OptinMonster Review – Pop-Up Forms For Email List Building

OptinMonster Review – Pop-Up Forms For Email List Building

Love them or hate them, pop-up forms can often make the difference between losing a potential customer and signing one up for your mailing list – OptinMonster gives you popup power!

This Optinmonster review is designed help you to see how Optinmonster can solve a common marketing problem. Getting visitors onto your website takes time and effort, and usually money as well, especially if you are using pay per click ads or something similar to attract people into your marketing funnel.

OptinMonster Review

Improve Bounce Rate with Optinmonster

That’s why, when you do get a website visitor, it is very important to do everything you can to get some kind of conversion from that lead – even if it doesn’t result in a sale straightaway. Unfortunately, however, all too often the visitor will leave the website without any further interaction – this is what Google calls a “bounce” and it uses this to produce a metric known as “Bounce Rate”. This is a double-hit for website owners. Not only have they paid money to get a visitor on the website as a result of clicking on an ad or as a result of expensive SEO work to their website, but they may also get penalised by Google for having a high Bounce Rate – Google interprets a bounce as being an indicator of the website, your website, being unsuitable for the visitors they are sending to it.

Take a look at your Bounce Rate, you can see it in your Google Analytics reports, which are free of charge, and if it is higher than around 15% it means that far too many people are landing on your website but not exploring beyond the page that they have landed on.

Somehow, some way, you have to try and get the visitor to give you at least some kind of engagement or commitment and by far and a way the most popular and widely used technique is to try and persuade them to sign up for your mailing list – a newsletter, special offers update, money-off voucher, etc.

There are many ways to do that and, for those who are running a WordPress based website, OptinMonster is a WordPress plugin that will open up a wide range of pop-up form options.

The OptinMonster plugin gives you access to a wide range of forms including lightbox popups, floating bars, slide-ins, sidebar forms, and many more. The plugin comes with its own useful analytics reporting facility and there are integrations with many third party packages including Infusionsoft, Aweber, GetResponse, Mailchimp etc.

OptinMonster make particular reference to their “Exit Intent” technology that captures site visitors who display intent to leave the page/site and serve up a popup designed to keep them onboard. As they say, “We detect user behavior and prompt them with a targeted campaign at the precise moment they are about to leave.” All I can say is that this stuff really works, yes it annoys some poeple but i’ve seen signup rates double, triple and even more as a result of exiytt intent popus being fired at the appropriate time.

A/B Testing built in.

OptinMonster Popup Forms A/B Testing Option

This enables you to run multiple popups side by side and find the combination of words, images, placement and timing that produces the best results. Priceless.

Speaking of price, what does all this popup wizardry cost? Well, how about $9 for an entry level account for a single site? Yes, just $9 to get some real signup power for your online business. Add more accounts and more functionality with the $19 Plus account for up to 3 sites or go the whole hog at $29 for all the functions and unlimited sites. I think OptinMonster is the bargain of a lifetime. Unfortunately they have decided not to offer a free trial but there is a 14 day money back guarantee – less than the statutory requirement had they been a UK company – but still probably long enough for you to give OptinMonster a test without risking your $9.

Where To Find It



Paid, Various Options

Free Trial Available?

Yes – limited free account


$20/month entry level.

Online Quiz Creator Review

Online Quiz Creator Review

Online Quiz Creator Review

Online Quiz Creator is a better than average quiz creation platform which, for a reasonable monthly fee, including a completely free version with limited capability, enables you to build quite respectable online quizzes.

Quiz Works Online Quiz Creator

Since it became better known that quizzes, competitions and surveys were more effective at gaining people’s attention and engagement on Social Media and elsewhere than other types of content, there seems to be an abundance of Quiz making software on the market. Which is good.

Upon closer inspection however, some are better than others and some are quite lame by comparison to the best of breed which, right now, is probably Dialogr.

But what of Online Quiz Creator, what’s on offer there and how does it compare?

Well, the range of quizzes that can be built certainly seems comprehensive and would, I’m sure, meet the needs of most people. those requiring something a bit special, more sophisiticated perhaps, might find it runs out of steam but it’s well worth considering before moving onto more expensive options.

Firstly, Online Quiz Creator lets you create quizzes that can be run on any platform – mobile, tablet or desktop.

Next, it offers a range of variations, as can be seen on the next image:

We’ve tried to build some fairly complex quizzes in this package, so that we can write a meaningful Quiz Works review at some point in the future, and we have been very impressed with the results.

Built In LMS Option.

One of the barriers to delivering online quizzes to customers or, for example, employees within a ompany, has been the need for an LMS – Learning Management System. Historically these have been quite expensive and out of reach for many. Now, Quiz Works have addressed that with Online Quiz Creator which has its own low cost LMS.

