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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Useful Research Tools Your Competitors Don’t Know About

Optimizing web content for the keywords and phrases that your prospects actually use to search is standard operating procedure for anyone wanting to draw search traffic.

Every SEO expert will start with this kind of research as the foundation. The problem is that competition of these phrases can be fierce and keeping up with changes and trends is tough.

Smart marketers are digging deeper and deeper into the emerging heap of real time search data and finding golden opportunities to grab trending topics, news, and unique ways to create and optimize blog posts, videos and web pages based on the conversations that are hot and happening right now.

Below are five relatively unknown tools that can give you insight and a competitive advantage when it comes to determining the best topics for your new content and how to adjust existing content to rise in the search engines.

1. Topsy – Think of Topsy as a people trend engine for Twitter. Topsy looks at the way people are connected and the conversations they are having with each other all over the web.

2. YouTube Keyword Tool – Most people are familiar with Google’s keyword research and related search tools, but did you know that YouTube (the second largest search engine) has the same tools? By visiting and using these tools you can find some great insights about video topics that are hot and ways to optimize your video content to take advantage of what people are searching for on YouTube.

3. Facebook Posts by Everyone – There aren’t many ways to track what’s going on inside of Facebook (unless you are a large advertiser) but you can use the search function to do searches and get some insight into who is talking about key phrases and how you might join those conversations. Make sure you click on the posts by everyone and not just your friends. You might also consider taking a look at the search tool Kurrently.

4. WordTracker Question Search – WordTracker is the paid keyword research tool of choice for most serious SEO folks, but they also have a number of great free tools. One of my favorites is the question search tool. A growing number of searches are questions posed by folks looking for something. This tool allows you to find search volume for questions related to your key phrases. When trying to determine blog post content, this is a killer place to look. If you can answer the questions people are asking most, you’ll score some big long tail search results.

5. Bing xRank – xRank is focused on capturing what’s hot right now. There are a number of trending monitoring tools, including Google Trends, but Bing’s is a sleeper and returns richer results in my opinion.

Finding ways to mine and monitor the real time conversations and using this data to inform your content is a powerful way to stay on top of what your market is looking for and one step ahead of your competition.

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