads in places where SEO isn’t performing as strongly, and places to optimize where paid isn’t performing at a cost-effective rate. Social and search data should be analyzed together to identify trends that can be capitalized on.

11. Identify search competitors. Which sites are ranking for the phrases and topics you want to rank for? Has the ranking changed? What are they doing on their sites to boost their relevance signals that you could emulate and improve upon? Which sites are linking to them and what content have they created to earn those links?

12. Monitor Google Search Console. Nearly every page on Google Search Console contains information that impacts SEO. Click through all messages and every report to look for anything negative to fix, and also for interesting changes that you could potentially capitalize on. You should utilize Google Search Console more than monthly, really, because it’s your direct line to how Google thinks your site should perform. But at the least put it on your monthly task list. Save the data from every report you can because it is only available for 90 days. If you have an issue six months from now, you’ll likely want today’s data to help diagnose the problem and plan the solution.

Look to the Future

13. Plan next month’s optimizations. Determine which pages have the most potential increase in traffic and sales from natural search based on a combination of performance data, keyword research, and business priority. Plan who will optimize and when it will launch. Then make a note to measure its performance next month.

14. Acquire promotional calendars. If you don’t have access to your marketing and merchandising teams’ promotional calendars, work hard to get it. Their campaigns and promotions should be informed by the search activity of your shoppers — i.e., keyword research — to ensure the resulting promotional pages are optimized for SEO, if possible.

15. Update keyword research. This is really more of a quarterly activity because keyword trends don’t change monthly. But it’s a good reminder to put it on your monthly task list. Depending on your access, research new, upcoming products all together monthly, in addition to checking out any new campaigns or trends that will be targeted.

16. Discuss content topics with customer support. Every day customer support personnel receives a wealth of data about what customers and prospects value — what they want badly enough to brave a call center. Use that data to create new content on the site and optimize existing content.

17. Take your SEO friends out for a beer. SEO is not possible without assistance from development, user experience, marketing, merchandising, and other teams you work with. Take the time to cultivate a good working relationship with your coworkers so they will be receptive to the sometimes tedious and sometimes urgent SEO issues you bring to them.

[Source:-Practical Ecommers]

The Best SEO Tools of 2016

The Best SEO Tools of 2016

Search engine optimization (SEO) is really a never-ending turf war. Every business, no matter the size or industry, has a website that usually includes webpages listing the key products and services it’s trying to sell. Most also have other pages devoted to targeted content the organization needs surfaced more prominently in Google’s search results than its competitors. That’s what the “optimization” part of SEO is looking to accomplish, and it’s a nitty-gritty game of keyword and research-driven leapfrog, made significantly more complicated by Google changing all the rules every few months. That’s where SEO tools come in.

The emphasis on tools, meaning plural, is important. There’s no one magical way to plop your website atop every single search results page, at least not organically. If you want to buy a paid search ad spot, Google AdWords will happily take your money. But to win for the more valuable and customer-trusted organic search spots, a balanced and comprehensive SEO strategy is a must-have. This can be broken down into three primary categories: ad hoc keyword research, ongoing search position monitoring, and crawling. In this roundup, we’ll explain what each of those categories means for your business, the types of platforms and tools you can use to cover all of your SEO bases, and what to look for when investing in those tools.

Breaking Down the SEO Tool Landscape

The first wave of our roundup covers five top, self-service SEO tools: Ahrefs, KWFinder.com, Moz Pro, SEMrush, and SpyFu. The primary function of these tools falls primarily under keyword-focused SEO. When deciding what search topics to target and how best to focus your SEO efforts, treating keyword querying like an investigative tool is where you’ll likely get the best results.

These cloud-based, self-service tools have plenty of other unique optimization features as well. Some also do search position monitoring while others have more interactive data visualizations or crawling capabilities. The more powerful platforms can sport deeper analytics on paid advertising and pay-per-click (PPC) SEO as well. Though, at their core, the tools are all rooted in their ability to perform on-demand keyword queries.

We concentrated on the keyword-based aspect of these SEO tools because that’s where most business users will primarily focus. Monitoring particular keywords and your existing URL positions in search rankings is important, but once you’ve set that up it’s largely an automated process. Automated position-monitoring features are a given in most SEO platforms and will alert you to issues, but they don’t actively improve your search position. When your business has an idea about a new search topic for which you think your content has the potential to rank highly, the ability to spin up a query and investigate right away is key. Even more importantly, the tool should give you enough data points, guidance, and recommendations to confirm whether that particular keyword, or a related keyword or search phrase, is an SEO battle worth fighting, and, if so, how to win. We’ll get into the factors and metrics to help you make those decisions a little further down.