A range of plans to suit all types of organisation.

Online Quiz Creator offers a completely free of charge entry level plan (known as the “Tiny Owl” plan) which should be more than adequate for you to evauate the package with. Paid plans, which open up more options, begin at $20/month for the “Smart Owl” plan and go up to the $99/month “Corporate Owl”.

There’s also the option of a free demo – guided by one of their staff, to really show you what the package can do. You will also find a range of sample quizzes for you to try.

This is a major breakthrough in quiz making software that doesn’t cost a fortune or need an IT team to operate. It’s relatively cheap and very easy to use – we recommend Online Quiz Creator as being at least “worth a look”.

Where To Find It



Paid, Various Options

Free Trial Available?

Yes – limited free account


$20/month entry level.

Longtail Pro Platinum Review – Keyword Research Comes of Age

Longtail Pro Platinum is a keyword research tool that goes beyond simply churning out endless lists of keywords – it will do that, of course, but here is a tool that has much more up its sleeve.

Longtail Pro Platinum performs keyword research tricks that can really make a difference when planning an ad campaign or trying to rank your website in search engine results that are getting ever more competitive. Keyword Difficulty, Competitor Analysis and keyword profitability are just three examples of the kind of extra dimensions added by the LongTail Platinum Pro team of developers.

Longtail Pro Platinum

Longtail Pro lets you see who you are up against for the keywords that you want to rank for or use in a ppc campaign

Keyword Research should never be carried out in isolation. In order to do it properly you should be taking into account various other factors that will affect your choice of keywords, such as your competition and the likely search volumes that are available in your business or niche. Google’s transition into a two-tiered site that differentiates between local searches and global ones has also made a huge difference to the keyword choices that you should make.

Now Longtail Pro Platinum combines these functions into one comprehensive keyword research supertool. It is a paid tool and, as such, it isn’t particularly cheap but not unduly expensive either. If you need keyword research capabilities that go beyond those provided for free by Google with their excellent, but limited, Keyword Planner, (you just need to open an AdWords account – it is not necessary to run any ads), then LongTail Pro Platinum could well be the one for you.

So just what is it that Longtail Pro Platinum offers, over and above that which is available in Google’s Keyword Planner? Why should you feel good about paying for information that may be available elsewhere, for nothing?

Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner is intended for those who wish to run ppc campaigns in AdWords and much of the information given is geared towards building those campaigns – Suggested Bid Price, Competition and Average Monthly Searches being good examples. The tool will suggest related keywords if you enter a “seed” keyword and it can scan your website and come up with suggestions. All good, all useful, all free.

When running an SEO campaign, however, or if you are planning a content marketing campaign and want to know which search phrases to optimise your content for, the meagre information provided by Google probably won’t go far enough.

That’s where Longtail Pro Platinum would start to be very attractive. Whilst it should be made clear that the source of the keyword data is still the same – Longtail Pro takes its data from Google’s Keyword Planner – the additional processing that it provides, especially in the form of competition, keyword difficulty and competitor analysis, makes it worthwhile.

So lets look at the extra data provided by LongTail Pro Platinum, in exchange for your subscription fee, in a bit more detail.

Keyword Competitiveness

This is a value calculated by LongTail Pro based on Google’s data but is different to Google’s own Competition metric for the keywords it supplies. It is calculated as a value from 0-100 and any phrase with a low competititiveness score is suggested a being ideal for using in SEO and Content campaigns where it would be relatively easy to rank your page or article/blog on the first page of Google.

Keyword Difficulty

This metric tells you how difficult it is likely to be to rank your page in the first page of Google for any given keyword. You can enter your domain and get a detailed breakdown of the web pages on other sites that are already ranking for the keyword or phrase in question. The suggested difficulty level to aim for is one less than 30. Armed with this level of information then you can make an informed decision as to which phrases to optimise for.

Domain Metrics

Longtail Pro provides you with data taken from Majestic – one of the leading providers of backlink data – that will help you to see why other sites are ranking highly for the keywords you want to target. Competitors with a high level of good quality backlinks are, generally speaking, likely to be more difficult to rank above.

Keyword Profitability

Here’s a metric that will help you to decide what the likely level of traffic and business is for your targeted keywords. The golden formula would be to find longtail keyword phrases with low competition, low keyword difficulty, high search volume and high keyword profitability.As ever, it is likely to be a question of balance, you probably won’t match all of those criteria but, to paraphrase Meatloaf – three out of four ain’t bad!

