Author Topic: What tools should I be using?  (Read 4915 times)

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Offline e45h4hxdr

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What tools should I be using?
« on: May 17, 2014, 12:00:51 am »
Hey all,

I just found this place a couple days ago, and have checked out all of the topics in this public forum. I'm the developer for a family owned ecommerce site. We used to be brick & mortar, but closed the physical location down and moved solely to online a couple years ago.

Things were great due to our EMD, and then (seemingly) Google updated their algorithm and totally killed the benefit of EMD. We still rank well on Bing / Yahoo etc, but the amount of traffic we get from those is small compared to Google, even with the removal of the EMD benefits. We used to hold the #1-3 positions for most of our relevant terms, and now we're off the first page for all but a few of our most obscure search terms.

I'd love to join the private forum and see if I can find some really good info there, but I know I'm definitely not enough of a real SEO to gain membership. That being said, from what I've read I need to be doing a lot of research on our competition on the SERPs. The problem is, I don't know which tools I should be using.

I'm fairly proficient with programming, so I'd be fine with using something that requires a bit of finagling. Do you guys have any recommendations for tools (free or paid, I'm willing to spend a bit if I need to) I can use to research the competition? Also, what should I be looking for / tracking? Also, what kind of indicators / metrics should I be looking at? It seems like the basics amount to:
  • Social signals (facebook shares, google +1s, tweets, ?)
  • Number of backlinks
  • Quality of backlinks
  • On page metrics (# of keywords on the page, h1 tags, keyword density?)
  • Title and other meta tags
  • I'm probably missing a lot of other stuff...
I'm not looking for something to "automate" my SEO, and I definitely don't want to risk anything that might get us delisted, since my whole family is basically relying on this one site for survival right now, and we'd be totally screwed if we got hit by google any worse than we already have. It doesn't appear that we've been manually penalized: I don't see anything in WMT, and we still rank well for some search terms, just not the important ones.
It sounds like I need to start doing a good amount of research on the SERPs, not trust what Moz or anyone else is saying, and just figure things out for myself. I'm happy to do so, but it's surprisingly hard to find good "SEO research" tools on google (no surprise there, I guess).
So I guess to sum it up, what tools would you guys recommend for me to start doing my own research and building a database of metrics from the competition to identify what they have that we don't, so that we can hopefully make improvements where necessary and regain some of our ranking for relevant terms?
Are these any good? Which would you recommend, and are there any others I should be using?
  • Ahrefs
  • MajesticSEO
  • SEMRush
  • ScreamingFrog
  • SEO Tools for Excel
And how should I be organizing this data? In an excel spreadsheet? In a database? I figured I'd make a spreadsheet of all of our competitors, with columns for each of the important metrics, and just track their position over time relative to each of the metrics.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, and I hope I'm not asking for too much or asking the wrong questions. I wouldn't consider myself a SEO, just a guy who is now required to do some SEO due to our current circumstances. I'm happy to put the work in, I just don't want to start at the wrong place and end up going down the wrong rabbit hole.

Offline CCarter

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2014, 04:01:56 am »
The $3.65 Million dollar question. Get this right and you are on your way to riches. Wrong answer, you get to start back in the abyss or even start from negative (penalized site).

Hold on a sec, I'm going to pour me a drink... Grab on to your ankles, cause I'm going in...

You have no idea what the fuck you are doing. So what's to say that even if you do use these tools you'll understand what you are looking at?

What's even your overall strategy? You want to go whitehat route I'm assuming, but which way? PBN? Microsites? Guestblog posts? Press Releases? You want to track your competitors in a fucking spreadsheet, then do fuck what with that spreadsheet? Can someone even circlejerk themselves or is that just masterbation?

I hate to re-iterate this but there are faster ways to get traffic (My post on Wickedfire about Traffic Leaks). tldr; Go to websites which have your targeted audience and blend in until you are at a level where you can drain that traffic from their site. No one wants to work hard until things get desperate.