The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Click infographic for full view. Copyright: Third Door Media. Written by Search Engine Land, Design by Column Five

Crawlers are largely a separate product category. There is some overlap with the self-service keyword tools (Ahrefs, for instance, does both), but crawling is another important piece of the puzzle we’ll explore in greater depth with the second wave of reviews in this roundup.

There are two types of crawling, both of which provide useful data. Internet-wide crawlers are for large-scale link indexing. It’s a complicated and often expensive process but, as with social listening, the goal is ultimately for SEO experts, business analysts, and entrepreneurs to map how websites link to one another and extrapolate larger SEO trends and growth opportunities. Crawling tools generally do this with automated bots continuously scanning the web. As is the case with most of these SEO tools, many businesses use internal reporting features in tandem with integrated business intelligence (BI) tools to identify even deeper data insights.

Website-specific crawlers, or software that crawls one particular website at a time, are great for analyzing your own website’s SEO strengths and weaknesses and arguably even more useful for scoping out the competition. Website crawlers analyze a website’s URL, link structure, images, CSS scripting, and associated apps and third-party services to evaluate SEO. Not unlike how a website monitoring tool scans for a webpage’s overall “health,” website crawlers can identify factors such as broken links and errors, website lag, and content or metadata with low keyword density and SEO value while mapping a website’s architecture. Website crawlers can help your business improve website user experience (UX) while identifying key areas of improvement to help pages rank better.

The last piece of the complicated SEO tool ecosystem is the enterprise tier. This roundup is geared toward SEO at the small to midsize businesses (SMBs) level for which these platforms are likely priced out of reach. But the handful of enterprise SEO software providers out there essentially roll all of the self-service tools into one comprehensive platform that combines ongoing position monitoring, deep keyword research, and crawling with customizable reports and analytics. The enterprise platforms can also tie in larger content marketing campaigns and return-on-investment (ROI) metrics for integrated digital marketing teams. We may look at enterprise-tier SEO platforms in future reviews but, for SMBs, a smart combination of self-service tools is the much better bang for your SEO buck.

Running the Numbers

Evaluating which self-service SEO tools are best suited to your business incorporates a number of factors, features, and SEO metrics. Ultimately, though, when we talk about “optimizing,” it all comes down to how easy the tool makes it to get, understand, and take action on the SEO data you need. Particularly when it comes to ad hoc keyword investigation, it’s about the ease with which you can zero in on the ground where you can make the most progress. In business terms, that means making sure you’re targeting the most opportune and effective keywords available in your industry or space—the words for which your customers are searching.

The terms SEO experts often start with are page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA). DA, a concept in fact coined by Moz, is a 100-point scale that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. PA is the modern umbrella term for what started as Google’s original PageRank algorithm, developed by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google still uses PageRank internally but has gradually stopped supporting the increasingly irrelevant metric, which it now rarely updates. PA is the custom metric each SEO vendor now calculates independently to gauge and rate (again, on a scale of 100) the link structure and authoritative strength of an individual page on any given domain.

The Best SEO Tools of 2016

That’s why PA and DA metrics often vary from tool to tool. Each ad hoc keyword tool we tested came up with slightly different numbers based on what they’re pulling from Google and other sources, and how they’re doing the calculating. The shortcoming of PA and DA is that, even though they give you a sense of how authoritative a page might be in the eyes of Google, they don’t tell you how easy or difficult it will be to position it for a particular keyword. This difficulty is why a third, newer metric is beginning to emerge among the self-service SEO players: difficulty scores.

Difficulty scores are the SEO market’s answer to the patchwork state of all the data out there. All five tools we tested stood out because they do offer some version of a difficulty metric,or one holistic 1-100 score of how difficult it would be for your page to rank organically (without paying Google) on a particular keyword. Difficulty scores are inherently subjective and each tool calculates it uniquely. In general, it incorporates PA, DA, and other factors, including search volume on the keyword, how heavily paid search ads are influencing the results, and how the strong the competition is in each spot on the current search results page.

It’s exceedingly easy as an SEO team to spin your wheels trying to optimize a term into which your business will never be able to break. Difficulty scores quantify that potential opportunity versus risk proposition into one number, which is why we spent a lot of time in this roundup testing how effectively each tool represented keyword difficulty.

For example, let’s say the keyword difficulty of a particular term is in the 80s and 90s in the top five spots on a particular search results page. Then, in positions 6-9, the difficulty scores drop down into the 50s and 60s. Using that difficulty score, a business can begin targeting that range of spots and running competitive analysis on the pages to see who your website could knock out of their spot.

It All Comes Back to Google

The caveat in all of this is that, in one way or another, most of the data and the rules governing what ranks and what doesn’t (often on a week-to-week basis) comes from Google. If you know where to find and how to use the free and freemium tools Google provides under the surface—AdWords, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) being the big three— you can do all of this manually. Much of the data the ongoing position monitoring, keyword research, and crawler tools provide is extracted in one form or another from Google itself. Doing it yourself is a disjointed, meticulous process, but you can piece together all the SEO data you need to come up with an optimization strategy should you be so inclined.