Added to the above, LongTail Pro also has strong filtering capabilities which lets you drill down into the initial list of keywords you get and surface those which meet multiple criteria such as including a particular word and having a minimum number of words in the phrase or a minimum number of monthly searches.

You can, of course, export your keyword lists to spreadsheets etc for further analysis and processing and there is also a limited keyword tracking feature included to let you keep track of how your campaigns are doing for the phrases you have targeted.

To conclude, I would suggest that Longtail Pro Platinum is good value for those who need it. If you really are on a budget then you could do a lot of it with free systems, starting of course with Google’s own. Keyword research is important and something that should not be skimped if you are going to invest time and money into marketing campaigns, especially ppc campaigns, so a good keyword research tool is probably a necessary expense for most people.

There are a number of other contenders on the market and some of them offer keywords that are sourced from other tools, not just Google’s. Examples would be WordTracker, which offers keywords from Amazon and YouTube, SEMrush, and Keyword Canine.

The question is, should that investment be in LongTail Pro or another? My advice is to take the free trial for this and as many other packages as you can find time to do. A “Starter” plan with LongTail Pro will cost you a minumum of $37/month, ($25 if you pay annually), so it’s worth having a good look around before you make a purchase.

Sumo Review

Sumo Review

Sumo Review

There are so many useful tools in the Sumo suite that carrying out a full Sumo review has proved to be a massive task.

However, we stuck at it and the Sumo Review is here for you to enjoy.

We used the WordPress plugin version for this Sumo review but all the tools are available across all the versions which include Joomla, Shopify, Magento and Drupal and many more.

The main reason for Sumo’s existance is to provide tools to increase interaction with your blog, your website and your content across social media websites and elsewhere. Sumo supply a whole wide range  of free tools to help you to grow your WordPress site or any site created with one of the other supported platforms.

Sumo helps you to engage with your readers and website visitors, encouraging them to join your email list or share your articles. Sumo also enables you to analyse those interactions and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in the context of your overall digital marketing strategy.

So let’s take a look at the free of charge tools that are included in the Sumo toolbox:

Sumo List Builder

We were very interested in this feature because building and managing an email list is a vital component of a successful digital marketing campaign. Sumo’s List Builder lets you build attractive lightbox pop ups to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list. There is support for a host of email management systems including the likes of MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, MyEmma, Mad Mimi, Infusionsoft, Feedblitz, HubSpot, MyNewsletterBuilder, Inbox First, Sailthru, Klaviyo, Vero, Pardot, Zapier, Ontraport, ExactTarget, Vertical Response, Drip, MailerLite, WhatCounts, ConvertKit, MailJet, Maropost, and many others).

SumoMe Pop Up Box

Most Internet Marketers know that one of the most important assets on your website is probably the opt-in email form that helps you to grow your mailing list. Unlike many other well known email subscription boxes which are shown in the form of static widgets in the page’s sidebar, the Sumo subscription box is more effective  and helps to achieve high signup rates with an unobtrusive popover signup box. Of course, you are free to decide how this feature is to be used, e.g. by deciding if the subscription box loads manually after the visitor has been on your page for a certain length of time or, very popular these days, when the site visitor moves their mouse so it looks like they are going to exit the page.

Where appropriate, you can simply set List Builder to collect email addresses that you can export in CSV format.

Sumo Share

Share makes it simple for others to share on your content on mobile devices, or on the web. This is a widely used app and lets you add sharing buttons to your desktop and mobile sites. It is common for people to see an increase in pageviews of at least 20% with this tool installed. The buttons are auto optimising and you can choose from the following places for sharing on – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Buffer, Delicious, Digg, Evernote, Amazon Wishlist, Instapaper, Pocket, LinkedIn, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Yummly). The package also includes SMS sharing as well as sharing on WhatsApp.

Sumo Welcome Mat

This is one you could try, it works on the principle that you hit the visitor with a call to action straightaway and make it look and feel like a regular webpage. This tool lets you build a kind of overlaid landing page that shows right up front – as soon as a visitor comes to your site – and displays a full-screen call to action.

Sumo Heat Maps

If you want to know what kind of behaviour your site visitors get up to on your web pages then there is no better way to find out than by using a heat map. It will let you see whereabouts on the page people are clicking and identify areas that are being missed.

SumoMe Heat Maps

Sumo Scroll Box

A scroll box is simply an email collection box which is triggered according to how far down your page the reader goes.

Sumo Smart Bar

The smart bar is a floating CTA bar that can appear either at the top of your pages, or at the bottom if you prefer. This will obviously depend on the design of your site and it could be worth doing a bit of testing to see which position works best for you. The smart bar can include links to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter or to go to a specific page on the site, as well as the usual social media follow buttons.