Here is the sad reality of what's going on in the SEO world. National campaigns are 'harder' if not doing blackhat or grayhat or a Big Brand. So what 90% of SEOers have done is gone to the local level. Meaning they are researching what's selling locally, and coming in and dominating since they know local is rape-able and easy, you are competing with mom and pop stores (similar to your situation), who have no idea what they are doing in terms of SEO. You have a family, that's great mate. That blackhat SEOer has a family, that grayhat SEOer has a family, and that whitehat SEOer has a family too - they're not all just straight out of high school kids. They all have families, and are all 1000x better at SEO than you. Let that sink in for a moment. This is your moment of truth my friend. I have to be harsh, cause if I am not, you'll still think you have a chance at this by yourself. You are potentially going up against an 800 pound gorilla, a guy that was competing for "payday loans" world wide, which is $10K a day MINIMUM in profits. As far as you are concerned Michael Jordan just came to your home court, and this is your first time bouncing a basketball.


That 800 pound gorilla has been stung, probed, and tortured by Google at the national level, so he's decided to make some movement in local since it's a walk in the park for him. That's who you are going up against, hence why your site keeps dropping a little more and more. With each Google update, more SEOers venture into local SEO, and you'll start seeing lead generating websites popping up, and more aggressive SEO tactics, and overall online marketing tactics entering your field. What can you do? Absolutely nothing without someone on your side that's also an 800 pound gorilla.

These SEOers are scanning, scraping, and finding every known nook and cranny and finding niche of local, emds, and shit that was easy before. (And by mom and pop store, I don't mean you are actually targeting local in your area, you can be an eCommerce store that ships nationally, I just call local, family ran businesses, cause they are usually small business owners). If no 800 pound gorilla has entered your niche, they'll be there soon enough, so even if I tell you to use Ahrefs to look up your competitor's backlinks, and back that up with MajesticSEO, that doesn't mean shit if you don't realize I also personally wrote guides to hide websites from Ahrefs and MajesticSEO and 80+ other spy bots - so those tools can be rendered obsolete if that 800 pound gorilla ran across my threads, posts, or philosophy.

You as a business owner fucked up, cause you thought it was always going to be 'easy streak', hence why you don't even have a lot of SEO knowledge but where able to support a family on SEO. Everything is changing, and everything easy always gets eroded.


You should have taken the time to expand to different traffic sources, and different marketing and advertising mediums. Your best bet might be to go the PPC (pay per click) route in the near future. If you are going to do that, you might want to get to it sooner rather than later, since it takes a couple of months to grasp and a lifetime to master.

Maybe this drink I've got in my hand should be for you, cause there is no easy way to say this. You aren't going to survive unless you get someone on your team that has PROVEN skills (NOTICED I FUCKING CAPITALIZED PROVEN), knowledge, and knows how to navigate these waters where you are battling 800 pound gorillas. Fuck you are lucky if you haven't been hit by negative SEO yet, cause mofos are attacking mom and pops left and right with that shit.


Anyways, I'll PM you in a couple of weeks, I might have something that could help you in your venture.

I hope that wasn't too harsh. Actually I don't regret that if it was, cause right now you are at a point where you have to really figure it out before you go completely bust. Try it solo, team up with a pro, do PPC, or whatever, your family's on the line, so there is no point in trying to spare feelings.

Good luck, I genuinely mean it.

- CC

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2014, 06:23:54 am »
Wow, that's one hell of a reply, and I really appreciate it. The truth hurts, that's for sure. I'll take the truth over a load of hot air any day though.

It seems like the main takeaway from your comment is that we need to hire a professional. We've tried this multiple in the past couple years, which I suppose I definitely should have included in my original post. The first was a local guy that my dad found (not sure how), and the second was a guy I found on reddit.

With the first guy, we ended up worse than when we'd started, and I half wonder if we would still be on the first page (though certainly not #1) if not for him. He advised us to buy a bunch of backlinks on Fiverr, and they all turned out to be total shit. I'm pretty sure we were penalized because of that. He'd been working with us ever since the EMD update knocked us off the first page, which again I definitely should have mentioned.