As Google tweaks its algorithms, tools, and search engine policies, so goes the SEO industry. The AdWords API is still the foundation of much of the data with which SEO tools work. Google used to make much of its ad-hoc keyword search functionality available as well, but now the Keyword Planner is behind a pay-wall in AdWords as a premium feature. Difficulty scores are inspired by the way Google calculates its Competition Score metric in AdWords, though most vendors calculate difficulty using PA and DA numbers correlated with search engine positions, without AdWords data blended in at all. Search Volume is a different matter, and is almost always directly lifted from AdWords. Not to mention keyword suggestions and related keywords data, which in many tools come from Google’s Suggest API. Platforms also made use of the unofficial Autocomplete API before Google shut it down last year.

Google Search

An SEO expert could probably use a combination of AdWords for the initial data, Google Search Console for website monitoring, and Google Analytics for internal website data. Then transform and analyze it using all a BI tool. The problem for most business users is that’s simply not an effective use of time and resources. These tools exist to take the manual data gathering and granular, piecemeal detective work out of SEO. It’s about making a process that’s core to modern business success more easily accessible to someone who isn’t an SEO consultant or expert.

Where the free Google tools can provide complementary value is in fact-checking. If you’re checking out more than one of these SEO tools, you’ll quickly realize this isn’t an exact science. If you were to look at the PA, DA, and keyword difficulty scores across KWFinder, Moz, SpyFu, SEMrush, and Ahrefs for the same set of keywords, you might get different numbers across each metric separated by anywhere from a few points to dozens. If your business is unsure about an optimization campaign on a particular keyword, you can cross-check with data straight from a free AdWords account and Search Console. Another trick: enable Incognito mode in your browser along with an extension like the free Moz Toolbarand you can run case-by-case searches on specific keywords to get an organic look at your target search results page.

The SEO tools in this roundup provide tremendous digital marketing value for businesses, but it’s important not to forget that we’re living in Google’s world under Google’s constantly evolving rules. Oh and don’t forget to check the tracking data on Bing now and again, either. Google’s the king, but the latest ComScore numbers have Bing market share sitting at 22.1 percent.

How To Choose Your SEO Tool Suite

When it comes to finally choosing the SEO tools that suit your organization’s needs, the decision comes back to that concept of gaining tangible ground. It’s about discerning which tools provide the most effective combination of keyword-driven SEO investigation capabilities, and then on top of that the added keyword organization, analysis, recommendations, and other useful functionality to take action on the SEO insights you uncover. If a product is telling you what optimizations need to be made to your website, does it then provide technology to help you make those improvements?

The Best SEO Tools of 2016

The self-service SEO tools we tested all handle pricing relatively similarly, pricing by month with discounts for annual billing with most SMB-focused plans ranging in the $50-$200 per month range. Depending on how your business plans to use the tools, the way particular products delineate pricing might make more sense. KWFinder.com is the cheapest of the bunch but it’s focused squarely on ad-hoc keyword and Google search results page (SERP) queries, which is why the product sets quotas for keyword lookups per 24 hours at different tiers. Moz and Ahrefs price by campaigns or projects, meaning the number of websites you’re tracking in the dashboard. Most of the tools also cap the number of keyword reports you can run per day. SpyFu prices a bit differently, providing unlimited data access and results but capping the number of sales leads and domain contacts.

For the purposes of our testing, we standardized keyword queries across the five tools. To test the primary ad-hoc keyword search capability with each tool, we ran queries on an identical set of keywords. From there we tested not only the kinds of data and metrics the tool gave, but how it handled keyword management and organization, and what kind of optimization recommendations and suggestions the tool provided.

Enterprise SEO platforms put all of this together—high-volume keyword monitoring with premium features like landing page alignments and optimization recommendations, plus on-demand crawling and ongoing position monitoring—but they’re priced by custom quote. While the top-tier platforms give you features like in-depth keyword expansion and list management, and bells and whistles like SEO recommendations in the form of automated to-do lists, SMBs can’t afford to drop thousands of dollars per month.

The tools we tested in this round of reviews were judged on which do the best job of giving you the research-driven investigation tools to identify SEO opportunities ripe for growth, along with offering enterprise-grade functionality at a reasonable price. Whether one of these optimization tools is an ideal fit for your business, or you end up combining more than one for a potent SEO tool suite, this roundup will help you decide what makes the most sense for you. There’s a wealth of data out there to give your business an edge and boost pages higher and higher in key search results. Make sure you’ve got the right SEO tools in place to seize the opportunities.

[Source:-PC Gamer]