Sumo Highlighter

The highlighter is a Twitter sharing tool which enables you to easily tweet about your article by highlighting parts of the content in a similar way to that used by the Kindle and sites like Medium.

Sumo Image Sharer

As the name suggests, this is an image sharing tool that makes it quick and very easy to share images, together with a link, of course, on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. According to research carried out by Buffer, image tweets on Twitter get twice the engagement of text tweets so this tool is well worth setting up and using.

You may have noticed that some blogs and websites make it simple for users to share their images on social networks like Pinterest? This is because  these images provide a link straight back to your article so that people who share your images on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook can actually drive large quantities of traffic to your site.

When it comes to sharing images on Pinterest, it is accepted now that Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks at this time and some studies have discovered that Pinterest users spend more than other social network visitors so it makes sense to make it easy for your visitors to share their favorite images from your site on Pinterest. This is thought to be a source of valuable traffic that many website owners are not yet taking advantage of.

Sumo also makes sharing images on Facebook quick and easy and research by KissMetrics has confirmed that photo posts on Facebook are likely to attract up to  84% more click-throughs than a simple text post.

An Alternative To Your “Contact Us Page”

There’s also a contact form facility which is a more palatable alternative to the old, familiar but not that effective, “Contact Us” page, (although we are not suggesting that you shouldn’t have one of those as well).

If you implement it properly, Sumo can help people to find your blog or website, read your articles and other content and share them on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest. It can generate subscriptions to your email list and everybody wants that, don’t they?

Sumo For Mobiles

As you would expect, all of the Sumo tools are fully optimised for use on mobiles as well as desktop devices. We’ve tested as many as we can in the time available and the presentation on smartphones and tablets was extremely good.

About A/B Testing With Sumo

You can easily A/B test your pop ups and decide which text, size, timing, colours etc convert best on your website. The A/B testing facility can be setup in seconds and it is common for site owners to  see a 20-100% increase in email subscriptions after A/B testing has been completed.

Using Sumo Advanced Display Rules

Sumo has an advanced and very comprehensive display rules facility that lets you control to a large extent what happens, and when. For example, you could target any of the apps to any group of  visitors you like – so if  you want an email pop up to only show for visitors coming from Facebook, you got it! This opens up a whole new world of highly targeted calls to action for different audiences and demographic groups.

Design Flexibility

The email form is completely customisable. You can quickly change the wording, confirmation message, and colors to match the look and feel of the rest of your website. This will increase conversions by making users feel more comfortable when subscribing. If you want even more control over the appearance of your email popover, you can edit the HTML, add a different form, select specific pages to show the popover on, and also add a redirected confirmation URL if you wish.

Here is the official list of Sumo Features

  • Free and Easy integration with any WordPress theme
  • Simple email integration with MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, MyEmma, Mad Mimi, Infusionsoft, Feedblitz, HubSpot, MyNewsletterBuilder, Inbox First, Sailthru, Klaviyo, Vero, Pardot, Zapier, Ontraport, ExactTarget, Vertical Response, Drip, MailerLite, WhatCounts, ConvertKit, MailJet, and Maropost.
  • 100% mobile optimized. A lot of your traffic is mobile, make sure your tools are too.
  • SumoMe uses Asynchronous loading so that page load speed won’t be adversely affected.
  • Total control over which features to enable and which to leave for later.
  • Sharing on Twitter made easy.
  • Customise templates to make your email popups both attractive and effective.
  • See the gravatars of your recent email subscribers.
  • Highlighting of popular Twitter sections (like Kindle and Medium) – simply delete any tweet highlights you don’t want
  • Promotion of your Twitter handle.
  • Works with other social plugins like Digg Digg
  • Popover that significantly increase email subscribes
  • Custom email subscription popover timing
  • Optional smart email popover timing (like Exit Monitor)
  • Customizable email subscribe box wording and colors
  • Full HTML control of popover content
  • Export email subscribers in a .csv file
  • Quickly growth your email list & view email subscription statistics for all time
  • Easily add Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest sharing to your images – images have higher engagement on social networks.
    Include your Twitter username in tweeted images.
  • Share count shows how often people share your images.
  • Choose which features/apps you want to enable.
  • Smart Bar to ask for emails at the top of your website.
  • Heat maps so you can visually see where your visitors are clicking.
  • Share app – Get more traffic to your site with these super easy to setup share buttons!
  • Contact Form – Simplest way to have your readers contact you.
  • Content Analytics – See how people behave on your website.
  • Welcome Mat – Now you can instantly add a full-screen call to action to grow your email list or drive visitors to a certain page.