The second guy was someone I found on reddit. He sounded very professional, talked a big game, and then basically did a whole lot of nothing. We paid him $600 a month for three months, and on the third month he flat out disappeared. I made a thread bitching about it on reddit, and someone else sent me a PM asking for the guys name. When I gave it to him, it turned out to be the same guy and he ended up not doing business with him. Unsurprisingly, four hours later I had an email from the SEO apologizing for disappearing. I talked him into refunding us the last month's fee, but I suspect he didn't actually do much of anything the first two months either.

Don't get me wrong, I've heard many times that three months isn't nearly enough time to see results, and the lack of results isn't what caused us to dump him, but rather the complete lack of communication and what seems like a complete lack of actual work done. I'm happy to be patient and I'm happy to pay for results, but I believe this guy is basically just scamming people on reddit. $600 a month is pretty low for a SEO, which should have been my first clue that something was up. After he refunded the last month's fee, I asked him what he'd actually done the first two months, and his replies amounted to a bunch of bullshit. I asked him for specifics of what he did multiple times (I understand he wouldn't want to "give away his secrets", but I was just looking for some indication that he'd actually put a reasonable amount of time into actually working for the money we'd paid him), but each time he just replied with the same overly vague answers. At this point I'm pretty sure he just took our money and sat back, waiting for us to cancel the recurring billing so he could move on to the next sucker.

That was about two weeks ago, and it's only since then that I've been focusing on trying to improve our SEO. I'd actually much rather hire someone since, as you said, I'm out of my league. I guess my question then is, how do I find someone who actually knows their shit and isn't out to scam us? At this point, I don't really care if it's black hat, white hat, blue hat or whatever the hell else. We're in immediate danger and need to get out of it so we can even have the time to think about the long term.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply to my initial post. You seem to be the main man around here and I'm extremely grateful even to have gotten a reply, let alone one from you, and let alone such a detailed one.

Offline CCarter

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2014, 09:05:58 am »
I'm in sleep mode, so when I wake up I'll give you some clues to help you out, but overall, what the fuck are you thinking? Isn't the Bullshit Alert in your brain going off when you are going to spend $5 to make you potentially $1000, $2000, $10K, or $20K a month in revenue.

I want you to sit there and comprehend that ROI potential. paying $5 to make back $1000 is a 19900% return on investment. All marketing is an investment, in what world do you live in where you can make a 19900% ROI in a month or even 3 months, Candyland? Now I don't know any individual that can survive on $1000 a month so I'm going to go with $10,000 a month in  actual revenue with 40% profit margins, so we have nice round numbers. You've got $6000 in operating costs, and $4000 in profits which go to the business owners (the family) each month. And some how a set of $5 was going to generate you an additional $1000, $2000, $3000, or $4000? Between 19900% and 79900% ROI?!?!? Even if you purchased 20 Fiverr gigs and had a whopping $100 investment from Fiverr, @ $1000 in increased revenue that's a 900% ROI in a single month.


Mathematically, does what you are investing make sense for the projected revenue? Marketing is investing in your business, when i wake up I'll give you some pointers, but if you don't have a fucking serious marketing budget for your business (a good percentage of your revenue), you are just playing business, and everyone of you should start thinking of getting some burger flipping jobs cause you guys are going to need it.

Online Yarks

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2014, 09:57:07 am »
Quote
Isn't the Bullshit Alert in your brain going off when you are going to spend $5 to make you potentially $1000, $2000, $10K, or $20K a month in revenue.

This.
I have wasted so much time tinkering around with small amounts. I was like "Oh well look, i already spent 135$ on links...still at 56, danm, looks like it isn't working!!! Better start a new whitehat project paying 1000$ for content, sitting on my ass for a few years just to see the site drop and drop an ...drop".

