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Some Resources to Follow Up The Morning Course.

This is aimed at the attendees who were with me at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Growth Hub Offices in Carlisle on December 8th 2016. There is a presentation (of the death by power point type) dreadfully unoriginal but hopefully it gave you some food for thought! I do hope everybody went away with at least one useful nugget of information that made the morning useful.

The Powerpoint presentation is also accompanied by a local information gathering spreadsheet template that I use regularly for either myself or my clients. It makes the tedious job of updating or writing for local citation purposes a little less painful!

I anticipate that everybody will have got the message that for local purposes, Google reviews and backlinks from other businesses’ websites are the real gold dust for your marketing efforts. Please feel free to download the presentation and use it for your own education and please do feel free to share. If you found it in your heart to link back to my website of one of the major posts on the blog – that would be much appreciated too.  I have compiled a list of linking techniques that you might find helpful here.

Useful Tools to Help Your Digital Marketing Efforts and Analysis

Keyword Research Tools

Adwords Keyword Planner – Even Though it’s Been Turned Into A Bit of a Dud.

For basic keyword research there’s still nothing quite as useful as Google itself. As the Big G tries to extract more cash from the world it goes out of its way to put the squeeze on its free offers – that we have rather come to take for granted these days! The video here predates the closing off of accurate keyword search volume data. What you get is a range 1 -10, 10 – 100, 100 -1k, 1k – 10k etc. The data does give you an idea of their relative popularity! And…  you can sort multiple lists into a rough order in your spreadsheet even with this “redacted” data!

Once you’ve downloaded the keywords you will then need to sort them out. This second video gives a way of doing that.

You are now in a position to use that data to plan out your next batch of content!


SEMrush is a premium piece of SEO and competitive analysis software. It is excellent for digging the dirt on your competitors but comes at a price. Because the parent company pays a huge sum of money to the Big Gorilla, they get API access to “more or less” accurate search volume data. If you have a sizeable Adwords budget or you are carrying out SEO and PPC work on 1 or more websites, you can probably save time by working through Semrush’s single interface. Like any of these SEO tools from third parties though – never treat its data as gospel – always have a healthy scepticism about the numbers it shows you.

The 2 toggle boxes below give you a good view of the inner workings of SEMrush. Take a look and you’ll be surprised by the amount and depth of data that it can pull up. For keyword research there is one very useful metric. Keyword difficulty! It tells you exactly what it says on the tin!

SEMRush: Keyword Research Dashboard
WIth all this information available you won’t be surprised at the $70 per month price tag. Even in my very low turnover business that is a price worth paying! The widget below will let you try out your own seed keyword – it is an affiliate link as well – just so you know! It will also give you access to domain metrics as well – very useful. They will want your email address for the pleasure of grabbing access to the results. Fair trade I reckon! I set my more savvy clients up with an account. There is a 14 day free trial at the moment.

Backlinks Backlinks Everywhere – But How Do I Know If They’re Any Good!

Without a little help the search for backlink opportunities and evaluating their quality can be a bit of a nightmare. Never fear – there are more tools to help you select the Pearls before the Swine!”

With their background in link data, the Ahrefs team have put together some fantastic advice some of the choicest of which I’ve reblogged here. I’ve curated parts of it wholesale because of the neat little rating chart each one comes with. First though we’ll take a look at the 3 most popular link checking tools that you might be tempted to use and take advantage of the slightly partisan opinions given by 

Backlink Checkers Compared

Tools to Support Your Link Building Strategies

Once you need to start building better quality links to get ahead of your competitors, then you need to start digging into what your link profile looks like and crucially what your competitors have been doing to attract or build links. To understand your own link profile, Google Search Console is invaluable at the basic level. However – its data gives little clue about link quality… until such time as you suffer a penalty!

search console latest backlink list includes date of discovery by googlebot.

For the rest of this article – I will use data from Ahrefs to illustrate strategies and techniques.

1. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer


We are proud to have one of the best set of tools for backlink research there is. Our index of backlinks is one of the largest and we have lots of awesome tools and reports to play with.

Of all the Backlink tools that I have experimented with over the past 5 years, ahrefs is the most recent one that I have spent time with. It’s awesome! It is so much more than a backlink checker – giving an enormous amount of data – that can be overwhelming at first. If backlinks are a significant part of your strategy – and your s is genuinely a digital marketing STRATEGY – then this is a very highly recommended tool. I recommend trying their 7 day $7 introductory trial which gives full access to the tools… but make sure you set aside time to digest the data and explore your competitors’ strengths. The monthly subs run from $99 to $999 per month – it is a genuine beast of a tool!

2. Majestic


Majestic is our biggest competitor in the niche of “backlink checkers”. When we are asked about who has the bigger index of backlinks we usually reply that our indexes are comparable.

Majestic SEO is a long standing tool that I have dipped into for many years.  It recently appeared that they had dropped their free trial registration (cookie problem) But it’s still there. The free registration account doesn’t give you access to much competitive data and so is only really good for checking over your own data. However with a basic subscription just below the £30 mark, it is possibly the most cost effective general SEO and backlinks intelligence tool. Its backlink database is a significantly smaller body of data than Ahrefs but is still very comprehensive for most purposes.

3. Moz ‘Open Site Explorer’


Moz has the smallest backlink index of the three, but they are currently investing a lot of their resources in this area, so the chances are they will get much better soon.

I have subscribed to MOZ pro and MOZ local most in the past 5 years. I find the systems intuitive and comfortable to deal with, while their data presentation tends to be more in tune with my thinking. For backlink checking purposes though, it has the smallest link database of the tools mentioned so far. It’s biggest advantage is that its site crawling and problem highlighting is the most intelligible and usable to me.

4. Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks is a backlink checking tool with an excellent free trial period and great usability

Razvan the main developer reckons that this is the easiest of the tools to use for backlink checking and I’m not inclined to say differently. It’s not as comprehensive in it’s backlink database as far as I can tell, on my short acquaintance with this toolset. However it has a few usability advantages that make it ideal for busy marketing managers who are not full time SEOs. Notably it gives a clear and straightforward indication of a link’s spam potential and flags up links that may harm your authority. Most importantly it leads with an indication of whether the link is positive or negative in SEO terms. This is probably the tool I would point marketing managers to if they have other responsibilities to juggle alongside their digital marketing role. (Disclosure: The link to this is an affiliate link so I might earn a few quid if you buy it through me.)

Other Tools to Consider

There are a whole range of other tools out there that are on a par with those mentioned above. The two I would consider most likely to fit some of your needs if the previous 4 do not work for you would be:

  • SEMRush: When your business uses PPC and organic SEO together then this tool really comes into its own. (As already mentioned above)
  • Link Research Tools: This is a heavy weight link intelligence tool which I have found most useful for chasing down data about link penalties. If you are a larger business where quality of links could be critical to your business viability then LRT is worth considering.

In Conclusion.

As promised to the people who took time out to listen to me today. here is the post I promised. As always it’s taken longer to prepare than I had hoped but it should give you an idea of some of the tools and techniques out there that can help you with your own digital marketing efforts. Please do share – if you would like to practise your backlinking code – please feel free to point a link in my direction.