I suppose that the app that will be used most often, (Sumo confirm this), is the Share function. Its optimised social share buttons are used by many top 1000 sites many of whom report getting at least 20% more page views as a result. These clever buttons auto optimise themselves and you are always in control of the places where you want to share, which include; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Buffer, Delicious, Digg, Evernote, Amazon Wishlist, Instapaper, Pocket, LinkedIn, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and Yummly. There is also an SMS sharing function but we haven’t tested that yet.

Get more tweets with Sumo

The included Highlighter feature is intended to improve your Twitter shares in two ways. The first way is to enable users to highlight portions of your text which they can then quickly share on Twitter. Operating in a similar way to Kindle’s share feature or Medium’s commenting function, this facility makes tweeting about your latest post very simple and convenient. With SumoMe, social sharing has never been more intuitive and straightforward.

Another nice touch is that when someone tweets a quote from one of your articles, the SumoMe Highlighter automatically highlights that portion of your text in much the same way as the popular highlights feature in Kindle. This is known to attract your reader’s attention and can give a further boost to social sharing. All of this can be edited if you don’t want a particular highlight to be shown.

Any Tweets generated through the SumoMe Highlighter Tool will link to your article and also include your Twitter username. Not only does this increase  traffic to your website bit it can also improve your Twitter profile and increase your following. Adding your Twitter username is easy  and you don’t need to give access to your Twitter account.

A URL shortener has been added for most of the above tools but not yet tested by our team – we will do so and update later.


As we said right at the start, Sumo includes many tools and not everyone will need or want all of them. The pricing model allows you to start with a free plan, which includes all the apps, and grow as you need to by adding more sites or users. There is a huge difference between just “having a website” and truly optimising it for visitor conversions and traffic growth. SumoMe won’t do all of the work for you but it provides you with a great set of tools to get you started.

Sumo is free, with an option to upgrade to Sumo Pro starting at £39/month if paid annually – here’s the link.


By: Digital Marketing Directory

Semrush Review – SEO Supertool

It is no secret that, for SEMrush competitor analysis and rank tracking have always been popular. Other uses include keyword research, backlink management, site auditing, social media management and PPC optimisation.

I originally became a paid user of SEMrush because of their rank tracking capabilities – it is still one of the best rank tracker tools out there – nowadays the SEMrush competitor analysis tool is worth the subscription on its own. However, SEMrush has been enhanced with many other tools and services so I decided to update my earlier SEMrush review, to bring it up-to-date.

SEMrush has taken the original rank tracker tools and added competitor analysis, social media management, backlink management, Site auditing and several other modules as well, please see the screenshot below of the main SEMrush tools dashboard.

But what about the all-encompassing subject of SEO? This involves all of the above and a lot more, how does SEMrush fit into the bigger picture?

SEMrush – The Swiss Army Knife of SEO Tools

I regard SEMrush as the Swiss Army Knife of SEO. It has many tools, all of which are very useful, but not all of them, apart from the SeMrush Competitor Analysis, go far enough to enable SEMrush to be the only tool you need as a full-time SEO or PPC manager. It has to be said however that SEMrush seem to take the matter very seriously and they have been improving and adding to their portfolio of tools at a very fast rate in recent months.

Perhaps we should take time to look at exactly what is on offer from SEMrush:

SEMrush SEO Tools

As you can see, there are now 8 major tools included in the SEMrush SEO toolbox, some of which are still in beta test at the time of writing. Lets take a look at them, one by one.

SEMrush Site Audit Tool

Whenever I take on a new client, or carry out pre-sales research for a potential client, I always like to run a site audit in order to get a feel for what kind of state their website is in. There are many such tools around and, to be truthful, they all do a pretty similar job, with the possible exception of Deepcrawl which is more detailed but aimed primarily at the developer community.

The SEMrush Site Auditor tool is useful and fairly comprehensive. The reports it generates can be viewed in overview mode, or in detail with the raw data being available for download as a CSV file. If you need to give a client, or your in-house management, an overview of how your a website is likely to fare in the search engine results pages, (SERPs) then the SEMrush Site Audit overview page is probably all you need. It can also be produced as a .pdf for easier reading and circulation.

Here’s an example of a SEMrush Site Auditor overview screen.

Clearly, a site audit score of only 41% is cause for concern and the report can be expanded to enable the user to see exactly what needs to be done in order to put things right.

All-in-all the SEMrush Site Audit Tool is a useful addition to any digital marketer’s kit bag and, although you wouldn’t subscribe to SEMrush just to get this tool, it is a nice bonus for those who need the other, mainstream applications such as Keyword Tracking, competitor analysis, etc.