What a fucking waste of time and resources. Go bold or go broke.

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2014, 07:34:52 am »
Yeah, the Fiverr stuff really screwed us. None of that was my idea, and was all orchestrated by the first SEO we hired, and took place before I came into the picture. I always thought it was a bad idea, along with Trada, which has been the biggest waste of money, and the biggest mistake we ever made. WHAT THE FUCK WERE WE THINKING indeed. I haven't really done anything personally though. I built the site and it worked great for a while, and then I moved across the world for a couple years, was living my own life, and suddenly the shit hit the fan. At that point we hired SEOs that we were paying to do SEO for us, up till a month or so ago, and then I stepped in and haven't done anything but try to research and figure out what I need to be doing, or who I need to be hiring.

So yeah, I know we're fucking idiots, but I promise I'm not the idiot out of the bunch of us, just the noob.  Everyone's gotta start somewhere, right? I'm just trying to figure out where to start, and this seemed like a pretty smart bet. Any advice? I'm willing to put the work in. I'm willing to pay. I just don't know where to start. Is this the wrong place to ask for that type of thing? I know we fucked up. I know we're in deep shit. I just need like a general direction sort of thing, either where to start researching what to do, or where to start researching who to hire. We are willing to devote a good chunk of money to advertising each month, and I'm willing to put in 12 hours a day 7 days a week if I have to.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 07:52:25 am by e45h4hxdr »

Offline hitman-zone

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2014, 03:03:08 pm »
Yeah, the Fiverr stuff really screwed us. None of that was my idea, and was all orchestrated by the first SEO we hired, and took place before I came into the picture. I always thought it was a bad idea, along with Trada, which has been the biggest waste of money, and the biggest mistake we ever made. WHAT THE FUCK WERE WE THINKING indeed. I haven't really done anything personally though. I built the site and it worked great for a while, and then I moved across the world for a couple years, was living my own life, and suddenly the shit hit the fan. At that point we hired SEOs that we were paying to do SEO for us, up till a month or so ago, and then I stepped in and haven't done anything but try to research and figure out what I need to be doing, or who I need to be hiring.

So yeah, I know we're fucking idiots, but I promise I'm not the idiot out of the bunch of us, just the noob.  Everyone's gotta start somewhere, right? I'm just trying to figure out where to start, and this seemed like a pretty smart bet. Any advice? I'm willing to put the work in. I'm willing to pay. I just don't know where to start. Is this the wrong place to ask for that type of thing? I know we fucked up. I know we're in deep shit. I just need like a general direction sort of thing, either where to start researching what to do, or where to start researching who to hire. We are willing to devote a good chunk of money to advertising each month, and I'm willing to put in 12 hours a day 7 days a week if I have to.

If you want to learn SEO basics this place isn't for you, but if you want the right way of how to do SEO buy one month of VIP access and take some working stuff there.

Be careful of who you hire for SEO, these days some kiddies claim they know SEO, but they just trying to find the next victim, SEO take some time to learn it, Learn the basics then come back here to do the work directly.

Wish you success.

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 03:43:50 am »
I explored buying the VIP access, but it seems like I need to be a SEO and have something to contribute in order to gain membership. Is this the case, or can I just pay and check out the VIP area? We're going to be bringing a professional on board, as it would be insane for me to try to "figure out SEO" from scratch. However, I'd really like to learn as much as possible anyways, so if the VIP is something I can just pay and gain access, that would be great.

http://www.blackhatunderground.net/forum/the-blackhat-underground-forum/how-to-subscribe-to-the-blackhat-underground/

I checked out that thread and under the "How to Subscribe" section, it seems to say:
Quote
In order to join the forum you will be manually reviewed by some of the forum members. We will likely ask to see examples of your work online and your ID on other forums to see if you are the type of member we would like in this forum. We do this because we want to protect our success and techniques while being able to share it with a private community.