SEMrush Keyword Tracking (Position Tracking)

I’ve always found that SEMrush gives me pretty much everything I need when it comes to keyword position tracking, or rank tracking as many people call it. You simply specify your list of “important” keywords and phrases, tell SEMrush which search engine database you want to check, e.g. Google.com, Google.uk or a host of others, and away you go. At the time of writing SEMrush was still seperating Mobile results from Desktop results and this should be treated with caution since Google now, allegedly, combines them into one – giving more weight to mobile that it does to desktop.

One of my favourite features in the SEMrush Rank Tracker tool is the ability to compare how you are ranking for each word or phrase, compared to up to 5 competitors. This can be very revealing, showing which keywords your competitors are outranking you for and enabling you to focus future optimisation efforts on those keywords.

SEMrush Rank Tracking SEMrush Competitor Analysis

As you can see from the screenshot above, the target site does not fare well i this ranking assesment whereas the competitors tend to be doing better. It is easy to identify from the above which keywords/phrases need to be optimised. This is a real life example and the name of the client has been obscured. Notice that the report also shows whether the keyword rank has moved up or down over the period that is being monitored.

The final two columns on the right show the CPC, (cost Per click) if you were to target the word or phrase on AdWords and the Vol (Volume) column shows how many searches there are, on average, each month for the keyword in the geographical territory being analysed.

SEMrush Social Media Tool

The SEMrush Social Media tool is a moderately powerful interface through which you can keep a track on your social media activity and that of your competitors. There are services out there that charge quite a lot for this, including RivalIQ, TrueSocialMetrics, Simply Measured, and many more and it’s true that those paid for services will give you a much more comprehensive coverage fo what’s going on for you in social media land. However, if social media is not overly important in your marketing mix then the free of charge SEMrush offering may be enough to meet your needs.

You start by linking your own social media accounts. You cannot include a social media platform into your analysis until you have linked to a live account of your own. Once done you can then go on to setup your competitors profiles – you do not need to know their login details, just their web address or social media IDs.

From then on it is pretty much a matter of letting it do its thing. The tool gathers data about how many posts, twets etc that you and your competitors make and the level of engagement each of you are getting in return for your efforts.

Reporting from the Social Media tool is comprehensive and will probably cover most people’s requirements. If you need more in-depth social media coverage then you may need to look further afield – but be prepared to pay the price, social media data doesn’t come cheap.

SEMrush Backlink Audit Tool

The backlink audit tool does exactly what it says on the tin – crawls your site and produces a list of backlinks that go to each of your webpages. This is an area where you will find great controvesy – no two backlink audit tools ever seem to find the same results and SEMrush certainly doesn’t find them all. For serious backlink work, especially if you suspect your website is being penalised by google, you will probably have to look towards services like those provided by Majestic or Ahrefs but the SEMrush tool is fine as a general snapshot as to what your backlink profle is looking like.

SEMrush backlink audit tool

The image above shows the overview that the tool produces. You can then drill-down to the detail level and see the underlying data. The following screenshot hows the links in detail, including their “toxic score” which highlights links that are likely to cause problems and which may need to be disavowed.

SEMrush Backlink Audit Toxic links

All-in-all, a useful tool which may be useful in highlighting a problem that requires further investigation, perhaps with a more in-depth tool.

SEMrush Competitor Analysis & Domain Overview Reports

For many people, this is the only part of SEMrush they see – you can pretty much use it for free and, as such, it is a nice facility to have for finding out who your competitors are and what you are up against.

Entering a domain, yours or a competitor’s, will give you an overview of that domain’s visibility on Google that looks something like this:

So, in the above example, which is for Nike.com, you can see that they appear in Google’s search results for 191K keywords or phrases – not bad going. Of course, most of the sites you analyse will be somewhat smaller but the principle is the same.

Further down, SEMrush will list the most popular keywords that trigger the site to appear and the most effective competitors. You can click on any of these and drill down in order to analyse in greater depth.

Probably the single most useful facility in the SEMrush range, the Domain Overview report, or something like it, is almost essential to marketers who are taking on new clients and need to get to the bottom of what’s going on.


SEMrush hiked its prices recently by a massive 30% which I took exception to. They justified it on the basis of the new tools that they had added to the package and in a sense that’s fair enough. Where I take exception is that they just assumed that everyone wanted all the extra shiny things and were willing to pay an extra £60 or so for them – wrong! I wasn’t and I didn’t – so although I stll use SEMrush I am looking for alternatives because I don’t think you should base a business on a product whose owners think that kind of behaviour is OK.

The entry level plan is now $99 but there are some serious limitations with that, including the lack of availability of historical data – you new the $199 “Guru” plan to get that.

The product is brilliant, almost certainly the best you can get for the money, but the owners need to consider their customers a bit more when imposing massive price hikes like that. Although I’ve said that, for me, SEMrush competitor analysis and rank tracking tools are the best I’ve found, at any price, that doesn’t mean I will pay any price to get them. After all, unlike the old days, there’s a lot more competition out there now.


Where To Find It
Product Type
Full SEO Tools Platform
Paid, Various Options plus limited free account
Free Trial Available
From $69.95/month, less if you pay annually.

Keyword Research Tools Review – Clash of the Titans

Keyword Canine, Market Samurai and LongTail Pro – all well-established and highly respected keyword research tools that will almost certainly feature on the shortlist of anyone who really wants to crack the conundrum of finding the right keywords for their marketing project.

They all do the same job – or do they? Here, Online visibility guru, Steve Jex, looks at these powerful, and popular, tools side by side and gives you the lowdown from the perspective of someone who uses keyword research tools every day and knows what he likes – and what he doesn’t!

When looking for a tool to do anything I believe you should always compare what you need to what is generally accepted as the “norm.” For, example, you wouldn’t fully appreciate the benefits of an electric drill until you have tried to drill a hole in a hard substance using a hand drill. The benefits of the electric drill become apparent very quickly. In the world of keyword research, the “hand drill” that we should compare everything to, in my opinion, is Google’s “Keyword Planner”. When comparing keyword research tools I believe that you should always look at this first – it’s free and, for many people, it’s all they need!

So why then, should we be considering buying tools if there’s a perfectly good free one up for grabs? The answer lies in the detail, detail that Google choose not to provide you with when you use the Keyword Planner. First and foremost bear in mind that the Keyword Planner is a tool to help you to use Google AdWords and buy ppc advertising from them. You have to have a Google AdWords account to use this tool (it’s free), but you don’t have to spend any money on ads if you don’t want to.

If you enter a “seed” keyword or phrase, The Google Keyword Planner will go off and find up to 800 words and phrases that it considers to be relevant or related to your seed word(s). Many of these results will not be relevant to your own requirements due to the glorious ambiguity of the English language and the fact that many words have multiple meanings and uses. Nonetheless, you will get a list of words and phrases that people have used to carry out searches on Google within the last twelve months and, once you weed out the junk, (i.e. not relevant to you), you have the beginnings of a keyword list. But just the beginnings. You can “tighten up” the relevance of the keywords that Google supplies in this tool by selecting the “only show closely related ideas” option, failure to do so would give you a list that includes both “mens shoes” and “shoes” – too general for use as keywords for SEO and likely to produce a lot of wasted clicks if used for generating a ppc list.

The first thing to bear in mind about your list is that Google tends to only give you phrases that have significant search volumes and does not provide the longer phrases that, although searched for less often, are a much more accurate reflection of the intentions behind the search.

So, a search for “golf shoes” means you are interested in golf or you know someone who is interested in golf but you may or may not be in the process of researching a potential purchase.

Whereas, a search for “cheap golf shoes” indicates that you are already in the buying process and at a fairly late stage – ready to buy soon. Simply by adding the word “cheap” to the search phrase we have focused the search and we are now targeting high probability buyers.

Market Samurai Keyword Research Tool

So what does the Market Samurai keyword research tool make of the same seed words? Well, since it uses Google’s Keyword Planner as its keyword data source, the list you are given will be much the same as the one that Google just gave you, for free. Where it comes into its own however is in the range of additional analysis that Google does not provide and which is designed to enable you to find keywords and phrases that have a better chance of delivering traffic to you in Organic Search campaigns, i.e. “not paid for” campaigns and in selecting keywords to base your website content, blog posts and articles on.

For example, when we look at the list

Market Samurai extends the range of the Google Keyword Planner with a series of marketing analysis metrics which should enable you to narrow down your search with a minimum of effort. Here are the Market Samurai Keyword Research tools that you have at your disposal when use use Market Samurai for keyword research:Tester Cyfe (2)







Let’s run through these quickly, so that you know what you are likely to be able to do. The first column, under the “Organic” heading is very straightforward and you probably need all of these to be ticked.

Local Total Searches – also shown in Google’s Keyword Planner, shows the number of exact match searches carried out over a specific period – choose from Daily, Weekly or Monthly. The fact that it is exact match only is very significant since, in our example, if our search term is “cheap golf shoes” then the rules of exact match means that “buy cheap golf shoes” would not trigger a result in Google Search, (or in AdWords if you were doing a ppc campaign). For that to happen in AdWords you would make it a “phrase match” where the search term must be as stated but it can be part of a longer phrase. Both Google Keyword Planner and Market Samurai enable you to specify the geographical location in which you wish to search although, whereas Google enables you to specify both country and a town or city, Market Samurai only enables you to specify the country – UK in our examples.