Now I am definitely not a SEO by any measure. I am a web developer, not a great one, but I'd like to think I am somewhat decent. When it's asking to see examples of my work and ID on other forums, is that only for SEO stuff, or could I use some of the websites I've developed? I'm not looking to become a SEO, but I recognize the value in knowing a bit about it, both for sites I'm building for clients, and for my family's website.

Would I qualify to join? Does that review only apply to unpaid members, and the subscription is just a pay-for-access thing?

Offline hitman-zone

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 12:17:53 pm »
Tools without a mind is like holding an M16 equipped with an M203 RL, and you can't hit any target with !  :D

All people here use GSA and some spinning services.
 

Offline CCarter

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 03:43:43 pm »
Sorry for falling asleep for ... several days, apparently. PM me if you still need help, someone I trust should be contacting you if they already haven't.

Offline RadiantDarkness

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 03:44:59 pm »





I'm ready to take you over to the Dark Side...


Take my hand and I will show you the world in which you seek. Shoot me a PM and let us begin.




I will use this as an opportunity to have a complete outsider show for himself what he will undoubtedly learn.

You will learn, but my team will do. You wanna play with an 800 pound gorilla you better bring a bigger gun.







Offline hitman-zone

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2014, 04:09:23 pm »

Offline puppetmaster

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2014, 05:32:10 pm »





I'm ready to take you over to the Dark Side...


Take my hand and I will show you the world in which you seek. Shoot me a PM and let us begin.




I will use this as an opportunity to have a complete outsider show for himself what he will undoubtedly learn.

You will learn, but my team will do. You wanna play with an 800 pound gorilla you better bring a bigger gun.







You better take this guy up on his offer!

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2014, 01:37:27 pm »
Wow. Sorry for disappearing on everyone. I've been working pretty much non-stop the past week on a plan to revamp our site and hopefully improve some things. I don't know if I am being overly paranoid, but I created a new email at a fairly random provider and have only been using Firefox to visit here. I don't know how much is actually tracked, but I've heard stories of people being blasted for mentioning the wrong stuff in an email. I will absolutely be taking Radiant up on his offer, and can only hope I'm not too late to do so. Suffice it to say I will be keeping a tab open as I await his reply.

Offline CCarter

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2014, 01:48:26 pm »
Blasted from who? How would they even be able to find your info?

I skyped Radiant, he should be on his way here or PMing you.

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2014, 02:24:18 pm »
Thanks, I added him as well. I stumbled across a story while ago where someone was claiming Google had been reading the emails in his gmail account, or at least  looking for certain keywords to indicate black hat tactics, and penalizing sites associated with the account. I'm having trouble finding it again now, but I will keep looking.

Am I being way too paranoid?

*edit*

Found it: http://godofseo.co/case-study/webspam-team-actively-monitoring-gmail/#axzz33Cr92dlq
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 02:46:17 pm by e45h4hxdr »

Offline CCarter

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2014, 02:46:04 pm »
No you aren't being paranoid, that was Charles Floate (God of SEO), a member of this forum. Link you are referring to: http://godofseo.co/case-study/webspam-team-actively-monitoring-gmail/

Several of his sites recently also got de-indexed, manually. I believe he's working on getting that un-done if I recall.

Offline e45h4hxdr

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2014, 02:47:35 pm »
No you aren't being paranoid, that was Charles Floate (God of SEO), a member of this forum. Link you are referring to: http://godofseo.co/case-study/webspam-team-actively-monitoring-gmail/

Beat me to it! Hopefully I can count on Firefox to be relatively safe?

*edit*

Interestingly (or unsurprisingly, I guess), I couldn't find it anywhere on Google or Bing. Found it pretty quick on duckduckgo though.

Offline hitman-zone

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Re: What tools should I be using?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2014, 03:15:16 pm »
Google complains if you hit their market bro, http://searchengineland.com/google-bing-is-cheating-copying-our-search-results-62914

This is why they sniff your Gmail account to get most of your privacy, also Firefox leaks your private stuff, so be careful.