Local SEO Traffic – This is Market Samurai’s estimate of how many clicks you would get on average, over a month, if you were ranked number 1 in Google Search for the search term in question.

Trends – provides a short cut to the Google Trend data for the selected search term.

The next column uses data from Majestic who are famous for being the compilers of the Majestic index of backlinks and for calculating two important metrics for SEO professionals and for content marketers, Citation Flow and Trust Flow.

  • Title Comp – this shows the number of web pages listed in Majestic’s index which include the whole search term in the page title tag. It is a widely held belief that Google places great importance in the contents of the page title so if you can include the main keyword that you want the page to be optimised for in there, it is bound to have a positive effect.
  • URL Comp – as for Title comp but the search phrase would have to be all, or part, of the page URL – in Majestic’s index.
  • Anchor Comp – this looks for how many examples of anchor text in links on websites containing the keyword or phrase
  • Domain Comp – looks in the index for occurrences of the search term in domain names
  • Title & Anchor Comp – refines the above by counting only those occurrences where the keyword/phrase is in both anchor text and the page title. If this is a high number then the word/phrase is likely to be more difficult to rank for.

Next we go to the “Basic Competition” column:

  • SEO Comp – how many web pages are there in Bing’s index that mention this phrase? Not sure why it’s Bing, not Google, but that’s how they do it.
  • Local Comp – as above but restricted to the specified geographical region or country.
  • Title Comp – the search terms appears in the page title – global
  • Local Title – the search term appears in the page title – local to specified region or country
  • URL comp – the search term appears in the URL of the page as indexed by Bing – global
  • Local URL – as above but in the specified region or country
  • Title/Comp –  a metric that shows the ratio of pages where the search term is included in the URL and the page title – global. These pages would be probably be highly focused on the search term in question and if there are a lot of them, ranking could be very difficult.

Finally, the Commerciality section:

  • SEO Value – multiplies the metric for local SEO traffic by the average cost per click for the same search term in Google AdWords and presents this as a likely value for traffic generated by that search term.
  • Avg AdWords CPC – the cost of a click in AdWords for this search term – low cost clicks are either low competition and/or have no or low search traffic.

When choosing keywords for a ppc campaign you would look for those with relatively good search volumes and low levels of competition coupled with low average cost per click. They exist buyt they take some looking for. The same applies to SEO work for the most part – low competition keywords with some traffic will be easier to rank for.

So, as a tool for finding and evaluating keywords, Market Samurai really just expands the level of analysis that Google provides in the AdWords Keyword Planner. How useful those extra levels of analysis are is a matter for debate. I’ve never believed that using Bing’s index is really indicative of what might happen in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) but then again I have used Market Samurai for quite a few years now and I’ve had a great deal of success with it. If it’s just a matter of finding and making a list of keywords that you want then save your money and use the AdWords Keyword Planner for free but if you want to refine your list a little more – Market Samurai deserves a place on your shortlist.

Where Keyword Planner and Market Samurai both fall short is in the location of words and phrases that are not supplied by the Google Keyword Planner. Market Samurai uses Keywrod Planner as its data source so the words/phrase you are given will be largely the same for both tools. Surely then, a tool with the name “Longtail Pro” will be able to provide those elusive longer phrases which may well have lower levels of traffic but which also have much lower levels of competition and so are much easier to rank for. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case.

Like Market Samurai, Longtail Pro, (now Longtail Pro Platinum), uses the Google Keyword Planner as its source so if you enter a seed keyword you will get the same list of keywords thsat ou would have got if you had used the free Google tool. So where are the longtail keywords? well that depends on what you call longtail – 4 words, 5 words, more?

So is Longtail Pro (Platinum) really worth the money? – it isn’t particularly cheap, coming in at a monthly cost of $37, less if you pay annually, although is is less than Keyword Canine, one of the other keyword research tools evaluated in this article. Market Samurai is a one-off purchase with no monthly fees unless you want to use the rank tracker option.

My answer is that for most people, the answer would have to be no. Despite its name, Longtail Pro does not find you lots of longer key phrases that are not provided by Google so the issue would have to be whether it provides levels of keyword analysis that could justify the cost – and, for me, it doesn’t.

That brings us to our third, and for the moment, our final contender, Jon Leger’s Keyword Canine. Here we have a keyword tool that has that little bit extra to offer the serious keyword researcher and which really can find those precious long tail keywords that Google simply doesn’t offer in their Keyword Planner.